Friday, May 27, 2011

Something we shouldn't be proud of

For the past two years, New Zealand has topped the Global Peace Index as the most peaceful country in the world. Now, we've dropped to second place. The reason [PDF]?

[New Zealand's] overall score deteriorated as a result of changes to three of the 23 indicators. There was a rise in the number of internal security officers, which reflects the Labour-led government’s plan in 2006 to increase police resources, committing to recruiting and training 1,000 additional police officers over the following three years. New Zealand’s jailed population rose to 203 per 100,000 in 2010, a level notably higher than most other OECD countries (71 per 100,000 in Norway, 96 in France and 133 in Australia according to the International Centre for Prison Studies). There was also an upturn in the number of external conflicts fought according to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, which records conflicts that started in 2004 and were extant in the 2004-09 period.
Both parties share the blame for the first two reasons, as both are committed to ineffective, wasteful, and cruel "tough on crime" policies (though National has taken them to new heights of wasteful, pointless cruelty). The last problem is all National's fault. They've escalated our involvement in America's war in Afghanistan, to the point where our soldiers have been made complicit in torture. And as a result, we've fallen down the index to be overtaken by Iceland (and nearly overtaken by Japan). Unlike DPF, I don't think second place is good enough here; we should be striving to be a better country, not a worse one.

The full index is here.