Over the years, debates about capital punishment have been wide ranging. One of the more interesting inquiries to emerge during such debates, is whether the death penalty can act as a deterrent for crime. I believe for small, common crimes like theft it can do, but then there is a moral question of whether petty and non-violent theft is worthy of taking a life? Most people throughout the world have reached the conclusion that it is not.
For high crimes and perverse crime such as unprovoked murder, torture, rape and child molestation, I doubt that capital punishment can act as a deterrent. Individuals who are capable of the aforementioned acts have departed from the logic necessary to make the cost-benefit analyses necessary to determine if a punishment is worth risking in order to carry out a criminal act. Therefore, those advocating for the execution of such criminals are doing so on the basis that such people are not fit to live in a healthy society and I am sympathetic to much of this sentiment.
But what about political corruption? I believe this is where the deterrent element of capital punishment could hold the most sway. Corrupt politicians are individuals who have neglected their first duty, to serve the interests of the people and nation. Corruption in politics, irrespective of the sums of money involved, is a low form for treason and cannot be tolerated.
Russia’s drive to oust corrupt political figures which has now claimed its most well-known miscreant, former Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukaev, is helpful in that it demonstrates that such practices will no longer be tolerated at any level of Russian politics nor in any form. But what about future generations of aspirant politicians?
I have no doubt that among the wider public, Ulyukaev’s name will be forgotten in well under a year. Only those who avidly follow politics will be there when his fate is decided. This would not be true if execution was a legal sentence for those convicted of corruption.
It would set a clear example that those who think they are above the law, think they can outwit justice and betray the people, are sojourning down a road to the firing squad. Men and women who enter politics must be of the highest intellectual, moral and ethical caliber. They must be respected figures, strong figures and hardworking figures.
This is why politicians must be paid good salaries. Other than those wealthy enough with time on their hands, those who are wise and patriotic, but want a good life, will go into other fields if they cannot earn a good living in politics. As a consequence, the country will lose out on its most talented individuals from offering their services to the people. This is simply a natural consequence of a modern economy.
This is same reason why in systematically corrupt societies, men grow up to be gangsters and women grow up to be whores. In societies based on fairness, the rule of law and intolerance for obscenity, men and women will grow up to be physicists, athletes, musicians, doctors, historians, linguists, poets, inventors, skilled industrial workers, and fine artists.
The example must be set at the highest levels of power. If one goes into politics and serves his or her country well, there shall be a just and fair reward. Inversely, anyone who seeks to abuse their position ought to pay the ultimate price and be humiliated in the eyes of the world, even in death.
At the moment none of Russia’s four main parties advocate such a policy. Perhaps it is time to reconsider for the sake of future generations?