Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Regulatory Overload

In the UK, the term "nanny state" has taken on new meaning involving an absurd degree of literalness. Working mothers swapping childcare to enable each other to work a job-share involving a single position with chaotic hours were set upon by a government bureau for the regulation of standards in education. The comments on this article are possibly as interesting as the article itself. One observer notes that in Greece, the bureaucracy is so bad that ordinary life is possible only by routine disregard of the law:
Here in Greece, bureaucracy is so excessive that nobody has anything to do with it if they can possibly help it. The only way for Greeks to live a semblance of a normal life is to be the least law-abiding nation in Europe. The British need to learn the same lesson: don't let the state know what you're doing and you can get on with your life.
Andy Holliday
Routine disregard of the law, as an accepted state of affairs for respectable people, is simply not a recipe for a successful representative government. It may be a recipe for surviving tyranny, but it is not what the Greeks had in mind when they invented their democracy millennia ago.

Laws that are out of touch with social norms and societal expectations would seem strong contenders for undermining rather than strengthening the rule of law, clouding rather than illuminating approved notions of justice, and reducing rather than safeguarding liberty.

1 comment:

Elliott said...

The situation described in the article is certainly disturbing, and I have to agree that the comments were an even better read than the article itself. I don't often check up on the British media online, but when I do I'm always impressed by how articulate the comments are compared to what I see on some of our own media outlets. I suppose I could be comparing apples to oranges, though. Perhaps the folks posting comments at the Sun online would broaden my perspective. Speaking of different perspectives provided by different papers, I wonder how the readership of the Guardian would view the plight of the two detectives.