The Age of Enlightenment?

A Captain in the LAPD has responded to critics (link no longer available) of general surveillance by saying that Americans objected to street lights when they were first installed because they made it easier to see what people were up to at night. There is, of course, a rather large difference between allowing for people to see what goes on in public areas and recording everything that goes on there. The difference is, perhaps, akin to the difference between the Providential God who might be anywhere but is not necessarily in any given place at any given point in time and the Pantheist God who inheres everywhere in nature at all times.

Meanwhile, the only example of I know of street lamps being erected in American history is in Philadelphia in the 18th century. Benjamin Franklin says that some credit him with introducing lighting to the streets of Philadelphia. In fact:

“It was by a private person, the late Mr. John Clifton, his giving a sample of the utility of lamps, by placing one at his door, that the people were first impress’d with the idea of enlighting all the city. The honour of this public benefit has also been ascrib’d to me but it belongs truly to that gentleman. I did but follow his example, and have only some merit to claim respecting the form of our lamps, as differing from the globe lamps we were at first supply’d with from London.”

Nowadays, would the government let Mr. Clifton do that?