Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let the Punishment Fit the - Net Worth?

From Zombie via GayandRight:

Last week the Swiss newspaper Blick broke the story [rough translation] of a guy who was caught driving above the speed limit through the town of M√∂rschwil and given a speeding ticket for $290,000. No, that’s not a typo — two hundred and ninety thousand dollars.

What could possibly justify such a large fine? One simple reason: The guy was rich. And under a new scheme of “progressive pricing” that’s becoming more and more common across Europe, rich people must pay higher fees for things because they can afford it — and because, well, they’re rich, and therefore deserve extra punishment.

Blick even featured a mugshot-like photo of the offender with the shocking caption, “Traffic thug Roland S. has five luxury cars in his garage.”

Horrors! Five fancy cars?!?! What an outrage. On that count alone we should condemn him. [...]

But wait — that’s not all! The British tabloid Express pointed out that the judges deciding on the size of his fine heard testimony that Roland S. was Facebook “friends” with Formula 1 stars Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa. Unforgivable!

As to how the judges arrived at the reasonable sum of $290,000, the Express notes:
Under Swiss law he was fined for the offence, then had the sum multiplied by 130 to account for his fortune.

The penalty is the highest speeding fine handed out in Switzerland. He was ordered to pay half of it in cash immediately with two years for the rest.

He was stopped last month driving at 85mph through the town of Morschwil, where the speed limit is 50mph.
The few American papers which covered this story safely classified it as “Today’s Weird News” or “Oddly Enough!”, an anecdote presented solely for our amusement, nothing to think about too deeply.

Yet The Fine of Roland is no mere bagatelle. It may be a vision of our future. And you should care very deeply indeed.

More Than Just a Funny Story

On Sunday, AP published an article pointing out the significance of Roland’s fine: Far from being an isolated incident, it’s part of a growing trend in Europe to scale fines and fees to match the payer’s income level:
European countries are increasingly pegging speeding fines to income as a way to punish wealthy scofflaws who would otherwise ignore tickets.

Advocates say a $290,000 (euro203,180.83) speeding ticket slapped on a millionaire Ferrari driver in Switzerland was a fair and well-deserved example of the trend.

Germany, France, Austria and the Nordic countries also issue punishments based on a person’s wealth. In Germany the maximum fine can be as much as $16 million compared to only $1 million in Switzerland. Only Finland regularly hands out similarly hefty fine to speeding drivers, with the current record believed to be a euro170,000 (then about $190,000) ticket in 2004.

The Swiss court appeared to set a world record when it levied the fine in November on a man identified in the Swiss media only as “Roland S.” Judges in the eastern canton of St. Gallen described him as a “traffic thug” in their verdict, which only recently came to light.

“As far as we’re concerned this is very good,” [said] Sabine Jurisch, a road safety campaigner with the Swiss group Road Cross. [More...]
No cash cow is out of bounds for these thieving socialist governments. Why levy fines at all? Why not make a community "service" or jail penalty for speeding universal?

It is just too tempting for cops to bust Lamborghini drivers who happen to break the speed limit and cash in. Heck, you might even earn some extra stripes back at the station that way.

Sorry, socialists, jealousy is not a pretense for distributing your warped version of "justice." As long as a guy doesn't steal his fortune, then it is his to keep and none of anyone's concern.


Anonymous said...

next time I guess the son of a bitch won't speed!

Reasonsjester said...

Maybe they should castrate him too?

Anonymous said...

Whenever I cross the Verrazano into Brooklyn onto the Belt, there is a sharp left turn around as one goes down the ramp; the sign clearly states that the speed limit is ~20 mph, but every time some guy, (probably Russian) is tailgating me; its annoying and I wish the NYPD were as quick to fine those types as the Swiss are.

James said...

I don't think you're getting it, anon. Highways in most countries are generally a public good (some being operated by private organizations of course) and as such are regulated by the government. You can make a pretty compelling argument that it is prudent of the government to enforce reasonable rules for the use of a public good, if detrimental use can reduce the value of the public good to others.

When people in the government decide that in addition to enforcing the rules, they're going to punish success, that's over the line.

This is perhaps a reductio ad absurdum argument, but imagine if everything worked this way: You have a number floating over your head that represents your accumulation of wealth as compared to your peers. This enables everyone whom you engage in monetary transactions with to judge you and set prices accordingly.

So with this number over your head, you walk into a fast food establishment. The man in front of you has a floating number so low as to be appreciably zero. He gets his meal for free. You order the very same meal and you're forced to pay a high sum, which you are able to afford because you're rich. This irks you, but it's only "fair." Continue on applying this to property taxes, income taxes, fines, general goods such as clothing and transportation, on and on. Not suddenly, but slowly, over time, your floating number dwindles away. But this is okay, because you can afford to spend more. Meanwhile, the guy getting his meal for free has a higher number because despite his lack of drive for success, he is operating at a profit in the system whilst you, the successful man, are forced to operate at a loss. It's only "fair."

This system that forces everyone to gravitate towards a new middle class is the vision of the leftists that are destroying our country.

The problem isn't so much that success is punished. People who have built a genuine drive to succeed under the old system of trading work for reward will keep trying until the new system kills them. But the new system doesn't build new successful men to take the place of the old ones it's used up.

The problem is that this kind of thinking rewards failure, and the average success of society as a whole is eroded away by this idea of entitlement. If you reward failure, you breed it. This is often expressed by the idiom "you reap what you sow."

Just because someone CAN afford something doesn't mean they HAVE to afford it.

In a functioning, self-sufficient economy, work is traded for reward.

Leftists can't stand success and to combat success, they impose that reward be distributed not based on work but based on how much reward you already have. It's "fair."

Now go back the original topic. A rich man breaks the law. He can afford to pay the fine for breaking the law and then some. But, to keep him from breaking the law again, it is decided to make him pay a sum that would deter future law-breaking to the same degree that it would deter a poorer man.

Their system is clearly broken. The Swiss have created a way to enforce the rules, but unfortunately, the consequence for breaking the rules is that your success is directly punished. The means of punishment should not arbitrarily punish each man's success but rather deteriorate what each and every man has an equal share of: rights. You abuse the public good, and you lose your rights to the public good to a corresponding degree. This protects the rights of others without regard to your wealth or social status. This is how it should be.

Free Speech Czar said...

Although James makes a good case in many aspects, I think you are both missing the point. In America, the Land of the Free (tm), the Great Obama will tell you if there is a public good, and how much you will pay for it. If you don't, you go to jail.

But it does amuse me how many of you freedom-loving Neanderthals (and you too, our clear-thinking friend Mr. Nony Mouse) think that debating our laws makes much of a difference. For example, in future America we will need millions of pillows for the Obama palace. If that means rich people pay higher speeding tickets, well, we say prepare for a lot of 15 mph speed zones. We wouldn't want you cute little citizens to go hurting yourselves, would we?