Two policies that I would vote for

  • I think that all forms of leave (annual/recreation leave, sick leave, public/bank holidays, etc.) should be bundled together into a single, generic pool that workers can draw down on when they wish, subject to managerial approval. However, it should be illegal for managers to deny approval for days of significant ceremonial importance to the major religions or for days of national significance (e.g. Australia Day and ANZAC Day in Australia).
  • I think that all fines issued for misdemeanours should not be for a fixed amount, but for a percentage of the transgressor’s income. When faced with the prospect of a $400 fine, somebody earning $20,000 a year will pay attention, but somebody earning $200,000 will not care nearly as much. I also think that any money raised through fines (a) should not be available to the department that issued the fine, but go into broader government funding (the police should not have a direct economic benefit from fining people for speeding) and (b) should be carefully tallied and reported publically on a regular basis. People need to be able to see that, for example, the money raised through speeding fines is contributing to funding hospitals.

7 Responses to “Two policies that I would vote for”

  • Are you trying to discourage speeding or make people feel they are noble patrons of charity when they break the law?

  • Both! Any successful policy will always contain elements of stick and carrot, although I’ll admit that in this case, there would be rather more brown than orange.

    I should stress that I also think that there are too many misdemeanours on the books, but an excess in that regard shouldn’t stop us from pushing for a fairer (and more effective!) mechanism of punishing those misdemeanours for which we do support the policing.

    p.s. Sorry about the grammar of that last sentence.

  • Never apologise and never explain …

  • Companies in the NY/NJ region have policies similar to your first one. IIRC they call them personal days. There are so many different ethnicities and religions that they don’t bother differentiating them at the company level and pretty much give the people liberty to pull from their own personal pool of days.

    NO NO NO on speeding fines being a part of income. Enforcement is arbitrary enough on the roads as is and the stupid fine levels are over the top already.

  • Adam: I know you’re being funny and I’m being thick, but I don’t understand you.


    On personal days: Cool.

    On fines relative to incomes:

    (a) I agree that arbitrary enforcement is a problem, but it is – in theory, at least – a separate issue from what punishment ought to be meted out to transgressors.

    Your implied argument seems to be that when fines are a % of income, the arbitrary nature of enforcement will worsen, presumably towards catching the visibly wealthy and ignoring the poor. That is not a problem with my idea, but a problem with police incentives.

    At the moment, the police get the revenue raised from fines issued, which distorts their choices. If both the police and the public know (and accept) that revenue raised from fines will NOT go to the police, the incentive for them to be selective will vanish.

    (b) Your second point (that fines are at stupid, over-the-top levels already) raises an important question: What are the fines FOR? What are they _meant_ to achieve?

    Surely their only purpose ought to be to provide an economic incentive for people to obey the law. If that is the case, then making fines relative to income is the social optimum.

    I suspect that your real complaint is that the law is incorrect, which I would agree with. For example, I think that speed limits should vary depending on (a) how dangerous the road is inherantly (steep, winding, etc); (b) the probability of a pedestrian or cyclist being on the road; and (c) how much traffic there is. The first two exist already (although I believe that overzealous local councils have pushed the limits down too far), but the third rarely does. If I’m driving down an empty highway, it shouldn’t matter how fast I’m going.

  • John, The arbitrary nature of it is a concern, and it is known that is arbitrary which is why most people treat speeding fines as a ‘road tax’. Everyone speeds, and the coppers have favourite spots. So the fine regime is fighting a collective consensus.

    My main concern with large fines for traffic infringements is that they become cruel and unusual punishment. I got pinged in Queensland for $700 for speeding. The Queensland government offers repayment schemes to cover these large fines. As soon as the government does that then it is in cruel and unusual territory and hence unjust, and hence illegitimate.

    The other issue is that polling shows that people think criminals should get stiffer punishments (something like 80% of those polled). So the government can keep wracking up stiffer and steeper fines through pandering to a public misconception (that misconception is challenged when someone gets a speeding ticket!)

    I am opposed to your proposal for a number of reasons.

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