Money Talks, BU**SH** Walks

The title of this post is from an old U.S. working-class slogan meant to capture the disproportionate legal influence exercised by people of means relative to those without the financial resources to hire good lawyers and work the political and judicial systems to their advantage: “Money Talks, Bullshit Walks.” Today in the newspapers we…

learned about the steep sentences handed down against a Las Vegas couple who pleaded guilty to planting a severed human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili. Jamie Placencia got 12 years and 4 months. Anna Ayala got 9 years.

As “everybody knows” by know, Placencia and Ayala got the finger from someone who’d been in an industrial accident and and planted it in a bowl of chili as part of an attempt to extort a big payday out of the Wendy’s Corporation. According to Wendy’s, their glorious obesity-generating business was hurt by the terrible stunt, which reached its apex when Ayala went on ABC’s “Good morning America” to up the ante.

Apparently workers at the specific Wendy’s outlet in question lost $170,000 in wages.

Pretty nasty stuff.

But 12 and 9 years, respectively?

Bernie Ebbers and a few others aside, that’s less time than is generally meted out to people who defraud employees, retirees, and investors out of billions of dollars and who thereby truly damage the lives of significant masses of people.

I’d like to see a comparative sentencing analysis on that.

I’m curious to find out if any meatpacking executives have served any time for their industry’s notorious evasion of occupational safety standards, a crime that generates more than a few, well, severed fingers that never make it into the public eye.

More to the point of this post, if the admittedly creepy Placencia and Ayala stunt garners 21 years in America (the self-declared land of class- and color-blind justice), then what is the appropriate amount of time behind bars for lying to Congress and the American people to get them to support a bloody war against a nonexistent threat? Masses of people have been losing more than a finger in the imperial quagmire bowl that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney et al. have cooked up in Iraq. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert notes today, “tens of thousands of men, women, and children are tragically dead because of the war in Iraq, which was launched from a monstrous structure of deceit” (Herbert, “Who will Stand Up for the Constitution?”, p. A27).

Meanwhile, it’s worth adding, “defense” and collateral service and “reconstruction” corporations (e.g. Halliburton) have been making a financial killing on the deceptively sold war, whose version of the severed finger was the curiously AWOL weapons of mass destruction.

As I’ve said before, impeachment (for a useful legal case made for impeachment of Bush II, see Elizabeth Holtzman, “The Impeachment of George W. Bush,” in the latest The Nation [January 30, 2006. pp. 11-18]) OUGHT to be the least of Dubya’s worries.

Imagine if Placencia and Ayala had tried to pull off their scam and had never even produced their actual finger of alleged mass financial destruction?

Money talks, BU**SH** walks.

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