In reaction to Ken Clarke's marginally liberalising penal policy, the airwaves have been bombarded with calls for offenders to accept their responsibilities to society. We could agree with that except a fair proportion of them don't have a sense of responsibility, which is why they commit criminal acts.
But if people who offend should act responsibly, why doesn't that apply to all of us? Which brings me to Sir Philip Green, Vodafone, many other rich bosses and companies, bankers and the finance and pension industries.
None of them have broken the law but all have enriched themselves at the expense of we little people by avoiding paying the taxes the rest of us can't avoid or ripping off our pension funds and/or savings.
Certainly the young thug who steals an old lady's handbag should be taught a sense of responsility. But what about the tax-avoiding businessman or company who make themselves even richer at the expense of the old lady's state pension or other benefits? Or her reduced housing aid. Or her grandchild's education?
A report has just come out revealing that a Dutch pension is 50 per cent higher than one in this country in which the same amount has been invested. The reason? Our bankers and financial rip-off merchants charge usury-level fees and then pay themselves obscene bonuses out of the inflated profits.
Where is the sense of responsibility in any of that? There isn't any. Not to individuals or society. They are no better, in that sense, than a common mugger or burglar.