|04-19-2012, 10:21 PM||#1 (permalink)|
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Laws, Courts, Enforcers
My opinion on laws, courts, and enforcers:
Law, courts, and enforcers (LCE) serve three useful purposes that I will go into:
To make it easier for masses of people to live in the same area without disharmony
To facilitate commerce
To direct society and ensure the direction
Disharmony in masses comes from two parts. For one, people tend to engage in actions that, when separate from others, cause no harm, but when close to others, can cause harm to and disturb others. For instance, if someone were to drive at dangerous speeds on an empty road, no one is injured or disturbed when this person does this. If, however, that person were to try to drive at dangerous speeds on a moderately crowded road, other people may be disturbed or injured as a result of the behavior. As such, having LCE to discourage actions that, when taken in public, would potentially cause harm or disturbance serves to promote harmony. As a side note, as people get closer to one another, like in cities, the potential for stepping on each others toes becomes greater; and, as areas get more crowded in one way or another, LCE has to exercise stricter regulation to prevent disharmony - or to prevent people from stepping on each others toes.
Disharmony extends, for the second part, from unintentional disturbances to intentional disturbances. As people get closer to each other the opportunities to take advantage through acts known as crime grow in number. Further, as people step on each others feet, people may become enemies of one another and commit malicious crimes. LCE serves to discourage these disharmony inducing acts.
By serving to enforce contracts and serving to standardize the material in and interpretation of contracts, LCE both facilitates commerce and decreases disharmony. Without LCE, two parties contracting would likely be depending on their own power to enforce the contract. As such, more powerful parties may tend to break contracts for their own benefit. Additionally, the more powerful parties may tend to interpret contracts in their favor and either act in ways not expected by the other party without consequence, or force the other party to perform acts the other party never intended on. Further, upon breach of contract, one party may exact a disproportionate penalty - say, indentured servitude for some paltry amount. These tendencies of unregulated contracts tend to cause disharmony and tend to impede commerce.
By standardizing the expectations, commercial transactions can go without contract or without contracts that would otherwise be burdened with details; as such, commerce is facilitated. For instance, the US UCC has
§ 2-308. Absence of Specified Place for Delivery.
Unless otherwise agreed
(a) the place for delivery of goods is the seller's
place of business or if he has none his residence; but
(b) in a contract for sale of identified goods which to
the knowledge of the parties at the time of contracting
are in some other place, that place is the place for
their delivery; and
(c) documents of title may be delivered through customary banking
LCE tends to direct societies by constricting, punishing, and rewarding actions. By putting in speed limits, people will tend to drive around that speed given the speed limit is enforced. As the pattern in speed limits is ingrained in those under the speed limits, these people will tend to drive around at moderately safe speeds even without speed limits posted. And, certainly some laws do good by instilling behaviors. By outlawing the practice of medicine except for those licensed, there is a dual effect of both decreasing the number of quacks while also decreasing the general public's interest in the subject. And so, even laws and regulation that may have been intended for good result in negative consequences. That is, I could speculate on how decreasing the publics interest in a subject and having them rely on experts causes problems, but so can the reader.
It is clear the LCE are useful tools. However, like any tool, LCE can be misapplied. The logic and intent of all laws needs to be clear. When someone breaks the letter of a law without compromising the intent, what grounds are there to pursue that person for breaking the law? An argument could be made that, if the LCE system were prevented from acting on those who did not compromise the intent of the law, then law breakers would constantly be arguing that they did not break the intent of the law. Is it not within the power of those who judge a case to determine whether or not the intent of a law was compromised? I would say it would be a sad state of affairs were the intent of the law so far from the grasp of the people who judge those who broke the law that the intent wasn't the primary concern in making a judgment.
In most places where there are roads and traffic lights, it is illegal to pass straight through an intersection when the opposing light is red. The intent of this law is to standardize the flow of traffic and thereby aid in the flow. The intent is also to prevent accidents which would cause disharmony and disrupt the flow of traffic and thereby commerce. In a scenario where a driver is the only driver in the area for many miles, if this driver were to break the red light law by passing through the intersection, should this person by penalized? It might be asked, "how could the driver know the maneuver was safe"? Well, there are many intersections where a view in all directions for a great distance is available. In these such intersections, when a driver passes through the intersection on a red light having discerned no other drivers in the area, there has been no compromise of the intent of the red light law. Instead, the problem comes when the situation is not as clear. When there are a few people on the road, or when visibility is low, or when there are obstructions of sight in some directions, there is a question as to whether the driver who broke the red light law made a good judgment or whether he/she compromised the intent of the law. However, I would say that in most cases, it is fairly obvious whether the intent of the law was compromised, and, in cases where it is not obvious, details and reputation/history can come into play in making a judgment.
Having the logic and intent of all laws known is not just important for knowing how to judge those who broke the letter of a law. Laws in both letter and intent can be dated. In being dated, a law can hinder the progress of a society. For instance, a law might state that a maximum of X houses can be placed on land in zone Y. Whether or not X houses are too many or too few for the needs of the society in that area depend on the current situation, and that current situation can be quite distant in time and situation from when the law was initially passed. For instance, without a change to such a law, the formation of a high density city might be prevented. And, to go further, without the logic behind laws being public, the public itself would have a hard time inspecting laws and causing to be removed laws which were no longer useful or were impediments to the goals of the society.
Without the intent and logic of, and knowledge behind a law made public, the logic of a law could be faulty and the law would be enforced nonetheless; the intent of the law could be selfish or otherwise not in the interest of the society; the law could be misinterpreted or misapplied. Without the force of logic, knowledge and public scrutiny to pull laws down, laws appear to proliferate to the detriment of the society. There are so many exploits and mishaps resulting from laws whos' logic and intent is not known that attempting to build a society on such laws reminds me of the modern proverb, "Failing to plan is planning to fail".
In general, in regards to laws, judgments, or decisions made by officials, there is, for the most part, only one rare case in which it might be better to keep the knowledge behind or logic of a law, judgment, or decision private. In the case of war or adversity where some information could be used by an enemy for the purpose of damaging the society. For instance, if a sneak attack were planned on an enemy, making this knowledge public would be counter productive. However, the ability to have secret information provides an avenue for the massing of power. The purpose of government programs can be made secret for the purpose of national security; vast resources can be redistributed for the purpose of national security. It is nearly always imperative that, if any secrets are kept in a society, those secrets are short lived and thoroughly scrutinized.
There is an idea that the general public does not have the capacity to determine or inspect laws. When the logic for a law is present, then inability would only be seen in cases were the logic and knowledge were too complex for the general public. However, at our current state of development, and presuming a public with some base level of logic capabilities, laws requiring too-complex-for-public logic does not appear to occur too often and can be accounted for. Anyone who would argue on this on any grounds except theoretical, I would ask the question, aren't "representatives " just people who re-present the public; ie, they aren't some distilled set of people equating to logic machines. I might argue, instead, the citizenry should be much more engaged in making, modifying, and removing laws. Just as people breaking laws might be put in a court where facts are determined and a judgment is made, laws, too, might be brought to court for repeal or modification. But, I will get into potential processes in another article.
Having powerful judges can lead to abuses; when the consequences that are normally associated with actions are removed, the normalizing effect of the consequences are so removed, and so you have judges that are willing to sentence criminals to jail terms or death, but you also have judges that are willing to ignore justice for selfish reasons. If the logic, knowledge, and intent behind a law were known, it should simply be a matter of a person having sound logic and enough time to read through the details of a law in order to understand a law. And, given adequate knowledge of laws and how the details of various cases might aid in determining judgments, someone should be able to serve as a judge. The candidate pool system, as mentioned in another article, could be applied for selecting judges for cases in where the pool consists of people who shown to have knowledge of the laws involved in the cases and knowledge of the patterns of how the details in the cases might aid in determining a judgment. Additionally, a judge being a government official, judges should be subjected to the same type of scrutiny as other public officials are subjected to in proportion to their power.
The common distinction enforcers make between themselves and those who aren't enforcers, namely "civilians", can lead to disharmonious attitudes and behaviors towards enforcers and non-enforcers. Enforcers can start to see non-enforcers as the enemy or prey. This behavior, however, is not inherent to the job of enforcing laws. Instead, this behavior comes from the same situation created by outlawing the practice of medicine except for those licensed: the doctors see themselves as further and further from the general public who's interest in medicine has waned. This specialization would not necessarily create an enemy like relationship so long as, by the nature of being in the same society with the same goals, the divided people were seen by both divisions to be working for each other and for the same aims.
Again, laws, courts, and enforcers are useful tools. But, they are the tools, not the religion, and thus, they should not be put above the needs and desires of the society, which LCE are intended to serve. It should be clear that mismanaged LCE can be the source of harm to a society. However, there are ways to manage LCE, and, so long as LCE are properly managed, the benefit of using LCE seems to outweigh the risks.
Laws, Courts, Enforcers
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