Littering is a heinous offence which I put with murder and the other biggies of the criminal hit parade. Why? Because it takes a cold heart to do it. At one end of the scale, a wilful destructiveness; at the other, at least a callous indifference. For example:
- dropping a wrapper without thinking about it;
- pulling up in a layby, having lunch, leaving the rubbish behind you instead of taking it home in the car;
- leaving the detritus from a picnic where it was consumed;
- throwing things out of the window of a moving car;
- fly tipping.
You will note the sliding scale, for though we are dealing here with the worst of criminals to make any headway with our argument we must do that which Dostoyevsky didn’t, and balance the scales of crime and punishment. For the lesser offences the culprit may be in want of a course of education, or a short shaming episode to pull them round. I like the idea of withdrawing their gadgets then forcing them watch Public Information Films from the 60s and 70s for an entire week of leisure time. Otherwise, they could have written, ‘RASKOLNIKOV’ or ‘YOUNG WANKER’, onto their foreheads in semi-permanent marker which will slowly fade as their contrition grows.
The middle rankers I find hardest to wrangle with. What I can’t fathom about the picnickers, is that they go to a given place because it’s attractive to them, but then leave it in a state which renders it ugly in a way that would not have attracted them to it in the first place. Same but worse the car litterers; their very act indicates that they don’t like being proximate to rubbish, yet they are prepared to inflict it on everyone else. By their implied logic, they would be happy, on another occasion, to be the victim of similarly odious acts from someone else’s passing car. They wouldn’t be so tolerant with a burning fag butt down the side of a slip-on, I can tell you that. In fact, they exhibit such profound idiocy in their offences that it calls for a special sentence, like the aversion therapy detailed in A Clockwork Orange, or trepanning – which I’m sure has progressed in recent years. Biddable characters, by dint of a repentant confession, together with an act of abject abasement by way of a plea in mitigation, may be allowed onto long-duration rehabilitation programmes whereby they would join a chain gang cleaning the sides of roads and motorways.
As for fly tipping, there are no words. Such inexcusable malevolence perpetrated against the rest of society can only be repaid by punishment. Theirs is an unforgivable malfeasance by which commission they forfeit the right both to corrective treatment and to have their progeny live amongst us. Transportation or hanging.
I am giving these concerns to Phineas in my new novel, who will bring a thinking man’s populism to his role of newly elected MP. He is to be given a great policy initiative, to which all of the above can be rolled up and joined. BTW, I’m going Finnegan for Finn, since the ‘egan’ suffix will chime with again and will do for all the re: re: redux’s; as for Phineas, how do you like Ludovic, or perhaps Malachi? I’m going with Ludo for now.
That every Local Authority build its own litter processing plant where every item that comes into it is first triaged into separate brands. The owners of these brands will then be sent a bill calculated on the weight of their litter as the cost of their continued trading in that area. They will be forced to agree, since a large part of the litter processed will be without a brand, or be impossible to identify, and so each of them will be paying a lower cost than they might, knowing that the full allocation of that which has been cast aside in their name has not been levied against them. The money raised will in part pay for the teams of people who collect and triage it in the first place, although much of that will be done by offenders free of charge.
The producers of this waste will soon begin to consider their actions: need it carry our branding; need it be polystyrene? And in time, Ludovic will show that his reforms make for a better world, where goods are placed loose into the shopper’s bag, or, at most, a brown paper bag. As packaging becomes brand free, the charge for processing will continue to be made, but lower now and on a pro-rated basis across all commercial outlets according to square footage and location, thus providing them with the motivation to self-regulate the problem out of existence. By this mechanism too, local vendors will be discouraged from re-selling non-locally produced consumables that contribute significantly to the problem. Who would want to pay a tax surcharge for the right to sell low margin tins of Coca-Cola? Then, behind the scenes, Ludovic will show his colleagues in the pay of lobbyists, that his legislation opens a back door to the collection of a fair tax from multi-nationals who do their selling on our shores but their accounting elsewhere.
I know what you’re thinking. How will this work out in the end when it has moved on from holding corporates to their civic responsibilities, and become an instrument with which to oppress the masses? Well, that’s where Ludovic is a step ahead of you. In his bill, he will also make provisions for the punishment of noise pollution so that woke evangelists intent on pushing his reforms beyond his original ideals, will be stymied in their ambitions to rule by speaking loudest. In time, one set of them – the ante-litter campaigners, will be set against another – the noise abaters, until, eventually, all of them are dead. Should any sneak through the gaps, a punishment for their noisy transgression will await: – the oubliette, into which they’ll be fastened for a month – the one where they stretch your tongue until it reaches round to your own arsehole. Because by then, you know … you can only show true contrition if you’re prepared to eat your words. Well, he’ll need something up his sleeve with which to negotiate.
Within a few years he will have rounded up and dealt with every pain in the arse going, without once having to resort to slogans about being tough on crime. Whatismore, all the nice people will like him.