The convener of any law, rule, border or boundary only has power relative to its ability to enforce such regulations, writes Dennis McIntyre.
If you have ever travelled to an Asian country, you may have experienced that when certain laws are broken (a common occurrence), a small fee can be paid and the indiscretion will be ignored. In other countries such as Australia, where the enforcers may not be so easily swayed, corruption still takes place from time to time.
Whether laws are enforced is dependent on the enforcer’s perception of people; that perception determines their actions. For example, those who have radar detectors are likely to break speeding laws more frequently than those who don’t. If the police were to advance their technologies in radar detection and examples were set so that it was common knowledge that such evasion techniques would not work, then speeding would decrease significantly. But is that in the best interests of lawmakers?
Most laws are based on what is fair, kind and noble. King Leopold II of Belgium may never have been kind, but he ruled Belgium by what he thought was fair and just law. Some may argue this point. While ruling Belgium, he became known as the Butcher of the Congo and just and fair notions of rule were abandoned in the pursuit of personal wealth. The atrocities ordained by this leader of the Congo are brutal to say the least. It is hard to estimate but he is said to have slaughtered between two million and 15 million Congolese and cut off the hands of villagers who couldn’t meet his rubber collection quotas.
He enforced laws in Belgium for a fair and just society, but elsewhere similar laws played no part. With the ability to exploit a nation’s people and its resources, King Leopold acted in his own self-interest. He is not the only person to do this. It is a common trait among some people. If Leopold treated the people of Belgium as he did the Congolese, there would have been a revolution; his own people would have killed him. It was in his best interest to treat the people of Belgium fairly (or as fairly as was necessary). In the Congo he was free to act in a different way; exploiting and pillaging to make himself richer and no doubt serve the interests of those he favoured.
In Australia we see these same patterns exist in government. Just 40 years ago, laws still existed that allowed for Indigenous children to be stolen from their parents. Today, such behaviour is intolerable. Times and attitudes have changed and the laws must change with them; gay marriage legislation is case in point, despite massive opposition in some circles.
When looking at regulations governing business, we can appreciate the essential principles of honouring agreements and meeting debts. However so many new laws are created in the guise of benefiting the people, that it becomes evident these laws are brought into play due to self-interest. Industries and even singular companies lobby for legislation that will help line the pockets of themselves, lawmakers, their friends and family…
Excerpted from an article originally published in the February/March 2014 issue of Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine. If you are a subscriber to Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine, you will receive this article in your February/March 2014 issue of TGR. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.