Traffic tickets

I had the misfortune, recently, of being issued a citation for turning on a yellow light.  In this city, yellow is considered the same as red for this purpose.  Go figure.  Now I am several hundred dollars poorer.  Here, I am assuming a minarchist approach, assuming that we are stuck with government traffic laws.
But I am not here to moan and groan over my misfortune.  I simply wish to call attention to the injustice of traffic tickets as they are administered in the U.S.  For a person who earns  hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, a $400 fine is a minor inconvenience.  For a single parent living one minimum wage, that same fine would be catastrophic.  His children would suffer for it.  Also, a person who barely gets by might not be able to afford insurance or keep the registration up to date.  In that case, he may end up losing his car – and, along with it, his means of earning a livelihood.  Two extreme examples, to be sure, but the fact remains that fixed fines necessarily punish the poor more than they punish the rich.  Supposedly, government strives to be even-handed.
In Finland, the amount of the fine is based upon the victim’s income.  This seems like a much more fair system than what we have in the U.S.  But it does have problems of its own.  A sliding scale involves the government knowing how much money each citizen earns – and this should be none of its business.  Perhaps a better solution would be to base the fine upon the estimated value of the car being driven.  One drawback to this would be that people might buy very cheap cars for the express purpose of driving irresponsibly.  This would surely cause many needless deaths and injuries.  Another drawback is that traffic cops would focus mainly on fancy cars, so much so that few would want to drive them.   It would also severely harm the auto industry and it would unjustly target the wealthy.  This system would have to be coupled with criminal charges against repeat offenders and oversight to help prevent abuse.
Like so many other government programs, there can be no fairness unless so many safeguards, stipulations and oversights are added that it becomes too complex to ever work properly.  In our quest to make traffic tickets “fair”, they would become as convoluted as the I.R.S. tax code.  Nobody would understand them and we would all have to hire expensive attorneys to defend us – who would charge more than the initial fine itself.

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9 Responses to Traffic tickets

  1. Traffic fines are just indirect taxes that you can’t complain about.
    In general,
    1) “no law, no crime’,
    2) ‘no property loss’ no crime.
    3) ‘restitution not punishment, therefore, no restitution no crime.’
    4) ‘law is the common law – evolving naturally through use by judges in the resolution of disputes and subject to judicial review.
    5) ‘regulatory law and legislative law are taxation’
    6) ‘taxation is theft’
    The common law is reactive – negative.
    All positive law is oppression or theft.
    If you ask for democracy you will get it.
    Democracy is simply slowly evolving communism.
    No property loss = No Crime = No Restoration.
    Now, the problem becomes, creating a hazard.
    We allow each other to create controlled hazards.
    Driving a car is a managed, or controlled hazard.
    Speeding in a neighborhood is a controlled hazard.
    Speeding is a relative question, regarding the hazard you might create in a relation to other drivers.
    The state cannot determine your ability, that of the ability of other drivers, or the quality of vehicle that you drive, so they apply, as government always applies, the lowest common denominator, and in doing so subsidize the incompetent at the cost of the virtuous.
    Furthermore, punishments under the law must be equal (mostly) unlike taxes, and therefore they pick a pursuasive punishment.
    Of late they have supplemented budgets through fines.
    To fix the problem, require that all fines are given to charity, or put into your retirement account, rather than funding the bureaucracy.
    This is the fundamental problem of law: epistemology, The court is necessarily stupid and ignorant. So it applies the error of aggregation and seeks to treat all people unjustly.
    On to driving again:
    If a yellow light is a hazard, then the it is too short of a yellow light. It’s purpose is to inform you. Otherwise it makes no sense. and therefore I would argue that yellow light tickets are entrapment.
    But law isn’t true, or right, or just, or anything else. It’s the arbitrary expression of Legislative and Administrative and Regulatory ineptitude. that’s why we shouldn’t have it.
    So, in the end, yes, you got a ticket. Yes you have to pay it. No it isn’t right. No it isn’t just. No it isn’t wise. Yes it is arbitrary. Yes it is wrong. Yes it is the result of democratic government.
    We can always get together and conquer the place but that’s even more expensive and I don’t want the responsibility of worrying about 3/5’s of the bell curve anyway. Hell, 4/5 of it. 🙂

  2. Californian says:

    A couple years ago I was talking to a young woman in a coffee house, a student, actually. She said she had come home from vacation to find a citation for $700 for a stoplight camera violation. Turns out that since she was out of town when the initial ticket arrived, and she was not able to deal with it, the powers-that-be tacked on a humungous fine.
    Thing is, these things have become money making rackets. And too many people get ensnared in scenarios like this one.
    I’ll avoid the Orwell remarks.

  3. Arturo says:

    Hi JAY :
    As a brand-new blogger and someone who has always enjoyed reading your posts on Amren and more recently the excellent posts on your blog, I was wondering if I could ask you for a little advice in order to make my new blog work.
    Would you mind?
    Forgive me if my knowledge of blogging etiquette is for now a little non-existent.
    I was wondering JAY, if you could give me an idea of how many daily hits you get, (A), as well as (B), how many hits you got in your first week after putting “” online.
    Please let me know.
    Thanks JAY.
    Great blog !

    • jewamongyou says:

      This blog usually gets between 200-400 visitors a day. It was actually a bit higher when I first started it. Probably because people were just curious what the new blog looked like.

  4. Arturo says:

    Did I mention that the blog in question is : ?

  5. Devon says:

    Interesting post.
    I happened to go through the local library last week. While there, I looked through the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Backwoods Home Magazine. On page seven was an opinion piece by James J. Baxter, President of the National Motorists Association ( Never had heard of them.
    His bit was on traffic tickets. I recommend his website and article.
    A few facts from his piece:
    Traffic tickets are a multi-billion dollar industry.
    Not including parking tickets, we can estimate that somewhere between 25 and 50 million traffic tickets are issued each year. Presuming an average ticket cost of $150.00, the total upfront profit from tickets ranges from 3.75 to 7.5 billion dollars.
    If just half of these result in insurance surcharges (say $300.00 over a period of three years), we can add another 3.75 to 7.5 billion dollars in profit for insurance companies.
    In total, we are talking about 7.5 to 15.0 billion dollars annually from tickets for government agencies and insurance companies. That’s more money than several states take in from all taxes.

  6. Californian says:

    That’s awful! Do people have to check with the police prior to every trip just in case there is a pending fine?

    Consider this: supposing you decide to go on an extended vacation. You have the post office hold your mail. While you are away, you are mailed a summons from the IRS for an income tax audit. When you return home, you now find that your bank account has an IRS lien on it.
    Same thing with any number of government demands, such as jury duty, or whatever. Perhaps that is a reminder that you need to have someone checking your mail, but even, you have to consider how easily your life can be hosed up by this sort of thing.

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