Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Jim Bakker moment regarding Mikko Ellilä's 360 Euro fine

Man, I thought I was something, working on this whole 360 Euro fine valuation of "inciting racial hatred" and applying it (or its U.S. dollar equivalent) here, there, and everywhere.

It took Humbaba one sentence to bring me back to earth.

Just because someone don't understand the system doesn't mean theres anything wrong with it.

It turns out that fines in Finland are variable, depending upon the income of the person being fined. In Ellilä's case, he was charged 60 "day fines" (out of a maximum of 120 day fines); since he is a student, his income is not that large. Humbaba gave another example:

Anssi Vanjoki, and executive of Nokia was ticketed for speeding and got 16 day fines. That 16 days added up to 166 000 euros.

I'm not sure what the Suomifolk do about people whose income is mostly under the table. Perhaps they get stomped on the head by a moose.

Stay Free quotes from a Wall Street Journal article from 2001, focusing on traffic tickets:

In Finland, traffic fines generally are based on two factors: the severity of the offense and the driver's income. The concept has been embedded in Finnish law for decades: When it comes to crime, the wealthy should suffer as much as the poor. Indeed, sliding-scale financial penalties are also imposed for offenses ranging from shoplifting to securities-law violations. "This is a Nordic tradition," says Erkki Wuoma, special planning adviser at the Ministry of Interior. "We have progressive taxation and progressive punishments. So the more you earn, the more you pay."

Having not heard of this graduated fine system before tonight, it sounds fascinating to me. In fact, at first glance, it's the second most important thing that I've learned from outside the U.S. in the last four years. (The most important thing is relegation, or the ability to penalize poor sports teams by moving them from a major league to a minor league. Imagine Donald Sterling's life if the NBA were to adopt this rule.)

P.S. I checked the Wikipedia article. If you try to avoid the day-fine by lying about your income, you could go to prison a fine.

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