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Public executions could be big revenue boosters for states

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In the end-game (if it is the end-game) of The Great Recession, most of the state governments are missing a great source of revenue, which the public will not complain about.

You may have noted — if you didn’t yawn in those portions — that during the Republican debates (Lincoln is rolling over in his grave) there were at least two occasions when the audiences went wild with enthusiasm.

This was when the subject of the death penalty came up. Studies show that more than 60 percent of the American public believes in this barbarism (although that figure is lower than in the past), so why not take advantage of that desire to see miscreants put to death?

There was a time when executions were public spectacles in many places. Remember “A Tale of Two Cities”? These events welcomed the populace so that a lesson could be taught, the authorities believed. Youth and babes in arms were there. No one, as far as I know, paid to see these things.

But why not?

Together 35 states, the federal government and the military use some form of execution. Lethal injections are used in all of these jurisdictions. Electrocution is used in nine states, the gas chamber is used in four states, hanging is used in two states and the firing squad is used in Utah, but in none of these cases are these procedures the primary method. Oklahoma will use the firing squad only if lethal injection and electrocution are found unconstitutional.

You can check out all at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 2006, updated by the Death Penalty Information Center.

Thus far beheading is not on the books anywhere, but the guillotine in action is certainly worth watching, right?

So, how about making all these executions (it would surpass oil and gas as a source of revenue in Texas!) public events that you pay to watch?

The largest stadiums and auditoriums could be sold out to the cheering death penalty public. The closer the seat, the more expensive the ticket. The Penn State stadium, for example (execution in Pennsylvania is by lethal injection only) could hold more than 100,000 death fans.

What a bonanza for the state! Hey, they were going to kill the miscreant anyway, right?

And remember, the federal government and the military can get in on this act and make a few bucks, too.

Of course, there might be constitutional challenges to these public viewings, but smart legal moves could hold off the final verdict for years.

Meanwhile, the show goes on.

In case of last-minute reprieves, rain checks might be issued. Then again, think of the thrill of being in the stands awaiting the last word up to the last minute. Worth the price of admission!

After expenses, the states would be rolling in dough.

Think of the pre-execution tail-gating parties. Think of the mementoes that could be made and sold. Think of the lessons that could be taught to the young. A picture, after all--especially something live--is worth a thousand words or more.

Think about the profits.

Alas, New York state does not have the death penalty nor does New Jersey. But Connecticut and Pennsylvania do and maybe some of the tourist dollars could rub off on us.

And, maybe, just maybe, if this is a success elsewhere —-and why shouldn’t it be? — we might consider reviving the death penalty in New York state. You might ask your state legislators and the governor about it.

If almost two-thirds of the American public likes the death penalty, why not make it an occasion for not only pleasure but profit?

We are in dire economic circumstances. Bread is scarce, but everyone loves a circus. Here’s to Big Show Death Executions!

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Don Merwin from ex-Beechhurst says:
It is, indeed, a modest proposal.

At least you do not suggest making the executions a cheap source of meat for the poor.
Dec. 20, 2011, 6:54 pm
Leisha from Australia says:
Oh please ... go howl to the moon at night like a warewolf, because you are no better.
Dec. 21, 2011, 2:03 am
Ken Kowald says:
Don Merwin and Leisha: I believe one of you knows that I am a Luddite, so this attempt to answer your comments may go astray. If so, I shall try again.

If you are the Don Merwin I know, you are aware that your state has the death penalty and that execution is by injection. I thank you for thinking enough of my effort to compare me, even at some remove, with the great Dean Swift. But, no, I don't believe that barbarism (which as I indicate early on is the death penalty) need yield to cannibalism, even in times of stress. In any event, what drugs might be in the bodies? Or, lead poisoning from fire squad, to say nothing about the matter of burning via electrocution. However, if Colorado insists on the death penalty, as a citizen you may wish to offer the government there my suggestion for making money. Or better yet, send my blog to the governor, etc.

Leisha: Thank you for writing all the way from Down Under. You might be interested to know that the TimesLedger chain of weekly newspapers, in which my column and my new blog appear, was purchased a few years ago by the News Corporation, owned by a native son of your country, whose initials are RM. No phone hacking here, however, as far as I know and no interference with my views, which I stated to the publisher long ago are those of an unreconstructed New Deal Democrat. As for werewolves, the only imaginary creatures I believe in--I think--are unicorns and that may be because I very much like the Unicorn Tapestries which are in The Cloisters, an annex of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you have been to NYC, I hope you saw them. If you come again--or for the first time--do try to see them. The whole complex is quite magnificent. I note that the death penalty in your country began to end in 1973 and was completely gone by 1985. I believe you have a fine educational system and I would hope that your studies of Jonathan Swift took you beyond Gulliver's Travels. Try "A Modest Proposal." Unlike Mr. Gingrich, I dare not even think of comparing myself with my betters, but I would hope that somewhere the Dean of the Dublin cathedral would look down kindly on my comments.
Dec. 22, 2011, 6:27 pm
NANCY STRAUSS from MINNESOTA says:
WE HERE IN THE FROZEN (not as yet) NORTHLANDS WANT TO COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG. THERE MAY BE COST PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED TO BODY DISPOSAL FOR THE STATE TO CONSIDER: TRANSPORTATION OF BODY FOR BURIAL, CREMATION (what fuel is used for the fire and is it pollution-free?), OR THE CENTURIES-OLD TRADITION OF PLACING THE CORPSE ON HIGH GROUND FOR THE VULTURES, OR PERHAPS, IN WINTER, PUTTING THE BODY ON AN ICE FLOE (which may turn out to be unfortunate because of climate change effect or maybe not it you don't believe in that), WHAT FORM OF ENERGY=EFFICIENCY IS USED FOR CREATION OF ELECTRICITY FOR THE ELECTRIC CHAIR, ARE THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES IN LEAGUE FOR KEEPING THE SPECIFIC DRUG COSTS HIGH?
Dec. 24, 2011, 10:51 am
Kenneth Kowald says:
Nancy from Minnesota: You people out there, like the bleeding hearts in New York State, are always presenting possible difficulties. So many, perhaps, that your state may never take advantage of this source of revenue. Perhaps wiser heads will prevail in New York State. In those states that have the death penalties, all the costs you cite are already a problem, so there is no added expense. I would imagine that your Mrs. Bachmann is very much in favor of the death penalty, but, for now, she has not persuaded Minnesota to have it. As the Republican primary race goes on, it appears clear that this Northern Star is not persuading many people to go along with her thoughts and her bad geography. We should be thankful for small blessings. The days of the Progressive Party and its tenets in your part of the world are over, it would seem, even if, like New York you continue to outlaw this barbarism. New Yorkers may turn out to be more practical, especially since our State Senate, which the GOP presently controls, is in favor of the return of the death penalty and our Governor is, after all, a practical man. I am covering this political situation in my next blog, which should be out next week. Thank you for your comments, which I greatly enjoyed!
Dec. 24, 2011, 3:46 pm
Pat Reilly from North Flushing says:
Granted you are doing this tongue firmly planted in cheeck, but here goes:

What would you suggest the admission prices be? Would it be a tiered-charge?

One might also consider bring back "Old Sparky" and allowing someone that REALLY antes up the chance to throw the switch--talk about revenue!

I have bo problem with the Death penalty, given my firend got it as a result of a mugging. He got death, the mugger only got 15 years-then got out and killed another.

I'm middle of the road-and trust politicians of neither party, be it Obama (ick!) and the Democrats of Bachmann (ugh!) and the Republicans. My late father long ago told me the saw: "Democrats are the party of evil, Republicans the party of stupid" How right he was!

Smart man, Dad....
Jan. 18, 2012, 10:31 pm
Kenneth Kowald from No Holds Barred says:
Pat: Indeed, your father was a smart man. I am personally against the death penalty for many reasons, none, I think having to do with morality, although I claim some. A late friend of ours, who was a Democratic district leader in or near where you live, said, "Never believe what politcians say about themselves. Always believe what they believe about their opponents." Smart, like your Dad, who may even have known him. As for how to structure paying for tickets for these events, I leave that to the business people. There have been almost 1300 executions since the death penalty was restored by the Supreme Court in 1975 and not one of those states made a buck from it!
Maybe politics was a bit more civilized when, after a day of beating up on each other, members of the GOP and the Democrats might sit awhile with FDR while he made some of his potent martinis.
Ken Kowald
Jan. 20, 2012, 3:43 pm

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