Is there a logical fallacy to this tired argument about speeding tickets?

I often hear the tired old argument that cops shouldn’t be “wasting their time” writing people speeding tickets when there are other, more serious criminals that they should be spending their time on.

Is there an logical fallacy somewhere inside this argument?

I’m looking for a factual answer here, but I understand that the idea of logical fallacies can be sort of opinionated, so if it needs to be moved to IMHO I understand.

I kind of agree with the notion but the fallacy you might be looking for is false dichotomy.

If you said the police could only do one or the other, there’d be a false dichotomy. But if you acknowledge that they have a finite amount of resources that can be spent in various exclusive ways, then it’s not a fallacy to say that they should be spending it one way over the other - it’s a value judgement.

All activities have a region of diminishing returns. Presumably the police, or any other organization, should keep doing each activity up to the point where the last dollar spent in each category is equalized.

Is murder important? Sure. But so is reducing traffic fatalities. It is by no means clear that shifting a traffic cop over to homicide would reduce the amount of mayhem in any given jurisdiction.

Agreed, although in most cases, it’s probably a value judgment based on scant information - that is, the person complaining has no idea how much resource is budgeted to various other kinds of police work, compared to this.

So it could be hasty generalisation, combined with cognitive bias (this is all I ever see the police doing, therefore, this is all the police actually do)

Doesn’t that argument assume sufficient budget in each category to reach that point (for each category)?

If there isn’t enough budget in any category to reach the break even point, then it does become valid to start looking at comparative returns across categories, doesn’t it?

So it sounds like to me that people making this claim have left themselves open to a large burden of proof test. If they don’t provide the evidence to back up their assertions, their argument is just baseless speculation?

I’m a little fuzzy exactly how burden of proof in arguments work, anyway.

Well, you could ask them to make an argument. Make them demonstrate how police working on more serious crime has a higher benefit than writing traffic tickets. Compare the reduction in homicides per police manhour vs reduction in injuries from traffic accidents with increased traffic monitoring. That’s where the actual argument is.

But they’re not necesarily being fallacious. It’s a valid value judgement to say that you prefer a society in which more police resources are spent catching criminals vs enforcing traffic laws.

According to a police friend road traffic legislation is a very specialised subject and those who work with it are experts. It wouldn’t be very cost efficient to train people to work in that field and then have them do other stuff instead.

Also where do you draw the line?
If I sexually assault someone, should I expect to get away with it, because, y’know, there are murderers out there?

Traffic tickets are probably a profit center, with the added bonus of encouraging adherence to traffic laws.

Why don’t we just admit that speeding tickets are a tax, levied on those who wish to drive faster than the posted speed limits. So, integrate a device into the car’s computer, and record the miles/duration where the vehicles is driven over the limit (a roadside transponder can do this)-send a monthly bill to the violators. This would be more efficient and waste less police resources.

Speeding tickets, speed-traps etc. are not just to make money. The prime reason for them is to make people slow down, especially at places where many accidents have happened/could happen, thus reducing the numbers of accidents and fatalities.

Since this is GQ, here is actual evidence to support the thesis that traffic law enforcement (e.g. penalties for speeding), do reduce fatal crashes (i.e. saves lives).

There’s nothing illogical about saying a particular worker should be spending more time on job X instead of job Y. However, if you don’t have any idea how much time is spent on X and Y, nor do you state (and support) the appropriate mix of time spent on X and Y, what kind of argument are you submitting? I don’t think it’s a fallacy so much as it’s an empty argument, there’s no meat on them bones.

“It’s more important that police solve murders than ticket speeders.” Gee, thanks J. Edgar, I wouldn’t have thought that one up all on my own.

It is “Defining Deviancy Down” - the phrase coined by Sen. Patrick Moynihan for the phenomenon.

It is not a tax. It is a safety regulation. That’s just as absurd as saying that we should just tax murderers at a higher rate.

It’s also likely that there are a LOT more individual instances of speeding than murder.

“Those” people are complaing that “they” recieved a speeding ticket.

I question what they think is a serious crime/criminal. Issuing speeding tickets reduces the numbers of speeders along a particular section of roadway. If I “knew” that I could not or would never be given a speeding ticket on I-88, I would never, ever drive on I-88. Why? Because the only people driving on I-88 would be the people driving their cars as fast as the car will go. You’ll have a mix of 95 mph to 180 mph vehicles. Good luck merging into that. Some of them won’t survive the trip and they will take other drivers with them when they crash.

There would be less of a chance of getting killed in an armed robbery and armed robbery is generally considered to be a serious crime.

Society has decided that there should be speed limits and that those speed limits should be enforced. Enforcement means issuing tickets for speeding. My advice to people who whine that police should be spend more time chasing serious criminals is that if they and everyone else stopped breaking the law by speeding, there would be more police available to deal with serious criminals.

And who is going to pay for setting up this system, and once operating, paying the ongoing costs?