Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"I wonder if any members of the Texas government or their families are involved with the Alliance Transportation Group, Inc.?"

The Camera


by Paul Perry
Copyright 2007

In my mailbox, the state government provided the material for my column this week. It appears I was randomly selected to answer a survey for a company (Alliance Transportation Group, Inc.) contracted with our tax dollars through The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Now as a free-market-oriented kind of guy, I am usually loathe to accept government assistance, but oh well – TxDOT hath provided..

The second paragraph in the preface of the survey gives the reason for my selection for this unpaid government service:

"Why did I receive this survey? You are being asked to participate in these efforts because the license plate of a vehicle registered in your name was randomly recorded while traveling southbound on Interstate 35, north of Waco, at some time within the last two (2) weeks."

Gee, it is nice to know my travels are being monitored, by camera, evidently.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have decided to make public the questions and several of my possible responses to the survey. Some of my responses are, of course, tongue-in-cheek. I reserve the right to give multiple answers. TxDOT should feel free to pick the answer it likes best or least. However, the questions in quotes really were asked in the survey.

Question number one, "For the trip in the southbound direction on interstate 35, north of Waco, where did you begin the trip?"

Answer A. By where the big old mesquite tree used to be before it was torn asunder by a recent tornado east of Milford.

Answer B. My neighbor’s barn.

Answer C. South of Waxahachie, where the old cedar tree was until lightning burned it up at the corner of two dirt roads in the 1960s.

Question number two, "Select the response that best describes the location where you were coming from."

Answer. See the answers to the first question.

Question number three "For the trip in the southbound direction on Interstate 35, north of Waco, where did you end this trip?"

Answer A. At the secret stakeout location of Agents Mulder and Skully near Elm Mott, where we rendezvoused before going out to spot taxpayer-funded hidden cameras along I-35. Rumor has it those cameras were being secretly used to photograph license plate numbers of law-abiding taxpayers at considerable expense to those same taxpayers in order to capture data for a marketing survey. That survey will serve the commercial interest of a Spanish company that wants to build a tollroad at the expense of Texas taxpayers and then operate said tollroad as a monopoly.

Answer B. I followed vehicles purchased at auction being towed to locations in Mexico in order to make sure everyone made it back across the border (Laredo).

Answer C. None of your bleeping business.

Answer D. A, B, and C.

The next question, "Select the response that best describes the location where you were traveling to."

Answer A. See the Mulder and Skully answer above.

Answer B. See above answer D.

The next question,"How often do you make this trip?"

Answer A. Every other full moon.

Answer B. When my offspring attending Baylor need money or tires.

Answer C. On Mayan holidays

Answer D. Both A and B

The next question, "Did the trip in this direction start and end the same day?"

Answer. None of your business.

And yet the next question, "Including yourself, how many people were in the vehicle?"

Answer A. One

Answer B. Two

Answer C. One, plus two hiding in the trunk, off camera.

Answer D. All of the above.

The last question,"How many persons live in your household?"

Answer. The U.S. census has this information, and you don’t need it.

In all seriousness, the questions asked in the survey are overly nosy. They are not necessary if the state is just trying to judge road use. While I can understand the need for the state to count traffic – and they have done that for years using automated methods – there is no reason for the state to know the reasons for my travel. If you read the questions I quoted above, you can see that they are asking that question indirectly.

The information they are seeking is more closely akin to a marketing survey. I suspect that is exactly what it is. The state legislature has slowed TXDOT’s grand scheme to implement the Trans Texas Corridor. Now TxDOT is countering the legislature with a $9 million advertising campaign funded by your tax dollars that I have discussed in another column. The goal of that advertising campaign is to promote the need for the Trans Texas Corridor. The information requested in the targeted survey sent to my house would be extremely valuable in that advertising/propaganda campaign.

There was a time when Texas was known for its system of highways, and it was the envy of many other states. The great majority of these roads were toll free. Perhaps if TxDOT would quit wasting its time and taxpayers’ money on prying surveys and camera surveillance of mostly law abiding motorists/taxpayers, Texas roadways could once again be the envy of other states. By the way, when I contacted – the company TXDOT used to do the survey – they refused to divulge their ownership. I wonder if any members of the Texas government or their families are involved with the company?

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