Law,  Law Reform

Arresting the descent into madness

According to the BBC:

An uproar has broken out after two police officers were told they had acted illegally by caring for each other’s children.

Detective Constables Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarret cared for each other’s children when they were working shifts, but Ofsted said they were breaking the law.

Now obviously it’s insane for the law to molest parents who come to these reciprocal agreements. In most cases, the person who can be trusted the most to make the correct judgement about a child’s needs, interests and safety is the child’s parent, not the state. When I was growing up, my parents – like most – had reciprocal arrangements about lifts and after-school care with my friend’s parents, and this seemed to work very well for all concerned. I can’t imagine when or why ‘The State’ decided they needed to interfere.

But it isn’t this specific example that I’m most interested in. It’s more the general question: when do we have enough legislation?

For almost a century now, we’ve enjoyed modern liberal democratic government. Our laws have steadily been evolving and improving. It is self-evident that a point will be reached where there are enough sufficiently clear and sensible laws for any society to function by. In short, one might ask, will there be a time when the best thing a government can do is nothing?

“Don’t just do something, stand there”, as the inversion of the old adage goes, might be the correct approach.

Certainly, we’ll need government to enforce the laws, to make sure that they’re justly and fairly implemented and that the administration of the country is carried out. From time to time a new law, or a revision to an existing law, might be needed. But do we need our parliamentarians to persistently legislate?

Isn’t it this manic need to legislate that creates situations so counter-intuitive and so at odds with the public’s common sense, that the law seems like an ass and our law-makers are held, deservedly, in contempt?

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