Thursday, 19 May 2011

There is a curious article

on the front page of today's paper about increased fines for "defected" cars. Police will now have much greater powers to hand out fines for minor defects. By minor I mean something like a blown globe in the brake lights.
What once incurred a $26 fee (and often just advice that the globe had gone) will now incur a fine of $120. It is, of course, a revenue raising measure. Of course the government also denies this although they admit to expecting to gain an extra $7.6m over three years.
My tricycle does not have lights, just the legally required reflectors. I do not ride at night. I also have the required brakes and bell. The tyres are in good order. I am not sure what the police could find wrong but I am sure that, if the government tries hard enough, they will eventually find something they can "defect" on my tricycle as well. No doubt they will also find fault with my father's gopher and a host of other things. It will help raise money to fill the coffers of our now bankrupt state.
Yes, all these things are revenue raising measures - but they are something else as well. They increase the control that others have over us. Our laws are becoming increasingly complex and increasingly refined. The answer to almost any "problem" now seems to be "a piece of legislation" within which there are "penalties" designed to shape our behaviour.
It seems to me what is now happening is that, rather than take increased responsibility for our own behaviour, we are required to take less responsibility. We are increasingly doing what we are told to do and in the way we are told to do it. The potential financial penalties will guide behaviour rather than an understanding of what is right or wrong or responsible.
This may be good for those who seek to govern us but I am not sure it is good for us. Let me just go and check the tyres on my tricycle.


Frances said...

Cat: I agree with you, but I think that there is another angle as well.
The parking department of our local town council recently decided to work on weekends as well as weekdays, although, except for pre-Christmas say, there is reams of available, convenient parking. Their given reason was that it was their job "to see that people did the right thing". That is, their focus was on people's conformity to rules, rather than on whether parking was easy and convenient, which it had been.
It seems that as general lawlessness increases - as it has here - the emphasis turns to petty nitpicking and control of basically orderly people. It all seems a bit "Peter Principle" to me.

jeanfromcornwall said...

It's a constant war of attrition that is designed to try and turn us into little identical economomic units. Yes, cars should be maintained as roadworthy, but it all gets so petty and inflexible. It is an attitude problem, and it isn't we peasantry what 'ave got it!

My daughter's friend lived in Germany for a few years - she was much tutted over for growing strawberries in the pots on her balcony - it was supposed to be geraniums.

widdershins said...

All this does is increase the behavior pattern of, 'do whatever you want to until you get caught'. Some days I get quite grumpy at the direction these silly 'oomins seem to be heading in.