How much is a parking ticket?
Recently I have had this discussion with a fair amount of people, and it's something that I haven't really thought much about until...well, now. The past couple weeks, certainly. Just something that has never occured to me.
So if you have had this conversation with me - well, follow it through anyway, because you might find it interesting.
A swift google search reveals that the average Penalty Charge Notice (a parking ticket to you and me) is around £70 - £50 for a minor infraction, £120 in central London. I am sure there are private companies that are more shady in their issuing of such things...but finding data for them will be more difficult. They have something to hide and be embarassed about, see.
You notice how it costs more in London?
Now in part I don't doubt that it is because of the traffic situation. They want to keep the roads moving as fast and effective as possible. All sorts of measures to keep that happening - cheap and effective public transport, congestion charges, and this greater parking ticket penalty.
I bet in part, though, it is because - in London, people get paid more.
I'll come back to that.
Speeding tickets. These things are £100 and 3 points, unless you are going fast enough to be put in court - then it goes up to £1,000, £2,500 on the motorway.
Here, the deviation is based on effect. There's more cars moving in higher volume on the motorway. I can understand that. A crash on the motorway is going to have a greater knock-on effect than one off it, if we get down to brass tacks.
What is it you notice about all these charges?
Well, what you will notice is that - if I am working on minimum wage, as many folks in this country are - picking up a parking ticket will cost me an entire day's wages. However, if I was, say...
If we totally ignore the fact that they get expenses, they are paid approximately £62 an hour in this day and age - almost 9 times more than you and I - which means that it might actually save an MP money to just park wherever they want and do what they have to do, rather than spend time using public transport and taking consideration to park elsewhere.
And that's just MPs. The Office for National Statistics estimates that over 1.2 million people in this country - 4% of the workforce - actually earn a million pounds or more a year. That's perhaps twelve, thirteen times more than the already-affluent Commons politicians, and so the amount of time these folks would need to work to pay off a parking ticket (even in London) is probably less than the amount of time they will be parked wherever they get the ticket.
I got interrupted halfway through doing the maths, but I am fairly sure that if Wayne Rooney were to speed down a street for four minutes, he'd have earned the money to pay that fine in those four minutes.
Some folks might not see why this could be a problem.
There are many ways in which the justice system today is - or seems to be - one rule for us, another rule for them. One of the starkest measures of this is across the line of income disparity. This can be as simple as being able to afford a more succesful lawyer. One thing that is certain, however, is that in a world wherein the penalty for several different crimes (not all traffic related) is a monetary punishment, then making that monetary punishment be the same for everyone regardless of income is as good as saying that the wealthy deserve to be punished less for it.
Austerity creates income disparity. We are living in a time of austerity. This situation was engineered and is curated by people who do not suffer from that same austerity. There are companies and individuals who are profiting from such austerity - lenders, the companies trying to get a piece of the NHS - while the rest of us are doing nothng but lose.
At this time, when the term Food Bank has become a well-known term throughout the entire country - for people to be able to ignore the law because they have sufficient money is just an added slap in the face to those of us who are just trying to do our best and get by day after day.
The solutions hould be obvious, of course. Any punitive fine should be considered as a measure of one's income or value, rather than just a flat fine. The same as tax.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder how it hasn't happened yet. And the more I consider it, the more fair and just it seems.