Friday, May 20, 2011

When Society is Run by Children Who Cheat at Games

Beware the society that becomes acclimated to following the rules only when it is convenient to do so.

All games have certain rules. Rules, generally speaking, are meant to address certain eventualities. When one of those eventualities occurs, the rule is followed and the system is preserved. Discard the rules, and the result is Calvinball: an absurd amalgam of ad hoc decisions which defy predictability.

One of the basic lessons that non-sociopathic children learn is that rules are meant to be followed. If you want to get dessert, you have to eat your dinner. If you want to go outside and play, you have to clean up your room. You cannot collect 200 dollars unless you pass GO.

Childhood games are the basic building blocks of social skills. Through play, children learn how to respect the wants, desires, needs, and feelings of others. The child who fails in putting these blocks together will end up being either 1) a narcissist or 2) an unlikable cad.

The law is little more than rules. It tells us what should be done, what may be done, and what must not be done.

Sometimes, we want something but the law acts as an impediment. A civilzed adult would recognize that it is his misfortune if the rules prevent him from achieving his goal. A petulant child changes the rules on the spot.

In the law, there are prescribed mechanisms for changing the law (rules regarding rules). We actually allow for players to change the rules in the middle of the game. However, we do not allow them to change the rules in the middle of their turn. News laws must be promulgated prior to their implementation; certain parties must agree to the change.

The politician or bureaucrat who violates the rules regarding rules is little better than the spoiled brat who does not care one whit about his fellow citizens. Perhaps what he does is supported in theory by the majority, but the violation of principle degrades the entire body politic and weakens the fragile adhesives that bond human society.

Don't like the law? Go ahead, change it. But do it properly.