Category Archives: World

Weak democracies

Scotland freed one of the Lockerbie bombing terrorists a couple of days ago, on ‘humanitarian’ grounds. The Scottish authorities are dumb. If the guy was jailed for killing over 200 people, he wasn’t very ‘humanitarian’ to others, was he?. Then, why free him on ‘humanitarian’ grounds? Why treat humanely someone who showed no humanity? Healthy or ill, the criminal is a criminal, and if he was senteced to life in jail, it is wrong to release him just because he is ill.

This is just another sign of the weakness of modern democracies.

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Defenceless society

Life imprisonment: yes or no. This debate has briefly appeared on Spanish media in the last few days, after a young woman was murdered in Sevilla. The Spanish penal code does not consider life imprisonment for any type of crime.

Those against this type of sentence argue that the Spanish Constitution does not admin life imprisonment, but in fact the Constitution does not mention it at all. It is absolutely untrue that life imprisonment is incompatible with the Constitution. They argue that such sentence would be “degrading”, and this is not allowed by the Constitution. However, this is merely a matter of opinion: is a 30 or 40 year jail sentence “decent”? is life imprisonment “degrading”?. They can both be equally “decent” or “degrading”. The real problem is the Constitution’s and the penal code’s insistence on protecting and supporting criminals, rather than the society attacked by those criminals.

Laws should be primarily targeted at protecting society. Secondly, on a case by case basis, its target could be social rehabilitation of criminals. However, when the Spanish Constitution mentions liberty-curbing sentences, it only speaks about their social rehabilitation purpose, and fails to mention the protection of a society facing criminal individuals.

While the penal code continues exclusively focused on protecting criminals (as it does), we can forget about justice: Society and its individuals are not allowed to exercise self-defense, while the State (or nation) offers support and help to criminals (paid with tax money from society, by the way), and calls it a “sentence”.

The State must exist with one main objective, as expressed by Jefferson in his 1801 inaugural address:

“…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement,…”

In order to avoid such injuries from occurring, the State must act in support of the injured party. That is, the offending party must see their liberties and rights restricted in a manner such that their actions may not entail new risks for other members of society. Such restriction may be temporary deprivation of liberty, life imprisonment, or even death penalty (as needed). Above all, the State ought to ensure that known criminals never injure society again. Social rehabilitation should be secondary. Regrettably, this is not the case in most of the western world’s penal systems.

Thanks to flimsy penal code in Spain, the killer of Marta del Castillo in Sevilla (if ever convicted) would be out of jail in a few years, posing a known threat to society. A campaign is underway to collect signatures and support to ask the Spanish Government to introduce life imprisonment in the penal code. I am absolutely certain that the Government will not listen to society, but it’s worth trying, to show there is strong demand for a stronger penal code.

Fire

Australia has been hit by enormous wildfires, and not-so-wild ones too. Now authorities suspect some of those fires were actually arson. This seems to be a recurring theme everywhere in the world where supposedly wildfires break out. It’s the same story in the U.S., Greece, Spain and many other countries.

However, this time in Australia, I was very happy to hear the prime minister, Mr. Kevin Rudd, call things by their name. He has called the fires “mass murder”, and he is absolutely right, although he’s probably referring only to the human lives lost in the fires. His words are perfectly applicable to the murder of wild life in the scorched forests, both fauna and flora. Finally a government official (the top job, even!) has used the right name for this type of criminal activity.

Arson in Spain every year cause death to wild animals, cattle, plants, (and on occasion, humans). Sadly, no government official here has called it “mass murder”.

Of course, simply calling it “mass murder” does no good, but it’s the first step. Mr. Rudd announced they will prosecute arsonists, and that’s at least something, although the law is too lenient: A 20 or 30 year jail sentence is really a nice gift for the arsonists. What’s necessary is to apply serious measures on those criminals who set the fires, and to anyone who collaborated in any way. The proper sentence must be commensurate with the damage caused. Let us recapitulate: forests killed and massacred, wild animals burnt alive, cities scorched, humans assassinated, families’ homes destroyed. How to repay arsonists? Their reward must not be less than what they have given nature and society: They should be burnt alive, slowly, over a period of days. It is the minimum necessary sentence so they may understand the suffering they have caused for so many animals, plants, and to society.

But of course, judicial systems in our “civilized” world dare not introduce torture in their penal code, needed in exceptional cases like large-scale arson. Sentences considered by penal codes are laughable whenever societies are faced with people who show no remorse to cause great pain.

May this article help stir people’s minds to accept that at the very least, death penalty is needed in cases of extremely large crimes.

"Revolution" as an end in itself

This weekend (Jan 31, 2009) Madrid has seen at least two public demonstrations related to the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution: one on them in favor, the other against it. As usual, there’s people for everything.

All Cubans I’ve met, in the U.S. and Spain, are against Castro’s dictatorship, so I’ve never met an advocate of the “revolution” who could explain to me what’s good about it… but it seems its advocates speak of the revolution as an end in itself, not a means. They seem to imply that what is important is that a revolution took place, regardless of its outcomes.

However, a “revolution” is drastic change done for a purpose… but it’s not clear that the revolution 50 years ago in Cuba had any positive impact on its population. Those who defend the revolution only talk about it, not what it means for the people.

Good proof of it is the webpage “cubasolidaridad.org”, which advertised this weekend’s demonstration in favor of the revolution, is showing today a video about the demonstrations. In it, there’s nothing about the benefits of the revolution, but only messages with attacks against Esperanza Aguirre (president of the regional government of Madrid, and well known critic of the dictatorship in Cuba). Then… are they celebrating 50 years of their revolution? Clearly not. Most likely they know there’s not much to celebrate, but to hide the evidence there’s nothing better than attacking your opponents.

USA 2008 Election

I haven’t commented much about the election in USA in this blog. Lots has been said about it and about the two main candidates, McCain and Obama. The big news headlines, as always, did not discuss the issues and the actual political programmes of these two gentlemen. Likewise, the main reasons influencing people’s votes are rarely rooted in the actual political agenda. Instead, the campaign itself, the image and the three or four big sounding messages from each candidate are what drives a large number of people to decide their vote.

Polls predict Obama will win. Clearly there’s strong momentum for him to win. Many people prefer a younger candidate versus the older McCain; many like the idea of having a black President of the USA (this is racism), while others won’t vote for a black candidate (racism as well), and most will vote according to their beliefs. And then there’s the message. I acknowledge Obama‘s message sounds very nice. I don’t see that much “change” as people assign to him, but the campaign around it was undoubtedly far more effective than McCain‘s.

A couple of days ago I came across this pro-Obama video. I must say I liked it. However, if you look closely at the content of that video, there’s nothing in its political message that McCain does not endorse. It’s a video full of generic ideas, which almost everyone can agree to. In the video, it’s Obama who sends out that message, so naturally one would relate the message only to him.

Apparently it’s difficult to have an election consisting mostly of debates instead of political rallies and campaigns. I don’t know if the majority of people would be bored out of the election, but I believe that a campaign focused on discussion and debate would be far more beneficial to understand really what each candidate intends to do and how. If that were the case, my impression is that McCain would be leading the polls on this occasion.

This post does not intend to discuss programs in detail, but from what I’ve been able to gather about each candidate’s programs, the republican candidate’s program is the one that would bring more benefit for most people. Obama‘s program is not necessarily bad (I would welcome his plans in Spain over the current Spanish government any minute). However, of the two options running for US President, I am convinced McCain would be the better one for the U.S. and the world.

Let’s wait and see what the U.S. decides tonight.

Third U.S. Presidential debate in Madrid

In Madrid today took place the public screening of the third U.S. presidential debate. It was originally scheduled for last Thursday, October 16, to be followed by a local debate between Madrid-based democrats and republicans. The screening was later moved to October 18 (today).

When I got there I noticed fewer people than at the first screening. Then Ms. Deborah Luhrman, of Democrats Abroad, made an announcement before the screening begun: there would be no republican representatives present for the after-screening local debate. She explained that this resulted from the change of date, which made it impossible for the republican Representatives (she didn’t name who) to participate in a debate today. She complained that the republicans could not find or appoint another person to come to the debate, after which she expressed satisfaction for the absence of republicans in the screening, and uttered: “to hell with them“.

That’s certainly very democratic of democrats, isn’t it?

Ms. Luhrman then announced details about the election night party of the democrats in Madrid on November 4th, which will apparently include a Sarah Palin look-alike contest. As usual, the left treats their political opponents as their entertainers, and as mere objects for mockery.

(This post was not to comment on the presidential debate itself, but about the local screening of it)

Let it all fall down

Governments around the world are trying out different formulae to tackle the financial crisis. They claim they are trying to reactivate the financial sector, to encourage banks to offer loans to small businesses and people, and to other banks. Other cases of government intervention are focused on preventing banks from going bankrupt.

This is all wrong. If the financial sector is in a financial crisis, let the financial sector sweat out its own illness. Any part of it that cannot survive the crisis should simply be left to die, because its demise means that it has no value. The crisis must be allowed to work as it should, promoting consolidation, discarding some old players and creating opportunities for new players to enter.

Government intervention is absolutely wrong. It is nothing but a quick fix, with lasting negative side effects, while prolonging the cost of the crisis, imposing it on generations to come. Furthermore, why should banks and other financial entities be allowed to earn loads of money for themselves (their shareholders) when the economy is fine, but they have to be helped by the government when things are not so nice anymore? Every individual and small business benefits from their work in times of prosperity, and they have to adjust to difficult times. The financial sector should be no different.

Is the problem really lack of trust among lenders? Is a bunch of public money going to help them regain trust? Not a chance. They should regain trust the old fashioned way: by going into business again (i.e., start lending) to then ascertain that customers begin repaying their loans. Why would banks feel compelled to lend again? Simply because it’s their business. The business of banks is based on risk. They take a risk lending money, and charge for that service. It’s a matter of waiting to see who can hold out longer; banks or their customers. My guess is that banks, without the gift from governments, would have needed to attract customers again sooner than those customers would have needed the loans.

The financial sector should be left to its own devices to try to recover, whatever that may entail. Having governments intervene is anti-natural; it is an external factor inserted into the normal life cycle of any company that ought to survive on its own merit. Of course, earlier government intervention had its share of blame in driving the economy and the financial sector down (read: unrealistically low interest rates in the U.S. for a long time, the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act), but this is no excuse to pour millions of public money to that financial sector, or to nationalise banks left and right, as several EU countries are doing.

In summary, the situation is outrageous: rather than reducing public spending, governments have, once again, disposed of our money to use as they see fit, without any clear indication that the amounts of money they are dumping on the financial sector is going to make any difference one way or the other.