by Neville Kennard, preaching and practising capitalist
Among the altars that Classical Liberals worship at is “The Rule of Law”. This is the mark of a civilised society, they say, that “the rule of law rather than the rule of men” is to be respected, revered even. That laws imposed by wise and thoughtful legislators through a constitutional and constrained process are better than those of a whimsical dictator. But what about “bad laws” — laws that impinge on personal freedom, on property rights, on our rights to trade that get legislated by legislators who are not so wise, and even to the extent that they think it is OK to pass retrospective legislation?
And aren’t all our laws made by “men” — and, to be politically correct here — women?
Whimsical monarchs and dictators have been replaced by whimsical Prime Ministers, Presidents, Parties and Parliaments. In democracies, the majority-elected party in power gets to do pretty much what it likes, what it thinks it can get away with, what will fit within the conventions and constitutions. Sometimes when they want to enact some new law and find they can’t because it is “against the law”, they change the law, make a new law, so that what was “against the law” is now “lawful”.
Our system is almost replete with such laws that diminish our freedom and intrude on our lives and reduce our prosperity. (I say “almost replete” because replete means “full” — they still find room for more.) There are so many laws that no-one understands them. No-one could possibly know all the laws, yet ignorance of the law is no excuse. And many laws are subject to interpretation, to precedents and competing precedents, and counter-precedents. Lawyers, barristers and judges love to argue and debate all this, and get rich doing so.
The language of legislated laws is baffling not only to the layman, whose ignorance of the law and its meaning is deemed no excuse, but baffling to the legal profession itself. This cosy club in their funny gowns and silly wigs love their rituals, their monopoly, the mystique they seek to create; to an uninitiated outsider it must look like some strange tribal witchcraft.
And while all this is going on we wonder why there is diminishing respect for “The Rule of Law”. Could it be any other way? With such a mess of laws, many of which are about governments’ (read men’s) desire to impose their views on society or a knee jerk reaction to some unpopular events or a ploy to get (re)elected. Many of our laws are not about the protection of person and property — governments’ prime, and some would say only, job, but about imposing a narrow — or even a broadly supported — morality or code of behaviour on its citizens.
“If their ain’t know victim, their ain’t no crime” someone said. Yet we have volumes of laws outlawing victimless behaviour that by government edict becomes a “crime”. Prohibition of alcohol in the USA was an example of a silly law, as are our current anti-drug laws. They are unenforceable, create worse crimes and ultimately will, like prohibition, be deemed to have failed and be abandoned.
Natural Law and Common Law — the laws that people accept as being natural to our human species (Natural Law), and the laws that grow up and evolve and change in our societies as being acceptable behaviour (Common Law) are respected and, more often not, obeyed.
When we have fewer and better laws (meaning laws only to protect property rights), respect for “the law” will increase. Until then we can expect a growing and dangerous disrespect. Australians have a healthy disrespect for their politicians. It would be shame if an unhealthy disrespect became the case for “the rule of law”.
- Welcome from Neville Kennard
- Think Tanks Don't Work
- "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
- The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
- Corporate Welfare
- Citizenship for Sale?
- I Don't Vote
- Voting: Right or Privilege?
- Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
- Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
- Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
- Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
- Government Likes War
- Collusion is Our Right
- Why Not the Drug Olympics?
- Unconventional Wisdom
- Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
- Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
- Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
- Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
- Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
- Separating Sport and State
- Your Home is Not an Investment
- Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
- A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
- Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
- Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
- What is a good Australian?
- Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
- The Market Failure Industry
- Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
- Wot if ...?
- The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
- The Tannehills
- Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
- Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
- Minarchy vs Anarchy
- Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
- The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
- Is Howard Our Best PM?
- Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
- Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
- Authoritarian Freedom
- Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
- The Tyranny of the Majority
- If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
- Business Should Exploit Boat People
- The Immorality of Trade Unions
- "America" vs "The United States"
- Sweet Anarchy
- The Illusion of "Job Creation"
- Gold Is Money
- Guilty Capitalists
- Prosperity vs Growth
- Capitalism vs Democracy
- More people = More fun
- Self-Ownership - the very idea!
- Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
- The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
- Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
- My Journey to Anarchy:
From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
- Government Needs Bad Guys –
that's why they like wars
- What Is Obscene?
- Traffic Economics
- Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
- Neville Kennard Obituary