Controversial plans for a radical overhaul of the justice system are understood to include levying fines according to the offender’s ability to pay.But note the seamless switch from "ability to pay" to "highly paid people". The article - no doubt reflecting political thinking (sic) - doesn't seem to comprehend the difference between income and wealth. Consider the following examples:
Mr A earns £25,000 pa as does his neighbour Mr B. Both get caught speeding, but what we don't see is that Mr A has £100,000 in his savings account while Mr B owes ten grand on his credit card. Is it "fair" that they both get fined, let's say, £250, being 1% of income?Next:
Ms C and Ms D both earn £30,000. What we don't see is that Ms C has just inherited £500,000 and she is about to marry her millionaire boss. Meanwhile, the balance sheet of Ms D's business shows a net worth of £500,000 but she has just lost her largest customer. Should they both get the same fines for identical offences?Next:
Mr E's salary is £20,000 pa. His friend F is unemployed but what we don't see is that he keeps his recent £10,000,000 lottery winnings under the bed because he doesn't trust banks and therefore has no income. Would a larger fine for E be "fair"?We could go on and on down this road. Londoners on £40,000 have far less disposable income than a similarly paid person living in Lochgelly. Fine those Fifers, I say! Shouldn't "public servants" be liable for huge fines in recognition of their gold-plated pension rights? Indeed, why not issue "negative fines" to offenders whose pension fund has just gone bust because of Gordon Brown's tax-credit raid? I mean, it's only fair, isn't it?