Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Social inequality is a fine thing!

Vanguard June 2014 p. 4
Nick G

A new regime of fines enforcement is hitting working people in SA.
Some might say it is not a class issue, but a $500 fine represents a different order of penalty to a person on the Newstart allowance compared to a professional or business couple with a combined income of three or four hundred thousand a year.

As someone said, the majestic impartiality of the law…..
The SA Labor government has been bashed around the ears by the big end of town for the allegedly high level of state debt.

It is clamouring for ways to reduce the debt and get back into the good books of Standard and Poors and Moodys.
So, corners have to be cut.

Recently a young woman who had been contesting a dog expiation notice from her local Council received a “warning of enforcement” notice from the SA government Fines Unit.
It transpired that the Magistrates Court no longer deals with negotiations around late payment of fees or appeals.  That’s too time consuming and costly.

Instead, the Fines Unit, which has a website but no identifiable physical location, makes arbitrary determinations about payment of fines.
Complaining to friends on Facebook, the woman said: “And 'due to high volume of calls' you cannot even speak to a human being...can only correspond via email...(good luck if you're too poor to have computer access!). Suddenly, i'm blocked from registering my car or renewing my license, cos of a paltry Council fine when my neighbor let the dog out of the house!!! ..this is GUARANTEED to create criminals out of the poor!”

She is currently planning to transfer ownership of her car to a family member so as to reduce her seizable assets and was distressed to find that in addition to the original fine, she had now been hit to pay a “victims of crime” levy as a “criminal”.

A person who responded to her angry message and who works in the public service claimed to have been dealing with “HEAPS of people with this at work lately” and offered to get someone from the Fines Unit to call her.  He added that the Fines Unit phone line doesn’t even have a hold and wait function.
“There's nothing quite like 'being politely 'hung up on'- by a ROBOT!” observed the woman.

This is the system of capitalism.
Fines of unequal social severity cause immense hardship to working people and the unemployed, who are then deprived of legal recourse to appeals and negotiations around payment terms, and subsequently find themselves dealing with robots who determine that they are criminals because they can’t afford to pay their fines.

Meanwhile, the ruling class and its sycophants and servants in the lucky part of the country are free to burn their frivolous wealth in the casinos of the stock exchange without a care for the morrow.
Or so they think………….

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