Ever wonder where the money goes that’s collected in fines from oil and utility companies, airlines, banks that cause disasters, and dishonest politicians and CEOs? While watching the news about California State Senator Leland Yee, who was caught running guns and dope and selling political favors, I got to thinking. Why not add an additional, small, say, half percent, assessment to go to help people? The idea is to remind scoff-laws that they are harming real people, and to channel some of the fine money into helping real people.
The truth is, where the money goes depends on the situation. If it’s a civil matter, either the victims or the U.S. Treasury get the bucks. Fines for airlines who make you sit in a plane on the tarmac too long go to the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, not to you for your inconvenience and frustration. The U.S. Treasury will get the Toyota fines. Sometimes people actually receive money, such as in the financial institution debacle—but the money goes to the shareholders, not to us.
It’s too complicated to do much about. However, I have a plan. Add that .5% fee to each fine, and distribute the money where it will do some good. If it’s a federal issue, put that .5% toward the national debt. If it’s a state or local issue, use it to fund programs and aid for our poor and homeless to get them back on their feet and into productive society. Let’s see, half a percent of Yee’s fine would yield $7,500. There could be an $8,235 assessment on Valero for its fine for violating air quality standards at one of its refineries. Bank of America’s $150 million penalty would bring in a lot more. It all adds up. This is done when we receive a traffic ticket: we pay the ticket plus fees. Why not on a larger scale?
Just a thought……