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The Rigged Game

Do you remember the Back to the Future films? I do. I loved them; the concept of time travel was very intriguing to me as a kid, and the costumes, sets, and plot strands made for great viewing. I even started dressing like Michael J. Fox’s character Marty McFly! And who can forget his line, “You made a time machine…out of a Delorean?!

The creator of that car, John Delorean, was considered somewhat of a working class hero. By the age of forty, he was head of Pontiac, then four years later was promoted to head of Chevrolet, which he essentially saved. He then wrote a book that criticized his parent company General Motors for putting profits before people. Not long after, he was arrested for conspiracy to traffic narcotics after evidence suggested he had plotted to transport cocaine inside the doors of Delorean cars during shipment overseas. However, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt had obtained further evidence showing that not only was the plan concocted by the American government who were lobbied by their car company friends, but that John Delorean had rejected these proposals towards making more money, in spite of the fact that FBI agents had threatened to kill his daughter. With this evidence, Larry Flynt did time for contempt of court having revealed the information, but at least John Delorean had his sentence significantly reduced. Screwing people for your corporate pals and threatening to kill their kids is certainly an alternative lifestyle, I guess.

Speaking of alternative lifestyles, cutting and now piercing as well has been demonized by the likes of Dr David Graham from New York, and people have been thrown behind bars just for the way they look. Now, my personal opinion is that for a lot of people, piercings and scarrification and such just spoils their natural beauty, but some others do suit it, and hey, whatever floats your boat. And it always did make me laugh when people with their ears pierced grimaced at others with parts of their faces pierced; it’s all tribal, baby! What’s the difference?

Todd Bertrang made his living in body modification, which included piercing and genital cutting. Of course, these were all done with the consent of those undergoing the treatment. Nonetheless, those in power were clearly upset by him, and FBI agents reared their ugly heads and disguised themselves as a wealthy Arabian couple looking to have their daughters’ genitals modified (or mutilated, if you like). Bertrang wasn’t interested, but when they came back with an offer or twenty million dollars, he responded with “I’ll think about it.” Well, the FBI raided his home, where they found “obscene photographs” (which were actually examples of healed genitalia after his handiwork), “child pornography” (which was his partner’s album picture of her toddler running around without clothes on), and a gun. With all this, he was thrown into prison, along with his partner.

Michael Jackson never had a childhood. It was removed and replaced by fame, thanks to his father, who had also abused him. Although Jacko, who was born black, claims to be a victim of a very rare skin disorder as an explanation for his skin turning white, he curiously offers no explanation at all for the thinning of his nose and lips. The King of Pop, who once sang “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” seems to have some serious issues, but with a life like he’s had, who’s surprised? When he was interviewed by Martin Bashir for ITV in 2003, Jacko admitted having young boys sleep in his bed with him. When the journalist asked him if he thought it was wrong to be a forty-four year-old man sleeping with a boy, Jacko replied “I have slept in bed with many children – it is very right.” Like many actual paedophiles, Jacko seems incapable of perceiving such a relationship as inappropriate, instead seeing it as almost an adult relationship between two consenting parties. Now, I’m not saying the guy is, in fact, a paedophile, but there are major warning signs there, and he needs help before he hurts himself or others, if indeed he hasn’t already. The latest tabloid-show court case was as a result of his lawyers’ inability to pay off accusers as they had previously with young Jordy Chandler. He was found innocent, but even if he’d been found guilty, to throw him into a prison might have been a bit extreme; paedos suffer from a psychological illness, and require help. The last thing they – or society – needs is a few years inside before being released to do it all over again.

As Michael Jackson was found innocent, there was no jail time and no fine. And yet he’s still someone who’s in debt. Now, I imagine you, like myself, know how it feels to be in debt. A few hundred here, maybe even a few thousand there, with fear of the big bad repo man always in the back of our minds. But Jacko has debts of well over two million dollars! Yet still he’s been able to afford the best lawyers, the day-to-day costs of his so-called Neverland ranch, and all the luxuries he came to love when the fame and fortune came his way early on in life.

Jeffrey Archer, a former Tory MP, sued a tabloid newspaper for claiming he’d been with a prostitute, and won damages of half a million pounds. When his secret diaries were revealed and his alibi was proven to be false, he was taken to court for perjury and perverting the course of justice, and was sentenced to four years imprisonment. However, rather than experience the usual treatment prisoners are subjected to, he was put into an open prison and let out to work at Lincoln’s Theatre Royal. He was also allowed home visits, and allegedly abused the privilege by enjoying lunches with friends. In addition to all this, he was released after having served only half of his sentence.

Otis Ferry, of course, is the son of singer Bryan Ferry and a pro-hunt campaigner. He and others were able to sneak into Westminster and walk into the House of Commons to voice their opinions on the issue at a time when the government were trying to ban fox-hunting. Perhaps inevitably, he was later taken to court for this, along with fellow campaigner Luke Tomlinson, a friend of “Princes” William and Harry. However, on one occasion, Tomlinson was excused from court because he had to play polo for England. Can you imagine if it was, say, Ricky Tomlinson, and he had to manage the English soccer team like his character in the film Mike Bassett: England Manager? They’d say “tough,” and the trial would continue.

The examples are almost endless: people getting suspended or even fired for their dyed hair colour whilst working in a call centre where the clientele don’t even see them, while meanwhile David Beckham leaves Beckingham Palace and goes to continue earning millions for his boyhood dream whilst sporting a skirt, nail-polish, and dyed hair. It’s very clear that there is one set of rules for us, and another for the rich, powerful, and famous. Once you’re familiar with dining at the most expensive restaurants, that’s how it is. Once you’re accustomed to being on the guest-list of the elite nightclub circuit, that’s how it is. Once you’re used to having millions and traveling around in limousines and lear-jets, that’s how it is. And I’m not talking about those sad bourgeois people who save from their wages for an entire year just to have one single night on the town in a limo, screaming and waving at the rest of us through the open windows (shudder). No. Just…no.

This theory has been proven by one ordinary working class hero daring enough to try. Howard Walmsley, from my birthplace of Doncaster, was essentially gifted almost forty thousand pounds by companies who believed his press releases describing himself as a recent Lotto winner. Banks, car salesmen, architects and solicitors were all willing to give him goods, loans and overdrafts that previously would not have been possible for him to receive – just because they thought he was rich. As the Judge sentenced him to three years imprisonment, she said “You conned your victims but you will not con this court.” As part of the scam, he told his own wife he had actually won over eight million pounds in a desperate attempt at offering her a better lifestyle, and yet in spite of the lie she herself said “I feel he shouldn’t have been jailed for what he’s done.”

Joyti De-Laurey, a PA for investment bank Goldman Sachs (aka “Sacks of Gold”), slowly milked over four million pounds from the company to treat herself, her friends and her family, having forged bosses’ signatures and writing cheques to herself. She was only caught when her last attempt was for a substantially higher amount than her previous ones. The company’s former managing director, Nomi Prins, said “When you’re making sixty million a year, a few million missing is like a regular person not remembering the last penny on their account.” Nonetheless, Joyti was sentenced to seven years in prison, where she receives tons of fan mail from ordinary people.

Here in Britain, the working class person pays more tax proportionately than the fat cat. With council tax, your neighbour who earns twice as much as you does not pay more council tax even though he is in a better position to contribute to his country. The ordinary people – people like you and me – are the ones who have it the hardest, and it’s no accident. That all-important cheque you can’t wait to clear so you can pay your bills will take three working days to clear (potentially eleven if it’s a building society account). Britain has one of the slowest clearance systems in Europe, because the longer the bank holds onto your hard-earned cash, the more interest they make from it, and the richer they get. When HSBC made over fifteen billion pounds of profit in just six months, they thought nothing of still going ahead and firing around a thousand employees in Sheffield to replace them with cheaper jobs overseas. When a bank makes a mistake, such as letting another company wrongly take an amount from your account, and you have to pay more interest, you’re not compensated. When that error gets you a poor credit scoring, you can’t even join another bank. And when the utility company doesn’t read your meter for you, and your bill suddenly becomes higher than what you expected, there’s no help. This has led to massive campaigns across Britain to take back what banks wrongfully took from people’s accounts in interest charges, and all over North America, pressure groups try to have transaction fees abolished.

I was sat in a bank recently, opening an account as a matter of fact, when I noticed on the desk in front of me a chart demonstrating the expected chain of events in a person’s life: “Further Education > Commence Career > Travel > Buy Car > Relationship Change > Save For Property > Buy A Property > Raising Children > Change Jobs / Gain Promotion > Become Debt Free > Retirement Planning > Invest For Future > Running a Small Business > Retirement” Pretty cynical stuff, I’d say. I presumed next was Death, but it ended before showing what came after their list. Heck, you can’t take it all with you when you go, as they say. But the pressure upon us in our lives – from our parents, our peers, our state, our television sets, and our banks – is to follow this path; to be conventional, do as you’re told, and be just another number. It doesn’t consider wisdom through experience, or artistic freedom, or a refusal to own a house or car with a mortgage or loan. No, it’s designed to keep us consuming, largely by robbing Peter to pay Paul. That’s it, then: You’re born, you follow the path already chosen for you, and you die. Hey, why even bother, eh?

If life’s a game, then it’s been rigged by the rich and powerful to favour themselves. Some of us get lucky; some of us make it through college and university. But even then, as we see with John Delorean, we’re fighting against a class that must save its own skin at all costs, and will do so by any means necessary, with the rules made by their own kind to favour them, and not us. We’re fighting against a class that takes care of its own before it takes care of you, and you’ll never be one of them no matter how hard you try. There’s only one side you’re on, and you can’t choose your sides; it’s already been rigged. You’re a pawn in the game. But there are more pawns than anything else, and there lies the power. Now you have to ask yourself if you’re going to use it.

– Jay Baker; Sheffield, England

(Thanks to Shannon Larratt over at for some of the information in this blog)

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