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Monday, January 18, 2010

Lead Foot or Gold Foot?

A Swiss millionaire has been fined the equivalent of $290,000 for speeding. This is the kind of fine that produces anxiety attacks in certain people just reading about it. (Deep breaths. Knee bends. You'll get through it Mr. Letterman.)

Supposedly, the legal justification for this bank account-vaccuuming penalty is the practice of fining people proportionally to their wealth. This is probably why people like Bill Gates avoid Switzerland. The gendarmes on Swiss motorways know that one little citation for the Microsoft founder could fund the Swiss police nationally for a decade or more. I'm also sure there are more than a few references in Swiss police chat to the "Sheik" lottery ticket, when obscenely wealthy Middle Eastern oil barons are in country for some high-class chocolate and the obligatory novelty cuckoo clock. [The one where your favorite Eurovision singer pops out and does a cover of Edwin Starr's "War (What Is It Good For?)"]

So the strategy for any wealthy would-be speeder should be to feign poverty. "How'd you get the Jaguar then?" "Stole it off a dealer's lot in Bern. I got sick of hiking the Alps on my skateboard."

Claiming to be an impoverished car thief is likely going to be cheaper than admitting you're stinking rich and and stamp on the accelerator like a cast member in an amateur production of Riverdance.

The only other alternative is to put all your cash in one of those famous Swiss bank accounts that no one can ever seem to track down. That'd show the Swiss authorities.

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