Monday, December 10, 2007

The flip side of big government

"Big government" is sometimes referred to as social engineering, involves telling the masses what they should do.

In the end, it involves creating hundreds of news laws and regulations, which in turn turns many possible human actions and decisions into crimes and offences.

Driving without a seat belt, smoking, riding a bike without a helmet are now crimes. Driving over 40 km/hr near schools is a crime, no matter how cautious or skilled the driver.

But also the way we conduct business and commerce is now extremely tricky. Even if you and a customer agree on the terms of contract (which includes the price), you may be breaking the law - even more so now that there are newer tougher price fixing laws:

JAIL sentences of up to five years and hefty financial penalties could be imposed on anyone found guilty of price fixing and collusion under planned federal laws.

The draft laws, which will amend the Trade Practices Act, will cover petrol, food, clothing and a range of other consumer goods.

Price fixing is a "crime" that is very badly defined. It generally means "charging a customer more than you ought to, or normally would". Even if it were possible to perfectly identify cases where price fixing has occurred, why should it be a crime anyway if both seller and buyer have agreed on the price and want to carry out the transaction ?

Now .. the flip side of making everything into a crime in our society is that existing crimes.. the real ones that actually involve the use of violence and coercion..are not treated as seriously. Case in point:

NINE males who pleaded guilty last month to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl at the Aurukun Aboriginal community on Cape York have escaped a prison term, with the sentencing judge saying the child victim "probably agreed" to have sex with them.

Cairns-based District Court judge Sarah Bradley ordered that the six teenage juveniles not even have a conviction recorded for the 2005 offence, and that they be placed on a 12-month probation order.

I know I sometimes sound like a naive fool when I say the bleeding obvious - that we should have a small government that can be focussed on law and order, police and defence, and fighting serious crime like murder, rape, violence, assault and theft.

People here assume that our current big government does a great job already, because those things have been crimes for a long time.

But we live in an age of post-modernism and moral relativism as they say. We have a lot of activist judges and academics and regulators who seek to instill multi-culturalism on us by treating different groups in different ways. Our native Australians are treated as victims who cannot be blamed for their actions and should not be held to the same standards as the rest of us. And where social engineering is all the rage, we shouldn't seek to punish the victims, the poor and the downtrodden in society.

But those who smoke or engage in trade or seek to medicate themselves with drugs or sell concert tickets for a higher price, where there are no victims and no rights violations, are treated as criminals.

Our priorities are screwed.