The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Blog Spots

Thanks to Idiot/Savant for his grand coverage of the Fiji situation (much easier than trying to work out what is going on from the MSM) and also for highlighting NZ Human Rights Lawyer, a new blog on wot it says it's on.

Also new and noticed is The Coalmine Regulatory Committee, where Darcy has already written a fab post on the idea of differentiated fines, which I agree with wholeheartedly, particularly the following:

To someone who earns $30,000 a year, a $1,000 fine is certainly more economically damaging than such a fine would be to a person who earns $100,000 in a year. Therefore, the person on the higher income is being punished less severely than the person on the lower income – over three times less severely, if yearly income is the only variable we take into account. This is not equitable. These two people, by being given the exact same punishment, are being treated unequally by the law.

I've often thought about this, particularly in relation to speeding fines - for those who are well able to pay, speeding tickets become similar to a fee to speed. While the demerit point system goes some way to even the punishment (and thus deterrent) out, you can still do a certain amount of speeding and simply shell out some dosh for the privilege, which is all fine and dandy if you have a lot of spare readies to flutter about. Must be rather frustrating for the police I imagine.

Good stuff to start the new year with.

6 comments:

Darcy said...

Thanks for the mention, Span!

I'd like to encourage all like-minded people to come and peruse the Coalmine Committee and take up the good fight against illogical right-wing ranting.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the sentiment....but just to play devils advocate for a moment...culdnt it be argued that a person who earns 100k a year who is sent to prison is more severely punished than someone on 30k, as they have foregone more potential earnings? I know the analogy is not perfect. the main punishment is simply loss of liberty, but isnt there some comparison?

Carl=)

Darcy said...

That's an excellent point.
The chiefest argument against it is that potential earnings are not the only thing you lose when going to prison. Regular contact with family, the outside world, freedom of movement...
If the fellow on $30,000 had a strong family life, and was a driving force in their community, then they stand to lose much more (subjectively, of course) than a person who earns $100,000, but stays at home all day in a dimly lit lair.
Prison time has a whole host of negative repercussions attached to it that it is difficult to empirically measure the full loss of someone who becomes incarcerated. The common fine, however, is a purely economic beast.

Span said...

I guess that someone on a high income is probably also more able to mitigate the effects of being in prison than someone on a lower income.

But let's face it - I think it's pretty safe to assume that a high proportion of the prison population were on low incomes before they went in. Prison is just not where rich people end up, for the most part.

Anonymous said...

also, i guess someone who had a high income would be more likely to commit a white collar crime, so they might avoid jail, or go to a "prison farm".

Carl

Psycho Milt said...

I have a lot of sympathy for the argument that fines are a lighter punishment for the wealthy than for the poor. But on the other hand, I remember getting well grumpy when Doug Graham tried the reverse argument for why regular speeders shouldn't have their cars confiscated - a rich bastard might get his $100,000 Mercedes confiscated, which would be a much heftier punishment than someone who gets their $1000 heap confiscated. (I doubt Doug phrased it quite like that, but you get the idea). Proportional punishment's a tricky business.