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CAPITAL  5'?m2f Death penalty unfairly applied

BOSS -- (enters wearing business clothes, crosses)

NILMAN -- (follows wearing business clothes) Uh, Boss. Boss?

BOSS -- (stops, turns) Nilman! How are you today?!

NILMAN -- Um, fine, boss. Um, I was wondering if the paychecks
had arrived yet.

BOSS -- Yes. They have, Nilman. Why do you ask?

NILMAN -- Um. Well, none of the people in my department got our
paychecks yet.

BOSS -- What do you make of that, Nilman?

NILMAN -- Well, it sounds like a mistake in Accounting or maybe
human resources.

BOSS -- No mistake, Nilman. It was a management decision.

NILMAN -- Um. What was a management decision, Boss?

BOSS -- I decided that nobody in your department should receive
a paycheck.

NILMAN -- Nobody?

BOSS -- Nobody.

NILMAN -- But why?... If I may ask.

BOSS -- You may ask Nilman. And I'm glad that you were the one
from your department to talk to me about it.

NILMAN -- Glad, sir?

BOSS -- Yes, Nilman. I got the idea from YOU.

NILMAN -- Um. You got the idea not to pay anyone in my
department from me?

BOSS -- Yes. Splendid idea.

NILMAN -- Funny.... I don't remember ever mentioning that nobody
in my department should get a paycheck.

BOSS -- Well, you weren't talking about payroll at the time, but
it was your idea alright.

NILMAN -- Um. Can you refresh my memory? I have no idea what
you're talking about, Boss.

BOSS -- You were talking in the lunch room yesterday about
consistency.

NILMAN -- Consistency.

BOSS -- Yes. Splendid idea. We need more consistency in life.

NILMAN -- But I was talking about the death penalty -- capital
punishment.

BOSS -- Yes. But I loved the concept of consistency, Nilman.
Splendid idea.

NILMAN -- Um. Boss, I'm not sure how my arguments against
capital punishment have any application to payroll.

BOSS -- Sure it does!

NILMAN -- Um. Would you mind explaining the connection. I... I
just don't get it.

BOSS -- You said the reason why you were against capital
punishment is because it has been unequally applied.

NILMAN -- Yes. I said that Africa-Americans and poor people are
disproportionately sentence to death. I also said that some
innocent defendants were condemned to death unfairly.

BOSS -- And your solution?

NILMAN -- My solution was to do away with capital punishment
altogether.

BOSS -- For consistency.

NILMAN -- For consistency.

BOSS -- Splendid idea.

NILMAN -- But I still don't see how that applies to my
department's payroll problem.

BOSS -- It's not a problem, Nilman. It's a solution. For
consistency.

NILMAN -- I'm sorry. I'm lost. I still don't see the
application.

BOSS -- At the last two staff meetings, you drew our attention
to the fact that certain people in your department were the
victims of errors on their payroll checks. Remember?

NILMAN -- Yes. I remember. But...

BOSS -- Not just once, but several times people in your
department were overpaid, then deductions had to be made on
subsequent checks. Then the next week people were underpaid and
the supplemental check took days to arrive.

NILMAN -- Yes. I remember all that.

BOSS -- Well, it's unfair. It's as if your department is being
singled out. And the obvious solution is to discontinue their
paychecks altogether.

NILMAN -- That doesn't seem fair.

BOSS -- Why not?

NILMAN -- Well, we've got it coming!

BOSS -- But this solution is much more consistent, don't you
think?

NILMAN -- Well, I guess it's more consistent. But I don't think
it really solves the problem.

BOSS -- What WOULD solve the problem, Nilman?

NILMAN -- To clean up the mistakes and the source of the
mistakes. Oh.

BOSS -- What's the matter, Nilman?

NILMAN -- This is not about payroll at all, is it?

BOSS -- What's it about then?

NILMAN -- This is about my argument against capital punishment.

BOSS -- Do you see the analogy?

NILMAN -- (sighs) Yes. For the most part, payroll and human
resources don't make very many mistakes. Mistakes are the
exception, not the rule. If we're looking for consistency, the
place to start is with the exceptions, not to throw out the
whole system. I suppose the same could be said for capital
punishment.

BOSS -- Your argument from the exceptions is not just an
argument against capital punishment, Nilman. It's an argument
against ANY punishment whatsoever. The argument goes like this.

(imitates)

Let's do away with capital punishment because innocent people
are being put to death. Let's give them life sentences instead.

Yes, but then there's innocent people doing life in prison.

Let's do away with life imprisonment. Let's limit terms to ten
years.

Yes, but then there's innocent people doing ten year sentences.

Let's do away with ten years sentences.

In fact, let's close the prisons because some people in prisons
are innocent.

NILMAN -- Oh, I see.

BOSS -- What I'm saying is there may be good arguments against
capital punishment, but the argument from fairness is not one of
them.

(pulls a clump of envelopes from folder, offers it)

And now that I've made my point, here's the paychecks for your
department. I think you'll find that we've taken care of the
exceptions without dismantling the system.

(exits)

NILMAN -- (looks alternately at Boss and envelopes, shrugs
shoulders, exits) That argument sounded so convincing when I saw
it on TV.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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