The Law


The problem with the law is simple: The wise don't need laws and the unwise won't follow them. Plus, the origin of nations are similar: law-breakers sought to be law-makers. While the complaints may be just, the strategy may not be. Power corrupts. Over time, it is highly likely that wisdom will wane and folly will increase in any society. This is not a problem unique to America, or the West or even to modern times.

For example, there was a tribal society where the Chief was the first to have sex with a new bride on her wedding night, before her husband. The use of privileges and tributes continues in modern times, from the Hollywood casting couch to unpaid internships. People fear their boss. Wherever there is a gatekeeper, there is potential for abuse. And, every law to constrain abuse also increases the number of gatekeepers. In colonial times, when sailing up the Hudson River, if a ship did not lower its flag as a sign of respect over a certain stretch, it might be shot at from cannons on the shore.

Checks and balances is a theory of government that cannot possibly encompass all the ways that power can be abused. If crimes are often based on opportunity, then it is only personal self-restraint that limits abuse. Yet, we see surge pricing on toll roads, for deliveries, ride-sharing services and abuse is academically institutionalized as the theory of supply and demand. A gatekeeper exploiting someone in need is considered normal and proper and shrewd. As the tribal chief of a limited in size small government in a simple society demonstrates, size only can no more control abuse than a large bloated government in a complicated society. Our quality of life is wholly dependent upon the quality of the people, ourselves.

In rich neighborhoods with maids and groundskeepers there is abuse, rape, drug addictions and cruelty, the same as in poor inner-cities. The same laws are supposed to apply to all, but there is great deference given to the rich, and none to the poor, by the gatekeepers and lawmakers generally. In fact, the rich are put on trial so infrequently that they are often a cause celebre, and found innocent. The challenge for the law is that uniformity and conformity and equality are practically mutually exclusive.

Thursday September 9th, 2021