Should fines for crimes be based on income and wealth? Watch

yawn
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#41
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#41
I know that fines for offences dealt with by Magistrates Courts are decided on the basis of income - at least for Drink/Driving, and certainly in my local Magistrates Court they are.

You read about them every week in the local rag, and it seems to be that the fine is equivalent to one week's gross salary/wage.
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SolInvictus
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#42
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#42
It depends on what the purpose of fines are. If they are intended to act as a payment to repair the ill outcome of an action, much like a tax, then they should be kept at a flat payment. However, I believe fines are a form of punitive action in the form of payments, and that therefore they should be based upon wealth. A one thousand pound fine for drunk or reckless driving is hardly going to affect Lakshmi Mittal now, is it. On the other hand, loosing some of his millions in income would make serve the purpose of fines better.
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em_ily31
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#43
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ok, so i agree that a 60 quid fine means more to someone on a lower income, than some millionaire

but that in turn is punishing them because a] they commited a crime (fair dos) but b] because they have more money

that what i'm saying - how is that fair?

its the complete double standard - any person, any crime, same punishment - surely thats fair?

my arguement about taxation etc is, if a person is earning 5k a year, they live to buget of 5k a year, if a person ears 205k a year, they live to that amount, surely nobody in their right mind, earns crazy money to live like a hobo. it's their prerogative what they spend their money on, as it is for everybody else.

the services taxation pays for as [supposidly] for everybody, so why shouldnt everyone pay equal tax? why shouldnt everyone pay equally for a crime?
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Libertinex
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#44
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(Original post by em_ily31)
ok, so i agree that a 60 quid fine means more to someone on a lower income, than some millionaire

but that in turn is punishing them because a] they commited a crime (fair dos) but b] because they have more money

that what i'm saying - how is that fair?

its the complete double standard - any person, any crime, same punishment - surely thats fair?

my arguement about taxation etc is, if a person is earning 5k a year, they live to buget of 5k a year, if a person ears 205k a year, they live to that amount, surely nobody in their right mind, earns crazy money to live like a hobo. it's their prerogative what they spend their money on, as it is for everybody else.

the services taxation pays for as [supposidly] for everybody, so why shouldnt everyone pay equal tax? why shouldnt everyone pay equally for a crime?
Where to start. I think it all depends on what you think the state exists for in social terms and what you think the purposes of the tax system are. You seem to admit that taxation is justified, but you argue in favour of a poll tax. I think the main argument for progressive taxation is the fact that the wealthier you are the more able you are to pay without experiencing a material detriment to your living standards. Where as if we intended to keep up the same level of public services then the poll tax would be required to be greater than the lower tax band at the moment. Therefore, the poorer would pay more tax than they do now. The difference being that in paying a higher rate of taxation their living standards will possibly be affected i.e. they may have to buy less food or use less heating etc. Nobody who pays the 40% makes similar sacrafices in order to pay tax (maybe they go one less holiday?). Therefore it is argued fairer to structure a tax system (at least in part) based on the ability to pay. Obviously if you don't give a **** about people then you'll disagree with taxation all together. But if you think something like society ought to try and minimise loss while maximising gains then taxation is a good way of doing this (in accepting such values you would need to also accept that gains although maximised ought not to be unlimited). So it all turns on what you think is fair.

As to your point on the fines you said: 'that in turn is punishing them because a] they commited a crime (fair dos) but b] because they have more money'. That is not the case. There is no punishment because they have more money. That has nothing to do with the cause of the punishment. Cause of the punishment = crime. Think, 5% of my wealth is worth as much to me; as 5% of your wealth is worth to you. So me being fined 5% for a crime and you being fined 5% for a crime will punish us equally and we will expereince the same sense of loss (but not the same loss in objective terms). Do you see? Would it be fair for me to be fined 1% of my wealth for a crime; while you are fined 100% of your wealth for the same crime? Surely equal crime = equal punishment is fair - as you suggest in your closing statement, 'why shouldnt everyone pay equally for a crime?'. Why not indeed? (equality before the law and all that)?
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jgupta
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#45
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Yes because in theory the idea of a fine is not to benefit the government financailly, but to punish the finee (that a word?)

A rich man obviously places a different value on money than a poor one, so if they are given absolute fines it will serve a more powerful lesson to the poor man.
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em_ily31
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#46
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#46
(Original post by Libertinex)
Where to start. I think it all depends on what you think the state exists for in social terms and what you think the purposes of the tax system are. You seem to admit that taxation is justified, but you argue in favour of a poll tax. I think the main argument for progressive taxation is the fact that the wealthier you are the more able you are to pay without experiencing a material detriment to your living standards. Where as if we intended to keep up the same level of public services then the poll tax would be required to be greater than the lower tax band at the moment. Therefore, the poorer would pay more tax than they do now. The difference being that in paying a higher rate of taxation their living standards will possibly be affected i.e. they may have to buy less food or use less heating etc. Nobody who pays the 40% makes similar sacrafices in order to pay tax (maybe they go one less holiday?). Therefore it is argued fairer to structure a tax system (at least in part) based on the ability to pay. Obviously if you don't give a **** about people then you'll disagree with taxation all together. But if you think something like society ought to try and minimise loss while maximising gains then taxation is a good way of doing this (in accepting such values you would need to also accept that gains although maximised ought not to be unlimited). So it all turns on what you think is fair.

As to your point on the fines you said: 'that in turn is punishing them because a] they commited a crime (fair dos) but b] because they have more money'. That is not the case. There is no punishment because they have more money. That has nothing to do with the cause of the punishment. Cause of the punishment = crime. Think, 5% of my wealth is worth as much to me; as 5% of your wealth is worth to you. So me being fined 5% for a crime and you being fined 5% for a crime will punish us equally and we will expereince the same sense of loss (but not the same loss in objective terms). Do you see? Would it be fair for me to be fined 1% of my wealth for a crime; while you are fined 100% of your wealth for the same crime? Surely equal crime = equal punishment is fair - as you suggest in your closing statement, 'why shouldnt everyone pay equally for a crime?'. Why not indeed? (equality before the law and all that)?
Supposedly the more you earn the more you can pay right? But they do not take into account the vast outgoings from many people’s accounts, and I’m not talking channel bags and the like. I live in a really old house that literally eats money, heating power general upkeep etc etc, plus 3 cars of which none a particularly ‘flashy’ nor sit in the garage unused, they are all used daily, plus school fees for two, I think its your disposable income which should be taken into account, and don’t even get me started on council tax. I would argue that certainly in my case my disposable income is lower than people on a lower wage than my family, what are we supposed to do – sell the house to pay for a parking ticket?? [stupid example I know but you get the idea]. Its when you see yobs smoking and drinking themselves to an early death, which in turn costs the state even more money = higher taxation, shouldn’t they be taxed more as they cost the state more, whereas a family who are upstanding members of a community and are always law abiding are forced to pay more. I honestly don’t see a problem with a pay-as-you-go style system, obv there will still need to be taxes, but a much lower, basic level, and then you simply pay for what your going to use, isn’t that fairer? Its proven successful in Europe and America. Perhaps if the government stopped wasting money on such stupid things as EMA and ridiculous benefits for people who clearly are just too lazy to work they would have more money for things and therefore not come up with such stupid proposed schemes as this.

Either I’m misreading completely what your second point is saying but my point was – whoever it is, whatever they earn, whatever the crime = equal punishment, and equal means the same right? They charge a poorer person say 60 quid for a parking ticket, they charge a richer person 60 quid for a parking ticket? Isn’t that equal?

I understand your point about it being relative, but that doesn’t support your previous comments about it being fair. Its not ‘fair’ to charge one person one thing and another different.
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lolimemma
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#47
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#47
As far as I can see no one has mentioned the fact that a fine isn't the only punishment for speeding. You also get points on your licence and then lose your licence... That is more of a deterrent for richer people who can afford to pay the fines.
Imo it would be unjust to set a fine directly related to income.
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em_ily31
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#48
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#48
(Original post by lolimemma)
As far as I can see no one has mentioned the fact that a fine isn't the only punishment for speeding. You also get points on your licence and then lose your licence... That is more of a deterrent for richer people who can afford to pay the fines.
Imo it would be unjust to set a fine directly related to income.
extremely good point

you cant 'buy' back your licence however hard you try
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joker_900
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#49
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#49
I think it's a ridiculous idea

1. Not everyone with a high income can afford a large fine. Someone might be pulling in a lot of income but be supporting a large family and have a huge mortgage. One can't just consider the extremes of a super rich footballer and an unemployed person living in a council house.

2. It's just unfair. Should a prison sentence length be a percentage of your estimated remaining life? After all, giving a cancer stricken 80 year old murderer a 5 year sentence means he may well die in prison, yet the same sentence to a healthy 18 year old may be a lesser deterrent?
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Libertinex
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#50
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(Original post by em_ily31)

Either I’m misreading completely what your second point is saying but my point was – whoever it is, whatever they earn, whatever the crime = equal punishment, and equal means the same right? They charge a poorer person say 60 quid for a parking ticket, they charge a richer person 60 quid for a parking ticket? Isn’t that equal?

I understand your point about it being relative, but that doesn’t support your previous comments about it being fair. Its not ‘fair’ to charge one person one thing and another different.
The prinicple is equal punishment. All you are saying is 'that's equal isn't it'...equal what? Not equal punishment. See my example above for what is equal punishment . So to answet your question equal does not necessarily mean the same.

Of course it supports my first point about it being fair. I believe that equal punishment for all, is a fair principle. Just because you think that it is fairer to charge everybody the same rather than ensure equal punishment doesn't mean that my points are contradictory. You simply have different values to me, as i said it all comes down to what each person thinks as fair. You can't set an objective definition of what fair is.
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Libertinex
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#51
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#51
Ohh and as to your practicality thing, i agree it should be your disposable income which is taken into account.
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Tufts
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#52
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#52
(Original post by randomgirl)
I understand why it could be a good thing (e.g. to make rich wrong-doers lose out on a substanial amount of money), but the main issue is why should a richer person have to pay more than a poorer person?
I understand and appreciate all your points, however what incentive (apart from reputational) would rich people have not to commit fraud, etc if the punishment was not sufficient?
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Ishtar
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#53
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(Original post by em_ily31)
Supposedly the more you earn the more you can pay right? But they do not take into account the vast outgoings from many people’s accounts, and I’m not talking channel bags and the like. I live in a really old house that literally eats money, heating power general upkeep etc etc, plus 3 cars of which none a particularly ‘flashy’ nor sit in the garage unused, they are all used daily, plus school fees for two, I think its your disposable income which should be taken into account, and don’t even get me started on council tax. I would argue that certainly in my case my disposable income is lower than people on a lower wage than my family, what are we supposed to do – sell the house to pay for a parking ticket?? [stupid example I know but you get the idea].
Well, no. This system would clearly not work in practice. If people are aware that it is their disposable income against which their tax is calculated then they will reduce their disposable income to the level at which they benefit from minimum tax but still have enough for their living expenses at a chosen level. So you will have people wastefully living in much larger houses than they want or need purely for tax planning purposes.

Also, the 'vast outgoings from many people's accounts' are down to their personal choices, made with full knowledge of the current tax bands in the UK. So that's just tough. Why should a family who have chosen to live in an old house with expensive upkeep pay less tax than a family who have the same income but have chosen to live in a new house with less expensive upkeep? That is equally unfair.
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Ishtar
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#54
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(Original post by em_ily31)
Either I’m misreading completely what your second point is saying but my point was – whoever it is, whatever they earn, whatever the crime = equal punishment, and equal means the same right? They charge a poorer person say 60 quid for a parking ticket, they charge a richer person 60 quid for a parking ticket? Isn’t that equal?

I understand your point about it being relative, but that doesn’t support your previous comments about it being fair. Its not ‘fair’ to charge one person one thing and another different.
Equal surely does not mean the same in this context. For example, imagine we lived in Singapore where flogging is still a legitimate punishment for many crimes. A punishment of, say, 6 strokes might have a directly equal effect on a woman and a man, but indirectly it is probably going to have a far greater effect on the health of the woman. Your appeal to 'fairness' does not really carry any weight because in actual fact what is fair is what has the same practical effect.

However, I would object to the varying of fines depending on wealth for the following reasons:
1. One of the important functions of punishment is its communicative element - it conveys to the public a message about how seriously the crime is viewed. Were we to vary punishment depending on personal circumstances the public would become easily muddled as to how blameworthy the behaviour was in the first place.
2. Fines are at the bottom of the sentencing ladder in the UK. They are not really meant to be a severe finanancial penalty, rather they are a way of conveying the censure element of the punishment. Here, the main detriment to the offender lies in damage to his reputation rather than financial hardship.
3. If we go down the path of varying punishment according to personal circumstances we get into very murky territory - already this job is done as far as is possible (without intruding too much on the principle of proportionality in sentencing) by the plea in mitigation that will be delivered by the defendant's counsel before sentencing.
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The Solitary Reaper
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#55
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Oh, I think this is a great idea, really. The people saying it's unfair - how is it unfair?

If, say, both offenders lose two weeks net salary, but for one person this is £600 and the other it is £13,000, why is this unjust? Or to put it the other way, why should one person lose a hefty chunk of their income because they earn lower, whilst another get away barely feeling the fine?

People are crying "equality!" but it is equality; parties would lose an equal amount of their income, rather than a flat rate. At the moment, the system could take 10% of one person's yearly income but 0.01% of another's. Is that equality? Is that fairness?

I think the problem is a) the fiscal conservatism of people, particularly on TSR, and b) people only seem willing to understand a fine in terms of how much money it is, regardless of context.

To me, setting the rate either at a number of weekly net salaries or a percentage of yearly net salary is much more fair. This is equality before the law.

Also, everyone saying "but they have huge outgoings!" - similarly, the people on lower incomes have outgoings that will be this damaged in the current system, whilst richer people avoid this. All you are saying is that those with higher incomes deserve to be able to scoot through a fine whilst poorer people should be hit hard, and that hitting rich people similarly hard is wrong.

What a load of crap.
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joker_900
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#56
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(Original post by The Solitary Reaper)
Oh, I think this is a great idea, really. The people saying it's unfair - how is it unfair?

If, say, both offenders lose two weeks net salary, but for one person this is £600 and the other it is £13,000, why is this unjust? Or to put it the other way, why should one person lose a hefty chunk of their income because they earn lower, whilst another get away barely feeling the fine?

People are crying "equality!" but it is equality; parties would lose an equal amount of their income, rather than a flat rate. At the moment, the system could take 10% of one person's yearly income but 0.01% of another's. Is that equality? Is that fairness?

I think the problem is a) the fiscal conservatism of people, particularly on TSR, and b) people only seem willing to understand a fine in terms of how much money it is, regardless of context.

To me, setting the rate either at a number of weekly net salaries or a percentage of yearly net salary is much more fair. This is equality before the law.

Also, everyone saying "but they have huge outgoings!" - similarly, the people on lower incomes have outgoings that will be this damaged in the current system, whilst richer people avoid this. All you are saying is that those with higher incomes deserve to be able to scoot through a fine whilst poorer people should be hit hard, and that hitting rich people similarly hard is wrong.

What a load of crap.
Firstly your assuming that people with a higher income can afford to spare more money. People with a higher income will generally live in a bigger house, with a more lavish lifestyle, etc. They don't spend the exact same amount as the lesser earning person per week and hoard the rest. Thus fining them equal percentages is unjust - the lesser earning person may well have £600 to spare but how likely is it that the higher earning person has £13000 sitting in his bank? The larger fine would draw them into debt, making it an increasingly larger fine due to larger interest. Running with what someone said earlier, it would be analogous to giving a man twice as many lashes, whilst not taking into the account whether this man is actually more physically able to withstand them.

And really who is is for you to say that an equal percentage is more equal than an absolute value? Whatever your apparent intentions are, you would be punishing someone firstly for committing a crime, and then for being a high earner (something they may have worked very hard to achieve).
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The Solitary Reaper
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(Original post by joker_900)
Firstly your assuming that people with a higher income can afford to spare more money. People with a higher income will generally live in a bigger house, with a more lavish lifestyle, etc. They don't spend the exact same amount as the lesser earning person per week and hoard the rest. Thus fining them equal percentages is unjust - the lesser earning person may well have £600 to spare but how likely is it that the higher earning person has £13000 sitting in his bank? The larger fine would draw them into debt, making it an increasingly larger fine due to larger interest. Running with what someone said earlier, it would be analogous to giving a man twice as many lashes, whilst not taking into the account whether this man is actually more physically able to withstand them.

And really who is is for you to say that an equal percentage is more equal than an absolute value? Whatever your apparent intentions are, you would be punishing someone firstly for committing a crime, and then for being a high earner (something they may have worked very hard to achieve).
I'm not even going to attempt to respond to this. I imagine you're the sort of person that believes people deserve their natural assets and talents etc. as well. Never mind.
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joker_900
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#58
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(Original post by The Solitary Reaper)
I'm not even going to attempt to respond to this. I imagine you're the sort of person that believes people deserve their natural assets and talents etc. as well. Never mind.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, but i assume your trying to label and possibly offend me, which is petty.
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The Solitary Reaper
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(Original post by joker_900)
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, but i assume your trying to label and possibly offend me, which is petty.
Not at all, though that you fail to follow a thread from "people deserve their earnings" to "people deserve the assets that afford them a significant portion of those earnings despite having no choice in the matter" is telling.

Do you think someone deserves to be significantly more successful in life because they were born naturally more intelligent than others, or were given more opportunities to cultivate their abilities, despite having done nothing at all to deserve this?
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joker_900
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#60
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(Original post by The Solitary Reaper)
Do you think someone deserves to be significantly more successful in life because they were born naturally more intelligent than others, or were given more opportunities to cultivate their abilities, despite having done nothing at all to deserve this?
I believe that people who work harder to achieve deserve more. But a person is the influence of their genetics plus the influence of their upbringing. So if you don't believe that someone born more intelligent, and raised in a better way to cultivate their abilities, deserves more, then you can't believe that anyone deserves anything. e.g. winston churchill doesn't deserve respect because it was a combination of his genetics and upbringing that led him to be the man he became?

I'm not sure if that is worded particularly well, but in the short, yes i do believe that.

And this isn't really the issue here.
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