I try and avoid the news, on which topic more will follow in a coming post, however I do occasionally catch brief snatches in between the songs on 6Music or before something interesting and informative (or just amusing) on Radio 4. Two recent stories have left me somewhat baffled.
A woman who was found grossly incompetent at her recent job, rather than more competent but criminal, by a jury of her peers has described this as a “vindication”. Not sure the very public announcement of my uselessness is something I’d describe thus – and not sure those who lost their jobs (or paid her salary) would view matters in quite the same way. The ethics training inflicted on me by “the man” has been pretty clear that neither ignorance nor stupidity is any defence in law. I may be wrong but I’m fairly sure that her employees have been caught making inappropriate payments to public officials – and this is very much within the scope of my training. Is “the man” fibbing to me? Or is it one rule for the plebs and another for the patricians? I am always amazed at the ability of those benefitting most from capitalism to draw a high salary, but then escape any responsibility for those actions that the man, woman or dog in the street might expect to be a basic consequence of their highly paid position. Obviously, I do realise this is sour grapes on the part of the dog who is merely upset that no-one is willing to pay it a vast salary for something it is completely unable to do.
In another story, the government has decided to ban khat (and not as I first heard, cats – though this would probably have more logic given their very destructive influence on our native fauna). I presume this is on the basis of the huge success we have had banning other drugs: the trail of dead young people and the volume of drug-related criminal behaviour and the cost of detaining at Her Majesty’s Pleasure those miscreants actually caught. Then again, given the recent history of our entirely legal food companies and their flexibility with the ingredients, perhaps criminal gangs are the safest suppliers of drugs to the nation’s young. I presume this ban will vastly increase the profitability of the khat trade and encourage the entrepreneurial with flexible morals to enter the field in droves. I do sometimes wonder if the Home Office is taking backhanders from various “industries” to keep them very profitably illegal. Would that I could engineer such a ban on something I am capable of cheaply producing – drivel perhaps?
Talking of the costs of prison, I have heard it said – though this may be a zombie statistic – that it is cheaper to keep a child at Eton than in gaol. Given that we are short prison spaces and rather long public schools (in my view), an obvious solution presents itself for future young offenders: pack them off to boarding school. If nothing else, we should have better educated felons and perhaps a broader mix of backgrounds in the cabinet a few years hence. Just a thought…