Tuesday, June 28, 2016

“Law and Order” is Orwellian

"What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski? Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn't that what makes a man?"

This question, posed to the Dude, was answered with, “Hmmm... sure, that and a pair of testicles,” which prompted a new question: “Mind if I do a J?”

Today, my question for you is - what makes an unjust law? You might want to light that joint first, however.

Unjust laws only exist because governments are made up of people who are prone to mistakes and corruption.

The idea that judges and politicians can truly be impartial is a metaphysical belief that does not jive with reality.

Politicians can try to represent their constituency, while lawyers can argue facts from both sides to a judge who will attempt to rule impartially.

But the idea that there is an objective “correct” answer presupposes that normative ethics are akin to the positive sciences.

In other words, saying that, “censorship is wrong” is fundamentally different from saying, “the planet revolves around the sun.”

The latter is a statement of fact, the former is an opinion.

Yet, legal jurisprudence isn’t without its merits. In fact, arbitration services for resolving conflict and maintaining not only order but fairness, are clearly in demand.

For, without fairness and order, how could a market sustain itself? Without someone writing and enforcing the rules, how could anyone play the game?

In Canada, we may have varying degrees of order, but fairness is eroding quickly and I’m not talking about “wealth inequality.”

Fairness implies laws that are both homogeneous and heterogeneous where best suited. Murder and theft are wrong for everyone, but selling pornography might be an offence in one place but not another.

And, if I get punished for violating a contract I had with you, I shouldn’t get harsher treatment because you’re the brother of the arresting officer or because your dad is a well-connected politician.

To keep legal jurisprudence fair and orderly, one must accept the positive science of economics.

That human beings purposefully act, that value is subjective, that time preference and opportunity costs are conditions of being human. You can’t wish them away, but you can study and reflect on them. You can build a corpus of economic theory with them.

And, as economics and history clearly demonstrate, markets are at the root of civilization.

Politicians didn’t legislate us out of the jungle and government bureaucracy didn’t implement the Renaissance.

There are solid arguments as to why pornography, or rock 'n' roll music, shouldn’t be allowed in Canadian communities.

And this is precisely why the rule of law is a myth. 

There is no right answer. “Law and order” is Orwellian doublespeak because it presupposes order is synonymous with law.

But laws can disrupt order, especially when the lawgiver holds a coercive monopoly on the service.

The sooner we understand this lesson the better.

An “unjust law” is just a rule that cannot be checked by economic calculation.

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