Nasty, pinko, crim-hugger, Herald columnist advocates envy tax for driving offences

Jarrod Gilbert usually is writing about his penchant for the criminal classes.

Yesterday he proposed a nasty, spiteful, envy tax for driving offences, where the fines levied are based on the value of the car you drive.

Flashing lights are a holiday tradition. Initially on Christmas trees, and then in our rear-view mirrors as we embark on holidays around the country with a bit too much enthusiasm. Police pulling over holiday drivers is as traditional as pavlova.

Traffic fines, however, are a contentious issue but not as contentious as they could be. Some believe fines are simply revenue gathering. Some say they’re about combating the road toll. Others worry that police appearing overzealous on the roads impacts on positive perceptions and goodwill. (The thinking being that if people see the police so regularly in negative ways, they won’t be as likely to co-operate with them when needed).
But where we should see more contention is the uneven impact of fines.

Penalties, in part, are meant to act as a deterrent to undesirable behaviour. But is a fine to somebody who can easily afford it really a deterrent? There might be something in that but the real issue lies in an argument of fairness.

A fine of $120, for example, is a trifling amount to a person earning $100,000 per year. But the same fine is an imposing chunk of the weekly earnings of a person on minimum wage. For the latter, that fine would be about a quarter of a weekly pay-packet, or the difference between eating well and, well, not eating. For someone on 100,000, it’s merely 8 per cent, or the difference between a night out somewhere nice and just staying home. Of course, the super rich are more bothered by a shoelace coming untied.

Imposing the same fines for the same offence is egalitarian, but it doesn’t lead to egalitarian outcomes. Far from it. The poor are grossly more affected or the wealthy significantly privileged — whatever floats your boat the outcome remains the same.

Police already do this, preferring to pull over ‘flash cars’ because they have a lower risk of the occupants not fleeing, not assaulting them and more importantly paying the fines. Anyone who lives and works in South Auckland knows that you have a higher chance of getting stopped driving a ‘flash car’ than some jalopy with different coloured panels and a few dents and the odd bald tire.

What this cock-womble can’t seem to work out is that if you don’t break the law, poor or otherwise, then you won’t get fined. Simply really, but not for a sociologist.

Oh..and he wants a conversation.

Still, we should have a conversation about the impact of fines on certain groups — particularly because unpaid they drive people to court and into the criminal justice system leading to impacts most undesirable.

Pay your fines then!

Our sense of justice is sometimes like our driving, and we should be inspired by the best of it.

Few things bring out our lack of generosity and kindness quite like getting behind the wheel during the holidays when the lanes are packed with traffic and the kids are in the back screaming.

Yet nothing casually unites us like the tell-tale flash of the headlights between motorists to warn of a highway patrol car or a speed trap ahead.

It’s an informal social control that slows us down but tips our hat to fellow travellers — everyone from bogans to businessmen appreciates that.

Be warned, flashing your lights can technically be an offence but don’t let that put you off. Particularly if you’re wealthy.

What a jealous, snivelling, little weasel Jarrod Gilbert is. He should stick to visiting his gang mates in prison.


-NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.