Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wages Of Sin

I am sentencing you to £3.3m pa

As you will know, the Major takes a keen interest in the wages of sin. So his eye was naturally drawn to the recent jailing of five members of the traveller community, as the BBC calls them (although you may know them by their more usual sobriquet of thieving pikeys).

Over a lengthy spree, these five members of the notorious - but unjailed - Johnson family, had stolen £80m of antiques from various stately homes, including the televised smash and grab raid at the National Trust's Waddesdon Manor, where they nicked gold boxes worth millions.

Banged to rights.

And their sentence?

A total of 49 years between them, with automatic parole ensuring they will get out after serving just half their sentence. So their annual wage per capita is £80m/24.5 years equals £3.3m pa. Tax free. Way, way, more than most of Pol's overpaid investment bankers will see this year. Luverly jubbly.

£3.3m pa smashes previous records and sets a new highpoint in the Major's wages of sin league table:

  1. The Johnsons - £3.3m pa

  2. Mr Nawaz Sharif - £800K pa

  3. Mr John Kaduwanema - £270K pa

As we've explained before, the Major has developed a straightforward sentencing formula: the prison sentence should be equal to the total amount stolen divided by a minimum wage level annual income. Thus if you nick £100,000, you serve ten years (equals £100K divided by £10K pa). And no parole. It's simple, easily understood by all, and fair- sentences are entirely proportionate to the crime.

So on the Major's reckoning, the Johnsons would be going away for 1600 years each.

Which sounds much more like it.

PS While we're on the subject, can anyone explain why we actually need these Vietnamese drug gangs in the first place? Clearly once you've got them, they are going to carry out punishment beatings and they are going to kill people: that's only to be expected. But why have we got them in the first place? Did you ask for them? Who invited them in? And who thinks it's a good idea to impose sentences of just 7-8 years (half that after parole) for killing someone via said beatings? The Major and I wish to register our strong objection. We'll say no more.

PPS Are we all watching Prof Dawkins C4 prog on Charles Darwin? Riveting, even if you've already read The Selfish Gene (you can watch again at the Dawkins online shop). As you will know, one of Dawkins' great themes is how you explain altruism in the brutal context of Darwinian evolution. His simple answer is the selfish gene, which maximises its own chance of survival by programming us, its carriers, to behave altruistically towards other likely carriers of the same gene - ie our sisters and our cousins and our aunts. But of course that doesn't explain why we should behave altruistically towards complete strangers: surely we should stamp on them as potential competitors. Dawkins says maybe that's because our genetic programming fools us into behaving well towards strangers: we confuse them with our own kith and kin. Or maybe, just maybe, we choose to behave well, despite our genes. Hmm. Georgia, the Balkans, Rwanda etc all say you shouldn't push that too far. Vietnamese drug gangs, Albanian card scammers, and Chinese gang masters could so easily push Britain's genetic envelope to bursting point.

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