How bad laws happen

Through harmless good intentions:

A bill currently before Parliament could have a devastating effect on motorcycling, as Frank Melling reports

We all know that well-intentioned actions can sometimes bring unintended results. But few events in motoring history would be as spectacular as the potential fall-out from The Off-Road Vehicles Registration Bill proposed by MP Graham Stringer (Labour, Manchester Blackley).

That Mr Stringer’s basic idea was harmless enough is beyond dispute. Annoyed by feckless youths irritating his constituents on mini-moto bikes, he felt that if all these tiny motorcycles had to carry number plates then the police could arrest the miscreants and the nuisance would stop.

The law would essentially criminalize ownership of any motorcycle not registered and licensed by the government, including race motorcycles and museum pieces that never see public roads. This is a brilliant example of careless legislating and unintended consequences, but the bigger point is obvious. We legislate things that are good, or “harmless enough beyond dispute”. Everyone says “well done” and moves on with life. Then we cry foul when the resulting impact to liberty is too great.

Careless governing may be less troublesome than malicious governing, but it’s still objectionable. Laws have consequences. This is why governments should be ruled by a constitution. List the powers of the government and what it can do. Leave everything else to the people who possess those rights. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close to perfect as mankind will ever get when implemented diligently. Freedom isn’t free.

Have free society’s really lost this much of their commitment to liberty?

Via Fark.