If you’re ever driving across Europe or Scandinavia, keep one thing in mind – the consequences for breaking the law are not nearly the same as in the U.S.
Take, for example, Reima Kuisla’s speeding ticket the businessman received in Finland. He was pulled over for doing 64 in a 50 mph zone (or 103 in a 80 km/h zone). For his offense, the BBC states he received a fine of 54,000 euros, which equates to nearly $60,000.
Why was his fine so outrageously high?
Well, like many European and Scandinavian countries, Finland goes about its business a bit differently, and perhaps more sanely? You be the judge.
See, Finland factors in the offender’s income when imposing traffic penalties in order to make the law fall equally on all, from the poor to the very rich. Kuisla happened to have earned 6.5 euros, or just over $7 million, as indicated by his 2013 tax return. Consequently, his fine was much higher than for someone who, say, only makes 50 thousand euros a year. In that way, the law is a deterrent to all, not just the poor.
Naturally, the wealthy complain about being treated like average folks and being stuck with a fine that hurts them as much as it hurts the less fortunate. Kuisla, for example, jumped on his Facebook page to voice his disgust for the structure of the law, stating that such practices push him to think about moving abroad.
Finland is impossible to live in for certain kinds of people who have high incomes and wealth.
It sure must be frustrating for those poor wealthy folks to pay such fines when they see what the wealthy get away with here, in the U.S., eh?
Kuisla’s ticket is actually kind of cheap in the greater scheme of Nordic countries’ traffic laws, though. Where many tie the fine to one’s income, others also factor in the value of one’s car. One traffic offender driving a Ferrari in Switzerland back in 2010 was given a ticket fining the driver the equivalent of a whopping $290,000! That driver had a list of prior offenses and was worth over $20 million dollars, so you can see how it all works, roughly. But hey, even that is cheap compared to Germany, where CNBC reports speeding fines can climb as high as $16 MILLION! Yep, you read that right — $16 M-I-L-L-I-O-N!
Obviously, politicians point out that such a structure to the law, as stated above, levels the field for all, so the rich cannot just do as they please and pay off small fines with the wave of a hat. Of course, the fat fines also greatly benefit the governments’ coffers, no doubt, which could be of great use for any number of ends. Imagine what such a fine structure could do for America’s infrastructure funding. However, the U.S. would also, then, have to make it illegal for the wealthy to hide their income in secret, offshore accounts.
So what do you think, America? What’s fair– a flat penalty for the poor and rich to pay alike, or a varying rate that impacts the poor and the rich to the same degree?