Thursday, May 28, 2009

All the Bad Things I've Ever Thought About Conservatives

All of them are coming through.

I've always believed that Conservatives create deficits in order to force austerity on the population, reduce services and get people to expect less for their taxes. The goal is to get poor and middle class people to hate taxes as much as the rich do, even though poor and middle class generally benefit from our level of taxation.

And while they're doing this - racking up record deficits - they sell off public institutions to make the budget appear balanced while ensuring future austerity via a lack of public assets.

As well, I've understood the strategy of mismanaging public institutions on purpose in order to denigrate them. Remember Mike Harris and his Tories in Ontario, slowly destroying our public education system and health care system so that they could shrug their shoulder and say, "What do you expect from government? Government sucks. Let's do private schools instead."

And now we see this happening in our federal government.

You remember that reactor that produces medical isotopes for the entire world? The one run by AECL? The one whose shutdown they blamed on "Liberal appointee" Linda Keen, whom they subsequently fire?

Well, the Conservatives are in charge now, having ordered the reactor activated over the safety concerns of the people charged with protecting our health. And the reactor is, as one would expect, malfunctioning and shut down with no prospect of a quick turn around.

So what's the Conservative solution?

Let's sell the reactor to a private organization

I kid you not. Put the world's major source of medical isotopes in the hands of the profit-driven private sector. Give a private company a virtual monopoly on our health. Claim the sale price against the deficit so it doesn't look so bad. Hide the perpetual cost of this move in the distant future of rising health care costs.

It accomplishes everything the Conservatives could ever want: rising deficit; austerity measures; weakening public institutions; private profit. Some things just never, ever change.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's time to talk Capital Punishment

This happens every time an innocent person is killed in a stupid, callous or malicious manner.

This time the victim is an 8 year old girl named Victoria Stafford. Do the details matter? 8 year olds are, by definition, innocent of anything that could possibly deserve such a fate. Does it matter how she was led away by a person she recognized? Does it matter what was done to her? She was innocent. She was treated horribly and now she is gone.

And so it begins.

Let's kill the murderers!

I suppose I'd agree to capital punishment under two conditions:
a) we can be absolutely sure we have the correct guilty party
b) killing the murderer would bring the victim back to life

Because as I understand it, we can not achieve "justice" for Victoria Stafford with our present technology. The innocent eight year old is gone and we can't get her back. Even if you could, beyond any doubt, establish who killed her, what benefit is there to putting killers to death?

You can trot out all the arguments you want: not wanting to pay for the housing and feeding of the murderers while in jail; the deterrence factor for future potential killers; preventing these murderers from striking again.

None of those arguments (even though only the last holds up under scrutiny) make anything but a mash of the concept of justice. There can't be justice for Victoria Stafford. Nor for Kristen French or Leslie Mahaffy.

And what we have in this country is a system of justice, not a system of revenge. Other cultures have had revenge based systems. An eye for eye meant malice was answered with malice and the descent to madness was ensured.

Killing these murderers wouldn't accomplish anything except to demonstrate that we can kill them. We would not be a safer nation but a more brutal one. We would be a nation admitting that we can't defeat dangerous people except by sinking to their level. We would be surrendering to our bloodlust and bankrupting our moral fiber in the process.

Why shouldn't we put Victoria Stafford's murderers to death?

Because we're better than they are. That's reason enough.

Don't let an innocent child be an excuse for barbarism.

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