Protecting our Rights – the Tipping Point When the Cost of Rules and Regulations Exceed Their Benefit
Supposed Basic Rights in Democratic Societies
In democratic societies, we feel that we have a moral obligation to protect the rights of the individual. This basic belief pervades most of our rational thought and puts a slant on many of our decisions.
If only life were that simple; that one concept was universally applicable. Unfortunately, even those universal truths are almost never universal.
Therein lies the rub. The issue is that we fail to measure the benefit to the individual against the cost to society.
Sometimes the cost of the right is so much greater than the benefit. This can be seen in items that affect all of us, as well as individual items affecting few of us.
A Dictator’s Control vs Democracy
In order that members of democratic societies protect their rights, they believe fiercely in basic rights and feel that these rights are inalienable.
Examine some of these basic rights, although any other similar rights can be viewed in a similar comparison, and the universality starts to wear thin around the edges. The right of free speech is a case in point, as is the right to bear arms in the USA, as is the right to health care. In order to make the point understandable, let me examine some of these basic rights.
The Right to Free Speech
This right is so sacred to us. Yet examine the right when applied to spewers of extreme racial hated or profile hate-mongering. In due course, we just had to come up with some rules to moderate this basic right. We now apply rules of ‘hate crimes’, and ‘safety of individuals’ as a moderation of that formerly universal rule.
The Right to Bear Arms
Again a universal inalienable right. The fight over this right continues to this day. This right is now being moderated by definitions as to the type of arm being borne (handgun over AK47, rifle over bazooka), and the place the arm is borne to (if a public figure is present). Issues of the safety of society bear some consideration over this right.
The Right to Universal Health Care
The most universally important right (except in the USA) is the right to be treated for illness when you are sick. This right spread rapidly across most of the world as prosperity spread and there were greater numbers of younger taxpayers than older taxpayers.
As the average age of a population changes, or as the spending habits of politicians change circumstances, universal health care becomes less universal. Mixes of private and public systems crop up. Medical procedures that are covered become more restrictive, and so on.
Universal Rules Created by Our Governments to Govern Our Financial Industries
In a similar fashion, rules to govern our financial industries, although well intended, have recently become too cumbersome in a valiant but misguided effort to protect the individuals in society.
The Current Debt Crisis – Government Debt is Related to the Beliefs of Citizens
Whenever there is a wrong perpetrated by someone, there is an outcry for new rules to prevent that wrong from happening again.
These calls for more regulation, regardless of the area of interest the regulations are intended to affect, are intended to prevent the bad guys from taking advantage of us, and this invariably lead to:
• People hired to examine the problem,
• more rules,
• people hired to create the regulations to put those rules into effect,
• more regulations to interpret and detail those rules for every conceivable variation that could possibly occur,
• people hired as enforcers (regulators, then then inspectors, then then enforcers, then overseers) to enforce those rules,
• supervisors hired to supervise those writers of rules and those creators of regulations, and those enforcers and regulators,
• HR people to look after all of those people,
• Unions to protect the interests of all those people,
• Social benefits for all those people,
• Pensions for the next 50 years for all those people
• And on and on.
If you examine any set of rules or regulations in any sector, the number of rules and regulations has continued to expand in number of words and in sheer volume as time passes. It never reduces. There are never ‘sunset’ clauses in the rules.
What I have described is a Universal Law. It always gets applied the same way.
A wrong occurs, whether minor or major, that catches the public’s attention; calls come for government to ‘take action’, and the scenario described occurs. In due course there is another bureaucracy to administer the possibility that the wrong may occur again, and the costs of this administration, including the pensions for the administrators are permanently in place – forever.
Next blog – Are we really applying common sense to the way we govern, or are we laying the seeds of our own destruction?
What is the Cost /Benefit to Society Compared to the Harm to an Individual?
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