Category Archives: Rants

Some thoughts on the London riots

By Mysterion

In response to the riots, a petition has been set up to remove benefits from those involved in the riots. At the time of writing, it has amassed 115,436 signatures. Some people have argued against this move, saying it will disillusion those people further from society. Whilst not necessarily advocating to removal of benefits myself, some seem to be under the impression that everyone is entitled to a place in society, which is something I don’t agree with. A place in society is earned by adhering to the unwritten social contract we have, i.e. respecting others and the laws of the land. It is this contract the keeps society functioning smoothly.

Some are under the impression that it is the job of the Police to keep the population in check, which is of course not the case. If everyone decided not to adhere to the law, the Police would be overwhelmed and could do nothing about it. Luckily, most people respect this social contract, but there those who choose to ignore it. These people should not necessarily gain the advantages that functioning members of society receive. When events of these nature occur, there is always the attempt to excuse the actions due to societal factors, as Nina Power in The Guardian has tried to do here. However, it is unfair to blame society as a whole for criminal elements that have always existed, and always will.

There is absolutely no justification for the actions and conduct of the rioters. People can go on all day about the reasons why this happened and the underlying causes, but simply put, these people have committed criminal acts. It is sheer criminality and it cannot be tolerated. There is ALWAYS a choice when it comes to such acts, the choice between doing what is right and what is wrong. If one were to come home and find their wife in bed with another man, and then they shot her, people might understand their reasoning behind it. But is it the right thing to do? Of course not.

Some quarters have pointed to the cuts as a catalyst for the riots, which is what Harriet Harman did on a shameful display on Newsnight where she tried to score political points from the events. This is absurd, and not even the New Statesman could agree with Harman. It is unlikely that a 13 year old stealing a widescreen TV is making a statement to the cuts to the EMA. If there is any underlying cause to all of this, it is a culture that has fostered this sense of entitlement from society for nothing, and a breakdown in the identification between right and wrong in people. A good way to establish the difference is to show the consequences of doing wrong. Punishing these rioters to the full extent of the law would be a good start.

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Never use two spaces after a full stop.

by Leveret

Monday morning must read:

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period.

(via Hot Air Headlines)

Imagine–an animal so mean that, when attacked, it defends itself!

by Leveret

So said Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the United States Senator, UN Ambassador and Liberal Icon.  This was his response to the accusation he defended US interests too aggressively in that ‘august’ body. The grand and gentlemanly ambassador rendered it in the original French, ‘cet animal est fort méchant’ – which, of course, sounds far more refined. Continue reading

On Student Action

by The Rhetor

Protesting is the one thing Europeans really excel at. Italian students voiced their anger at tertiary education cuts recently by denying American tourists the right to stare ignorantly at ancient structures. Unfortunately for the students their government like many can no longer afford to provide for there entitlement based lifestyle. As a student I support efforts towards raising university entry requirements and placing more of the financial burden upon the primary beneficiary of tertiary education: the students. We need to move away from the idea of university of a lifestyle choice before we water down the value of education any further. Greater emphasis must be placed on educating people before they leave secondary school.

Why? Because watering down education stunts us as a society. The emphasis on bums on seats and passing as many students as possible means that most courses offered are of an introductory level, those who would benefit from a greater challenge are suffering as a result. Linking university funding with the output of graduates means that students are passing when they don’t deserve to.

To the students in Italy: yes you have a right to education and research, but you should have earn it first.

Prison Derangement Syndrome

by Leveret

One of the things that fascinates me is how deranged Labourites are on the subject of prisons. It seems that they have an inbuilt inability to think logically about the subject. We’ve all seen this seemingly befuddled and infamous passage from the New York Times:

The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.

Other fuzzy thinking is on display in the old trope about the cost of keeping a criminal behind bars.  Incidently, I am also fascinated by the left’s constant concern about the extent to which prisons drain the public purse. They are the same people who agititate for Government spending money like a drunken sailor in all other areas (save, sometimes, the defence of the realm). Anyway, the focus here is less on the inconsistency and more on the propensity for illogical thought.

Witness today’s sentimental ravings by EDDIE from The Standard:

At $100,000 per year per prisoner, this is a hellishly expensive exercise in counter-productivity.

A smart society would instead invest that $100,000 a year into getting young people into work with job creation programmes and on building more liveable communities that don’t facilitate crime.

 The stats don’t lie: unemployment is the driving factor behind a hell of a lot of crime – the numbers suggest that if you could eliminate unemployment 20% of crime would go with it. Eliminate poverty in general and I’m sure that number would plunge even further.

Instead, we’re imprisoning exponentially more people at massive cost, and we know it just makes things worse.

Why are we throwing away so much money and so many lives?

 Let’s leave aside for the time being the bald and wholly unsupported assertions as to the cost of imprisoning someone and the non-existent correlation between crime and unemployment.

The unasked but obvious question is, of course, “What is the cost of not imprisoning criminals?”

As the world’s greatest contemporary philospher once pointed out:

In Britain, where the “alternatives to incarceration” vogue has led to only 7 percent of convicted criminals being put behind bars, the annual cost of the prison system has been estimated at just under 2 billion pounds sterling. Meanwhile, the annual financial cost alone of crimes committed against the public has been an estimated 60 billion pounds sterling.

In the United States, the cost of incarcerating a criminal has been estimated as being $10,000 a year less than the cost of turning him loose.

In all these calculations, we are leaving out the costs of violence, intimidation and the fears that people have for the safety of themselves and their children, not to mention the sense of helplessness and outrage when society refuses to pay as much attention to innocent victims as it lavishes on the criminals who victimize them.

Time for action in Korea

by The Rhetor

When did the free world become so limp wristed? It seems half a century of prosperity has turned us into a fractional and inactive collective of nations. Every day the UN drifts further into the hands of despots and bigots. How many provocations before we tell the DPRK that enough is enough. So you have political freedom and protection against unjust trials, what about your fellow-man? The fight for freedom didn’t end when your rights were secured!

Perhaps in a world where we look across our fences with suspicion at people we used to call neighbors it is futile expecting the free in our world to act in a unified manner. But unite we must lest we find our selves alone when the wolf knocks on our door.

Pirates face justice but not yardarm

by the Rhetor

I am consistently fascinated by tales of modern piracy. According to the BBC ten Somalian buccaneers are to face a German court in Hamburg. Though unlike real pirates they are unlikely to face a short drop and a sudden stop as punishment. Rather these maties are, if found guilty, bound for a 10-15 year sentence in a German prison. Compared to life in Mogadishu, this will be a vacation.

However it is not the fate of the pirates that really concerns me. It is the way in which governments are dealing with the problem. History has shown that trying to defeat pirates at sea is a losing proposition. Pompey defeated the pirates by eliminating their bases and resettling the pirates in more desirable locations. While he utilised the massive military resources at his disposal he also practiced clemency and solved the economic problems besetting pirate communities. What is clear is that the millions in ransoms is small change compared to the economic causes which need to be solved in order to put pirates back into fishing boats.