Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Try not to breathe

Bob Clarkson MP may be gone, but his misplaced spirit lives on in the form of new Act MP David Garrett.

First term MPs are advised to breathe through their noses. It's sage advice, which only a very few first-time MPs have ignored successfully. Louisa Wall comes to mind, and look what happened to her. David Garrett is not one of these exceptions to the rule, which means he comes across as a bit of a mouth-breather.

Garrett gets a few points for fronting up at Legal Beagle to defend the 3 strikes proposal. However, several million points off for the fundamentalist hubris of saying that the Bills of Rights is wrong:

David Garrett dismissed a report by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson that found three strikes had an apparent inconsistency with the section of Bill of Rights protecting New Zealanders against cruel, degrading or disproportionately severe punishment.

Mr Garrett had not read the report, but told of its findings yesterday said: "So what?"

While Garrett insists that this curtailment of rights is more than justified by the amount of murders prevented (78 at last count), he neglects to point out just how many other non-murderers would be locked up as well, and at what cost.

Depending on what statistic you refer to, keeping someone locked up in prison can cost between $50k to $80k per inmate per year. That's well above the average weekly wage, without including the cost of building the prison in the first place. It's around ten times the amount we spend per child on primary or secondary education per year.

Under the 3 strikes law, this would be a strike. So would this. Painting all these petty thieves as tomorrow's Graeme Burtons is misleading enough, but casting the net so wide means there is going to be one hell of a blowout with prisons. The corrections department has enough problems as it is without doubling their workload, and the next ten to fifteen years of budgets are going to tight enough without sinking vast chunks of cash into it as well.

So, seeing how subtlety is lost on David Garrett, let me say this: Fuck you, Mr Garrett, and the horse you rode in on.