Adjust Fines and Penalties to Income Level and Net-Worth

Fines exist to disincentivize harmful behavior and minimize overall harm done to our societies. Fines have been around for as long as humans have socialized, but nobody anticipated that a small group of extremely wealthy corporations and individuals could one day stand above the rules of our society and completely discard any fines brought before them.

For wealthy corporations and individuals, a fine is not a moral threshold to stop criminal and harmful behavior but only an obstacle. If the fine is only miniscule compared to the profit that can be made, few individuals and almost no corporation changes their behavior.

If Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos get a speeding ticket for 500€, they won’t care because they already made back that money in less than a minute and therefore won’t change their behavior, practically standing above the law. For the average person a 500€ fine is a huge issue and exceeds their monthly budget, maybe even brings them into debt. Corporations who are using tax loopholes to save billions of euros in taxes and after several years only get fined in the multi-million-euro range turn their harmful behavior into a Cost-Profit-Analysis.

We need to scale fines to income levels and net-worth of individuals and corporations; the higher the income and net-worth, the higher the fine.

Instead of Elon Musk having to pay 500€ for speeding, he has to pay 1% of his yearly income, which would be several billion euro. Instead of Facebook getting fined 5 billion dollars for violating consumers’ privacy, they get fined 10% of their 2019 net worth, being 50 billion dollars. Pharmaceutical companies, who distributed harmful products for decades and are regularly involved in illegal practices, would pay fines way over their yearly revenue, which would actually get them to change their unhealthy business model.

As the EU has international legal power, it can become the first institution to implement a fine system adjusted to income and net-worth.