My favorite foreign law

(via Did You Know on Tumblr) There are a lot of laws in foreign countries that I like a lot better than the corresponding laws in the US.  I think that's probably true of most Americans -- there are few things in our culture that haven't been turned into massive disagreements on the most fundamental levels.

My favorite foreign law, though, and the law I think I might hate most in America, is Sweeden's speeding tickets system.  I could have sworn I first read about it in Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, but I just pored over my copy of the book and I can't find it anywhere.

I'm reminded of it now because has an article about a 1.1 million dollar fine for going almost 200 mph.  His fine is that high because Sweeden's ticketing system scales the cost of the ticket to the income of the person receiving it.

I'm often surprised, when I bring this up, that a lot of people disagree.  They claim it would be unfair for some people to get higher fines than others just because they make more money -- or, they think that what I'm saying is fines should be cheaper for poor people.

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that I think the fines we have now are appropriate for the people with the lowest incomes who can still manage to own a car.  Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it's okay for a speeding ticket to cost so much that the person receiving it has to skip rent to pay it.

The punishment we're passing on to this transgressor is the risk of having to live out of the car they were speeding in.  So, if that's fair for the poorest people in the country, why is it okay for the richest to be charged, for the same crime, the amount of money they might spend on a day's food?

Tickets should be scaled so that we can get the severity of the punishment right.  If it's okay for someone caught speeding to be thrown from their home, then when a billionaire does it, the government should take their mansion.  If it's not, then the poorest people should pay a lot less.