Saturday, 9 June 2007

The Little Guy Strikes Back.

The tale of Paris Hilton has captivated us this week. First she was going to jail (see story). However, she was not going to an ordinary jail. She was incarcerated in a special VIP and Celebrity Unit that has little connection with a more general prison population. After a couple of days inside, it seems that a ‘medical condition’ developed, and she was let out under house arrest to serve the remainder of her sentence (see story). The LA Sheriff’s Department has not released details of the medical condition, which does nothing to contradict the allegation made on the BBC that the medical condition was caused by the bed being too hard and room service not quite being up to scratch. The saga continues in uproar, with a re-incarceration (see story).

This story interests me, as it contradicts Harts Law of Jurisprudence – if there is one law that could be seen as a principle of natural justice, it is that all should be treated equally before the law. Such a blatant contradiction of natural law has given rise to quite a great deal of comment. However, we need to stand back and look at what is happening. The implication of events in LA is that we now live in a world where celebrity and wealth are above the law. We live in a naturally unjust society.

This has some important implications for the future. It means that we are comfortable with the paradox that, whilst needing the services of public servants (teachers, police, nurses, firefighters, and so on), we are prepared to deny them the ability to live comfortably – in what we might see as ‘the good life’. A story caught our attention, where public servants in the UK cannot afford housing in 70% of the UK (see story). It seems to me that this is not sustainable.

If the rich and celebrated can act is a selfish and self-absorbed way, without even obeying the law, then why can’t the little guy? A couple of stories caught our attention along this theme. First, parking wardens in Edinburgh are set to go on strike because, they claim, their salaries do not allow them to live ‘the good life’ (see story). Whilst admitting that parking wardens are not the most appreciated of public servants, if traffic chaos and gridlock ensues in Edinburgh, then they will have made their point. Second, postal workers in the UK have voted to strike (see story). Once again, the key issue is pay. A national postal strike will have a significant impact on the economy, if it goes ahead.

Does this represent the start of a much longer trend? Has the pendulum moved away from fame and celebrity and towards contribution and service?

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