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posted by martyb on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the cheaper-to-pay-someone-else-to-drive dept.

Joe Pinsker writes at The Atlantic that Finnish businessman Reima Kuisla was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country and ended up paying a fine of $56,000. The fine was so extreme because in Finland, some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings—and Kuisla's declared income was €6.5 million per year. Several years ago another executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle.

Finland’s system for calculating fines is relatively simple: It starts with an estimate of the amount of spending money a Finn has for one day, and then divides that by two—the resulting number is considered a reasonable amount of spending money to deprive the offender of. Then, based on the severity of the crime, the system has rules for how many days the offender must go without that money. Going about 15 mph over the speed limit gets you a multiplier of 12 days, and going 25 mph over carries a 22-day multiplier. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland also have some sliding-scale fines, or “day-fines,” in place.

[More after the break.]

Should such a system be used in the United States? After all, wealthier people have been shown to drive more recklessly than those who make less money. For example Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates. But more importantly, day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor. Last week, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on how fines have been doled out in Ferguson, Missouri. "Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs," it concluded.

The first day-fine ever in the U.S. was given in 1988, and about 70 percent of Staten Island’s fines in the following year were day-fines. A similar program was started in Milwaukee, and a few other cities implemented the day-fine idea. Nevertheless, in America, flat-rate fines are the norm and day-fines remain unusual and even exotic.

According to Judith Greene, who founded Justice Strategies, a non-profit research organization, all of these initiatives were effective in making the justice system fairer for poor people. “When considering a proportion of their income, people are at least constantly risk-averse. This means that the worst that would happen is that the deterrent effect of fines would be the same across wealth or income levels,” says Casey Mulligan. "We should start small—say, only speeding tickets—and see what happens."

 
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  • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Tuesday March 17 2015, @09:16PM

    More formally, this is my argument:

    1. Speeding is dangerous.
    2. Dangerous behavior should result in jail time (subject to a laundry list of exceptions that boil down to "reasonableness").
    3. Similar behavior should be punished and/or deterred similarly.

    Therefore, all speeding should result in jail time (though not necessarily of the same duration).

    This is an argumentum ad absurdum: the conclusion is ridiculous, but follows inescapably from the premises, and so one or more of the premises must be incorrect. The conclusion I want people to reach is that (1) is false: that a great deal of what is currently defined as "speeding" is not, in fact, dangerous at all. This is a point you make yourself:

    Your 'argumentum ad absurdum' isn't a very good one. I posit that (1) is false, as it should read "Speeding can be dangerous" and that (2) is an attempt at a false equvalence. If I stick my hand in a hot oven to retrieve an item without an oven mitt, that's dangerous. Should I go to jail?

    If I go skydiving, should I be jailed? How about unprotected sex with a stranger?

    Premise (3) is actually pretty good. What is lacking there is that it should read "Similar behavior should be punished and/or deterred via means that have a similar effect."

    Without that last bit, you ignore the reasoning behind fines for traffic infractions. Which is to deter that sort of behavior because it increases the risk of damage/injury/death to the perpetrator and others.

    In order to have a deterrent effect, such fines must be inconvenient at the least. Depending upon the resources available to a particular offender, what is inconvenient/unpleasant/an actual deterrent varies significantly.

    That I have to state that explicitly is kind of ridiculous, since that should obvious to any adult who isn't brain damaged or otherwise impaired.

    So. you're obviously brain damaged, drunk/high, trolling, or some combination thereof. If you're trolling, I apologize to the SN community for feeding you.

    Otherwise, I suggest you seek professional help.

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  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:11AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:11AM (#159166) Journal

    It is not that it is not a very good reductio ad absurdum, it is that the poster has no idea what a reductio is.

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