A law to cure!
- Sunday on Facebook: My wife’s paper has just arrived with the self congratulatory front page headline of, New Law To Tackle Moped Muggers. I wasn’t aware that we needed a new law, I thought that such people were already breaking the law. The problem seems to be in apprehending those responsible for breaking the law. Making new laws brings no comfort to my wife who now imagines a mugger being every moped rider and is now pressurising me to install more home security.
- New laws are a cheap instrument to allay public concern over a particular issue, certainly cheaper that employing more policemen. As T. E. Utley wrote in 1968:
It has to be decided whether any law made can be enforced, or enforced with enough impartiality and constancy to stop its becoming an intolerable affront to the principle of legal equality. Failing this, the presence of an unenforceable law on the statute book should at least have a favourable effect on human behaviour — that it will perform the functions of a sermon rather than a threat. If the law is to be made, it must also be established that the cost of enforcing it in terms of human happiness and virtue is not so great as to offset the merits of enforcing it. What laws may cure
It seems that we have no problem in writing new laws but do have a problem in enforcing them.
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find
That bliss which only centres in the mind:
Why have I stray’d from pleasure and repose,
To seek a good each government bestows?
In every government, though terrors reign,
How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!
Still to ourselves in every place consign’d,
Our own felicity we make or find:
With secret course, which no loud storms annoy,
Glides the smooth current of domestic joy.
The lifted axe, the agonising wheel,
To men remote from power but rarely known,
Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.
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