Hands up if you think you are on the wrong side of the moral divide in this country.

It seems I am, but I am not alone. I reckon at least 70 per cent of New Zealand is with me ... but we don't count.

You see, we are people who believe in the rules of society and punishment for those who break them.

Unreasonable I know but, hey, what are you going to do?


I think laws were created to keep law-abiding citizens in line, not to stop criminals going about doing whatever they feel like doing.

Fines are only a deterrent if the person being given them will actually pay and, judging by the millions of dollars being waived by Tauranga courts each year, there isn't a lot of that happening.

And how about the case in Auckland where a 50-year-old woman was convicted of ripping off more than $300,000 in benefits?

She was jailed for three years. Because she would be paying the money back at only $10 a week and it would take her 587 years to make full compensation, the judge reduced the $300,000 to $6000!

Had I been in the judge's seat, things would have been a bit different.

Yes, she would have been jailed for three years.

Yes, she could pay off her debt at $10 a week, but it would be the full amount.

She would not be entitled to any public money - be it a benefit or state housing subsidy - until she had paid off that debt.


And if she had an estate after her death, that would be seized to reduce the amount owed.

If you think that's tough, I could make it worse.

None of her immediate family would be eligible for a benefit or government money until the debt was gone.

How about that to stop fraudsters thinking they can get away with it?

Oh dear, doesn't this flag issue just keep getting better?

The mobs behind changing the New Zealand flag just keep shooting themselves in the foot.

Our four choices, as mentioned last week, are ridiculous. So much so, a fifth, late, entry was biffed into the mix to wow us.

It was called Red Peak and attracted a lot of support from flag-changers who didn't like the other options.

Only Red Peak has a slight problem. Or rather, a rather large one - in that it is almost exactly the same as the logo of an American engineering company.

The owners of Peak Engineering and Design, Jeff and Beth Roach, were surprised when told of the similarities, and even more so when the name of the would-be flag contender was so close to their company name.

"Obviously we are flattered," Beth said.

The American designer of their logo, Julie Schmidt, said she could see similarities between the two as drawings but if one were a flag that was different. And the Kiwi would-be flag's designer Aaron Dustin said there was no problem with copyright at all.

But I think he misses the point here.

He really should have checked if there were any designs similar to what he was thinking of putting forward as a possible national flag.

I mean, who wants their country to have a flag that could be mistaken for a company logo?

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at the following, but I'll probably have decided by the time you finish reading it.

I had a report last week from a patron in a coffee shop, who told me she was feeling sorry for the cafe's owner.

It seems that a group of workers were having a meeting in the upstairs area of the cafe, discussing some pretty serious matters.

One of the group went downstairs and complained to the owner that other people were coming up while her group was talking about confidential and serious matters.

Now the do-gooder mob hadn't hired out the upstairs area, but this person was adamant they should have the run of it, otherwise they would go elsewhere next time.

I'm not sure what the cafe owner said but it was probably something quite pleasant.

Here I can tell you, dear readers, I've decided on what my reaction will be ... I will get grumpy on behalf of the owner who is a very hard-working, pleasant woman.

If I was the boss I'd be saying: "If you have confidential and private matters to discuss don't come to a public place to do so.

"And secondly ... who do you think you are?

"And thirdly ... don't come back."


-Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.