Thursday, October 17, 2013

Law, Legislation and Liberty - Policy Creation – Correct Perspective - Government as Educator not Regulator

When you read any piece of legislation, legislation being the practical expression of policy, the language is always directive by authority. The fundamental view in structuring law has government as the authority and the population to obey or suffer the consequences. This is an errant perspective as it assumes us subordinate to government; a) when the opposite is supposed to be true b) when our charter extends us autonomy as a basic human right. If you believe as I do, that we exist as sovereign beings and liberty is a right of our humanity as opposed something the state grants us, this authoritarian stance of government is very offensive. The government should be issuing direction as opposed to edicts.

Government has an important role as a mediator, or, through law, to provision the effective interaction of the citizenry – the government has no meaningful role in personal choice, especially when personal choices made are benign to the rest of the populous. Government has an important role as a protector from outside threats; it has no role in protecting us from ourselves - save to provision non - biased & reliable information for us to choose with. When thinking about policy the thrust needs to be, how do we facilitate human action as it originates from the individual, as opposed to how do we control people; Canadians are a collection of individuals as opposed to a group of people, so in providing choice to a well-informed populous, we move decision making closer to the point of action and inherent in exercising choice is ownership, and in ownership is responsibility; a more responsible and actuated population emerges.   

Rather than having drug policy that enforces a moral code against the altered state, have a drug policy that informs the public of the risks and benefits of all substance use. In the early 1970’s 70% of the adult population smoked, now about 15% does. Cigarettes are still legal, however, through informing the public, the government effected a cultural shift that moved smoking from an action of status to one of a fool. When people see the skull and crossbones on a container they know the contents are poison – rationale people avoid eating the contents. The Canadian land scape has literally millions of dangers, the government is unable to put handrails on every cliff in Canada, and it relies on parents to teach their children to avoid walking off cliffs. People have the capacity to manage their own lives, government policy should extend them as full a breath of action as possible. 

With law – less is more. In Canada we are over governed, increasingly our personal lives are governed. This is the case because the government to often is trying to manage personal matters, government has trouble with managing slow moving, large and sturdy infrastructure, so it should stay away from micro managing Canadian’s personal lives by regulating every possible aspect of life. Since my parents day, there has been an insidious escalation into our private lives, we have become in many ways a totalitarian state – if one measures the breath of government involvement in our personal lives juxtaposed against any other point in history.            
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