Richard Moore: Rich play system as we pay

1 comment


I wonder just how long it is going to be in this country before the middle classes get fed up with being screwed over and say: "We've had enough, we're not going to take it any more!"

We get rogered financially, paying most of the taxes to keep everything running, working all hours to try to pay our way, while huge chunks of society get to live nicely on our money without having to leave their house.

We are ignored politically because most of the middle classes don't bleat about their problems and pressure politicians.

As Napoleon Bonaparte said: "Ten people who speak make more noise than 10,000 who are silent."

And that describes the middle classes; the quiet majority who go about their lives and their jobs trying to do the best they can while keeping within the law.

This is where the middle classes cop it in the neck again - in the courts.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

I am sure authorities rub their hands in glee every time a white-collar worker gets done for breaking the law. They would enjoy the shame of professionals appearing in the dock and court workers must delight watching a newbie squirming. Well, it is so unlike most of the losers who are before them ... those who know courtrooms as second homes.

Then, of course, professionals have jobs and, therefore, can pay the fines handed out by courts.

If they had no jobs, or no assets, the courts couldn't rip the money out of bank accounts or garnish wages.

The lowlives break the law and don't care. They get fined, don't care, don't pay. They are fined again for not paying fines. They don't care, they don't pay as almost $1 billion in unpaid fines will attest.

Mind you the other groups getting lenient treatment in courts are those involved in the legal system, celebrities or ex-politicians. The cases that recently have me hopping up and down madder than a flea on P are these: Emily Toner, a Crown prosecutor who got lightfingered in a supermarket and Sir Douglas Graham, one of the faces of the Lombard debacle.

In the first case Ms Toner was accused of not paying for $200 worth of food items from a North Shore supermarket.

She had tried to leave the store with them hidden under an item of clothing in the trolley.

When stopped she said she had an eating disorder and had hidden the items because she was embarrassed about what she was buying.

Clearly her plea carried weight as she was discharged without conviction.

Toner's lawyer said the judge was satisfied the consequences of a conviction on Toner would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending.

I have to say to the judge that's all very well but why does a legal eagle get special treatment?

Well it isn't the first time that lawyers, or those studying the law, are lucky enough to escape conviction for their crimes.

In Dunedin a fourth-year law student did not get convicted for drink-driving because the Beak considered it could be too big a barrier to his career.

He was fined $800 and disqualified from driving for 12 months. Anyone else would not only cop those penalties but get a conviction against their name.

And how about the penalty handed out to Sir Douglas Graham for his role in the Lombard debacle?

He was one of four directors found to have made misleading statements in the company's prospectus. The result was more than 4400 people lost big time in sinking money into it.

Former Cabinet minister Graham, 70, was given 300 hours of community work to do and must pay $100,000 reparation.

Another former Cabinet minister Bill Jeffries, 66, a lawyer, was sentenced to 400 hours community work.

Jeffries said he couldn't pay reparation but said even if he could he wouldn't because he had philosophical and principled objections to doing so. Principled? Choke.

Some people say "oh, the shame of Sir Douglas would be enough punishment". I do not think so.

Let's add this up, shall we?

Lombard lost $110 million.

Two of the directors had to pay reparation of $100,000 each with 300 hours of community service, the other two got 400 hours and no repayments.

So for each hour of community service done by them they are effectively earning $78,500. I wouldn't mind that hourly rate.

Satirist and writer Jonathan Swift summed it up beautifully: "Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through."

richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 20 Dec 2014 10:00:17 Processing Time: 744ms