September 28, 2005

Politics: Practical Lessons

So Paul Coffin, the first person to be convicted (on 18 counts of fraud) in the sponsorship scandal that has been the raison d'etre for the Gomery inquiry, has started serving his sentence: two years of speaking engagements.

Let's see: steal $1.5 million by overbilling, pay back $1 million, talk to students a few times over the next 24 months.

About ethics.

Wouldn't you want to be paid $250,000 a year for a bit of public speaking? And it's not like this guy is famous for any reason other than his conviction: we're not talking about George Will, here. What I still can't get over how astoundingly stupid the criminals were: if you're paid hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to do a job, then do the fucking job! You'll still make a load of cash, your business will grow, and while folks may complain about government spending (as always), at least you didn't do anything illegal. Keeping the money yourself is just dumb, dumb, dumb. That's a subject Coffin could lecture on.

Of course, you can certainly tell that some of the criticism is coming from economic students rather than English majors:

"I'm really disgusted by justice in this country. The fact that more Canadians aren't disgusted is disgusting me."

Don't get me wrong: I want to see those folks responsible serve jail time and be fined accordingly. I'd rather he pay back all the money, instead of just most of it, and I want the lecture tour (for a reasonable fee) to come after he's been removed from society a little while, say two years less a day. But in my day-to-day life, this really isn't that big an issue for me. Yes, a lot of money was spent, and pretty badly, but it's not a whole lot when compared to, say, the cost of the mad cow scare to Alberta ranchers, or the softwood wars to B.C.'s logging industry, or the disasterous salmon run in the West and the depletion of fisheries in the East, or the cost of maintaining troops in Afghanistan.

So go get 'em, guys: jail the criminals responsible, hold them accountable, and use them as examples of wrong doing. But don't expect me to decide that this is the most important issue in my life, okay?


posted by Thursday at 11:40 am


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