Sunday, June 12, 2005

My responses haven't been conditioned enough…

You know the philosophical and moral underpinnings of a country's legal and governmental structures have been perverted when law-abiding and peaceful people are pre-emptively considered criminals while thieves get to use those structures as an excuse to keep their stolen money. In the same week that the owners of a new pub/restaurant in PEI are compelled by the government to pay $24,000 in anticipated sales tax before even opening their doors, just in case they go out of business and rip off the treasury, a couple in London who fraudelently received welfare for ten years are off the hook. From the London Free Press:

A London couple who ripped off welfare for $196,000 over 10 years doesn't have to pay back the money. And, in court yesterday, the couple blamed the city's welfare department — from which they collected the money — for not tracking their case more closely.

"I had almost $1 million when I came here," Samir Samhouri said. "Now I am a criminal," he said as his wife gently patted him on the back. "I still believe I'm innocent."
I'm sure we're all touched at this point, but read on…
The Samhouris left a comfortable lifestyle in Saudi Arabia and came to Canada in 1985 with $700,000. Evidence was that after Samir Samhouri arrived in Canada, he started a vocational school, but soon went bankrupt. He took on other jobs, but couldn't keep them. He said he tried to pick up the pieces after his business failed, but "nothing worked here because I am discriminated against in age, colour and the way I talk."
You may be wondering how any of this is relevant or should be entered as evidence — except that the bit about discrimination elicited a perceptible Pavlovian-response lifting of the judicial head from its resting place on the bench. This must be some kind of postmodern social science experimental tribunal where facts are oddly irrelevant and re-interpretable shades of context and feeling are elevated to official multicultural and multi-advantageously-discursive eminence. I would have thought that the only things that were relevant were
  1. did they receive welfare? and;
  2. did they have sufficient assets and income to deny welfare eligibility?
Easy, no? Apparently not anymore.
The couple had two U.S. bank accounts and paid off their mortgage, leased a car and put their children through university while collecting welfare. They also received money from family members, some overseas.

Samir Samhouri said he never intended to defraud anyone and just wanted to help his children. He said in his culture it's OK to accept help from family and he can't understand why his actions are considered criminal.
And in our culture, every passing sucker on the street who pays taxes is your family. I'd just like to know when they are going to have me over for dinner in their unmortgaged and likely air-conditioned home.
Superior Court Justice Helen Rady said she was convinced they didn't understand obligations to report other income between 1989 and 1999. And, she said, the city's "overburdened and understaffed" welfare department would have discovered the problem earlier had it the resources to track cases effectively.
Sounds reasonable, dunnit? How can people these days be reasonably expected to know that unethically and fraudulently expropriating taxpayers' dollars is illegal, or even wrong for that matter? This might be a good defense for serial killers who get away with murders for years — if police departments can't discover the problem earlier because they don't have the resources to track cases effectively, the killer is obviously innocent.
Samir Samhouri's lawyer said his client suffers from non-alcohol related liver disease, cancer and diabetes — all of which are under control. He also has speech problems and is undergoing a neurological examination. Amal Samhouri's lawyer said her client suffered "a great deal of anxiety and fear for the future" and had withdrawn from society.
Irrelevant again? Your non-judicial evaluations of irrelevance are themselves irrelevant. Shut up and pay your taxes — these people clearly need publicly-funded health care.

6 comments:

kyla said...

I know that in Canada the crown can appeal when they lose, not like in the USA. We need to force an appeal. This is the biggest disgrace I have ever seen in a legal decision.

One thing I see, is that an English or French fluent person would have gone to jail for this and had to repay all the money. 'Cause "not understanding the rules" would certainly not have been allowed as an excuse.

Don't forget, the only reason the welfare people caught onto the fraud at all, was because the Samhouris were denied an increase (or some other trivial amount) and the fraudsters pushed hard to try and overturn that decision.

If they hadn't tried to get even more welfare, they'd have never been found out. Turns out, it didn't matter.

Does anyone know if they are still on the dole? I betcha they are still eligible with this ruling.

Kyla said...

On the seperate issue of pre-taxation of anticipated sales:

It's illegal for the government to do this. The sales tax is to be collected from each dollar spent. No dollars have been spent; therefore, no sales taxes are yet due.

I'd contribute to a legal fund to challenge this ruling. It's absolutely illegal and illogical. Does Canada have a version of the ACLU? Is there a provincial ombudsman there? A complaint needs to be filed immediately if it hasn't been already.

This is a blatant example of the government breaking it's own laws and violating the citizen's rights.

MapMaster said...

Speaking of funding legal challenges to government, the government does that itself. More to come soon...

Taves said...

There is a need to shape up our welfare system. If they were receiving so much funding from outside sources why wasn't it caught earlier? What kind of idiots sit behind a desk staring at the samhouris file and not notice all of this money coming in? I believe it is the fault of those in charge of dispersing the money...if they guy at the grocery store gives you more change than you were owed I'm willing to bet that most of us would keep walking.

We need to force an inquiry into the competence of welfare case workers who are giving away our tax dollars. If they would have done their job properly none of this would have taken place.

MapMaster said...

The only result of such an inquiry would be a call for more money for the welfare department. Additional funding may curtail further abuses by welfare fraudsters, but it won't curtail fraud of the taxpayer by the department itself.

Inquiries are always made into the particulars and not the generalities. They are generally useless.

Taves said...

The onis must be on the welfare department and not the recipients. They are our "gate keepers" no funds are taken by force! How is it that something can go unnoticed for a decade? They dispursed the funds for 10 years willingly...10 years is a very long time...they should have probed and investigated as their job entails. Perhapes the department was strained but competence of the workers are a whole other issue, lack of funding in any particular department is no excuse to be negligent for 10 years. I'm sure that eventually they would have noticed, if they would have done thier job, that something was off.
The case workers better be out of a job...