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February 8, 2010

Finland Fits the Punishment to the Purse

Many communities are trying to balance their budgets by raising the fines for parking and moving violations.  If they really want to get serious serious, they might look to FInland for guidance.

Traffic fines in Finland have long been based on a formula that combines the severity of an offense with a driver's income.  The idea is that if penalties are to hurt equally, wealthier people should pay higher fines.  Thus some years ago a well-heeled driver was fined $71,000 for driving 43 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Anyone anxious to copy Finland?  

October 1, 2009

Ponzi Schemes- Shouldn't Investors Share the Blame?

Orange County (CA) insurance salesman James Halstead and his lawyer partner-in-crime Jeanne Rowzee have pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars. (Thanks so much Rowzee for adding to the legal profession's already-tarnished image.)  http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-halstead29-2009sep29,0,78151.story  The victims included "retirees on fixed incomes," so of course we're supposed to feel especially badly for them. 

But let's save some of our condemnation for the victims.  Halstead and Rowzee raised money by promising investors returns of 35% in three months.  It's easy to excuse investors who would swallow these lies for being simply naive.  But I think their incredible greed rather than their naivete was responsible for their losses.  The investors were as greedy as Halstead and Rowzee- they all saw a chance for ridiculously easy money and went for it.  So long as people base their actions on greed rather than reason, swindlers like Halstead and Rowzee will always be among us.