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Fines and fairness?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Many conservatives trumpet the idea of imposing a 'flat tax' on the population, in which the tax burden consists of fixed percentage of one's income, for example the Forbes 10% flat tax across the board, in their words, for fairness' sake.

In the interest of consistency, and fairness, how about imposing"flat fines", to go with it?

For an example: fines levied for traffic violations are fixed, regardless of income/ability to pay. A moving violation here in Southern California averages around $300. One of my relatives (happens to be a lawyer!) takes home well in excess of 7 figures annually, and last week he picked up a $300 (approximate) ticket for a "rolling stop".

For a student, a low income worker on minimum wages or a retired person on Social Security, $300 represents a huge financial blow, but for my relative, it was, in sharp contrast, a tiny inconvenience. A $300 fine for someone like my relative would be the the equivalent of levying an $8 fine for someone on minimum wage.

An alternative fair solution might require more bureaucracy (which I don't like)... but something's very wrong and duplicitous with the current method. Thoughts?
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"We've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming". VP Cheney, 3/29/2006. Interview by Tony Snow
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post #2 of 15
Median wage pays the average fine. If your relative say earns at least 20 times the average wage he pays 20x300= $6,000. That would be fair.

Likewise if your income is 5 times less than the average wage you'd pay $60.

Probably the same amount would be collected as before, edit:actually maybe a lot more, which would help pay for more beauracracy.

I'd vote for that.

If you haven't filed your taxes you just pay the median amount, in this case being $300.
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"Islam is as dangerous in a man as rabies in a dog"~ Sir Winston Churchill. We are nurturing a nightmare that will haunt our children, and kill theirs.
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post #3 of 15
I would say these are two different things. You're comparing apples and oranges (or maybe fruits and vegetables).

The idea of general taxes (like income taxes) is to pay for the common services that serve all of the people of an area (country, state, city, etc.) So things like the court system, general protective services, etc.

But the fines you're referring to are essentially a punishment for breaking one of the established rules.

That said, I certainly think that the fines for many traffic violations are excessive and, often, arbitrarily enforced...like when police departments and cities need more money...sometimes to pay for the traffic enforcement "services" (in the height of irony).

Additionally, this question about "fairness" is a quicksand pit. What is "fair?" Can this be defined objectively? Some say that it is fair for people to be charged the same fixed amount or same percentage of their income,. Some say it is fair for some to pay more because "they can afford it." It's a vague and subjective concept.

But, in short those, these are different things you are talking about.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #4 of 15
The point being made here, that's been completely missed, is that the fines are excessive for a college student or someone on minimum wage, but they are simply a nuisance for the rich. Therefore, the rich are being neither punished nor deterred.

My idea is that parking violations should be hit with wheel clamps. Traffic violations should require a few hours in lockup (well, not lockup, just sitting in a huge "detention hall" with other traffic violators). Make them pay with their time. This would at least cause the rich a greater inconvenience that mailing in 0.001% of their weekly income.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

The point being made here, that's been completely missed, is that the fines are excessive for a college student or someone on minimum wage, but they are simply a nuisance for the rich. Therefore, the rich are being neither punished nor deterred.

My idea is that parking violations should be hit with wheel clamps. Traffic violations should require a few hours in lockup (well, not lockup, just sitting in a huge "detention hall" with other traffic violators). Make them pay with their time. This would at least cause the rich a greater inconvenience that mailing in 0.001% of their weekly income.

Yes. And its not just traffic violations: Fines for other offenses, from petty infractions all the way up to major crimes almost always represent a far more serious , or life-changing punishment for those of (relatively) lesser means...

The issue extends to other areas, such as abortion. If the practice is ever made illegal, the rich can simply fly to Canada or Europe, whereas the option for the rest of us will be the coat hanger brigade, risking ones life, as well as risking a possible jail sentence.
"We've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming". VP Cheney, 3/29/2006. Interview by Tony Snow
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"We've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming". VP Cheney, 3/29/2006. Interview by Tony Snow
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post #6 of 15
According to the latest numbers 51% of tax filers paid no income tax, 30% got money back from the government.

Representation without taxation?
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloorJack View Post

According to the latest numbers 51% of tax filers paid no income tax, 30% got money back from the government.

Representation without taxation?

That's what happens when you have a wealth gap. Wanna fix that situation? Fix the wealth gap. Enrichen the working class to the point where they are paying taxes.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

That's what happens when you have a wealth gap. Wanna fix that situation? Fix the wealth gap. Enrichen the working class to the point where they are paying taxes.

No it's what happens when you have a tax system that allows some tax payer to either not pay taxes or receive a refundable tax rebate.

You mean income gap and not wealth. We have no wealth tax (until you die). And how do you propose to solve it?
post #9 of 15
It's amazing how many people don't realize that the progressive income tax system is really an anti-wealth accumulation tax code. It helps keep the poor (and middle class) down.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

It's amazing how many people don't realize that the progressive income tax system is really an anti-wealth accumulation tax code. It helps keep the poor (and middle class) down.

It's amazing how many people don't realize that gross wealth accumulation and poverty reduction are often not connected. One only need look at the last 30 years in the US, vs. what's happening in Social Democracies in Europe, to see the truthfulness of this statement.

Once again, wealth accumulation is not the goal.
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloorJack View Post

No it's what happens when you have a tax system that allows some tax payer to either not pay taxes or receive a refundable tax rebate.

You mean income gap and not wealth. We have no wealth tax (until you die). And how do you propose to solve it?

Fix a system that pays CEOs, many of whom are interchangeable, an amount that far exceeds their actual value to a company (less their value that simply derives from the fact of their position - a value Joe the Plumber could have if it were ever given to him). Fix a system where board members vote to pay CEOs ridiculous amounts because some day the favor may be returned. Fix a system where CEOs nominate board members who they know will support their huge salaries (or other monetary reward such as stock options or a Lear jet), and where stock holders blindly support boardroom decisions. Fix a system where CEOs who fail are handed billion dollar golden parachutes (again, because board members may some day have the favor returned). Fix a system where both Democrats and Republicans vote to spend billions bailing out corporations that have failed due to mismanagement.

Dennis Kucinich would support every single one of these suggestions. Ron Paul would only support the last. No one else I know of, Democrat or Republican, would support any of these. Perhaps some Tea Party supporters may support the last one.

Wealth is all about power play.

Put the power to make remuneration decisions in the hands of the people, not the power.

Until that happens, I support what you guys call "redistribution" and what I call adjusting for a snowballing power imbalance.

By the way, "wealth gap" is what I'm talking about. Fix the "wealth gap" and the "income gap" will be fixed concurrently, because it's wealth that dictates power (and vice-versa), not income. One only need look at the British House of Lords to see this.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

The point being made here, that's been completely missed, is that the fines are excessive for a college student or someone on minimum wage, but they are simply a nuisance for the rich. Therefore, the rich are being neither punished nor deterred.

This is a rather large and unproven assumption on your part. The reality is quite different because most millionaires are not ostentatious about their wealth. They simply prefer to invest their money and spend less than they make.

A prime example, speaking of traffic fines, is autos. I read the book The Millionaire Mind and it almost pains rich folks to have money wasted because they care about money, care about investing it and know the return it would yield. The rich are the ones thinking that the $300 fine would have been $2100 compounded over a lifetime. The poor are the ones thinking they have less money to lay down on the next set of rims or as down payment on the next flashy car.

One thing you'll never fail to find in a poor neighborhood is a rim shop or a stereo shop. One of the key reasons the wealth gap keeps growing is due to credit. Delusional utopians like have kept pushing to make more and more risky credit available for the poor. The claim from the utopians is that the rich can buy things like houses with credit while the poor cannot. The rich might use credit to leverage an investment. The poor though don't even buy investments. They (like you) are completely confused about what an investment happens to be. Thus we get nonsense like the last housing crisis where a bunch or poor and middle class folks (who soon became poor) tried to finance their way to rich by purchasing McMansions that required every last dollar they were earning and thus left them none to invest. The millionaires, they were living in far below their means often in modest homes with small or perhaps no mortgage on the home.

Quote:
My idea is that parking violations should be hit with wheel clamps. Traffic violations should require a few hours in lockup (well, not lockup, just sitting in a huge "detention hall" with other traffic violators). Make them pay with their time. This would at least cause the rich a greater inconvenience that mailing in 0.001% of their weekly income.

Talk about authoritarian overkill. You are a frightening dude and becoming more so by the day. Oh sorry sir, your parking meter ran out of change. We're going to have to destroy your day by paying a small army to put wheel clamps on all the cars. Great minds like yours are why the TSA is busy molesting grandma.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sammi jo View Post

Yes. And its not just traffic violations: Fines for other offenses, from petty infractions all the way up to major crimes almost always represent a far more serious , or life-changing punishment for those of (relatively) lesser means...

The issue extends to other areas, such as abortion. If the practice is ever made illegal, the rich can simply fly to Canada or Europe, whereas the option for the rest of us will be the coat hanger brigade, risking ones life, as well as risking a possible jail sentence.

If your reasoning were sound, then poor neighborhoods would be idyllic areas where the meek and cowering poor would be afraid to even break a minor law due to the radical hit they would take to their lifestyle and pocketbook. Why they'd be afraid to even jaywalk. Instead as usual, we see the exact opposite. Poor neighborhoods are full of crime due to fines having little to no effect due to the fact that the poor think little to nothing about money. They simply don't care about money and don't think or worry about it because if they did, they would be saving and investing rather than spending on baubles often financed by credit.

This is what drives the social planners nuts. It is also why "model minorities" rise so quickly while others never do even across generations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

It's amazing how many people don't realize that gross wealth accumulation and poverty reduction are often not connected. One only need look at the last 30 years in the US, vs. what's happening in Social Democracies in Europe, to see the truthfulness of this statement.

Once again, wealth accumulation is not the goal.

Social Democracies in Europe are mostly bankrupt to a larger degree than the U.S. Their demographic implosion will be even sharper. The examples folks like yourself keep pointing out that aren't as close to the edge in that capacity are those that pump wealth out of the ground and spend it. Canada and Denmark are great examples of this.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #13 of 15
I think more emphasis on fees (not fines) - rather than taxes - is a good approach.

Income from fines is dependent upon someone breaking or infringing upon the law. In that case, if the government needed more revenue, it would simply enact more laws and institute more fines as penalties for breaking them. Actually, that's happening today!

Fees, on the other hand, are paid only when a service or product is provided. Unlike with much of our current tax system, the government would not forcibly take money from you and use it to pay for someone else to use a service you don't.

For example, why not make every public road toll-based and get rid of road taxes altogether? That way, the people actually using the roads pay for their use of it and the money can be used to maintain and build more.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

I think more emphasis on fees (not fines) - rather than taxes - is a good approach.

Income from fines is dependent upon someone breaking or infringing upon the law. In that case, if the government needed more revenue, it would simply enact more laws and institute more fines as penalties for breaking them. Actually, that's happening today!

Fees, on the other hand, are paid only when a service or product is provided. Unlike with much of our current tax system, the government would not forcibly take money from you and use it to pay for someone else to use a service you don't.

For example, why not make every public road toll-based and get rid of road taxes altogether? That way, the people actually using the roads pay for their use of it and the money can be used to maintain and build more.

I support this. Agreed, again. Now that we have the technology in place for stopless tolls, it can be done.

However, before we implement this, we strongly need a better public transportation system.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I support this. Agreed, again. Now that we have the technology in place for stopless tolls, it can be done.

However, before we implement this, we strongly need a better public transportation system.

If you're going to go that route...why not just privatize it? At least the long haul routes (interstates and major intrastate highways) to start?

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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