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The solution is "simple". We just need to make the entire world prosperous, make birth control freely available, and convince major religions to stop preaching that more children is a good thing. Given all three (and in some cases even just two out of the three) population turns out to be self limiting. In one of the cases where the free market actually does seem to get things right, if having more kids is a net loss (as it is for 1st world Americans) instead of a net gain (as it is for people living in a manual labor based agricultural community) then families make the "correct" decision to have fewer children.
The tricky part is of course how to achieve the above. And how to achieve it in a way that doesn't doom the Earth before the population can naturally correct itself. (If we could magically give the entire world the kind of lifestyle Americans, or even Europeans, enjoy now with all the same energy and natural resource requirement, the results would probably not be good.)
Ideally between green technology and automation we can figure out how to make a good lifestyle available in a cheap and sustainable manner. And then we need to learn to let everyone share in that lifestyle instead of requiring people to find jobs that are no longer available, because in the long term the cost of letting everyone share is a lot less than the cost of the social disruption of diving the world into haves and have-nots. I'm a lot less optimistic about us figuring out that second part than i am about the first.
Now we have "Company fails, then (attempts to) get Kickstarted."
Earthquake hits LA, does major damage. Oil and gas companies are taken to court in a class action lawsuit. (There's a lot of oil production here, especially around Long Beach.)
The case drags on for years, but eventually the companies have to settle, let's say for $10 billion. That sounds like a lot of money right? Except half of it goes to the lawyers. Then half of the rest is made as a tax deductible donation to the Red Cross for disaster relief. The remaining 2.5 billion is split amongst the approximately 18.5 million residents of greater Los Angeles. Which would come out to a little under $150 per person. And it's delivered in the form of coupons for 50% off your next 100 gallons of gas. That 2.5 billion will of course go into a fund until those coupons are redeemed, and i would be surprised if the companies responsible don't get to keep the interest on those funds until they're spent to reimburse the gas stations that redeem the coupons. And of course a lot of people will forget that they have the coupons and never get around to using them. And a lot of the people won't actually own a gasoline powered car and will have to try and sell the coupons, probably for less than market value.
(And then most likely the price of gas in LA will go up for "unknown reasons" until most of the coupons have been redeemed.)
Of course the first ones to ignore externalized costs are the business offloading those costs on everyone else. And if a magnitude 7 quake gets triggered and people get hurt or killed (potentially dozens or hundreds of people in the US and possibly many more in less developed areas) the corporations responsible ought to be liable for millions or billions of dollars. But if necessary they'll lawyer up for a fraction of the cost and drag the issue out in court for years until everyone forgets. After all, how do you prove that this particular quake wouldn't have happened without drilling? And how do you prove which company's actions triggered the quake?
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." That Ben Franklin quote gets thrown around quite a lot, but that's just because it's so demonstrably true. It's always possible that the people in charge right now are good and honorable, but if you keep giving up liberties then sooner or later someone is going to come along who wants to abuse the system and there will be nothing left to stop them.
And just for the record, it should be noted that he said "essential liberty". We all have to give up some liberty to live in functioning society. Unfortunately everyone has different opinions about which are the "essential" liberties and when you've crossed the line between prudence and paranoia.
The proposal is not that if a person commits a crime and pays X amount for it then if a company commits the same crime they should pay X multiplied by the difference in their income, which is what you're arguing against in your example of speeding tickets.
This is in relation to the kinds of crimes that (generally) companies commit, and is arguing that if a large company commits that crime then it should pay a larger fine than if a smaller company commits the same crime.
It is possible that the scale of the crime has been included in the size of the fee, but if so it's a pretty ridiculous standard to begin with. "Hundreds of thousands of customer records" is pretty vague, but let's assume records for 250,000 people. That means a fine of $100 a person. That's not nothing, but it doesn't really cover the potential damage they may have caused. And furthermore in this case, although we are presuming the employees did not sell the data as part of a corporate directive, the fact that they were able to do so indicates some pretty serious lack of oversight and security, and some portion of the fee ought to be related to that. And _that_ part of the fee ought to reflect the size of the company involved.
$25 million could easily bankrupt a small company, but AT&T will hardly notice it amidst the yearly revenue of $132 billion and net income of over $6 billion. So the fine works out to about 0.4% of their yearly profit. In 2011 the average American household had $12,800 of discretionary income available, about the best equivalent to corporate profit i can think of. In which case if an average American committed the same crime the "expected" fee would be $51.20. That's not even a speeding ticket, that's about a parking ticket level of fine.
You can't compare a civil offense like a speeding ticket to a criminal trial. The standards of proof are completely different.
In the case of a civil offense, the standard is preponderance of evidence. A cops word is pretty much good enough for that.
In a criminal trial the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. That means no reasonable person can have a reasonable doubt that you did it. HUGE difference.