Death and taxes.

Death and taxes are often considered to be the only things certain in life. One is under the control of government. The other, currently, is not.

The government claim they will be ‘forced to consider’ the return of the death penalty if a few thousand people sign an online petition. Yet they have studiously ignored many thousands of calls for a referendum on the EU, for a revision of the smoking ban, for control of our borders, and much more. What makes this case special? Is it because this time, people have been goaded into asking for something the government actually wants?

The techniques involved in gaining support for this new venture do seem eerily similar to those employed previously. Demonisation of particular people and extrapolation of those people to all similar people, and most of all, the cost to the taxpayer.

Colin Gunn is without doubt a particularly repellent individual and his demise would make the world a better place. However, looking at the comments, it’s not his crimes that cause people to call for the death penalty. It wouldn’t apply to him anyway, he has already been tried, convicted and sentenced. No, it’s not about his crimes.

Here’s the highest rated comment as I write –

another reason to bring back the death penalty… how much is it costing to keep this pondlife alive? – chu, glos,uk, 6/8/2011 13:20

There are many others in this vein.

It’s the cost of keeping people in prison that is getting the Mail’s readers excited. ‘Their’ taxes are paying to keep murderers alive and it would be so much better for the economy if those criminals were dead.

Just as the attacks on smokers, drinkers, fat people etc all boil down to ‘costing the NHS money’ and nothing to do with health concerns at all, we now have a growing mass of people who want to bring back the death penalty for no other reason than to save money.

We are seriously considering killing people to save money. Our government is pretending they have to look at this issue even though they have consistently ignored all other issues raised by the public.

Death and taxes are becoming interrelated in the current discussion on State-sanctioned murder. If we let the government kill people, it will save us money. It won’t, of course. Taxes will not decline in line with the decreasing prison population. No, the government will have the power of life and death, and still take the taxes just as before. Those crowing ‘Kill the miscreant’ have not realised this. Nor have they considered that the examples they are shown will not be subject to this new law because their time in court is over. It will only apply to those not yet in prison.

The ‘costing us money’ refrain has worked so well on smoking, drinking, obesity, and has now been extended to life itself. Criminals cost a lot of money to keep in prison. Kill them all and think of the money we’ll save.

Of course, the families of the wrongly convicted will have to be compensated but hey, it’s only other people’s money.

Am I unusual in finding this sickening? It was bad enough when smokers became legitimate targets for abuse, bad enough that shop staff feel justified in sneering at anyone buying booze, bad enough when open season was declared on the overweight. Now the same ‘costs us money’ mantra is used to go beyond harassment and abuse.

We are proposing killing people for the sake of money. And there is widespread support for this.

I write horror stories. I could never have written this one.

13 comments for “Death and taxes.

  1. LJHills
    August 8, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Hanging politicians would be cost-effective : an enormous, uaccountable, spendthrift state is the real burden on taxpayers. Ordinary murderers and the like could earn their bread by, for instance, generating electricity on a treadmill at peak demand times – we’re going to need them when the lights go out shortly.

    • David
      August 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Agreed. Forget the piano wire and wire them up to the national grid – crims and politicians (who are also crims) alike. I like it.

    • August 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      I wouldn’t hang politicians. I’d denormalise them.

      Brand them, and make it a criminal offence to employ them in any capacity whatsoever, to house them or feed them, and set them loose.

      Call it a smoker’s idea of vengeance.

  2. August 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Completely agreed. As it happens, it wouldn’t even save money because the billions they’d spend on extra Legal Aid would more than wipe out the cost savings.

    Fag packet: cost of keeping somebody in prison £30,000 a year, let’s say they’re in for life and die after forty years = total cost £1.2 million.

    These solicitors and barristers charge up to £500 an hour, call it 1,000 hours = £0.5 million, plus the costs of court time, judges, jurors, heightened security in transporting them etc. The US experience suggests that it wouldn’t cut costs, even if that were a worthy aim in itself which IMHO it isn’t anyway.

    • August 8, 2011 at 11:38 pm

      When the Human Rights lawyers get on a convicted criminal’s case, I have a feeling the costs will go through the roof.

      We’d have people sentenced to death but who are still going through appeals twenty years later.

  3. August 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

    The argument above is hard to refute. However, if we’re talking effectiveness, then hanging Blair for war crimes, as happened to Saddam, would make the politician class think twice. It is a deterrent, sadly and short sharp shocks are sometimes what reverses a course of action or even a decline.

    • August 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      My grandmother had a saying – ‘Hanging’s too good for him’. This definitely applies to Blair. It would be far too quick.

  4. Lord T
    August 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Totally agree with you here.

    If the ran prisons they way they should be run it would not cost £30K a year. We could cut that down easily.

    What is it with Western society. Our IQs seem to have dropped quite a bit over the last 30 years. Our species is going backwards rather than forwards.

    • August 8, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      Socialist education. We have a nation of adults who are still scared of the bogeyman, still believe benefits come from the tooth fairy and that there is some mysterious superhero on the way to save them.

      The current riots are just tantrums. They aren’t about politics or race or religion or police shootings or… anything at all, really. They are frustrated infants who don’t know what they are angry about just lashing out and generally being objectionable.

      As they were brought up to be.

  5. Paul
    August 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Indeed. What strikes me is that it’s just another prong in the increasingly-serious path of denormalisation.

    The sheep just have not worked out that it includes them yet. In fact, they fully support the measures on alcohol in order to curb “binge drinkers” and serious alcoholics yet haven’t worked out that they’re being penalised yet again for the actions of a dickheadish minority. They swallow up facile propaganda like Dying for a Drink as though it were gospel even when their own life experiences tell them different.

    The same with smoking – although with that one a few more people are getting wise.

    Still a long, long way to go. I really can’t see this changing any time soon – people will get worse, especially for the heavy drinkers and smokers but – most of all – for the obese and very overweight. It doesn’t look good for us, does it.

    • August 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm

      It’ll get worse, but I don’t think there’s too much left. The cracks are showing.

  6. JQC
    August 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    What needs to happen is that prisoners are forced to work to pay for their own upkeep. If someone is wrongly convicted, they are refunded double the work they have put in. You can’t refund the years that they lost, but that’s just too bad.

    • August 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      Sounds like a workable idea. If someone is shown to be wrongly convicted, it’s true we can’t give them back the years but we can at least compensate them. We can’t bring people back from the dead.

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