This reading carries on from here.
The seventh chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Public Safety’. Here Seymour opens the chapter with one of the non-sequiturs that seems to be characteristic of his style. He talks about visiting a prison, and seeing the downcast faces on the prisoners there. For some reason he lurches directly from this to stating his belief in deterrence being the primary solution to the crime problem.
It’s hard to believe that Seymour is writing this chapter with a straight face. He claims to be tough on the causes of crime – yet his party supports National every step of the way in ripping down the social welfare that people need to get out of the poverty that causes crime.
Indeed, the facade soon slips, and he openly admits that ACT Policy is based around “making the consequences of committing crimes sufficiently bad that people will decide not to do it in the first place.” Within the space of a few sentences he goes from complaining about the cost of prisons to crowing about ACT success in keeping people in prison for longer through their three strikes policy.
From there, Seymour launches into a rant against burglary. Fittingly for a party that values property more highly than people, he wants to add burglary to the list of crimes that involve the three strikes law, the third offence being punished by a minimum three years without parole. Helpfully, he informs us that “The aim [of burglary] is getting more money or goods without working for them or being given them.”
At this point, Seymour serves up a genuinely good idea. Prisoners often find it difficult to return to civilian life after their sentence on account of poor literacy and numeracy, so Seymour proposes that they can get time knocked off their sentences by completing adult reading and maths courses while in prison. Any prisoner who is already educated can get time off for helping to tutor the other prisoners.
This is actually a really good policy, but it’s incredible that Seymour, as a supposedly principled libertarian, doesn’t mention cannabis law reform here. If it costs $105,000 a year to keep a person in jail, we could save tens of millions immediately just by letting cannabis growers and dealers out. He doesn’t suggest this, even though it seems like such an obvious thing for a principled, libertarian party to suggest at this juncture.
This newspaper wondered some time ago if perhaps David Seymour is the biggest coward in the New Zealand Parliament. It’s astonishing that ACT, who barely get more votes than the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, aren’t willing to support cannabis law reform as their libertarian counterparts everywhere else have done, when the entire country is crying out for it. They could take votes off the Greens and the Opportunity Party simply by offering a right-wing alternative to how to legalise cannabis.
If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).