Speeding Canberra motorists are in the news with The Canberra Times publishing some of the most exciting excuses zooming speedsters have given to try to escape being fined.
At the same time the Times reported that Canberra's mobile speed cameras alone issued just over $4 million worth of fines in the 2015/16 financial year. Us helter-skelter Canberrans make a powerful contribution to the ACT government's revenues.
And I say "us" for, yes, even your law-abiding columnist suffered a speeding fine during the 2015/2016 financial year. I was caught driving under the influence. I will come to what was influencing me in just a few bewitching paragraphs.
But first to the way in which the news about Canberrans' speeding and speeding fines reminds us of yet another idea we might like to borrow from progressive Finland.
Splendid Finland (I have been there and am saving my shekels to go again) is much on my mind at the moment. As hinted at in a previous column Sandra and I are in secret training (we achieved a PB yesterday over the demanding 250 metre course!) for the Wife-Carrying races that are to be part of September's Finland Centenary Crazy Games here in Canberra.
Wife-carrying, a thrilling sport and more dignified than it sounds, is yet another invention of the inventive Finns, already world-renowned for their progressiveness in almost everything and for being the world leader in the use of homoerotic postage stamps.
And so how typical of the Finnish authorities, with their sometimes socialism-tinged approach to things, that they adjust speeding fines according to the incomes of the speedsters that are caught.
A BBC News report gasps that "A Finnish man has been handed a whopping 54,000-euro fine for speeding."
"Finland's speeding fines are linked to income," the BBC continues, "so, when businessman Reima Kuisla was caught doing 103km/h in an area where the speed limit is 80km/h authorities turned to his 2013 tax return …he earned 6.5m euros that year, so was told to hand over 54,000 euros."
Mr Kuisla was aghast and fuming but the BBC found "There's little sympathy from his fellow Finns on social media. One person says 'Small fines won't deter the rich - fines have to 'bite' everyone the same way.' "
I bet the ACT's Chief Minister, a keen student of this column, this think-tank, will want to introduce a similar system in the ACT. It is not only that it gives an opportunity to harvest lots of revenue from the McMansion classes that can well afford it. It is also that, as social research has always shown, fines that the battling disadvantaged can barely afford plunge them deeper into their already awful financial woes with all sorts of consequences for the wellbeing of them and their families.
I'm a plucky self-funded retiree and my speeding fine alluded to above (in my 2004 Barina I had broken into a gentle gallop at a spot where I should only have trotted) seemed unnecessarily huge and punishing. It required some grim economies. For a while I could only afford smashed avocado restaurant breakfasts six mornings of the week instead of the usual seven. Devastated, I thought of writing an indignant letter to The Canberra Times about this nightmarish injustice (for most letters to The Canberra Times are about these sorts of First World outrages).
But, with a Finnish system, the motorist from Upper O'Malley speeding in his late model Range Rover on that same stretch where I was caught trotting in my law-abiding Barina would have been required to make a sumptuous contribution to ACT revenue. Give it some thought, socialism-inclined Chief Minister Barr!
It was most unlike me to speed but I was driving under the influence, not of alcohol but of my favourite composer the Finnish national hero Jean Sibelius. I carry Sibelius and Beethoven, and Mozart and Gladys Knight and the Pips CDs in my car to play while I am driving.
Had I been listening to one of Sibelius' many moody works at the time I would surely have been driving sedately (with filthy-rich O'Malley drivers in their Range Rovers furiously tail-gating me). But as it was listening to the great composer's Lemminkainen's Return. It is perhaps the most thrilling, dashing, breakneck seven minutes in all of great music. It describe the roguish Lemminkainen (he is the Nick Kyrgios of Finnish legend) rocketing homewards across the snowy wastes in a supernaturally supercharged sleigh hauled by magical V8 reindeer.
When a sensitive Finland enthusiast is driving and listening to Lemminkainen's Return he, the driver, becomes Lemminkainen in his sleigh and doesn't notice that he, the driver, is bustling along a little faster than usual.
Had it been a policeman that had caught me (instead of a speed camera) I would have told him this true story whereupon I feel sure (for the police love classical music and have a soft spot for Finnish folklore) he would have let me off.