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Government is not necessarily your friend.

Consider red-light traffic-enforcement cameras. They're the biggest scam municipalities ever embraced, bogus safety measures designed to generate revenue through automated traffic enforcement.

Chicago, naturally, is one of the biggest offenders, raking in so much cash that city officials dare not even dream of getting rid of them.

The red-light-camera program was steeped in corruption from the beginning when city officials decided which company got the sales bid based on how much they paid for the special privilege.

But the corruption didn't stop there, as reporters examined how the camera program operates. The cameras proved just as likely to cause accidents as prevent them. City officials fudged on the time limitations to ensure more undeserved tickets were issued. Finally, cameras were located at high-traffic intersections where safety wasn't an issue, but return on investment was.

The little guys fought back in the only way little guys can — through the courts. They won a $38 million class-action settlement from the city as punishment for failing to send a second notice of violation before guilt was determined and doubling the fine for late payment of fines sooner than the law allowed.

'Twas a minor victory — the lawyers got one-third of the settlement while the average check to 1.2 million aggrieved motorists was expected to be about $36.

But settlements like this offer even less than the small change they make available.

So far, according to news reports, only about 40 percent of those eligible have claimed their share of the settlement, a pittance though it may be.

That's another part of the class-action-litigation scam. Cities like Chicago settle for $38 million knowing that they won't have to pay a big part of it because what they offer to those victimized isn't worth the time of trying to collect it. That's why, when they face legal exposure, they reach friendly agreements with the class-action lawyers who benefit by being promptly paid.

A better solution would be for the Legislature to ban red-light cameras in Illinois. They serve no purpose other than to fleece citizens of their hard-earned cash.