Monday, February 22, 2010

Big font policy

There's a comment near the end of Adam Curtis' Century of Self; some politics junkie sets out the problem of polls and focus group politics:
You have a problem in terms of deciding what you're going to do if all you do is actually listen to masses of individual opinion... Increasingly, they're not set in context, so that's why people can say, y'know, "I want lower taxes and better public services." Of course they do.
Colin Espiner has a very good post on what looks suspiciously like law by the Your Views section of the NZ Herald:
An off-duty officer was beaten up after he tried to break up a fight in South Auckland, another had the extraordinary misfortune of having his lip chewed by a suspect drink driver in Whangarei, and last night an Oamaru policeman was kicked by a carload of people after its driver failed a breath test.

In response both Key and Police Minister Judith "Crusher'' Collins say they are thinking of changing the law to allow judges to impose tougher sentences on those who commit violence against the police.

"If you assault a police officer in the course of their work then you would face a tougher sentence,'' Key told TV One's Breakfast programme this morning.

Yeah, it's bloody awful. I understand the cop who got bashed in Oamaru is getting a metal plate installed  in his head because of it. But I share Colin Espiner's concern about knee-jerk policy ideas:
Of course I'm not trying to belittle the problem of violence against the police. But don't we have to look at the root cause rather than simply reach for the sentencing lever yet again? Both National and Labour before them have been merrily increasing sentences for violent crimes for ten years now, and has it made any difference? Not that I'd noticed.
Howard Broad was on NatRad's Checkpoint saying that although police shouldn't be armed as of right, they should have access to semi-automatic weapons from their cars. Police union guy Greg O'Connor is pushing for imprisonable terms for people who swear at police. Nothing personal, Mr O'Connor, but you can get fucked right there.

One brutal weekend for police is not sufficient enough cause to consider more stringent laws. Every now and then you get a freak wave, just as Russell Brown pointed out about the 10 random murders a couple of years ago that caused a mess in the press. Bluntly put, shit happens. We have the courts to judge these matters.

More disconcerting than chewed lips and beaten cops is the seemingly knee-jerk reaction from the National government. The underclass seemed so easy to fix before getting into government. Now that Key & co are in there, they have yet to realise that a wave of the Smiley Wand cannot cure all ills.

Governing, real governing, is a bit like a formal essay. You say what you're going to do, you do it, then you justify what you've done. The long-term welfare of the people is paramount. It cannot be accomplished by day-to-day microlegal pissing about depending on what the front page of the newspaper says. Which seems to be exactly what Key, Collins and, to a lesser extent, Simon Power are doing.

Live by the poll, die by the poll. It's all the same to me. But not at the expense of the public good.