Monday, January 14, 2008

Laws and Agent Smith

"So if laws can be personified as actively seeking to copy themselves (like conceptual Agent Smiths ) , what are their weapons , what claws , eyes what defences ?"

It has always impressed me that those enlightened Icelandic people had a marvellous way of stopping the irresponsible breeding habits of new laws of . They required that a law-sayer should be able to recite all the laws, and as he had reached the limit of his prodigious memory, when another was added it was obliged to replace one that preceded it. The choice before the men of beard and axe was therefore a little more complex that that facing the smoothly be-suited modern keyboard warrior . They also had to decide which one to cut …and remember they did not have cooing flights of them in a back shed left over from previous law breeders and keeper .
Under such an arrangement we can well imagine the law -sayer , sleepless , twitching ; rolling his eyes piteously should Wolfstan (the pernickety) start wondering about banning smoking in cars buying sex or hunting vermin

.Sometimes it helps to take a step back and as someone who has religiously avoided knowing much specifically , I generally recommend it anyway . The Romans originally limited themselves to ten Tables in about 450BC , this became twelve which formed the original breeding population . Like rats they multiplied until in 533 AD when the Western Empire was gone, the Eastern half alone was able to publish a ‘digest’, which itself ran to 2000 volumes.
While life might have become a little more complex it is clear that there is natural; tendency to procreate driven by the needs of laws themselves .Richard Dawkins took similarly long view about things that exist . Blindingly simple really , but things that are around and especially those that there are lots of , like laws , have capabilities that have ensured their survival and procreation .He applied this to the selfish gene but more impishly to systems of ideas like religion , called ‘memes ‘a semi serious concept misused by the barbarian elements of the blogasphere .
Religion for example is a complex , of faith , punishment , and security that powerfully replicates in empty cultural space. He sees it as a virus which short circuits the process of living by merit ( Like fire making skills say) , and exploits a healthy body, sucking as much energy as is safe to survive and multiply . I do not agree with him about religion but it is an idea should ,with more rigour, be applied to laws. Let us briefly translate this into modern terms…

The cost of government has gone up by over 50% under Labour (Public Expenditure Analysis 2001-5) , The Civil Service now has 554,000 employees , more than the population of Liverpool (Public Sector Employment Statistics Dec2006). I forget the number of new taxes but , Tacitus, who looked upon the Roans and saw the madness of endless law making would have been unimpressed at than 3000 new criminal offences .
So if laws can be personified as actively seeking to copy themselves (like conceptual Agent Smiths ) , what are their weapons , what claws , eyes what defences ?

The first and most obvious is that the world adapts to anything new , and like an Oyster turns any old grit into a pearl it can live with .Shrapnel-like , it may do more damage moved , than left to fester. So undoing is hard. The cry goes out , for example ,that London should be a 20 MPH zone . Wasn’t there recently an campaign saying “Its 30mph “ for a reason ? The reason was presumably that this was as much as they could get away with. Who is to say what freedoms are lost or money spent on enforcement and what injury skewing the world this may cause . We can say that a few children die because cars are going at 25 mph not 20 .
A seconds thought will satisfy you that a law to require the elderly to wear jumper in Winter would save many lives as would anti coughing legislation or indeed anti running around in your own home where prodigious numbers of accidents occur. However we do not have a weary law-sayer to remind us of the balance . We see pictures of dead children which , for good evolutionary reasons , we treat , not as statistics but as close friends .. So we might say laws use our innate inability to see the whole and attract our magpie tendency to the shiny part. The “Something must be done “syndrome . The ‘something must be undone’ syndrome is a rare beast.
Then as we know laws must be enforced . Coffehouse blog has an interesting motif on Welfare reform which , it is clear , is now open veldt , with Labour twitching like a bed sored catatonic between accusations of Plagiarism and callousness. Norman Fowler , however , had some cold water to pour on hopes of turning around the good ship “Scrounge”

Norman Fowler took him (Richard Litrtlejohn actually ) out to Washington and Baltimore in the 1980s when he was a Labour Correspondent to show him workfare, and pledged to introduce workfare to Britain. Nothing happened. “If Thatch couldn’t force it through, it’s not going to happen now,” he says today. It’s unclear just how hard Thatch tried – but it’s true that the Cameroon team may underestimate how hard it is to get the civil service to do anything.’

Aha yes , like selfish genes laws, ally with close relatives to form powerful phenotypes (characteristics like long necks ), each one requires a law minder who becomes a guardian of the Matrix himself .
A slight sophistication of “ Something must be done “ , is “Something must be done about them“. If I hear Jeremy Clarkson posing as Libertarian hero , I think “Where you for the fox hunters then ?“. When I hear Norman Baker our local FOI Miss Marple resist ID cards , I think “Where were you for smoking ?“. It is always possible to argue that some good can be done by attacking the minority “Them”. An instinctive fear of the way they use this lies behind the broad smirks when the Liberal party promise only increase tax on the rich. Somehow we dimly sense we have to hold firm for all we have little time for Private Equity , or fox hunters , or smokers , or those who do not want a booster seat for their eight year old, we will be next . While the forces of law making are by their nature as unrelenting as tidal erosion the forces of liberty are quixotic .Herding cats is easier than getting them to agree with eachother .
There is good old fashioned greed of course. Someone’s empire always needs building. So if laws are a tape worm, under what circumstances might it die ? Well think of the country as a herd and its clear. In a lean Summer when the Deer are already starving those riddled with parasites will die leaving a healthy population to bound onto to new and better grazing . With perhaps 8,000,000 in the public sector now it is clear than in the worldwide “fat Years “ the herd has indeed become infested , and it took a sort of die back…Callaghan’s 70s , to rid us of the pest last time. This is why Conservatives look at economic bad news with grim satisfaction .
My concern is this , is the world getting too rich for freedom which requires periods of ill health to kill off the maggots . Are we heading for battery chicken status , not because of someone’s evil plan but because of the blind ability of laws to infest any excess health or wealth created . If the “Something must be done “ bleeding-heart Liberal hold the balance of power after the next GE , they may force PR and an endless left centre political class government in which my they and the theory will be tested to apocalypse , (or Sweden , if you will.)


Philipa said...

I quite fancy agent smith and thought Hugo Weaving was dead sexy in Lord of the Rings, all sword fighting sexy. I even liked his outfit in Priscilla etc. Good actor.

Newmania said...

Pointy ears suit some poeple P

electro-kevin said...

'Someone's empire always needs building.'

You got it.

Too many lawyers for there to be justice.

For example people blame the Health & Safety inspectors for the curtailment of the game of conkers in school playgrounds where in reality the blame lies in no-win-no-fee litigation.

Newmania said...

Too many Lawyers !!Always too many

Newmania said...

Too many Lawyers !!Always too many

Philipa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philipa said...

I'm sure there are many good people working in the legal profession, unfortunately it has been my experience when encountering barristers and lawyers and solicitors to have only worked with the arrogant money grabbing scum.

PS: isn't Tony Bliar a barrister?

Little Black Sambo said...

Lawyers don't actually make laws. The first people to string up should be all those people making laws. Is it just because there are simply so many people "employed" - paid anyway - in Brussels, Whitehall, etc, that things have to be found for them to do, mostly inventing new ways of meddling in people's lives?

Newmania said...

I think thats right LBS and thats part of what I was saying , the momentum for more reguklation comes from creating bodies whose job it is to continue the process

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