Rules and Regulations

Why do we make rules? 

While they sometimes get in our way, they actually help us. They summarize our experience as a society and thus make future decisions easier.

Most of the good ones are ancient.

Rules relate to context

You need not concern yourself with proper building methods. There is a code. You know rules that make traffic flow safer and maybe faster. You honor rules that make neighborhoods more livable. Noise. Cars parked on the street. Building use.

A rule that was perfect in one context might not be so useful in another. Speed limits at a NASCAR event?

Narrow rules are avoidable

The more precise the rule, the easier to avoid. All one must do is introduce a variable not considered. All money you receive is taxed is easier to enforce than a law that describes each kind of income that is taxable and how. Lawyers and tax accountants love complexity. Simple is hard to avoid.

Laws must evolve

New situations, new equipment, new capabilites, new attitudes must be accommodated. New York had a speed limit of 12 miles per hour for a long time after cars came along.

Usually laws take too long to evolve and that causes problems. Legislators have enough trouble passing useful laws. Repair and maintenance of existing laws is not high on the list.

People learn to disrespect inappropriate laws.

Laws must come into being to guide behaviour

What are the rules for making good laws? Clear wording, situational relevance, and pervasive application all matter. Is that enough? Not for some. Today many rules exist to make the regulators enforcement task easier. Not always common sense either.

Do the proposals guide behaviour or command it?

An important distinction. As we have noticed commands are variable. A guide based on sound principles is more difficult to avoid. Sound principles are based on experience and the wisdom to understand the experience and the situation within which it arose.

Simple, clear principles and purpose give rise to complex intelligent behaviour. Complex rules and regulation lead to simple, stupid behaviour. Dee Hock.

Unfortunately, simple clear principles and purpose do not satisfy the wants of politicians and bureaucrats. They cannot easily exercise their desired power.

We should expect more.

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