Wednesday, May 06, 2015

My object all sublime

It’s a brilliant idea: rich people who break the law should be fined more than poor people.

It stands to reason that a Dh200 fine for jaywalking is grossly over-punitive for some Dubai labourer for whom Dh200 represents his monthly food budget, whereas for a degree-educated experienced western manager the same sum is mere pocket change.

So the solution to this patent unfairness is obvious, isn’t it? The court finds out what the offender’s monthly income is and fines him a percentage of that. Some Emirati teenager was fined half a million dirhams earlier this week for doing doughnuts on the public highway and bringing the UAE into disrepute by posting the video in Instagram (and subsequently in 7DAYS and The National). Half a million? Jeez!!

Such as system would have been ideal a year ago while the Goat was resting between jobs. As a house elf and kitty whisperer, his personal income was zero. He could, under some system of means-tested fines, have driven Beloved Wife’s car in the manner of a total hooligan and incurred numerous fines. Haha! Any percentage of zero is zero. And exactly the same situation would occur when some foopballer’s WAG went out in her husband’s Lexus and drove with reckless abandon.

We can perhaps imagine the court: “You have been found guilty of the charges, and are fined 75% of your monthly income,” which is big fat zero, zilch, nada, sifr.

“Ah, but,” the Goat hears you protest, “Because Beloved Wife is working, she brings in the total household income, and the fine should be based on that.”

Indeed. Except that Beloved Wife did not commit the offence, and only an unreasonable Man on the proverbial Clapham Omnibus would argue that Beloved Wife, or anyone else, should have to pay the penalty for an offence committed by somebody else.

And what if the punishment that fits the crime isn’t a fine, but a custodial sentence? Can a year in the slammer seriously be served by two people doing six months each? No, I didn’t think so.


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