Equalizing Wealth with Traffic Fines
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Since raising taxes oftentimes isn’t very popular, public officials are always on the lookout for less direct ways to plunder and loot people. Among the most favorite ways in recent times has been what are called asset-forfeiture laws as part of the “war on drugs,” which empower cops to stop highway travelers and steal large amounts of cash they find inside the cars.
Of course, the longtime favorite way to increase the amount of money taken out of the pockets of the citizenry and put into the coffers of local governments is the traffic fine. Every day, cops find nice hiding places to catch people speeding, in order to keep the money flowing into the coffers of the city or county.
But, hey, things can always be worse. Suppose, for example, the fines for speeding were based not on how fast a driver was going but on how rich he was. The richer the person, the higher the fine. The poorer the person, the lower the fine.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Jacob, that is the most ridiculous notion you have ever come up with. That just could never happen.”
Well, try telling that to Reima Kuisla. According to an article in the New York Times, he was recently ticketed for going 64 miles an hour in a 50 m.p.h. zone. I’ll guarantee that you will never be able to guess the amount of his traffic fine.
54,024 Euros, which comes out to $58,000.
Maybe Kuisla should count himself lucky. In 2013, he got fined 64,448 Euros ($83,769) for going 76 in a 50 m.p.h. zone.
Kuisla lives in Finland, a European welfare-state country that has taken the leftist notion of economic equality and egalitarianism to its logical (and extreme) conclusion. It’s just not fair that some have more when others have less, the Finnish statists say. So, what better way to equalize wealth than by imposing traffic fines that are commensurate with how rich a person is?
Traffic fines in Finland are based on how much income a person earns. Kuisla, a gambler who converted his winnings into a real-estate empire, is a wealthy man with a high income. That’s why he was looted to such a large extent for driving too fast. The fine for the same offense for someone earning, say, 50,000 Euros ($54,000) a year would have been around $370.
I wonder why Finland’s welfare-statists don’t just send government agents out to just seize money from rich people rather than going through the charade of traffic violations. Wouldn’t that be more honest, direct, and efficient?
After all, that’s how American welfare-statists do it. Isn’t that what the progressive income tax, capital gains tax, and inheritance tax are all about? Sure, it’s true that federal agents are not sweeping across the land and directly taking people’s money but that’s only because people are sending their taxes to the government before the IRS comes to get it. Everyone knows that if someone refuses to send his money to the government, the IRS will then come and seize it directly with levies, garnishments, liens, and attachments — all without any judicial process whatsoever.
The entire welfare-state/equality/egalitarian mindset is based on envy and covetousness. Statists cannot stand the fact that some people have more than they do. They think that by taking from those who have more in order to give the money to those who have less that their feelings of envy and covetousness will go away. But such feelings never go away, even as everyone in society ends up being equally poor.
That’s what statists just don’t get — that a rising standards of living for the poor necessarily depend on leaving the rich alone. Wealth produces savings, which is converted into capital, which means better tools and equipment, which makes workers more productive, which brings higher revenues, which result in higher wage rates, which means higher standards of living for everyone, especially the poor.
Conversely, when the state confiscates money from the rich and gives it to the poor, savings and capital are destroyed, which means lower productivity, lower wage rates, and lower standards of living.
The fact is that God has created a consistent universe — one in which envy, covetousness, and stealing produce very bad results, with economic poverty being among them.
It’s not a coincidence that societies that have followed the welfare-state/equality/egalitarian principle to their logical conclusion — nationalizing everything that belongs to the rich — like Cuba and North Korea did — are societies in which people are desperately (and equally) poor.
Our American ancestors had it right: No income tax, Social Security, Medicare, welfare, asset-forfeiture laws, or other legalized plunder schemes to equalize wealth. The result was the most prosperous (and the most charitable) nation in history. Too bad America abandoned those principles in favor of the statist principles found in Finland and other European countries.