Whitey - 7:38 am on Nov 6, 2012 (gmt 0)
does google honestly think that i can have NO paid links, even if they are of benefit to my customers
IMO Google can penalize customers of paid links and does. It just depends on the severity, which can be manual or automated.
Although internal guidelines likely exist for manual penalties, discretion in the hands of a human always worry me if interpretation of rules is involved. And i wouldn't think that the folks who hold your life in their hands would be that concerned about deciding your fate.
The reconsideration team is another story, but if you have fallen foul of the guidelines, some folks or you might just open a can of worms and dig themselves deeper.