14 thoughts on “Income-related fines

  1. If anything the current system is income related but inversely with better connected informed wealthier people more likely to be let off by the system altogether.

  2. Doesn’t seem they’re going to bring it up again. Moore objected to it on the grounds of a family of say 60 000 income and had several children and used it all on them. He added, what next dearer petrol for the wealthy too?

    They had a guy on from some Libertarian society I think – he agreed with the proposition.

    The callers were split about 50/50

  3. A few problems. Firstly it would be administratively very costly just like means testing social security payments currently, albeit for many piddling fines. This would raise the overall level of fines for all and impact on the less well off, assuming that the current level of finers is adequate now for general deterrence. Secondly the well to do are largely immune to fines for criminality. The largest impact on this group would be in the form of traffic and parking infringements. Here a lot of fines are automatically generated for administrative simplicity. Suddenly councils, private toll companies as well as state and federal police will all need access to ATO and Social Security records, presumably in order to set an appropriate fine. Hardly workable, with privacy concerns also problematic. JQ’s idea is also about to reward doctors wives and stay at home mums, when dad places the Merc or Commodore in her negligible income name. Also there is the problem of corporate ownership of cars. Currently a speed camera on my Co car will incur an additional fee of $300 if I don’t identify the driver(so they lose demerit points as well) This is designed to stop every self-employed courier, taxi-driver and truckie, etc from incorporating and enjoying an unfair advantage. If you say, wanted to ping me as an individual, $300 above the average weekly earner’s fine, then I would happily not identify myself but fall back on the company’s income. In this case you can go chase the BHPs, etc, because my Co doesn’t earn any profits as they are all distributed (to guess who?). ie. a zero income Co, compared to its publicly listed profit earning cousin. How then would you income relate a traffic fine I incur in my Co vehicle? JQ is always railing about the PAYG taxpayer copping more than his fair share of income tax. Now he wants to go and slug him even harder than his self-employed brethren, when he breaks exactly the same traffic law. Good one John.

  4. Observa’s argument doesn’t stand up . Clearly a company can’t be fined for an offence committed by an individual. So, at present, if the company refuses to nominate individual culprit it gets fined extra.

    Let’s just stick to this principle. If a company car is implicated in a crime, send out a fine notice based on a reasonable maximum personal income, say $200 000, and let the company decide whether it wants to protect the culprit and pay up, or nominate an individual as the driver.

    The general principle of fining corporations more than individuals is, of course, well established for precisely the kinds of reasons raised by observa.

  5. John, Peter Saunders raises some better points than I, but your response to my points is interesting to note. Your response to the costly administrative difficulty of even identifying an offender in my corporate case, clearly shows the default position of every well meaning lefty administrator. Basically you will assume the corporate offender is a rich bastard, just as you will presume every individual offender is a rich bastard, unless they can prove otherwise to you. In other words, everyone will have to pay the local council, private toll operator, state and federal police infringements section, the maximum rich bastard’s fine, unless they can front up with the proof that they aint. You have, by your own admission with simply identifying corporates, demonstrated how administratively costly you anticipate such a means testing process to be for everyone. Of course all offenders will have to bear this excessive additional cost burden, in the interests of equity.

    Let’s look at a simple example. One of my son’s mates has a habit of pulling up outside our house in front of a fire plug and pointing the wrong way (minm steps to our front door) As much as I tell him this is a bit antisocial and illegal it falls on deaf ears. Eventually he got a parking ticket for $48 from the local council last year. Now what you have to appreciate is that he’s basically a good lad but from a separated family. Mum is interstate and wealthy dad tends to spoil him with fast cars and the like. Not working at the time, he would be immediately one of JQ’s deserving poor, although he lived rent free in one of dad’s investment properties and received a fairly generous allowance. Actually, since then he has done a scaffolding ticket course and moved to WA (mum), where he now pulls big money on construction sites.

    Quest: How much would it cost in administration to reduce this deserving poor bloke’s fine down from the horrendous impost of $48, to something Prof Q thinks was more managable and fair at the time?

  6. It’s obvious that hard cases make bad law, and equally obvious that that’s not a good reason not to make laws of general application – while recognising that they will have unusual results at times. There’s already a great deal of variability in legal outcomes based on income and status (contrary to Peter Saunders’ “justice should be blind” argument) in allocating prison time and community service (if I recall correctly John Laws’ was not assigned community service because the judge felt he was already doing so thorugh his radio program), and a policy designed to, in some way redress that balance warrants consideration, even if it functions imperfectly.

    I think the only sensible argument against linking fines to income is the administrative cost and difficulty – if you can solve that effectively (perhaps an additional levy/rebate through the tax system based on fines paid that financial year?) then the system is worth implementing on moral grounds.

  7. The idea of means based traffic fines makes sense to me. The model I’m investigating is Finland, they fine people based upon income. Nokia’s CEO paid a fine in the millions for speeding. The penalty points should remain the same and the individual driving a vehicle is responsible for the fine and points even if he/she is not the vehicle owner.

    The idea is to have an equal deterrent for traffic violations and since money defines our ability to access the fruits of our society, we punish the poorer drivers by diminishing their cash reserves usable to pursue happiness, clothing, prescriptions, gas, doctors or food to support a court and police system that should be paid for by taxes. The fines should got to road improvement, driver education, and the community to offset future taxes.

    Income verification and financial standing are available via IRS records accessible immediately, if needed. If no records exist, the ticketing officer has an actual case to pursue. How can someone with no income afford to drive a car? If the driver has no visible means of support, the minimal fine can can be worked off at minimum wage unless someone else pays using their income as a base for the fine.

    Not perfect but workable until a better plan comes along.

    I am a staunch Republican proposing a Democratic plan.

    So much for my soapbox spiel.

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