Ten days ago I broke into your computer and pinned up some thoughts about the swiftness and no-nonsense attitude justice system here in the UAE. Presumably you, my loyal readers, dropped what you were doing, organised some friends in a circle and thrashed out some in-depth discussion pertaining to the matter. Well, I have some good news, there’s more debating material for you today.
In the UK, we’re forever seeing signs that say things like “no dog fouling, £50 fine”, “no smoking, £50 fine” and of course “emergency brake, penalty for improper use, £1,000,000.” These threats are everywhere and you just can’t help but feel a bit bullied at times. The first issue we have is that in most cases these things are totally unenforceable. Tony Blair and his Legion of Doom were notoriously naive and strongly believed that people would follow the rules all the time and that we would all turn ourselves in if we left so much as a light on by accident.
A common example of unenforceable fining is obviously the case of canine stool. You and I both know that you must bend down after poochies morning moment, pick it up and fling it at the door of the nearest hate preacher, or bin it. But what if you didn’t hurl it and instead just left it there for some kid to launch at Abu Qatada instead? To solve the crime, someone would need to go to the trouble of picking it up, taking it to the lab for DNA testing and then acquire samples from all dogs within a 12 mile radius just so the offender could be fined a paltry £50. It just wouldn’t happen, unless the government commissioned a special workforce.
Before I stray too far from the point, it’s worth pointing out that, regardless of what they’re for, the fines are ergonomic; they are tailored to be affordable for a normal person. If you see a sign that says “no loitering, fine £50” then you will be fined by the loitering police the sum of £50 if indeed you are caught loitering. If you wish to appeal you are within your rights to take the case to a tribunal, but this could cost £1000’s or, if you subscribe to a daytime-TV solicitors, nothing at all. But even if you just opted to pay the £50 to the government-commissioned loitering police, you have to admit that £50 is affordable.
Now, this is where the UAE comes a bit unstuck. The fines don’t make sense, what is AED 600 (£100)? Think about what AED 600 will buy you; you could have a night out, buy a decent suit, or get a nice hotel room for the night. Now, what do you think that Johnny Richboy and his Ferrari will think when they look at a pathetic AED 600 in readies? Toilet paper. It’s just pocket money used to wipe the caviar from ones lips. Then we come to the poorer classes, for a lot of them, AED 600 could be their entire monthly salary.
So it can be argued that fines in the UAE are unfair. If you are caught speeding then the typical fine for an offence that is not greater than 20kph over the limit is AED 600. I could swallow that, but it would sting a little and I’d be sure to be careful next time. Johnny Richboy wouldn’t give a damn if it was 10 times that amount or that his car were to be impounded for 30 days, because he would just go home and get one of his other cars. But what about our poor Patan friend? If he has to fork out 600 sods then his family back home in northern Pakistan will stave.
In Europe, we love a bit of communism “equality” and so things like fines have to be the same for everyone. Those of a Polly Toynbee persuasion will forever croak a cry of egalitarianism, even when they contradict themselves and curiously say that the rich must pay more. Europe has to be seen to be a fair democracy and that everyone must always be treated equally. But it is forgotten that some people are richer than others, and that fining a Lord of the Realm £50 for not picking up dog poo will not hurt him as much as it would a penniless student.
Here in the UAE the problem is similar but far more noticeable. Because there is such a gulf between social classes it is simply not fair for everyone to be charged the same fine for the same offences. I know that Polly Toynbee, despite all her parity-preaching, would agree with me that different bands of people should be categorised so that the fine bites accordingly. To avoid getting drawn into a racism battle, the UAE Uncut team had a quick brainstorming session in the boardroom and came up with a solution: a percentage based penalty system.
When you are called to the stand to pay AED 600 for allowing your dog to make stool in the park, you must bring with you a complete copy of your accounts: bank statements, wage slips, whatever. These are investigated by the board of officials and you are charged a pre-determined percentage in line with your offence.
If things stay the way they are, then those who would rather spend hundreds and thousands of Dirham’s on V8 sports cars instead of genital-enhancement surgery will never learn the cost of speeding or rogue dog fouling. Fining the working classes 80% of their monthly salary will very likely condemn their families to starvation. The penalty must fit the crime but be affordable to the accused. Otherwise the less fortunate who are unable to pay are sent to prison and therefore become state-funded, making the whole thing completely pointless.
The same approach should be taken in Europe, but I fear that the communists in Brussels won’t hear of it. It would be nice though, wouldn’t it, for the highly-paid bureaucrats in Espace Léopold to be fined a far, far greater amount for their fiscal crimes than the European taxpayers?
Maybe that would be the perfect deterrent to stop them robbing everyone?