Misattributed Motivation

It seems to me that legal fines, late fees, or other sorts of punitive charges paid to municipalities, states or the federal government ought to go into a rainy-day or special projects fund. This would force government to budget based on taxes and other more regular and predictable sources of revenue. This would have two obvious benefits:

  • It would help the government to save for either hard times or worthy special projects that would otherwise be too costly.
  • It would take away the monetary incentive behind levying fines and focus more on the appropriateness of the punishment.

That second point is the important one. If the motivation for enforcing rules is to bring in operating revenue for government and law enforcement (the seizure of drug money to fund the purchase of policing equipment, for example) rather than simple justice, the metrics for which issues to focus on become skewed.

Reversing this, without the monetary incentive the importance of the infraction itself becomes the metric for enforcement rather than the cash benefit.

That seems a much more just way to apply the law.