Should Government Fines Be Based on Wealth?


Punishment is a way of changing bad behaviours among human beings. In children we take the things that they cherish the most like their toys, playing time etc. In adults since we can’t take away their toys, we take away their money. Whenever a person behaves badly and breaks the law, they are charged with monetary fines. Not wearing a helmet while riding, you’ll be charged Rs 1000. Drunk while driving? You’ll be charged Rs 2000. Every crime apart from killing a person could be gotten away with paying a fine.

The problem with this type of punishment however is that it’s not the same for everyone despite everyone being charged the same. You see, a fine of Rs 1000 for a vegetable seller would be much harsher than for a businessman with a turnover of Rs 100 crores. Though these are the same for both, they are not actually the same amount of punishment.

Should fines be based on wealth?

Monetary fines are devised for the middle class or the people with average wealth but the class that gets the worts of it is poor. They need to pay a larger percentage towards a fine than an average earner and even larger than a rich person despite doing the same mistake as the other two.

We as a society ask the poor to make as few mistakes as possible and punish them harshly at the same time give slacks to the rich. That is unfair!

What about prison sentences?

A great counter-question to this would be the problem with imprisonment. Should prison sentences be given according to wealth as well?

No. I think a 5-year prison sentence would be the same for every person irrespective of their wealth. 5 years in jail would make a similar dent in a person’s life no matter if he is a poor person or a rich one.

What about people who don’t have any money?

This again is a very good question as this law would support people with no or less money since they would be levied a small fine for many crimes.

The thing is, homeless people or people with no money are fined the same way today as well. In the sense that, if a person does not have money to pay fines, he is put into jail. It would be the same in the new rule as well. if a person is unable to pay a fine, the law would require them to be put in jail similarly to what it is now.

So what do you think of this idea. Should fines be based on the wealth of a person or should be equal to everyone irrespective of their ability to pay the said fine?

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