>There Oughtn’t Be A Law

>I have often debated with several lefty classmates whether or not the state should restrict the use of cellphones while driving. The difference in our viewpoints is that the liberal worldview is an amoral one – if something can be shown to increase utility in some way then it is ‘good’ whereas if it doesn’t it is ‘bad.’ Utility, of course, can be measured in many different ways – well-being, security, ‘happiness’ (Liberty is rarely considered) and these measures may often be in conflict. The fundamental belief is that if we simply had the right set of laws then we would be living in a utopia, in the best of all possible worlds. What I generally term as the ‘conservative’ view is that mankind in not perfectible and that utility must be weighed with morality when legislating. Sure, texting while driving may increase danger, but it is not an immoral act. My own bias is that actions should only be illegal when they both decrease utility and are immoral. Thus, texting should not be illegal because it isn’t immoral. Similarly things which are immoral but not necessarily bad for society (much harder to come up with an example) shouldn’t be illegal either. Still, conservatives generally recognize that utility isn’t the only measure on which to base laws – a view that liberals don’t share.

The other serious issue is that the more laws we have, the less people respect them which leads to a weaker government and society. When prohibition was passed is made a common activity illegal and turned a vast population of otherwise normal people into criminals. Respect for the law dropped and people actually sought out the thrill of going to a speakeasy and defying the government. On the whole our society weakened because people no longer respected the law and institutions that were supposed to hold it together. Today, think of how regularly we break speed limits. In an effort to be overly restrictive the government ends up reducing people’s concern with lawbreakers by making ordinary people share the same experience and worldview as actual criminals.

As I’ve often said, if your immediate reaction isn’t “Oh good, the police!” But rather “Oh no! The cops!” then our government is too restrictive and we’ve started down the path to destroying our society by rotting its foundation.

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