07 July, 2006

Traffic tickets and diplomatic immunity

Economists find: Diplomats From Countries With Dim View of U.S. Were More Likely to Ignore NYC Parking Tickets :: CBS News. Quote:
The study was conducted by economists from Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, who were hoping to uncover why officials from some countries frequently abused their diplomatic immunity by parking illegally, while others played by the rules.

Their main finding was that diplomats were more likely to run up unpaid parking fines if they hailed from countries with a history of unchecked corruption, such as Nigeria.

But a second factor _ poor U.S. image _ emerged when the researchers matched the list of offenders against a 2002 world public opinion survey performed by the Pew Research Center.

"It's much easier to flout the law if you tell yourself that the government that is making these laws or enforcing these laws lacks legitimacy," said Raymond Fisman of Columbia University's Graduate School of Business.
The worst and the best?:
Based on statistics supplied by the city, the report said the worst offenders during that period were Kuwait, which averaged 246.2 unpaid tickets per diplomat per year, followed by Egypt, with 139.6; Chad, with 124.3; and Sudan, with 119.1.

Twenty-two countries averaged zero unpaid tickets per year, according to the study, including Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
That's an interesting way for Kuwait to show its gratitude for the U.S.-led fight to restore Kuwait's sovereignty. Ditto Egypt which receives so much foreign aid from the US.

And UAE has zero unpaid tickets. And yet when it comes to paying the congestion fee in London, the UAE diplomatic corp has the worst record ranked by total owed. The US is 10th worst. The US's contention is that the congestion charge is a tax and diplomatic missions are exempt from taxes. But congestion fees and parking tickets are both more akin to fees for services - a congestion charge reduces traffic and, hence, shortens travel time. The US should pay up; so should the UAE. And so should Kuwait and Egypt. Should - that's a normative statement: stealing is wrong.

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