Following on from The Snowolf‘s excellent article, the telegraph today also has an excellent piece comparing the self serving (though often strictly legal) behaviour at the top of society with the behaviour of the looters in the recent kerfuffle. Whilst those at the top may be found not guilty (often on technicalities and one suspects due to better lawyers) they are people expected to set a better example – and yet often get away with “having made a mistake” or “technical breach of the rules” and then just pay back the relevant sum – with no interest paid and no other penalty. So if we apply the same logic applied to MPs expenses to the looters as long as they didn’t cause damage but just stole stuff it’ll be fine as long as they return it right?
If our great and good set such poor examples, all across the political spectrum and beyond, why should we expect any better from any other part of society? Though one thing which may be a glimmer of light is the way communities have remembered themselves and gone out to protect and clean up their neighbourhoods not to mention numerous reports I’ve seen on facebook and in the Metro of people standing up to antisocial and thuggish behaviour in public and getting support either from the Police or those around then. This I suspect would have been unthinkable before the looting, but perhaps now we’ve been reminded that we are all responsible for maintaining the sort of society we want to live in. I’d hazard the suggestion that if our courts could remember this and apply serious sentences to those that committed wrong doing and didn’t penalise those trying to defend themselves or assist others then maybe things could well improve without the imposition of yet more laws to be randomly enforced.
update I must agree though with Samizdata that whilst the parallels with the politicians make sense, and some of the other celebrity “role models” also don’t help. Business people trying to keep what they’ve earned doesn’t really fit, and as a friend observed US style tax breaks for the rich to support charities really might not be a bad plan.