By Henry McRandall
Rare indeed is the occasion when the Amerikkkan corporate mass media pays any attention whatsoever to its northern neighbour, Canada. In fact, most of the glorified stenographers practicing so-called “journalism” within today’s mainstream media probably wrongly assume that all Canadians are Eskimos and all live in igloos.
But there was a minor event a couple of decades ago that had Amerikkka’s chattering political and media class joining the choir of their Canadian counterparts. Highly-respected university professor Sunera Thobani, who at the time was president of Canada’s National Action Committee on the Status of Women, had the audacity to suggest that a single mother who steals to feed her kids in one of the richest countries in the world, should not go to jail. She was right. of course.
But the self-styled arbiters of public morality would have none of it. “Moral turpitude blah blah blah.” “Criminals must pay for their crimes blah blah blah.” “Respect for the law would be eroded blah blah blah.” “A nation of laws blah blah blah.”
But where has all the corporate mainstream media and establishment political outrage been for the past five years while literally thousands of the Amerikkkan socioeconomic and political elite have been on a massive criminal rampage that has gone totally unpunished?
Why are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and scores of other major malefactors within the Bush regime walking free after hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives due to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by this gangster presidential regime in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? Why are literally tens of thousands of Amerikkkan gangster banksters still walking free after foisting an average of more than $50 million per gangster bankster in fraudulent mortgages that have thrown millions of American families out of their homes?
And why is it so hard for ordinary Americans and Canadians — the poor, the working class and the middle class — to obtain civil justice when they have been seriously harmed by the unregulated lawlessness of giant capitalist corporations?
The entire “justice” system — in both the U.S. and Canada — has been so bastardized by special political considerations for corporations and the wealthy that there remains little legitimacy to any notion that the system in either country is truly committed to “justice.” Before either country can ever again legitimately claim to be a “nation of laws,” the entire system must be radically overhauled.
In a system that was truly “just,” judges would have to take into account a number of considerations that at present have absolutely no currency.
For example, crimes motivated by greed should be punished much more harshly than crimes motivated by need. Judges should also be required to consider the power imbalances that might exist between specific perpetrators and specific victims. And they should also have to consider the victim impact of a crime. For example, stealing $50 from a poor person is far more harmful than stealing $50 from a rich person or a bank or corporation.
A profit-making giant corporation or bank that victimizes poor and working-class patrons through consumer fraud, usury, frivolous fees, etc. is guilty of a much worse crime than a single mother who steals $50 worth of food from Walmart to feed her children. And gangster banksters who commit serial mortgage frauds are guilty of a much worse batch of crimes than the teenager who is sentenced to life without possibility of parole for getting caught with a couple of joins for the third time.
If it’s true that if one can’t do the time, one shouldn’t do the crime, then it must also be true that the punishment should truly reflect the crime. Toward that end, here are a few changes we would like to see, in both the U.S. and Canada:
MORTGAGE FRAUD. Any financial institution that commits a mortgage fraud that ultimately results in a family being thrown out of its home is guilty of a very major offence. The corporation’s CEO, all other executives involved in the criminal activity, and all major shareholders in the criminal corporation should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
WAR CRIMES & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. Any elected or appointed public official who orders, authorizes or ignores war crimes and/or other crimes against humanity committed by his or her underlings should also be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
WAGE FRAUD. Any employer who evades minimum-wage laws, fails to pay an employee a living wage or otherwise defrauds a worker out of his or her wages should also be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
POLICE BRUTALITY. Any police officer who commits — and any superior officer who commands — any use of violence or any violation of constitutional rights, particularly against unarmed civilians, should be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
TAX EVASION. Any profit-making bank or corporation or any high-income individual that evades — or avoids — payment in full of their tax obligations, is also guilty of a very serious events. Such an individual — and the CEO, other executives and major shareholders of such a bank or corporation — should be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
TORT LAWS. Many on the right and in the corporate mass media are fond of whining about the costs and effects of so-called “frivolous” lawsuits against corporations. But at a time when the puppet political prostitutes of the Top One Percent have an obvious aversion to any sort of corporate regulation, the tort lawsuits brought by victims of corporate lawlessness are the only constraint that exists against rampant corporate crime — in either the U.S. or Canada. Instead of making it harder for victims to sue, governments should be overhauling their civil laws in order to make it easier for victims to sue and much, much harder for criminal corporations to use legal loopholes to drag out cases for years in an attempt to crush and bankrupt their victims.
Moreover, all of these life sentences without possibility of parole should be served not in the vacation resorts U.S. and Canadian governments reserve for white-collar criminals but in the general population of a maximum-security penitentiary, as these types of crimes are generally the most egregious. And as for conjugal visits, if these white-collar monsters want to have sex while in prison, let them bunk with Bubba.
No doubt, many other changes are also needed. But these few ideas might just be a good place to start.
Unrigging the rigged ‘justice’ system
By Henry McRandall