viernes, 1 de noviembre de 2013

Legislating for the minority: Always the same mistake.

This week alone I have witnessed first hand one example and read about another of the mistake it is to pass legislation for a minority.
In my hometown of Bogota the mayor decided (by himself, mind you) to kick to the curb the private waste collectors and order that the city handle the task. With no infrastructure, no know-how, no staff and no equipment, the city spent nearly three full days with its streets filled with trash, not to mention the rodents and other pests.
The problem here is trying to satisfy the sector of the population that is both a minority and was not asking for anything different than what they had: the recycling community. These people had a system, which was working for them. Also, it was providing a service to the city. But then, overnight, with no prior consultation, the mayor destroyed that system and attempted against the public health by exposing the city to all that waste. The model has failed here in its very implementation, and not because of the model itself, but because of the scope it was given. The minority that was affected in this case was a relatively invisible one. A minority that was not claiming for any right or had any problems with the way things were working out. Yet a whole legislation was launched seeking to benefit those who were not asking for it. The administrative and public health costs have been too high to pay.

On the other hand, the Newtown massacre happened. And it happened because US legislation, based upon the Constitution, regarding ownership of firearms has just been too lenient. The right to defend your home is good and necessary, but when your country’s culture enshrines unchecked freedom, the right to own firearms becomes a mere expression of personality, and not an earned right for emotionally stable individuals with busy minds. Once again, legislating for the minority has caused painful, unmeasureable social and public consequences. For not only do firearms owners feel entitled to their right to own them, but feel striped of their fundamental right to defend themselves, which is another way of saying that a people who proclaim their faith in government, democracy and institutions does not actually trust them to shelter them and their freedom.

What can be drawn from all this is that as people and times change, so should legislation. But also, that when a model works it must be upheld, like the waste collection model. The firearms model, however, has proven to have failed. Specifically, firearms are to be wielded by government officers who have been appointed to defend the country, not by just about anyone who wished to defend their cornfield, and will wind up shooting up children out of boredom.

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