Friday, May 12, 2017

When the Government legitimises violence

There has been a spate of violent robberies of dairies* in Auckland targeting cigarettes. The store owners blame the huge increases in taxes on cigarettes that have pushed the price to nearly $30 for a pack of twenty. This has made cigarettes almost the equivalent of illegal drugs and predictably has seen the rise of a black market and an increase in robberies and violent crime to supply that market.

The worst thing about this escalation of crime is the Government's reaction to it. National Government MP Nicky Wagner, who holds the post of Associate Health Minister, responded by saying the store owners should stop selling cigarettes "if they feel too threatened" by robbers.

Let us consider the implications of what Wagner is saying. She is implying that the store owners are fair game for violent robberies - if they didn't sell cigarettes, they wouldn't be attacked - and that the Government won't protect them. In other words, the Government is willing to let violence against New Zealanders carrying out a perfectly legal commercial activity continue if it serves some other policy objective, i.e. reducing smoking.

This is disgraceful and something I never thought I would hear from a Government minister in New Zealand. Does Nicky Wagner and her Government not understand the potential consequences of this? When the government is unwilling to protect you against violent crime, and in fact legitimises that violent crime, you are left with no choice - to take the law into your own hands. It is an abrogation of the most basic responsibility of government - to protect citizens against violence - and a recipe for anarchy.

Perhaps Nicky Wagner did not intend to say what she said or was misquoted - if so, she needs to make that clear because this is an incredibly dangerous path she has set us upon.

* Convenience stores in New Zealand are commonly called 'dairies' because they traditionally sold dairy products.

[Hat-tip to blogger Lindsay Mitchell for bringing this to my attention.]


Lindsay Mitchell said...

But even if dairy owners didn't sell cigarettes (the act Wagner implies creates culpability for the threats experienced) the robber does not know this. The robber assumes (rationally) that all dairies sell cigarettes and goes in all pumped up to steal them by whatever means. This entails accosting the owner first. Not checking the shelves.

Oh I forgot. there are no shelves to check because regulations require that cigarettes are hidden from public view.

Good luck with persuading some hyped up nutcase that you have no cigarettes.

Government in La La land.

paul scott said...

Sir Roger Douglas was one of the few people who recognised that massive escalation in prices would be cruel on smokers in the low income people, and that it is an addiction. The rest of the puffed up brats at Parliament congratulated themselves.
I have Nicky Wagner targeted in Central Christchurch to lose her seat. This because her 2000 vote majority is susceptible to the Co-Governance and Immigration disgrace. And as we know from this loss of integrity about citizen safety, she represents the complete cynicism of the 5th Nat government.
Its vile to have to give this seat to Labour, but the 5th Nat Government is a rotten degenerate fish. Wagner goes. Finlayson and Smith lose their Ministerials.
Some of the blue rinse people in Christchurch are asking what to do, > NZ First, till we clean up the supremacy Co-Governance undemocratic mess.
When I appoint you PM there will be a lot of work to do.