We have a way of letting things that are wrong creep on us, encroaching dangerously to threaten our freedom as Americans. The federal government's $14.5 trillion budget deficit is one example.

Another are those traffic-camera scams pervasive in cities and states throughout the country. From Chattanooga, Tenn., to Washington, D.C., to Chicago, to the West Coast and in many places in between, they will tell you it's all about safety -- not money.

Yet the truth is, it's all about money, not safety.

Consider only that the tickets from red light cameras and speeding traffic cameras are designed to give the vehicle a ticket. But a car can't drive itself, and running a red light or speeding is according to all definitions a moving violation. To get a car moving, it takes a driver, and only a driver can be ticketed.

Or that's the way it should be. Laws have been changed in many municipalities and states, however, through lobbying efforts pushed hard by traffic camera companies, to make camera tickets no different than a parking fine -- establishing the car as the offender. The fines are guilty until the vehicle owner says they are guilty and pays the fine.

No exception is pretty much the rule. There's no court date, no chance to plead innocent -- nothing. Just a fine that comes through the mail, typically sent by the independent traffic camera company which gets 50 percent or more of the fine. For these companies, the traffic-camera scam is a cash cow. For cities and states that have sold away your American rights, it's also a cash cow.

Many government officials in the states where traffic cameras are employed use safety as their excuse. But consider this: The traffic cameras are merely taking police officers off the streets, putting citizens at greater risk. At a a roadway with a history of accidents and traffic deaths, for instance, speeding cameras are installed, tickets are mailed out by the thousands, and statistics will be cited that citizens have become safer from it all.

Sorry it has to infringe upon your rights, they'll hint, but our job is to keep the streets safe.

But it takes a police officer to detect a drunk driver. A camera just can't do it.

Dangerous roads would be safer if police officers staked them out, having the ability to stop speeders, look inside the car and determine if the driver is intoxicated. By tackling dangerous roadways with traffic cameras in the name of safety, one drunk driver after another can cruise on home and we just hope and pray that they don't don't kill someone before the traffic camera ticket arrives in the mail.

We need police officers to keep us safe, and protect our rights. And we need government agencies in America to value our freedom more than dollars. Traffic cameras are a crime against American justice, and we should work hard to root them out, wherever they are.