Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Musings: the wrong answers

One of the problems of governments in general, and this one in particular, is that they constantly come up with the wrong answers.

For instance, there is a rise in knife crime—but knives are not on special offer. There aren't massive advertising campaigns urging people to get a knife. Knives are not particularly easy to get hold of (and nor particularly difficult).

In short, the availability of knives has not changed, and yet there is a rise in knife crime.

So—even leaving aside any unintended consequences—why, in the name of buggery fuck, does the government think that the solution to an increase in knife crime is to pass a law banning knives?*

* No, the government aren't passing a law to ban knives (yet) but this is the kind of response that the government undertakes.

UPDATE (an obviously needed clarification): I am not saying that there is a rise in knife crime. Or that the government are going to ban all knives. I am simply conjuring up a hypothetical but vaguely plausible scenario and outlining how the government would react. If anyone has any better scenarios, do feel free to contribute them in the comments.


Unity said...

A law banning knives?

As it was put to Ellie Seymour when she came up with the same dumb idea (several times before she got the point), if knives are banned then how the fuck am I going to eat my dinner?

Rob said...

Because Something Must Be Done, and if something useful cannot be done then do something visible instead.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I'm not saying that they are passing a law banning knives—otherwise I would have linked to it (although, come to think of it, Ellee Seymour's crap was quite funny, eh?)—but it's the kind of response that they usually have (and it happened to pop into my head).


Anonymous said...

The fonts are fucked on the rest of your page. It seems to be related either to Mark Wallace's post or to your footnote.

Please to be fixing.

Anonymous said...

They are always asking the wrong question

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was illegal to carry certain types of knives (a blade length of 2" is lurking at the back of my mind for some reason) without a good reason. So a chef could argue the case for carrying a set of knives in a rolled up case on his way home from work but person B might not be able to.

Or if that law does exist maybe it's just up here in Scotland.

peter carter-fuck said...

Why do they do these things? Because they are the government. Because they can. Because they cannot conceive of any other action. Because there are millions of them, and they have to find things to do to fill their days. Ban,licence,regulate,control. They are the government, this is what they do.

Belinda said...

Well Unity we could start eating East Asian food

Anonymous said...

There will come a time when knife-carrying looks like mere childish pecadillo. I hear that, two miles from my hometown in suburban Surrey, a 12-year-old-girl is in trouble for a certain item found in her bedroom. Now, she was clearly looking after it for some young gangsta, but it can't be easy hiding an AK-47 among the My Little Ponies and Miley Cyrus posters. It didn't make the papers, natch, because Everything's Alright In Socialist Britain. Perhaps they should ban AK-47s! That'll learn today's nippers!

Anonymous said...

The logical fallacy in your argument is to assume that governments wish to solve societies ills when in fact their prime objectives are to get votes, exercise power, and enrich themselves and their cronies.

I daresay there are rare instances when certain government actions achieve the prime objectives and make our lives better too, but the banning of knives isn't one of them.

Still, from the governments point of view a knife ban ticks all of the boxes. It gives them the chance to boss all around a bit more, it impresses their stupid supporters, and all at minimal cost.

In short, it's a copybook New Labour policy.

James Higham said...

Because they're looking for excuses, not solutions.

Fausty said...

Labour only has two tools in its toolbox:


History, which shows us that criminals profit from prohibition (1930s alcohol, US) is irrelevant to Labour.

I'm still trying to decide whether they are merely incompetent or deeply sinister.

Roger Thornhill said...

Knives do not kill people, people kill people.

Instead of preventing the carrying of knives - affecting the innocent as well as those with intent (typical socialist) - how about focusing ALL the effort knife-wise in tracking those who USE them (either in actually stabbing or threatening) and once caught a tough custodial sentence (sorry prison reformers), lets say min 10 years for usage in a way that might be likely to endanger life. Glasgow had a spate of razor slashings 100 years ago. Police and courts cracked down with 10 years with NO PAROLE and the problem evaporated after a couple of high profile cases.

Make kids know that if they slash someone they will not see daylight until they are too old to be cool. (oh, and no X-boxes, natch!).

emily said...

funny that you accept the tabloid-peddled premise of a "rise in knife crime".

SoldDownTheRiver said...

Given half a chance, they'd increase the tax on knives, with really fancy expensive knives having an even greater tax rate premium. They'd sell the policy as a green measure designed to save energy, to make the provision of knives more equitable, and to make it more difficult for criminals to get hold of a knife.

Because, as Gordon Brown will tell us, "It is right that we do this".

Anonymous said...

This type of policy, based on demonising some inanimate object then banning it, is useful for government in two ways:

1) It answers the 'something must be done' cry of the the dimmer voter - and there are plenty of those - thereby building electoral support.

2) It enables the power of government officials to be increased in a way that minimises criticism - eg who wants to be accused of being 'in favour of knives'?


the a&e charge nurse said...

Knife crime and violent crime can be reduced - but not by banning knives.

Great claims have been made for Cardiff following this model

In essence better reporting (assault is massively under-reported) and focussed Police resources on crime 'hot spots' led to a 40% reduction in attendances to A&E because of assault.

FlipC said...

Because they see a single effect and can't tie it to a single cause, but because of all the cries that "something must be done" they locate something that is at least vaguely connected to the effect and stamp down hard on it.

Kevin Boatang said...

Binge drinking 'goes up' so they whack up the price of drink to stop it because it's become cheaper. Knife crime has gone up, but the price of knives hasn't gone down. So I expect to the price of knives to be increased.

None of it has underlying social factors of course, because that is easily solved by the equality bill.

Also, just like drug prohabition, if they ban knives the people who are using them could just use forks instead. Then they could ban them, and they would move onto spoons.

The the criminals would have control of the knife fork and spoon market. Old ladies would be queuing up asking for a set of forks. Babies born with a silver spoon in their mouths would be taken away by soical workers.

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