The adage that 'crime doesn't pay' is a popular one for movie sets; but what if 'crime is the only thing that pays' for a person living in a country with no opportunities. What if the country is NZ - a western country with no growth prospects - at least not until someone reforms autocratic government or discovers oil.
Consider the fate of Michael Thomas Feeney, of Waverley, New Zealand. I don't know Michael; I do not know the full context of his life, nor even a lot of it. But living in small-town Waverley strikes me as the best place to be if you want to position yourself for political reform or the discovery of oil (with existing oil & gas fields) up the road.
Michael escaped a gaol sentence for break & enter. The judge said of him that, despite his 85-odd convictions over his life, that he had a good work ethic. That is important. But more important is to ask whether he had any prospects for anything else under this political system. A political system which:
1. Spurns investment by placing high costs upon business and undermines investment.
2. Spurns population growth because it does not want to redefine the nation's values; which are changing anyway because the government cannot stop the brain drain.
3. Has allowed extortion to dominate economic activity because when there is no growth, pretty soon people start eating the carcasses of their neighbours. Not exactly what Jesus meant by 'Love Thy Neighbour', but hell, Jesus got a lot of things wrong, so lets not speak of him any more.
4. Facilitates and legitimatises taxation or the theft of wealth, for its political masters and aligned interests. Is not this government (along with its 'counterparts', who are fully complicit in sanctioning such slavery, except the ACT Party)....are they not a bad role model?
Did Michael take an easy path? I think so...if stealing wealth is 'easy'. But since when is hardship a value. This is of course a Christian 'virtue', i.e. That notion that there is nobility or heroism in sacrifice. I don't think so. Life is supposed to be easy; and the challenge for any life is to make it easy in the long run. I use my education to make more money than you can, faster than you can. I've made 3200% in 3 years on one stock; almost made 6800% in 3 months on another stock (if the company disclosed properly). The paradigm of struggling for wealth is a paradigm borne out of British subjugation. Life should be easy, and its only hard because of the extortionists in power who make it hard. Our zero growth will not sustain lives, so in a system that systematically mistreats people and perverts people, I expect people to struggle. I do not expect heroism from Michael, because I think the conditions of his life have not allowed him to be anything more than he is. I do not expect him to succeed because the conditions for life need to be conducive for survival, and in high-cost NZ, they are scarcely that.
I am pleased that Judge David Cameron in the Wanganui District Court gave him the empathetic sentence that he did. Unfortunately, unless such judges are willing to challenge the system, then we are not going to see any change. We need judges to challenge the system, then not fall on their sword. i.e. Judge David Harvey recently stepped down from his role as a judge after making accusations against the United States government. Apparently there is implied bias in having a certain view about the USA. This is silly! Silly that he was sanctioned by some, silly if he chose to step down, or was asked to. The judiciary should be about evidence, and not appearances. Most people would accept that the USA does inappropriate things. Why should a judge reproach himself from making judgements; as that is what judges are deemed specialists at doing. I personally would like to see judges more critical of governments....and I think we are starting to see that.
Unless judges or others are prepared to, or able to intellectually engage with these people, then there is no hope of anyone changing, Michael included. Perhaps Michael might apply his mind more if he lived in a social system with actually validated intellectual discourse. Read the comments on Wanganui Chronicle, and you will find intellectual capacity sadly scarce. Why? Well, that is a reflection of the education system. From the National Party and ACT, we are likely to see a charter school system. The problem is that its a recipe for a change in ownership with no expectation of greater intellectual standards. The focus is on ownership or 'opportunity', not upon the mind. The notion that opportunity springs eternal from privatisation strikes me as 'causeless' or 'baseless' hoping. Even if private enterprise gets it 'right', that will only mean that its better than the public school system. It does not need to be so good as to be exceptional; just better than a bad system. i.e. Economic relativism; a close cousin of moral relativism, except prices are equated at the margin. These private schools don't even have to be good, they will create jobs and profits just by creating the illusion of better education. i.e. Employers will employ you because you went to a private school; because they are impressed by your grander sporting facilities. All the time, forgetting the mind. Why? Because the other 96% of schools certainly don't celebrate intellectual capacity.