Money Can’t Buy Happiness

by Bernard McCormick Wednesday, November 12, 2014 No Comment(s)

Rank has its privilege. That is a term used in the military to explain why generals live better than privates. And why, at a cocktail party, the general never need get his own martini. He simply says to the colonel, “I want a martini.” And the colonel asks the major, who asks the lieutenant, who asks the sergeant who asks the corporal who asks the private (if one is available) to get the general a martini.
The private gets the martini and gives it to the corporal, who gives it to the sergeant, who gives it to the lieutenant who gives it to the captain who gives it to the major who gives it to the colonel, who says to the general, “Sir, your martini, sir.” And, because rank has its privilege, the general may take a sip and say to the colonel, “too much vermouth” and hand it back for a repeat performance.
Rank also has its privilege in civilian life, as we see all the time. And as one who has followed the John Goodman DUI homicide trial as a fan of both polo and expert witnesses, we note that the “rank has its privilege” mantra still thrives. The average poor slob would be three years into a jail term right now, but Goodman is still trying to extend his limited freedom (he’s in the brig as we write) with legal maneuvers.
Unlike many commentators, we sympathize with the man. We met him once and he seemed like a good sport. And, while it is clear the poor rich guy is guilty, one has to feel for anyone who has spent so much money and still may do serious time. Many people forget that he gave the family of the man who died some $46 million. We don’t think the jury in his two trials heard that piece of trivia.
We wonder if he could do it again, would Goodman have used his wealth more wisely at the early stages of his problem. Perhaps he was not thinking clearly (who could, after a night of fun and a serious accident?) but Goodman might have just disappeared for a day or so, on the grounds that he was disoriented with a concussion. Therefore the very incriminating blood test might never have occurred. Alternatively, he might have gotten a total transfusion, getting the bad stuff out of his body, before reporting for a test. There certainly must be some bloody technician out there that could be bought for the right amount. 
Expert witnesses could be bought to cover any discrepancies in this strategy. Experts always tell the truth as they see it. Ask any career expert witness what is the truth, and he or she, under oath, would say the truth depends on the size of their fee. And that’s the truth.
There are other legal precedents up with which creative lawyers might have come. For instance, why not argue that Goodman be allowed to send a substitute to jail, much as rich guys did in the Civil War? You could certainly find some fellow who deserves to be in jail for a crime he intended to commit, which obviously Goodman did not.
Perhaps it is time for us, as a society, to consider whether a rich man should simply pay to stay out of jail, providing he also makes a perfect act of contrition. Many would suggest that Gov. Rick Scott would make an excellent expert witness in that case.
Rank has its privilege.

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