Justice favours the wealthy

Justice is blind? No, it favours the wealthy.

Left-wingers claim the elite always gets its way at the expense of ordinary citizens, says El Mundo. Last month, Spain’s supreme court outlawed an anachronistic tax – levied on homeowners who take out a mortgage – that has long been deeply unpopular. The tax, ruled the court, should be paid by the bank, not the customer; homeowners who’d paid the tax should be compensated. The Spanish public, which reviles the banks and blames them for the financial crisis, rejoiced at this sudden out-break of fairness.

But the banks, bracing themselves for an incalculable flood of lawsuits (the court had failed to specify how far back the retroactive ruling would apply) were aghast. So were Spain’s tax authorities, knowing that the struggle to get banks to pay would leave a hole in the public finances.

So the supreme court judges, taking fright, have now reversed their ruling. Bankers are off the hook, banking shares have recovered, a great deal of trouble has been averted. But at what cost? Many Spaniards are appalled at the craven way the court bowed to pressure from financiers and politicians. With this single act, the judiciary has trashed its reputation and joins the list of institutions the public holds in contempt. (El Mundo, Madrid Nov 2018).

I am posting this to point out that the US is not alone when it comes to favouring the big battalions over the man in the street. It is a worldwide problem. The rich and powerful get their way. Look at the case of Epstein, a multi-millionaire, who abused scores of under-age girls in America over decades and has avoided being convicted. A very different case in a different country, but the principle (if you can call it that) is exactly the same – if you have money you have influence, and there are officials, policemen, and judges who are only too happy to protect you, for a price, I’m sure.

Epicurus would have condemned this slide into paid injustice that is eating away at democracy and faith in what used to be a reasonably fair system. And we haven’t seen the effects of roaring climate disruption that is (yes, is!) going to roil the world in conflict. We should at least be facing this planetary threat with trust in our institutions, but maybe we are too ignorant, selfish and short-sighted to turn the clock back?

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