Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on March 10, 2009 By Draginol In Politics

In Finland, how much you make determines the amount of a fine.

For instance, a Finnish millionaire recently got a 112,000-euro speeding ticket (he was about 10 over).  That’s because the fine is calculated using what he earned last year.

So the guy who inherits his wealth and sits on his butt is fine. But the guy who’s working his rear end off gets penalized more.

Taking this to its logical conclusion, a young person should get more time in prison because he has more life available to him than an old person.

I understand the rationale – you want the punishment to be felt equally by all citizens. But this flies in the face of the concept of all people are equal in the eyes of the law. If the concern is that speeding is such a big deal (or any given crime) then lock them up.  But looking at how much someone earns as a means to determining punishment is repellent.

Consider this: Two people making the same amount per hour. One person chooses to work part time. The other person chooses to work 60 hours a week.  Both are caught speeding.  The person who works more ends up having to pay more.

It creates a society that punishes achievement. Luckily for Finland, it has a population of 5 million and is largely homogenous. So it can get away with this kind of thinly veiled class warfare.

In the United States, by contrast, such policies would be a disaster.

But take a look at how left-wing Digg users react:

http://digg.com/autos/Finnish_millionaire_gets_111_888_euro_speeding_ticket


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 10, 2009

In Finland, how much you make determines the amount of a fine...It creates a society that punishes achievement

The reverse - it creates a society that properly punishes lawlessness. If you're a millionaire, then paying say a 100EUR fine isn't going to bother you in the slightest - there's just no deterrant effect. Prison time for the lesser offences might similarly be a poor use. Far better to punish someone an equal amount, and to achieve that with a fine, it needs to be based on their income. Punishing a poor person by taking away 10% of their disposable income is going to have a far greater effect than punishing a rich person by taking away 0.0001% of their disposable income. Make them both pay a % of their income though and you've got an effective deterrant for both of them. The rich person still gets to earn more money by being successful, and keep that money, but if they break the law, they should face a meaningful punishment the same as anyone else.

 

Afterall jail time operates on a similar system - the cost to a rich person of 1 day in jail in monetary terms is vastly more than a poor person. The rich person might earn say 40k EUR a day, the poor person wouldn't even make 40 EUR. The rich person with 1 day in jail gets punished effectively with a 40k EUR fine, while the poor person with 1 day in jail gets punished with effectively a 40 EUR fine. If anything having a fixed level of fine regardless of the persons income while having equal jail times creates a massive inconsistency, with one method of punishment varying according to the target's income and another failing to take it into account.

So all the fine system is doing is saying 'you can either spend 1 day in jail, or you can pay 1 days income and stay out of jail'. I wish such a system was implimented here.

on Mar 10, 2009

I think Germany does this too. I seem to recall something about it on a show about the Autobahn. Maybe one of our German JU's can verify.

That seems to be the loophole. If your rich and don't work you're golden. Seems to me like it would cost more to verify everyones income, that's what we need here in the US, more bureaucracy!

on Mar 10, 2009

I understand the rationale – you want the punishment to be felt equally by all citizens. But this flies in the face of the concept of all people are equal in the eyes of the law.

The truth is, there is a huge double standard in how rich folks are treated when they commit crimes in most countries, and believe me it is in their favour.

By the way, I'm not talking "I have a million or two in the bank" rich, I'm talking a couple hundred million or billionaire rich. Look at Bernard Madoff.

This fellow STOLE approx 50 billion dollars and quite literally ruined the lives and futures of thousands of hardworking folks.

Now, if ol Bernie had robbed a few thousand from a bank and was dirt poor, you can bet that uncle Sam would turn over every financial rock in his life to get as much of the money back from  him as they could- he wouldn't see a red cent until  his debt had been repayed (or spent years in prison or a work release program through that prison)

Instead, he is filing to legally hold on to 60 million in cash and a multi-million dollar penthouse.

So, rob a couple thousand, you get taken to the cleaners.

Rob 50 billion, meh, get a couple mil in consolation!

 

 

 

on Mar 10, 2009

Artysim


I understand the rationale – you want the punishment to be felt equally by all citizens. But this flies in the face of the concept of all people are equal in the eyes of the law.
The truth is, there is a huge double standard in how rich folks are treated when they commit crimes in most countries, and believe me it is in their favour.
By the way, I'm not talking "I have a million or two in the bank" rich, I'm talking a couple hundred million or billionaire rich. Look at Bernard Madoff.
This fellow STOLE approx 50 billion dollars and quite literally ruined the lives and futures of thousands of hardworking folks.
Now, if ol Bernie had robbed a few thousand from a bank and was dirt poor, you can bet that uncle Sam would turn over every financial rock in his life to get as much of the money back from  him as they could- he wouldn't see a red cent until  his debt had been repayed (or spent years in prison or a work release program through that prison)
Instead, he is filing to legally hold on to 60 million in cash and a multi-million dollar penthouse.
So, rob a couple thousand, you get taken to the cleaners.
Rob 50 billion, meh, get a couple mil in consolation!
 

 

That has nothing to do with him being rich but rather the type of crime committed. I agree that white collar crime isn't punished severely enough but it's not because of the super rich.

on Mar 10, 2009

Interesting concept, so because someone has more money they should be punished much harder. I wonder, should this concept be applied to everything? Shoul people pay the same amount for a Whopper with cheese? Should a 46" Plama TV be cheaper for me? What about gas prices? Does this make any sense? I too undwerstand the point, but this is not equality, this is "I hate you cause you got more than me" belief.

on Mar 10, 2009

It creates a society that punishes achievement.

That's what happens when capitalism dies.  I wonder when that type of punishment will hit the US?    :karma:

on Mar 10, 2009

Well I think the concept here is that they want the punishment to have the same effect on people.

But the problem with that is that is assumes wealth generation is somehow unfairly distributed in the first place.  That is, they seem to assume the rich Finn unfairly got his wealth versus the poor on and thus the punishment focuses purely on the cash.

The problem with most socialists is that they have stopped equating income to labor. That is, when I am getting taxed at 40% or whatever, I don't look at the cash as much as I look at how many months I'm being forced to work for the government.

In a Social democracy like Finland, one has to ask: What constitutes the difference between being rich and being poor there? In the United States, there's a very direct relationship between hours worked per week and wealth (and it's not linear obviously).  

Thus the net effect of such income based fines is that one person is putting in more forced labor for the government than the other. And I find that pretty immoral.

on Mar 10, 2009

I've worked in a jail for fifteen years and I have yet to see a wealthy individual do real time. Oh, I've seen plenty get arrested (for everthing from DWI to family assault to theft to sexual assault and/or indecency with a child) and booked and sometimes even a tiny few of 'em manage to actually get convicted but somehow.... they mysteriously never do any time.

Hmmm...now it all depends on just how much justice can you afford? (old joke at my job when freshly arrested people ask about possible penalties  )

on Mar 10, 2009

I've worked in a jail for fifteen years and I have yet to see a wealthy individual do real time. Oh, I've seen plenty get arrested (for everthing from DWI to family assault to theft to sexual assault and/or indecency with a child) and booked and sometimes even a tiny few of 'em manage to actually get convicted but somehow.... they mysteriously never do any time.

What do you expect when rich lawyers write the rules?

on Mar 10, 2009

There is no doubt that money in large amounts being help by a single person can give that person a lot of leverage to pretty much get away with almost anything. But then wouldn't that be a good enough reason for people to want to make thier own wealth? I mean if everyone should be equal then why have different wages? Why not just pay everyone , say $15 an hour regardless what they do, make only a single type of vehicle, have only one kind of fast food. Hell lets just rid ourselves of options all together and live a dull life eating,dressing, watching, reading and drinking the same thing every day.

on Mar 10, 2009

Hell lets just rid ourselves of options all together and live a dull life eating,dressing, watching, reading and drinking the same thing every day.

Ever see Witness?

on Mar 10, 2009

 

There is no doubt that money in large amounts being help by a single person can give that person a lot of leverage to pretty much get away with almost anything. But then wouldn't that be a good enough reason for people to want to make thier own wealth?

Sure! Because then that way if you're flush with enough $$$ you can perv off with all the eleven year old little girls (or boys if it makes any diff) you want or drive drunk or beat the BeJesus outta your old lady when she gets out of line or what ever suits your fancy!

 

on Mar 11, 2009

Why not punish people by forcing them to do social work of some kind for a fixed number of hours?

That would still punish the productive more, regardless how rich they are, because they have less time. But they could combine this with unemployment benefits.

Instead of fining speeders 100 bucks (or 100,000 bucks if they are rich) they could force them to work in a soup kitchen for 10 hours (or 20 hours if they are on the dole).

 

on Mar 11, 2009

so because someone has more money they should be punished much harder. I wonder, should this concept be applied to everything? Shoul people pay the same amount for a Whopper with cheese?

How is that applying the same concept? If you break the law, you should face a punishment that will deter you from doing it again. Buying whoppers with cheese is perfectly legal and doesn't need a deterrant.

I think the concept here is that they want the punishment to have the same effect on people. But the problem with that is that is assumes wealth generation is somehow unfairly distributed in the first place.  That is, they seem to assume the rich Finn unfairly got his wealth

It makes no such assumption, and even if it did, the US punishment system would then be making the same assumption since jail time automatically punishes the rich more than the poor (in monetary terms). In fact the difference is even more extreme than in the example I gave previously, since I didn't take into account the benefit of being in jail - that is, you're given shelter and food, and if you're poor such things would cost money, meaning the effective punishment difference is even more massive proportionately, and also meaning it's more discriminatory against the rich than a fine that is based on the persons income!

 

the net effect of such income based fines is that one person is putting in more forced labor for the government than the other. And I find that pretty immoral.

If you punish someone based on the income they earn (which can typically be equated in an income per hour figure), then you are punishing the people with equal amounts of forced labour. If instead you have a fixed level of fine you're making the poor person have a far greater amount of forced labour than the rich person. A fixed fine is basically saying 'if you're poor, then do 200 hours of forced labour (for society). If you're rich and commit the same crime, do 1 hour of forced labour'. To me that's just not fair, and certainly isn't a deterrent for the rich person.

on Mar 11, 2009

If you punish someone based on the income they earn (which can typically be equated in an income per hour figure), then you are punishing the people with equal amounts of forced labour. If instead you have a fixed level of fine you're making the poor person have a far greater amount of forced labour than the rich person. A fixed fine is basically saying 'if you're poor, then do 200 hours of forced labour (for society). If you're rich and commit the same crime, do 1 hour of forced labour'. To me that's just not fair, and certainly isn't a deterrent for the rich person.

No you're not.

Two people make $10 per hour.

Person A works 50 hours a week and thus earns $500 a week.

Person B works 20 hours a week and earns $200 a week.

Person A and B get a ticket. Because Person A makes twice as much, he is fined $100.   Person B is only fined $40.

Thus, person A is forced to labor 10 hours for the government, person B is only forced to labor 4 hours for the government.

Again: like most left-wing societies, Finland is making the assumption that the main difference in wealth is unequal pay.  But statistically (at least in the US but probably even more so Finland) differences in earnings come from hours worked.

The poorest Americans aren't poor because they aren't paid enough. They're poor because they aren't working (for whatever reason).

Hence, the idea of having speeding tickets based on income is punishing those who work harder and rewarding those who choose not to work.