Thursday, May 17, 2007

One Law for the Rich and Another for the Poor

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who entered his post promising to clean up corruption (following his time as Assistant US Secretary of Defense, in which he was one of the chief creators of the murderous mess in Iraq), but was then caught breaking the rules to get his girlfriend a massive pay rise, is now reported to be "working on a resignation deal" that will allow him to leave on his own terms (no doubt with a handsome pay-off).

The rich and powerful really have no shame. If an ordinary person is caught with their hand in the till, they will get the boot immediately. But at this level of power, it seems you don't have to accept responsibility for your actions. And as the OJ trial showed, if you have enough money in America you can even literally get away with murder.

In this situation, it's refreshing that at least one of the super-rich may actually face the same justice as ordinary people for a change. The judge who sentenced silly heiress Paris Hilton to 45 days in prison, after she was twice caught at the wheel while her licence was suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol, deserves congratulations.

Britain's Sun newspaper reported that, "Her family had believed their money could buy her freedom. Her mum Kathy was heard ranting: '“And after all the money we spent!'" (though in true Sun style, the story concentrated on Paris's reported fear of lesbian assault in jail, and appeared under a shot of the wind blowing up her skirt to show her knickers).

Meanwhile, a questionable court case in the US has seen a vegan couple sentenced to life in prison for the death of their malnourished baby. It's hard to tell without seeing all the evidence, but it sounds to me from the report here that they were more probably foolish and ignorant (and rather eccentric) than deliberate killers. And like most poor people, they were probably forced to rely on overworked court-appointed defence counsel who may not have had the time or resources to mount an effective defence for them.

No comments: