Five Luxury Cars

“Traffic thug Roland S. has five luxury cars in his garage.”

New from zombie at PJM:

Learn how Eurotrash super-villain Roland S. and his five luxury cars threaten the American way of life! :

From Each According to His Ability: “Progressive Pricing” Coming Soon to a Nation Near You

A sampling to whet your appetite:

“…Turns out that such astronomical speeding tickets are commonplace in Europe now. Finland bases its fees on the payer’s income, including one infamous case in which the son of a wealthy sausage-making family had to pay 170,000 Euros for driving 50mph in a 25mph zone. The Norwegians take it even one step further, sentencing wealthy people to intentionally humiliating hard labor as well, such as the drunk driver who not only had to pay a $85,000 fine but also chop wood for 30 days.

The idea is catching on. Pundits in Wales want the same variable pricing scheme to be enacted in their country. And yes — inevitably — some writers have already suggested bringing similar laws to the U.S., making all fines and fees be not a fixed amount but rather a percentage of your annual income. …”

Comment here or at PJM, whichever you prefer.

53 Responses to “Five Luxury Cars”

  1. 1RoboMonkey on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm:

    Cool! If I lose my job, I’ll be driving everywhere at 200 mph and they’re welcome to whatever percentage of my zero income they want!

  2. 2pat on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm:

    No one reads The Constitution anymore, do they? What were once considered unequal, is now somehow supposed to be equal. This is the madness of liberalism. Obama thinks he is more of a god, than president. Balancer in Chief.

  3. 3Incognito on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm:

    Thanks for posting this article Zombie! It is a highway robbery…

  4. 4zombie on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:53 pm:

    Incognito highway robbery…

    Dang! I wish I had thought of that for the title! Brilliant.

  5. 5Guy Average on Jan 12, 2010 at 9:15 pm:

    “Progressive Pricing” is pretty on-point as a descriptor.

    “Progressive Tax” is already taken….

  6. 6Joe on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:51 pm:

    European speeds are in mph??

  7. 7zombie on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:24 pm:

    Joe: European speeds are in mph??

    Well, no, but most articles written or republished for an American audience simply do the conversion, so the readers understand — just as articles about American articles republished in Europe undoubtedly convert the MPH to KPH.

    In this case, it was someone doing 80 kms per hour in a 40 km per hour zone, if you must know. Some articles expressed it that way, others rounded it off to 50 mphs in a 25 mph zone. I chose the latter way of doing it.

    Also,some English papers still insist on using the old measurements, because their readers prefer it, even though the UK is now officially metric.

  8. 8germaninspain on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm:

    Why not?

    In Europe we consider that speeding tickets should have an “educational” function, and making pay a millonaire 100$ has no educational function at all, in fact he could just ignore all traffic signs because he can afford it – where is the equality before the justice? Also, we are talking about behavings that can be potentially dangerous not only for the driver but for other people as well.

    An european.

  9. 9Joe on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:42 am:

    Ah, I figured the speeds were probably converted, but wasn’t sure since they don’t convert roundly. It’s amazing that Europeans (well, mostly Germans) have the Autobahn and continue to allow no maximum speed there. Besides the US, I’ve only driven in Canada and the speed limits there seemed painfully slow.

    “in fact he could just ignore all traffic signs because he can afford it – where is the equality before the justice?”

    Uh, P-O-I-N-T-S? Surely European licenses have those?

  10. 10germaninspain on Jan 13, 2010 at 1:17 am:

    To Joe,

    Points, sure we have them – but not all infractions mean a loss of points.

  11. 11Keith on Jan 13, 2010 at 3:05 am:

    Paying a percentage of the income is equality before the law. Paying a fixed amount is inequality because the fines would affect people differently due to differences in income.

  12. 12Starless on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:02 am:

    Heh. Maybe you haven’t seen Top Gear and listened to Jeremy Clarkson rip into the Swiss for their uptight, anti-car culture (yeah, yeah, Clarkson is a jerk towards Americans, but he’s usually a jerk towards everyone, except maybe Keira Knightley).

    You left out property taxes (an axe I will grind as long as possible) in the US system. You want to own a house? Then we will tax you for it for as long as we want and we’ll raise it whenever we want for whatever reason we decide.

    Keith: Paying a percentage of the income is equality before the law. Paying a fixed amount is inequality because the fines would affect people differently due to differences in income.

    This is precisely the type of illogic used to justify this kind of crap.

  13. 13Car Leasing Guy on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:54 am:

    So Dick Turpin is making a come back I see – for goodness sake!

  14. 14Skid on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:30 am:

    This is precisely the type of illogic used to justify this kind of crap.

    Mind explaining how it is illogic instead of just denouncing it as such?

    I haven’t taken sides on the issue and don’t live in the US, but I haven’t seen many reasonable arguments from your side of the fence yet.

  15. 15atwood on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:12 am:

    I don’t think its such a bad idea as far as traffic tickets are concerned. If I over the speed limit and was giving a fine of say …. $400, that’s quite a lot of money for me. Several days wages for sure. But for someone who makes hundreds of dollars a day and whose personal worth if many hundreds of thousands of dollars a fine like that means nothing. It certainly does not have the same financial “pain” involved. Why not make them pay more ?

    it seems more equal to me anyway (sheesh…”more equal” ….sounds like Marx). At least as far as the punishment is concerned.

    No ?

  16. 16Starless on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:31 am:

    Skid: Mind explaining how it is illogic instead of just denouncing it as such?

    Within the US at least, justice is supposed to be blind. You don’t pay different fines for particular violations because you make more money, or because you belong to a particular race or social caste, or you’re left-handed or right-handed. You can’t be accused of a crime, go to trial, and then have people bring up the fact that you go out to dinner with a notorious person as proof of your guilt. If Europeans want to run Europe that way, then that’s fine but it only serves to reinforce the reasons so many people left that part of the world for a little more freedom.

    On a guttier, more practical level, a practice like that in the article is a naked money grab dressed up as social justice. It’s intended to enrich the government and give people who have less material wealth a nice feeling of schadenfreude. It’s “Eat the rich” codified. So go ahead, eat your rich, eventually you’ll run out of them.

  17. 17Beckaholic on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:36 am:

    Best article ever, Zombie! The nuts in government aren’t wealth creators- they just don’t “get it.” There HAS to be a certain level of pressure on society to better itself and a reward for doing so, or we all sink to the same mediocre level. Awful to contemplate. Do Europeans realize how much innovation is already squelched in their society by these means? Do they care?

    Somebody at PJM justified the fines by saying money is the only way, as some traffic violations don’t add points. Well, why the hell don’t they? Having a license taken away or a night in jail would affect the rich guy, I’m quite sure. The Europeans don’t give a rats ass about safety, they just want the rich guys money so they don’t have to work as hard themselves.

  18. 18True Resistance on Jan 13, 2010 at 1:04 pm:

    A better punishment for offensive driving is a small fine to cover court costs plus revoking someones liscense for a period of time. Then fine and punish them much harder if they drive while suspended or repeat the offense in the future.

    The idea is to punish the bad behavior, not let everyone buy their way out of punishment. Make it proportional to the size of the offense.

    Like others have said above, this is all about money. That is why both rich and poor have to really push the limits of the state to get their driving privledges revoked for good (at least in the USA.) Fines of any size are less of a solution to and more of a tax on dangerous driving.

  19. 19CattusMagnus on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm:

    Ah, social justice at work. I guess some animals are more equal than others.

  20. 20Starless on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm:

    True Resistance: A better punishment for offensive driving is a small fine to cover court costs plus revoking someones liscense for a period of time. Then fine and punish them much harder if they drive while suspended or repeat the offense in the future.

    But in most places in the US there are already provisions in place for egregiously offensive driving. Like if you exceed a certain limit your crime becomes a felony. And if part of the point is to get the rich, arrogant bastards, then that takes care of it — who but the rich, arrogant bastards can afford vehicles that can do those sorts of things anyway? (For example, the idiot with the Enzo in CA.) The thing is that the Europeans want to associate one factor, wealth, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the crime itself, with the punishment.

    The French, in particular, practiced something like this on a massive scale once and whole lot of people lost their heads in the process.

  21. 21Starless on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm:

    CattusMagnus: Ah, social justice at work.I guess some animals are more equal than others.

    Two legs, good…

    Six legs, awesome…

  22. 22Dane on Jan 13, 2010 at 3:09 pm:

    Excellent article Zombie. You’ve been on a roll lately.

  23. 23DangerousNate on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:01 pm:

    “Cool! If I lose my job, I’ll be driving everywhere at 200 mph and they’re welcome to whatever percentage of my zero income they want!”

    Exactly! I don’t have a job at the moment so they’d just be wasting their time with me. If they enact that *cough* stupid piece of crap *cough cough* law I will make sure that argument ends up in the courtroom.

  24. 24Guy Average on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:14 pm:

    Beckaholic: Best article ever, Zombie!

    Well, they are all good but, no, it is not the best article ever from Zombie. Sorry.

  25. 25Keith on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:54 am:

    “Within the US at least, justice is supposed to be blind. You don’t pay different fines for particular violations because you make more money” -Starless

    Starless if everyone pays the same percentage of their income for a particular offence then that is “blind justice” as you call it because the same percentage is being appllied to everyone regardless of how much money they make or whatever.

  26. 26Starless on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:40 am:

    Keith: Starless if everyone pays the same percentage of their income for a particular offence then that is “blind justice” as you call it because the same percentage is being appllied to everyone regardless of how much money they make or whatever.

    You really, really don’t get it. If you follow a progressive punitive model, you’re attaching a factor unrelated to the crime itself to the punishment — in the US, we try to follow the idea that the punishment should fit the crime, not that the punishment should be more or less severe because of the individual standing in front of the judge. What your progressive punitive model brings into the courtroom is a type of partisanship. You may as well say that Republicans should receive a harsher sentence than Democrats because they’re Republicans.

    But I get it — there are two things going on here. First, there’s the “eat the rich” philosophy which encompasses an assumption about what a wealthy person who speeds is thinking. Namely, that because the person is wealthy, you assume that they speed because they think their wealth entitles them to speed and you just don’t like their presumed arrogance. Second, there’s the undying feudalism (though now detached from the land) of Europe. The “lords” (in the modern sense, the materially wealthy) are still obligated to take care of the “vassals” (those who are not wealthy). So naturally, if you’re European (or, to a lesser extent, Canadian) you are culturally hobbled from understanding how repugnant and biased applying fines based on a person’s income is to an American.

  27. 27Beckaholic on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:52 am:

    Guy Average: I’m wrecked you don’t agree with me………/

    The article is a perfect window into the much, much bigger ideological battle brewing in this country- Who do we want to be as Americans? Structurally, our foundations are built on the defense of individualism. Mindlessly embracing the collective by buying bogus, feel-good, superficial arguments like the ones the Europeans are advancing here is the easy path to breaking down those foundations. Do we want to be individuals or part of the Borg? Zombie has a real talent for putting important ideas into perspective.

  28. 28Keith on Jan 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm:

    Starless when people are fined according to a percentage of their income the result of that is is that everyone is being affcted the same financially when they are fined. No one is being penalized based on income. A poor person who gets fined .2% of their income is affected the same as a rich person who gets fined .2% of their income because the way in which the loss affects them is similar due to the fact it is a percentage. If a rich person and poor person get fined a flat rate the result of that is that the poor person recieves a higher penalty because the money they were fined is worth more to them due to having less money. When it is a percentage everyone is equal under the law because everyone pays the same percentage and so that is sameness under the law.

  29. 29Used Cars Los Angeles on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm:

    This is clearly just a law that makes it hard for people with luxury cars to have fun. I cant believe that a speeding ticket is just as costly as a house in a middle class suburb…ridiculous!

  30. 30CattusMagnus on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm:

    #26 Starless,
    The “eat the rich” philosophy really is at the heart of the argument here. It’s all about the perception of how the wealthy must behave, think, spend and aquire their money. Some people think that money has less value in the hands of a rich person than it does in the hands of a poorer person. Let’s say that Joe Blow makes 3K a month and when all the bills are paid, he’s left with $300 of disposable income. And Daddy Warbucks makes 15K a month and when all of his bills are paid, he’s left with $300 of disposable income as well. Now let’s say they both get a $250 fine for speeding. Who does the fine hurt more in this case? Should Daddy Warbucks be punished more because he’s makes more money? Perhaps this isn’t the best example, but my point is that you can’t just look at somebody’s income and use that as leverage to even the playing field. There are too many unknown variables. And what about a guy who is unemployed? Does he get off free since he has no income? Should we take income into consideration when we punish people for other crimes? If Joe Blow and Daddy Warbucks both are sentenced to death for murder does Joe Blow get leathal injection and Daddy Warbucks get hung, drawn and quartered? Basing a punishment on somebody’s net worth outrageous. A fine/penalty should be the price that is put on a CRIME not a criminal. But Finland is seeing through a Marxist prism whereby a person can only accumulate wealth by taking advantage of others and they’ll look for any excuse to eat the rich. Okay, done ranting now.

  31. 31Ringo the Gringo on Jan 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm:

    Great essay!..and congratulations on your new gig.

  32. 32Psycho on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:55 pm:

    i like the idea, makes a rich person as threatened by a speeding ticket as a poor person, a guy that gets 200 grand a month won’t get hurt by a 450 dollar fine, but charge him 20 grand and he’ll get the picture

    oh yeah and, a long time ago you posted an image of a mash-up symbol along with an article about a tree-sitting group disrupted by the police, that symbols means that the manifestation risks being responded with violence

  33. 33germaninspain on Jan 15, 2010 at 3:53 am:

    Reading all the comments above I notice a very deep misunderstanding of European history and reality, mainly confusing social state with communism and similar objections. If you are interested and have time to spare, read the text below, I hope I can at least start to make you understand the European reality, which is very different to the US / American. Most of the points I explain can be read at wikipedia.

    Since it´s foundation the US has only have one revolution and one civil war – take your time (you have a whole weekend before you) and start counting the revolutions and civil wars in Europe since the French revolution.

    You want some examples? France: revolutions in 1830, 1848 and 1871 – infamous Commune of Paris, when Marx published the Communist Manifest; Spain: 3 civil wars between conservatives and liberals in the 19th century besides too many military risings, then in the 20th century revolutions or important upheavals in 1917 and 1934, civil war between 1936 and 1939, then 40 years of dictature; Germany: revolutions in 1848 and 1919, then nacionalsocialist dictature between 1933 and 1945).

    And I am talking only of revolutions and civil wars, motivated mainly by an unequal distribution of wealth (feudalism was just technically over, the vices of it were still rampant), where the Army (not the police) was fighting on the streets, in the worst case against other parts of the same army. With all the loss of life, blood, property, economic disruption and destruction it brings with it. In fact, if you look at your immigration statistics of the the 19th century you will recognize peaks of immigration from Europe after each revolution.

    I read above about European feudalism and smashing the land owners – true, socialism was ONE way of get rid of it. Any thesis leads to an antithesis and to a new synthesis that emerges out of both. And no, this is NOT from Marx, it´s from another german philosopher, Hegel, who in fact was teacher of Marx, although not a very successful teacher as history has proven.

    It was a time consuming and bloody matter, but sooner or later it was solved it to a point at which finally, excepting the radical left and right, no one feels compelled to erect barricades on the streets. At least not for economic reasons or out of economic necessity. And again, if you look at history, the country who ignored most consequently the social issue – czarist Russia – was the only one where communism won by itself.

    You criticize our progressive taxing and social state without knowing why we chose it or even we had to choose it – to keep communism out of free Europe. Back in 1945, with the communists doing in fact better at least on feeding the people (rationing of food was totally abolished in the UK only in 1954 for example) and was in fact appealing to a broad mass of people in free Europe since Europeans do not have the same cultural, historical and intellectual reticence and objections (at least not the working classes and a good part of the intellectuals) as Americans have.

    Or why do you think the US started the Marshall plan in the late 40´s? To prevent starvation – and by doing this prevent a communist takeover, and this was an almost too real possibility at that time.

    Also, you claim that progressive taxing is not provided in the constitution of the US – well, great for you. Anyhow, for example it is provided in the German constitution, the Grundgesetz and the German State has the DUTY to provide social justice and a social state – again a reaction to the menace of communism, which in the case of Germany was all too near, by simply taking wind out of the sails of the left parties.

    To resume all the above. Out of history Europeans value very much the aspect of social peace. And are ready to pay a price (progressive taxes and even on speeding tickets based on income) for it. In fact, the majority of the European population gets a nice benefit out of the taxes on the issues of health care, education, pensions, etc. Of course we all complain when we have to pay, but we know what we get for it in exchange. I don´t want to convince you in any way, I am just telling what most of Europeans would tell you. We Europeans also value very much freedom of opinion and choice.

    You want to know the main reason for the economic, political and social differences between the US and Europe and why you simply cannot compare one system with the other?

    Since the foundation of the colonies one very important economic aspect marked America: LACK OF LABOUR. The main reason for slavery. Indentured servants. Free immigration at least until the end of the 19th century. It did not matter how many immigrants came, it did not really affect the wages on longterm, you were simply caught in a virtuous circle that only spiralled up prosperity and wealth of the whole society. And since the US was young and without the vices of centuries of history and thanks to the foresight of the writers of your constitution, this wealth was distributed in just way.

    Contrary to America, in Europe since the start of the industrial revolution there was almost constantly an excess of labour, leading to DECREASING wages, with all that it meant (starvation, miserable housing conditions, criminality, readiness for the use of violence and political extremism). This was the european reality in the 19th century.

    Or another way: America / the US never needed socialism or communism due to your social reality – Europe did, if only as a menace and if you like even as an extorsion to the owning people to share their wealth and so prevent communism and the loss of all. For this reason we created the social state – capitalist market rules, limited by state intervention to prevent excesses, excesses that where never known to the same extent in America. And again, the main reason for the institution of the social state you despise so much was to prevent worse – communism. Europe had and has to struggle and fight to keep it´s citizen´s content, it has constantly to find compromises between the different interests of segments of it´s population. And like all compromises, to be good and accepted neither side can be truly happy with them, but accept them to prevent worse.

    Consider yourself a blessed land if you like, but also try to understand the reality of Europe and the reasons that have led to this reality.

    And if you really want to get enraged about progressive taxing: take Sweden, where Astrid Lindgren was asked to pay a fabulous 102% of taxes on her income. This was corrected of course, but even the possibility of a tax office making this kind of laws frightens even Europeans. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrid_Lindgren)

  34. 34Starless on Jan 15, 2010 at 4:52 am:

    Keith: When it is a percentage everyone is equal under the law because everyone pays the same percentage and so that is sameness under the law.

    As I said before, Keith, you don’t get it. And I don’t expect that you ever will, but see CattusMagnus’s comment for a slightly different take on why you are wrong. (In re: making the punishment fit the crime, not the criminal.)

    Cattus, I agree. OTOH, I think there’s just as much of what I’ll call “neo-feudalism” involved as germaninspain (sort of) elaborates.

    Germaninspain, I think we probably would agree more than disagree. I understand that there is historical context for why Europe is where it is right now, but just as European views are skewed due to European-ness, American views are going to be skewed due to American-ness. So I can acknowledge that you have your reasons, but I can’t help but look at something like progressive traffic fines or covering every square meter of England with CCTVs and think, “That’s a really effed up way to run things”. So, the feudalism argument may seem simplistic, but from the outside looking in, whenever I read about European-style “social responsibility” it seems to inevitably be targeted at material wealth. That is, those with more are obligated, morally and legally, to give a significant portion of their wealth to those with less and I can’t help but think that it looks very much like a modern, tarted up, version of feudalism.

    You’ve got something with your argument regarding labor (I would say land instead and I would offer up my own ancestors as proof, particularly the Scandinavian and Prussian ones), but it’s only part of the story. Particularly when you talk about attitudes as reflected in law, freedom of religion is far, far more fundamental. A result of the idea of the freedom of religion is that we take minding your own business as almost sacred (as a concept, but in practice, there are just as many nosy busy-bodies here as anywhere else they just have to be a bit more discrete about it here) so part of the American tendency to recoil in disgust from some European legal and social requirements (like basing fines on your income) is that what we consider personal, in particular what our income is, as nobody’s damn business but our own. The upshot being that so much can come from my individual freedom (productivity and wealth) that it is far more valuable than the State’s ability to redistribute the products of that freedom. Maybe that will eventually be proved wrong and the European, sort-of-socialist approach will prevail — I tend to doubt it, but I’m biased. :)

  35. 35germaninspain on Jan 15, 2010 at 5:14 am:

    Starless, as I wrote in my text I do not want to convince anyone to the European model, my intention was just to explain (or at least try to) why we have the system we have and why we more or less accept it and live with it. And concerning land instead of labor, you still need labor to obtain benefit out of land, but I guess this would be a senseless discussion because both factors depend of the other and in the worst case also capital. I agree completely with you that there are several basic differences in attitude between europeans and americans. Or saying it another way: in Europe we talk about the sex we have, not our income, in America it´s the opposite (this is at least the prevalent prejudice about the US in Europe, correct me if I am wrong.

  36. 36Keith on Jan 15, 2010 at 5:40 am:

    @germaninspain

    I live in America and I do know some people who talk about their income. I’m not sure how many people in America do this or if more people in America do this than people in Spain.

  37. 37germaninspain on Jan 15, 2010 at 6:07 am:

    @ starless

    I live in Europe and income more a tabu theme in a conversation than sex. This of course does not mean that europeans use to discuss with strangers their sex life.

  38. 38Incognito on Jan 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm:

    Fining according to an income assumes one knows how much income the lawbreaker has. Like germaninspain says, discussing income is a taboo in Europe. Then how would the officer know how much to charge for the infraction?

  39. 39Starless on Jan 16, 2010 at 5:51 am:

    germaninspain: And concerning land instead of labor, you still need labor to obtain benefit out of land, but I guess this would be a senseless discussion because both factors depend of the other and in the worst case also capital.

    If you think about it, the US didn’t start to gear up as the global super power which eventually saved Europe from itself until the continent west of the Mississippi opened up in the mid-19th century. For somewhere around 200 years prior to that, European settlement in America was still mainly an agrarian colonial backwater. (Slavery, IMO, was more a product of the high cost of transportation than a shortage of people who wanted to do the work — IOW, it’s cheaper to transport and support slaves like cattle than settlers.) I know that for myself and many people who are 3rd, 4th, and more generation Americans, our ancestors came here mainly because there just wasn’t any more room in Europe. In Norway, because of the practice of primogeniture, by the mid-19th century there just wasn’t any more land to split up among the sons so there were all kinds of young people walking around landless. In Prussia, it was find some property or start looking at forced conscription into the imperial army. So when American ship lines started to advertise free land in the US, it was a no-brainer for them.

    Incognito: Fining according to an income assumes one knows how much income the lawbreaker has. Like germaninspain says, discussing income is a taboo in Europe. Then how would the officer know how much to charge for the infraction?

    From what I can see, Germaninspain says in two different comments that talking about income is and is not taboo in Europe, so I don’t know which way he/she’s going with that.

    More than once I’ve read articles where European politicians have seriously proposed making people’s tax data (IOW, how much money they make) public information for reasons of social consciousness. I’m not going to try to make a strong argument either way because I don’t have data to prove it, but I can be pretty certain that any American politician outside of Berkeley who suggested such a thing would be run out of town on a rail. In an American workplace, it’s definitely taboo to talk about personal income, and you wouldn’t casually ask a stranger how much money he or she makes.

  40. 40Beckaholic on Jan 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm:

    I’ve noticed that it’s not that Europeans don’t want to talk about income, they do not want to talk about their jobs at all. Their jobs do not define them. Americans would think it’s weird to meet someone and NOT know in the first 10 minutes what their profession is and thus be able to make a guess as to income level if they care to. One’s job tends to be a point of pride here, not so much over there, and I”ve always been a bit perplexed about that. We identify ourselves differently for sure.

  41. 41Starless on Jan 17, 2010 at 4:04 am:

    Beckaholic: Americans would think it’s weird to meet someone and NOT know in the first 10 minutes what their profession is and thus be able to make a guess as to income level if they care to.

    That’s absolutely true, but, “What do you do?” is a far more acceptable question than, “How much do you make?” And you’ll only hear someone volunteer how much they make if they either want to brag about how successful they are (not so socially acceptable) or complain about how they’re getting screwed (the innate right of every human).

    Regarding both sex and money, Americans have to deal with the dissonance between co-existing Puritanical and libertarian traditions.

  42. 42Azuzuru on Jan 17, 2010 at 5:47 am:

    Yes, “repugnant” is the correct word for a percentage-of-income fine for breaking the law. If the Euros are concerned about behavior there are equally — perhaps more — efficient ways. Take away the speeder’s driving license for a period or have the him spend the night in jail.

    It’s clear as day that this really is just a money-grab by government. What happened to “equal treatment under the law?” Creeping socialism like this scares the hell out of me.

  43. 43germaninspain on Jan 19, 2010 at 4:55 am:

    @ incognito: the officer who registers the infraction in fact does not decide the amount, this is done by the traffic agency who asks the tax office for the last years income.

    @ beckaholic: yes, we europeans tend not to take pride in our jobs. As you say, we don´t define ourselves by our jobs. My guess is that for the greater majority of europeans work is something you do to have money for your leisure time. This does not mean that we are inefficient and lazy, we are as proffesional as any american worker or employee, we just have other priorities. Why? Good question. Objectively, almost every single person is conscious that he could earn more by changing to another company in another country (by geographical extension of the US enad the EU you could roughly equal states with countries), but this change is more difficult than in the US due to a lesser geographical mobility and different languages and cultures. Also, until mid of the nineties we still had to apply for a working permit in most countries. Actually, I know that I could double my income if I worked in Finland instead of Spain, since a friend of mine that works there tried to recruit me. But, do I want to learn finnish? How high are the living costs in Finland? Will I have more money at the end of the month on my bank account or less? Can I stand 6 months polar night? It´s not as easy as in the US where you have a greater transparency and no cultural or language barriers, so we tend to stay where we were born and make the best of it.

    And again to information about income. Even if we would tell each other our brutto income, we would get no information about the net income, since there are infinte possibilities to reduce taxes like kids, being married or not, buying a house, retirement funds… And to get these informations you would have to get at a personal level that truely would be considered itrusive. So we just don´t ask.

  44. 44Beckaholic on Jan 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm:

    Germaninspain: Appreciate the response. Don’t want you to get the impression that we sit around asking each other how much we make. We don’t and it’s considered crass to volunteer this info. What we take pride in is what we consider our professions, which means not simply how much money is associated with a job, but how much responsibility we may have, our education levels, how hard we work, and how well we perform our jobs regardless of status or money- it’s more like how valuable we see ourselves to the organization and society at large. Work is viewed as valued and dignified and an admirable thing to spend one’s waking hours doing, regardless of what type of work it is. There’s an understanding here that to advance one has to give more than the minimum effort (unless you work for a union of course) and that if you settle for minimum effort ( so as to maximize leisure time) you are limiting yourself to mediocre potential in the longer term. But if you try hard, take on more responsibility and give more, you will advance and compensation will follow. That’s why giving “poor” people money to live on is hard for us to swallow. “Poor” should be a temporary state, (and it usually is, we have a very upwardly-mobile society) that one can get out of if they try hard enough. Being given money for doing nothing takes away the incentive to do better. Or at least that’s how I thought society was supposed to function- I’m not so sure anymore.

  45. 45germaninspain on Jan 20, 2010 at 6:52 am:

    Beckaholic: I start seeing that in fact there must be a very serious cultural difference between Europe and the US concerning the matter of profession. If you agree, let´s ignore the monetary aspect for the moment, although I think we both accept the fact that no one will perform more without the corresponding financial reward.

    Concerning taking pride in the profession – yes of course we do. But talk about it? I studied economics, but I guess my friends would be as much interested in hearing me talk about the problems I solved in my job than I would in hearing them talk about their jobs (lawyers, biologists, etc). This would be of course completely different in a meeting of economists, but I would consider this as a professional exchange of information, not just a casual theme to talk about while having some beers in a bar.

    Personal effort: yes, to make career you must show personal effort and interest in Europe too, besides some level of intriguing and a good portion of luck as elsewhere in the world. Anyhow I start seeing that the social pressure to advance must be much lower in Europe. If a person wants to make career, assume responsibility an advance on any hierarchical ladder, he is free to do so, he will be most welcome. In fact, these persons will be glad about anyone who chooses not to, finally this represents less potential competition.
    Does not choosing the “career option” lead to a personal mediocre potential on the long term? Almost surely, but it also leads to a higher potential in the development of yourself, of your own happiness and personality. Perhaps the question should be: Who do you want to be – a successful professional with high responsibilities or a happy person? Before you say it, yes, I believe that a successful combination of both can be possible, but also very rare.
    The effects of this behaviour on any economy? Who moves an economy? Of course the outstanding, high performing individuals who take risks and responsibility are the obvious visual exponent of any company or economy. But who gets the job really done? In my opinion the people working from 8 to 5, no matter their profession, they do their duty, earn their paychecks, fulfil their function in an economy or company and when the job is done they go home with their families without further thinking about their job. Geniuses and outstanding persons are great, but what finally matters is the average worker and employee. Any chain is just as strong as it´s weakest section.

    Somehow in Europe (public health care, cheap education and state pensions for retired must help, but are surely not the only reason) it is more acceptable to just settle down, to work below your potential, to find a compromise or balance or however you like to define it between personal and professional live. This is a pure personal choice, personally I am happier reading a book, watching a movie or taking care of the garden than working 12 hours a day in the office to build up a career. If necessary I will work 12 hours, even on weekends, but for me this is the exception, not the rule. My personal professional potential? I still keep reading about economics and in a couple of years I know I will have to take any courses to refresh all I learned on college, or better to say, to update my knowledge, and I will do it since I know that I have to do this if I want to keep my job on the long term. But really, I don´t define myself for having studied economics or the function I have at the company I work at. I really separate sharply between job and private time. And finally, we should be conscious about one fact: If I don´t do it, another one will.
    Some years ago I simply decided against career, responsibility and the economic rewards they inevitably bring with them. I took this decision consciously and freely, I just decided that I could not be the person I want to be and have a career, so I made my decisions – and don´t regret it. I make enough money to live comfortably, I am in a situation I can increase my savings on a monthly basis and can afford to spend my vacations travelling around the world. Should I sacrifice this life for a life of career with all it implies? As heretic as it may sound to you – I won´t. My job is for me a way to reach my objectives, not the objective itself.

    May I propose the theory that Europeans value more the person than the function the person has in society?

    You wrote: “That’s why giving “poor” people money to live on is hard for us to swallow. “Poor” should be a temporary state, (and it usually is, we have a very upwardly-mobile society) that one can get out of if they try hard enough.” I think we both agree this is the ideal situation.
    Unfortunately, poverty has many more reasons and is not necessarily a temporary state (at least in Europe), some that even could prevent effectively to come to money, education for example. Chronical sickness. Also structural problems any economy has.
    But my point is another. As an economically thinking person, I ask what is cheaper – giving money to the poor to prevent criminality and the breeding of more poor (in Europe we have a pretty example of how poverty generates more poverty due to lack of education) or spending it on preventing and/or punishing the nasty consequences of poverty – criminality, vandalism and so on? I think this question should be answered, no matter which attitude or political conviction you have towards the problem and if you like the idea or not.

    And to your comfort: I read many times in this blog comments complaining about the influence of European ideas in the US – in Europe specially unions and the left parties complain loud about the Americanization of society, even of education since the introduction of BA and MA degrees, while the conservatives are neither happy about it. Who knows, perhaps in a few centuries both continents / societies meet somewhere in the middle.

  46. 46Vorpar on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:20 pm:

    What if the poor person works 40 hours per week, and has an income of $20,000 per year. The rich person works 80 hours per week, and has an income of $40,000 per year. With progressive penalties, you’re simply punishing the wealthier person for working harder. As it was stated before, it gives almost complete freedom to someone that doesn’t work, because they would pay almost no fine whatsoever.

  47. 47Kowa B on Jan 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm:

    Anybody who is saying “then I’ll quit my job and go 200mph wherever I go” clearly doesn’t, as people here are so fond of saying, “get it”. Obviously there are minimum fines in Europe for those who are unemployed, etc; you’re just trying to be evasive.

    More importantly, traffic fines and things of this nature are, in effect, a tax on undesirable behavior (dangerous driving). Simple supply-side economics. It is the same argument that says taxing income less will be an incentive for people to spend more money (and therefore employ more people). On the other hand, with driving tickets, we are trying to do the opposite; provide a disincentive to drive dangerously. Therefore, we the fine needs to be a proper disincentive for them to not drive dangerously. In other words, the taxes, to be most effective, should be based on percentage of income, not a flat rate for everybody.

    traffic fines aren’t a “punishment” for say, they’re a tax on bad driving. It doesn’t matter if the person is making more money because they work harder or that the fact that they are speeding has nothing to do with their income. In the same way, how hard you work for your income, and what your job is are inconsequential when we ask for tax cuts, because we want wealthy people to spend their money and stimulate the economy, instead of having it taxed and wasted by the government. That’s called economics.

  48. 48germaninspain on Jan 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm:

    A an european, my personal estimation is that actually the average fine for a “medium” infraction (no loss of points) represent betweens 10% and 20% of a months income for the average worker or employee and I live in a country where no fines are imposed on the base of income . Since most of society considers this as not fair, there is a feeling and disposition to accept fines based on income. And by the way, be assured that there is (will be) a minimum fine indepent of income that still will hurt unemployed more than anyone who works.

  49. 49Skid on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm:

    So basically, the issue is that a small fine isn’t sufficient to deter people who spend that much on lunch every day, and wealth proportionate fines are unconstitutional. Removing the right to drive probably isn’t an issue to people of that wealth level, they’ll just hire somebody else to drive their car for them. Impounding the vehicle isn’t a problem, another one can simply be rented. The remaining option of throwing them in jail for a night seems most appropriate because it cuts into things that all people have an equal share of: time and dignity.

  50. 50Reggie Dunlop on Jan 23, 2010 at 9:50 am:

    This is not equal protection before the law, and now that I think about it, neither is the progressive income tax. Woodrwo Wilson and 1913 were the beginning of our leftward slide in the US, and it’s time we start heading back to the rule of law as opposed to the idea of “fairness.” And whose idea of fairness are we seeking to emulate anyhow? It seems that it is a quasi-Marxist ideal of what is fair that “progressives” (God they make me sick) feel, not think is what is being foisted upon us. Time to buy some more ammo. Cripes.

  51. 51cheap carte sdhc 32gb on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:15 am:

    I loved these five cars:-
    1.Aston Martin DB9
    2.Aston Martin DB7( yes this car is almost sexually attractive)
    3.Bentley Continental GT
    4.Weissman Roadster(not what you would call a luxury car but looks damn good parked in front of a stately home)
    5.Any Morgan(for the same reasons as the weissman)

  52. 52شات كتابي on Sep 27, 2010 at 11:23 am:

    Oh, and America is the most immature country and eventually we’ll all grow up and become all for socialized medicine but for now the US is a whiney teenager “I donwanna pay for her, she’s fat…it’s not my fault…mind your own business…but it’s not faaaiiiir, whaa”.

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