Sunday, 11 January 2015

Here's the Thing

This is something I’ve been chewing over in the last few days.

You need a society with minimal economic intervention, but maximum law and order. There is no use having laws unless they are enforced. You don’t need many laws, but you do need a system that enforces them, from police through courts through to the prison system.

The only example I can think of is Singapore, which works well along these lines (even if I find the weather oppressively humid).

Australia, on the other hand, now has a society with increasing economic intervention, but diminishing law and order, due to a lack of enforcement.

One of the causes of the lack of enforcement is that we are drowning in laws, and cannot enforce all of them, because many of them are contradictory.

The inertia brought about by lack of enforceability has also led to the ‘low-hanging fruit’ mentality among law enforcement and the justice system. Mentality: “If we can’t enforce the big, scary laws – which we can’t – then we need to pick off the easy targets, or else we will be out of business.”

I see two strains at work in Australian history.

One is economic meddling, protectionism and over-regulation. This was shown to be damaging in real life, and led to its unpicking mostly by the Hawke-Keating government. However, it’s been flooding back in, and shamefully under Liberal governments.

The other is the trahison des clercs identified by Nick Cater and others: the systematic white-anting, from within, of ideas about law, order and justice at every level, and in every institution.

So yes, we do have no one to blame but ourselves.