Just the ticket...
November 25, 2000 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Just the ticket... A 500,000 markka (£50,000ish) fine for speeding? If you're a dot-com millionaire in Finland, sure. Though you have to wonder whether it's about time to slap a ban on this speed merchant. (The debating point: should fines be related to income?)
posted by holgate (10 comments total)
Yes (obviously!). They tried it in the UK, but the papers (owned by rich people - surprise) killed it...

posted by andrew cooke at 4:52 AM on November 26, 2000

Oh but it's so nice when the state gets an surprise influx of cash and spends it to some good use (hopefully - we Finns do tend to think and hope so.) Wouldn't you agree that the fine has a nice educational value? Driving too fast for recreation IS reckless and if somebody gets killed in the process nothing can compensate for that.

Of course fines should be related to income. Otherwise people with enough money would see the judicial system and laws just as an minor annoyance, instead of something to respect and abide by.
posted by miku at 6:49 AM on November 26, 2000

So long as they are progressively related to income. Regressive ticketing would be pretty terrible and not really all that impossible to see happening.
posted by dcodea at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2000

Does that mean that really poor people get a rebate when they're caught speeding?
posted by Jart at 10:47 AM on November 26, 2000

The value of a fine relates directly to the disutility of the payer -- so it makes perfect sense in every aspect of punitive theory (retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence) to make fines proportionate to the income of the offender.

However, it should be noted, to be consistent this directly leads to the proposition that the poor should serve much longer prison sentences than the wealthy for the same crime, since the disutility of a unit of lost freedom for the typical poor criminal -- unemployed, making no meaningful contribution to society, profession or family -- is far less than the disutility of the same unit of lost time to the typical wealthy criminal -- well employed with lots of positive externalities in his work, occupying a very significant familial, communal and economic role.

This disproportionate sentencing theory has all the more force when one adds to the mix a key contemporary theory as to punishment: that one of its key values is the imposition of shame. Even a brief prison sentence is extraordinarily shameful for the offender and his family if they are middle class or higher, whereas stints in prison are unremarkable, even perversely honorable, in the milieu of poor street criminals.

Altogether, the logical extension of progressive fining to imprisonment would be very unpalatable for most people.
posted by MattD at 12:10 PM on November 26, 2000

This disproportionate sentencing theory has all the more force when one adds to the mix a key contemporary theory as to punishment: that one of its key values is the imposition of shame.

Bring back the pillory!
posted by holgate at 12:56 PM on November 26, 2000

Bring back the pillory! ... holgate, the renaissance of "shame" in contemporary legal/criminological thought is actually quite a liberal victory.

This is because the mainstream of post-war thought had real begun to assume that the milieu of the violent criminal was essentially _shameless_: no care for social standards, none of the sort of communal unwritten-law enforcement that thoroughly polices the suburbs. All you could do was lock away offenders for as long as possible and hope for the best from those left on the streets.

(By the way, in citing the key bases of punishment, I forget to name "incapacitation", together with three I did recall to name: retribution, rehabilitiation, and deterrence.)

Believing that an offender could be shamed, and that this shame would have salutory effect both upon his behavior and upon those in his community who witnessed (and, though their disapprobation, _caused_) the shaming, is actually a considerable leap in a leftish direction. It opens the door to all sorts of remedies -- such as a few days in the stocks, or some lashes at the pillory -- in substitution for hard jail time, that most right-wingers would regard as despicably bleeding-heart.
posted by MattD at 7:49 PM on November 26, 2000

MattD: you seemed to think that I was being sarcastic. ;)
posted by holgate at 10:36 PM on November 26, 2000

Check out Corporal Punishment which purports to be a comprehensive collection of links and stories on corporal punishment, although the preponderence of swatting-of-boys-in-posh-UK-public-schools stories suggests that the site's disclaimer of any erotic/fetish appeal may be a little bit of the lady protesting too much.
posted by MattD at 7:23 AM on November 27, 2000

There is a great thread on this topic over at Half Bakery. My vote? Great idea!
posted by silusGROK at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2000

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