"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you must now determine if the accused, who you have just convicted of breaking into the victim's house, knifing to death his two young children, and raping his wife, acted out of politically incorrect hatred based on race or religion - in which case the penalties will be quite severe - or whether this was just a run of the mill murder and rape, in which case you should probably recommend probation."
You may have heard that the Supreme Court recently ruled that juries must decide whether a crime merits special punishment under the laws pertaining to "Hate Crimes". We have to admit that here at The Outrage we're a little befuddled over the entire concept of hate crimes; as a general rule, we had always assumed that rape, murder, and assault were rarely motivated by feelings of benevolence or goodwill. We know that when OJ stabbed his ex-wife to death he was really motivated by hard "love", but we're kinda hoping that case was an exception.
Just Trying to Get By
Lots of people around the world need the help of their fellow citizens to make ends meet, including the Royal Family of Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth, the richest woman in England and inheritor of vast estates, palaces, art and jewelry, was just given a new budget to pay for staff wages, expenses, and performing her official duties. From this budget, collected from English taxpayers, the Queen's mother receives approximately a million dollars a year for, well, being Queen Mother. The Queen's husband, Prince Philip, receives about $550,000 for, well, being the Queen's husband.
As you can imagine, the duties performed by royals are exacting, including attending palace cocktail parties, the occasional ship launching, and instructing Prince William on scandal management. (We applied to be members of the royal family but, in a clear case of employment discrimination, were rejected.)
The taxpayers of Great Britain also pay the royals a travel allowance of approximately $20 million a year cause, if you're royalty, you have to travel in style. Additionally, the royal family receives subsidized housing - Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace are maintained by the government at an annual cost of about $25 million, although they are owned by the royals.
Doing Great by Doing Terribly
In the world of large American corporations you're richly rewarded for success - but sometimes the rewards for failure are even better! Some major corporations have recently fired, or, more politely, retired, CEOs who destroyed billions of dollars in shareholder value. But if you're at the top of the heap you stand a pretty good chance of becoming enriched for your failures. Some examples:
- Steve Hilbert - Fired from insurance giant Conseco after decreasing the company's market capitalization by billions - $75 million severance pay.
- Jill Barad - Paid $55 million after she was fired from Barbie doll maker Mattel.
- Douglas Ivester, - $17.8 million plus $3 million/year, who retired from Coca-Cola just after laying off 6,000 employees.
- John B. McCoy - $10.3 million plus $3 million/year, who retired from Bank One after laying off 5,100 employees.
- On the other hand, we hear that Sidney H. Kosann, CEO of Shelby Yarn in Shelby, N.C., filed in February for state unemployment benefits just after closing the company and laying off 650 people. He earned a relatively modest $300,000 per year.
Ever read your phone bill? Notice the few dollars that are deducted every month for the "Universal Service" charge? This is a tax used to pay for subsidizing phone service to low-income and rural customers as well as Internet access to libraries and schools. The government is already collecting $2.5 billion annually from this program, and revenues are expected to rise to $10 billion per year by 2003.
Meanwhile, the government is doing its best to force the phone companies to hide the charge, using a "Truth in Billing" campaign to discourage disclosure. As Orwell might have said, if you're going to wage war, just make sure you call it a peacemaking campaign.
What if all the forces of darkness and Outrage combine and a member of the British royal family is wrongfully, and hatefully, terminated from his or her position? A number of questions need to be addressed:
- Should people that "hate" subsidies for the rich be prosecuted under the hate crimes laws? After all, these laws were created to add yet another layer of protection for minorities - religious, ethnic, etc. - and the very rich are certainly a minority.
- Do members of the British Royal Family get severance pay if they are fired from their positions as Queen, Queen Mother, etc.? Do they have employment agreements? We believe that Princess Di got $20 million after she and Charles split up, and she was a damn good Princess. Would she
have gotten more if she were lousy, like American CEOs?
- What if Queen Elizabeth was terminated, and received no severance pay? Would the $25 million household allowance be enough to keep the phones
connected, or do we all need to pay a little more in Universal Service fees to make sure that the next time we call Buckingham Palace to speak to the Queen, we don't get a "phone disconnected for non-payment" recording? Wouldn't you hate that?