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Is Matt Walsh Right That the United States Should Execute Drug Dealers and Cane Thieves Like Singapore?
Short Answer: Yes, he is.
This set of tweets caused Matt Walsh to trend on Twitter yesterday.
Matt Walsh is right about all this and if you want to know why, ultimately, it gets back to first principles. The first job of any government is law and order. It’s why we formed societies in the first place.
Some caveman was sitting around with his woman in his beautifully decorated cave next to a fresh-water spring and a berry patch having a wonderful life. Then 4 guys showed up and beat him to death with clubs. Then, they took his girl and his nifty cave for themselves, and you know what happened then? THEY GOT AWAY WITH IT. Why? Because he had no one to watch his back and protect his rights.
Next thing you know, we had tribes. Sure, you can go kill that guy and take his girl, but if you do, his tribe is going to show up, torture you to death and enslave your family. Hell, they might just do that anyway because they want your stuff! Want to stop that? Then, you better have your own tribe that can defend you from that guy’s tribe.
The tribes got bigger and more elaborate, but this is the essence of why we created them in the first place. There are lots of other things that we have asked governments to do since then (many of them unwise), but protecting our rights, our property, and our lives is the most important job by far because if the government can’t effectively do that, what good is it? It doesn’t matter how great the streets are if your brains are splattered all over them or whether a beautiful park gets built if you can’t go there because you’ll be mugged.
Of course, you need a military to protect your country from outside threats, but what leads to law and order within a society? There are three key factors that play into the level of law and order in a country:
1) The morality and human decency of the population. (Good people aren’t out committing crimes.)
2) The likelihood of a criminal being caught. (If you’re sure to be caught and punished, you’re not going to commit a crime.)
3) How severe the punishment is for the crime. (If the punishment is harsh enough, people will be less willing to commit a crime even if the chances of being caught are low.)
So, let’s talk about these.
1) Unfortunately, in America, Christianity is on the decline, people increasingly don’t know right from wrong and human decency is in short supply. In other words, in some parts of the country, good morals may keep crime low, but in other places, including a lot of big cities, there is a large pool of amoral scum that views other human beings as prey.
2) Contrary to what you hear from the Left, many places in America, particularly in big cities, simply do not have enough police officers available to properly deal with crime. The more cops you have and the better they’re trained, the less crime you’re going to have. When police departments are understaffed, criminals have an even better chance than normal of getting away with breaking the law. Granted, there are a lot of other things we could do to make it more likely that crooks would be caught. We could have widespread government surveillance, digital currency, roll back the 4th and 5th Amendments, build a widespread network of spies that are rewarded for turning in lawbreakers, etc., etc. However, the problem with those ideas is it is a certainty that all of these tactics would be heavily abused and used against law-abiding citizens by the government. Wise people distrust the government and want to be free. Many of the things that we can do in this area outside of buffing up our police departments run directly contrary to those goals.
3) This leaves us with harsher punishments for crimes. This is an approach that has proven successful all over the world. Most notably in the United States, it was one of the keys to Rudy Giuliani turning around New York City in the nineties. Giuliani was famous for encouraging police to be aggressive in going after and prosecuting even the perpetrators of relatively minor crimes. It paid off big time. The number of homicides in New York City dropped from 2,262 in 1990 to 629 in 1998. Why? Because the police were active, they instilled a sense of order and they put criminals in jail.
Crime is not evenly distributed throughout the population. The lion’s share of it comes from a relatively small group of repeat offenders. The numbers vary a lot depending on the state, but in most of the country, somewhere between 40-70% of people sent to prison end up going back within three years. This is not because they’re getting out of jail and going straight. Incidentally, given that criminals usually don’t get caught when they commit a crime, you can be sure that the amount of recidivism and the number of crimes being committed by former jailbirds is much higher than most people think. Much, much higher. For example, just look at this:
Atlanta Police Department is cracking down on repeat offenders with their new Repeat Offender Tracking Unit, releasing that 1,000 people are responsible for 40 percent of the crimes committed in Atlanta. In just one week, Atlanta Police arrested 20 repeat offenders who had a total of 553 previous arrests and 114 felony convictions.
So, if an inordinate amount of crime in America is caused by hardened repeat offenders, how do you deal with them?
You can rehabilitate them; you can jail them or you can kill them.
We’ve focused on heavily jailing them. On the plus side, since career criminals are driving crime in America, keeping them behind bars will undoubtedly have an enormous impact on the crime rate. On the other hand, jailing criminals is expensive, and it may lead to the criminals learning things in jail that will make them even better criminals. So presently, jailing crooks is the best and most heavily used tool we have, but it’s far from perfect.
Liberals look at those negatives and use them as an excuse to either allow criminals to break the law with impunity, which is obviously insane (to everyone but liberals), or alternatively, they overfocus on rehabilitation, which is a big problem. There are some interesting, albeit cruel solutions that sci-fi movies have come up with for rehabilitation that involve the prisoner being trapped in their own mind for long periods of time as they are involuntarily “programmed,” but back in the real world, we don’t have any sort of good and reliable rehabilitation program for prisoners. Evil people and sociopaths already know what they’re doing is wrong and they don’t care. You’re very unlikely to “fix them” by having them talk to a therapist or a social worker.
So, could Singapore-style public canings succeed where other forms of rehabilitation have failed? Yes, maybe. Imagine a criminal being given the option of being publicly caned or going to jail for a year. Which would you choose? Caning, right? It would be humiliating and painful, but it would beat wasting a year of your life in a dangerous environment. Could that kind of pain and public humiliation be enough to break through at the level of a criminal’s nervous system and cause him to change his ways because he couldn’t bear to go through it again? Absolutely.
Granted, it’s certainly not the only tool in Singapore’s toolbox, but it’s an important one and given that they are one of the most successful cities in the world at fighting crime, it is worth seriously considering adding caning here in the United States. You don’t think so? Well, maybe they know something that we don’t. After all, can you imagine something like this working in New York City, Chicago, or San Francisco?
Singapore was recently ranked second on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index for 2017, coming in just behind Tokyo.
In 2016, the island nation’s police reported 135 total days without any crimes including snatch-theft, house break-ins, and robbery. That low crime rate means many small businesses enjoy little concern about shoplifting.
In fact, as CNBC recently observed, many local businesses take few precautions when closing shop at night.
For instance, in the ground floor lobby of a mixed-use building in the downtown business district, many shops don’t have windows, locks — or even doors.
A Starbucks located in Raffles Place, one of Singapore’s busiest underground train stations has no formal doors. Rather, a small rope indicates when the store is closed, and merchandise is all still displayed and within an arm’s length of commuters.
One of the other tools Singapore uses is the death penalty. It’s not just for murder in Singapore either. That country has the death penalty in place for a number of crimes including murder, drug dealing, kidnapping, and terrorism. Should we be copying them on that front? Again, absolutely. We rarely apply the death penalty and then make it a long, uncertain process when we do. This keeps the death penalty from being a deterrent like it should be. Instead, we should make it much easier to execute criminals convicted not just of murder, but of crimes like rape, drug dealing, and pedophilia. If you lose your case and your final appeal, then you should be quickly and unceremoniously shot or hung.
In America, we keep repeating the same old cycle. We crack down on crime and it goes down. Then, liberals forget that lesson, and they bend over backward to be kind to criminals. This inevitably leads to a huge spike in crime that eventually becomes so unbearable that even liberal voters reluctantly demand a crackdown. Then, we repeat the whole cycle again.
Well, maybe the problem isn’t just that liberals can’t ever learn anything from the failure of their policies. Maybe the problem is that when we crack down on criminals, we don’t go as far as we should in the other direction. Yes, the more career criminals we put behind bars, the better, but maybe it’s also time we learned some lessons from Singapore about deterring people from choosing a life of crime and putting an end to more of the worst of the worst that do.