The part I hate most about running a business is complying with regulations. I dread checking my mailbox because I’m constantly getting fined for shit. Once, I got fined $41,000 by the NYWCB, whatever that is, for not having Workers’ Compensation Insurance, whatever that is. But after complaining to the department that I didn’t really owe them that kind of cash and that, even if, suppose, I did owe it, I couldn’t really afford it, I got the fine reduced to $1,000, and I went on my way.

Another time, I was sent a bill for eighty grand in unpaid taxes. I assured them it was a clerical mistake. I got it updated to a tiny refund in my favor.

That’s the story of fines. They’re just scare tactics. If you have the courage to dispute them and ideally a sob story to go with it, they will mostly disappear. Finers bank on finees’ unwillingness to fight, on their tendency to capitulate to ostensibly authoritative demands.

I think it’s no accident that the word “fine” is named such. Because for the agencies who issue them, that’s the absolute best-case scenario of how you’ll respond: “Fine…