Home » Society » There Ought-a Be a Law: Emotions, Desire, and Social Paradigm

There Ought-a Be a Law: Emotions, Desire, and Social Paradigm

???????????????????????????????If you have a powerful sense of justice like I do, an inner hot spring of raging desire for recompense upon the wicked who abuse, rob and destroy others in a thousand different ways to satisfy their own selfish desires, then I’m sure that you too have routinely said in your heart, “There ought-a be a law!”

This basic impulse can, however, lead to its own brand of evil when acted upon without wisdom, without anticipating the long-term consequences of those actions, and without realizing that the principles of a free, prosperous, and stable society are far more basic, though far less satisfying emotionally, than our inner hot springs can stand. The temptations to heavier and heavier burdens of law and government  are great specifically because the desire to stamp out “injustice” is great.[1]

When we see a parent laying into his or her[2] child, fuming with rage, insulting, threatening, perhaps even striking the child, it is easy for that hot spring to scream in our souls, “There ought-a be a law!!!” We should move slowly, however, for parental rights are one of the most basic principles of a free, prosperous, and stable society. The emotional impulse to “save the children” can easily lead to the erosion of a necessary foundation for the saving of all the children and not just those on our emotional radar.

When the legal system places checks and balances on law enforcement and “bad people” get away with crimes because of technicalities, or when basic rights of privacy are used as a concealment for evil, it is easy to find ourselves ready to wave away our rights. “Cameras on every street corner!” “Monitor our TV, Computers, Phones! Get the bad guys at any cost.” “Privacy only matters if you have something to hide.” Rights of privacy are, again, however, basic principles of a free, prosperous and stable society.

What are the other hot button issues paraded about today by the media that are meant to provoke a nationwide hot spring eruption of “There ought-a be a law!!!”?

The rich! Corporate greed, the top 1% of wealth holders (that language itself is deceptive), companies stealing from their workers by, (oh the horror) making a profit, paying corporate fat cats big salaries and stock options. Property rights, however, the right to keep what you earn or inherit, are basic to a free, prosperous and stable society. Erode them and you erode the incentives to labor and all suffer the fallout.

Smokers… we really hate smokers… unless they want to smoke pot… then we pity them and fight for their rights. But smokers… they must be stopped… even in their own homes… we have to save the children from them… There ought-a be a law.

Guns… we really want to get at those guns. We want to strike down our constitutional rights to bear arms and to protect ourselves; surely the police will protect us. We don’t care about alcohol, even though it kills upwards of 9x as many people as are killed through gun violence or accidents, but guns, gotta go, and who cares what the larger social ramifications will be for striking down fundamental human rights of effective self-defense.

Every hot button issue has a villain and a victim. Those who are working to change the paradigms of society will strum the heart strings over the victims and paint horns on the villains… even if they have to misrepresent the facts to do so. But facts are not what drives these calls for change.

We pity gays and demonize the religious. We should strip away the religious rights of society to stop all the discrimination. If you run a business, you shouldn’t be allowed to exercise your religious rights… that’s just for churches (for now, anyway… but we’ve got them in our sights as well).  Religious freedom, however, as well as the freedom to love and hate, are basic human rights. There is no basic right to be liked.

Those lost in the throes of passionate fixation to rectify a wrong don’t need to understand the facts of economics or the role that personal choices, or cultural and gender inclinations play in issues. We just need a bad guy and a victim and an emotional explosion to act to fix the situation… even when our heart’s every solution is counterproductive. Some things just sound right. Cripple the healthy; hamstring men; rob the wealthy; cut off opportunity to the gifted; undermine the privileged. These will surely bring balance and equality and greater prosperity and stability to all… except they don’t… ever.

William J. H. Boetcker wrote a series of counters to such emotionalism. “The Ten Cannots” have appeared for years with variants.

  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  • You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
  • And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.[3]

A free, prosperous and stable society cannot be maintained by emotional chomping for more and more laws to right every individual perceived wrong. We must defend those basic principles of freedom and governance that sustain the whole… there is no room for short-sighted emotionalism in law and government.


[1] See my post, “All Things Being Equal, Nothing is Equal.”

[2] By the way, even though the drunken father stumbling home after a night of hard drinking is the poster child for domestic violence, statistically women make up upwards of 70% of child abuse cases.

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._H._Boetcker

[4] Media pic is from sxc.hu; http://www.freeimages.com

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