Saturday, March 1, 2008

News round-up: Plastic bags, capital punishment, common sense and yout's

I've got a lot of stuff on my plate here, news items that really deserve entire entries of their own, but time will not permit that, so I offer up one of my rare but enticing smörgåsbords:

Tax plastic bags, or ban them
1. The anti-plastic bag brigade has turned up the volume again, as they did last year. Once more, there's talk of plastic taxes and even of banning, as several communities across Britain have already done. The British high-street retailer Marks & Spencer has announced a five pence charge for plastic shopping bags, hoping this will cause people to think twice about whether or not they really need more plastic to carry their shopping in than is necessary.
I'm on board with this brigade myself. Think that's un-conservative of me? Well, bring this up with one of the Tories' main hatchet-men and Mayor of London candidate, Boris Johnson. The Conservatives re-printed his excellent column from last November, in which Johnson points out that the plastic bag "is [d]iscarded and takes about 400 years to biodegrade, and the result is that we are slowly sprinkling the planet with the crinkly detritus of our consumption."
Johnson also points out that all this plastic is endangering sea life and takes loads of fossil fuel to produce.
It seems everyone you talk to approves of taxing or banning plastic bags, but most of it is pure lip service. I so often feel like I'm the only one who turns down a plastic bag, putting my groceries in my knapsack and/or gym bag. As is so often the case with people, there's a big discrepancy between what they say and what they actually do. The plastic bag is free and convenient, so what the hell?
Somehow people managed to do their shopping before the advent of the plastic bag. We can learn to do so again. I appreciate that these bags are convenient, but I have never been one to give my assent to environmental degradation in the name of convenience, consumerism, capitalism or conservatism.

Bring back capital punishment
2. There's been some debate about re-instating the death penalty here in Britain. In the wake of lawlessness—thanks to "New" Labour, the police are more concerned with paperwork than people—and the killings of innocents by morally bankrupt thugs, some are wondering if capital punishment will put an end to prison overcrowding and make some inroads into cutting crime.
I have always supported the death penalty, and I still do. I believe that, once you have killed with malicious intent, you have given up your rights as a person to exist. Human rights no longer apply to you. You are only fit to have your own life taken away, the state exacting revenge on behalf of the victims and of law-abiding society.
In Britain, the rates for unlawful killings have more than doubled since the abolition of capital punishment in 1964. In my mind, this is surely no coincidence.
In Singapore, death sentences are always carried out where appeals have been turned down; as a result, Singaporeans are left with no doubt what will become of them if they are convicted of murder.
I do not believe in capital punishment for mercy killings, self-defense killings or manslaughter.
But, for most cases of homicide, the death penalty is right and just. It costs less than incarceration for life, it serves as a deterrent, it removes the worst criminals from society and ensures that the recidivism rate for such criminals is zero. I have no desire that my tax money help feed and shelter these thugs. I want their life ripped away from them. I want them to sense the insane, cold fear that their victims did once they are strapped into that chair. I'll insert the needle into their arms myself.
Bring back capital punishment.

A rare victory for common sense
3. Part of the reason Britain is so lawless is because not only do thugs routinely get away with their crimes, but it's the victims of crime who are made to pay. Someone will act in self-defense or in defense of their home and property and find themselves charged while the perpetrator escapes free and happy, secure in the knowledge that neither the Government nor the police are interested in persuing him. As long as the police meet their targets—usually by harrassing peaceful animal-rights groups—then all is well. Someone was stabbed on their doorstep? We don't want to know, we're too busy filling out the paperwork on this bunny-hugger.
But I digress ... On February 17, shop-owner Tony Singh was assaulted by a robber outside his store as he was closing up. In the scuffle that ensued, Singh managed the stab the robber, Liam Kilroe, with his own knife. The police, no surprise, recommended that Singh be charged over Kilroe's death. The Crown Prosecution Office, however, ruled that Singh had acted in self-defense and had his murder charge squashed.
Is anyone upset that a career criminal met his end? Liam Kilroe, good riddance to you, mate. No-one cares that you're now six feet under; it's where you deserve to be.
Singh said he was relieved at the CPO's ruling. He has every right to be. It was an exhilirating but all-too-rare victory for common sense.

Unfairly targeting youths? (Part I)
4. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has said some stupid things in the past because he is essentially a clueless man. He said that Al-Qaeda terrorists could have "serious moral goals," criticizes America and the War on Terror, said sharia should be allowed in Britain and be recognized by law, and now he stipulates that adults, not young people, are the real public menace. This is a man who, as this piece so excellently states, "[d]islikes our Western way of life and romanticises the Islamic world as much as Marxists used to romanticise the USSR."
In his latest mindless diatribe, Williams actually begins by stating a truism: "The sight of young people gathering on streets and in shopping centres is one of the things that can create alarm or suspicion in adults, who think such groups are going to be abusive or extreme in their behaviour." And the problem with that statement is ...?
I whole-heartedly agree with Williams' assesement that "open space, in park or street, is something we in the UK have not been good at handling in the past decades. Some urban development has created desolate and uncared-for cityscapes, in which people do not want to spend time and which are distant from where anyone lives. An uncared-for environment invites vandalism, and a downward spiral is set in motion." But this is not the sole reason that youths feel detachment or why they're riding off the rails so disastrously in this day and age, and Williams should know that full well.
Young people always feel at odds with the older generations, and that's been true since the dawn of the human race. Young people have always felt the need to congregate and try to claim an area of space that's exclusively theirs. This isn't exactly news, it's a social reality that everyone experienced while growing up.
The problem is that there are no moral boundaries for youths to follow. Lack of discipline, no appropriate male role models, the media's degradation of fatherhood, and lazy parents who don't care what their children are up to are all factors. It's not poverty, it's not "demonization" by adults, and it's not depressing urban landscapes. It's a lack of moral integrity, of restraint, and of social responsibility.
We have also indulged kids too much, told by those in positions of power that we must treat them as equals, we must prop up their self-esteem (and so what if actual learning and life skills get sacrificed in the process?), that we dare not smack them. We are then surprised that such kids grow into teenagers who think no-one can touch them, who think that every destructive urge they harbor should be indulged in and accepted by everyone else.
Alas, it's not only monsignor Williams who feels the need to defend wayward yout's, but that subject I shall leave for tomorrow ...


kristen said...

1. I'm anti-tax anything. It think that's going too far. Plastic bags can be reused for many things. If that happened here, I'd bring my own plastic bags to the store....just to be smug.

2. Amen, and Amen. We need to get rid of the sissies in politics who think these sickos have rights.

3. Kinda goes back to the point in #2: You lose your rights as an individual when you kill, threaten to kill, or cause harm to another (i.e. robbing someone's house or store). I don't understand the mentality that these 'poor' individuals still have rights. Same kind of ill logic that people believe terrorists deserve a trial.

4. The world needs better disciplined youth. The degradation of the family and values results in misguided and delinquent youth.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe in issuing paper bags instead. That's just a dumb because it uses more trees, and anyway, as I found out shopping in Ireland, when it rains your purchases get soaked (the same goes for cotton shoppers).

No, I say, get rid of the free cheap plastic bags that just get thrown away. Let the customer choose either to not be given a bag, or pay a reasonable sum to receive one of the those reusable plastic bags, the sturdier kind. At the moment here they charge 10p for them (about 20c). That could be increased to 20p or even 25p.

I do try to remember to put one or two of these in my handbag when I go shopping. If I thought I couldn't get a 'free' carrier, I might remember more often.