[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 12-8-10

rlanfear2 at bresnan.net rlanfear2 at bresnan.net
Mon Dec 13 21:24:24 MST 2010


Much political theory begins with Immanuel Kant’s moral imperative that we are always to treat others as an end and never as a means only. He meant that to treat others as ends, we are to honor others’ right to self-determination. Western liberal (free) democracy is built on the idea that everyone has the right to self-determination. The main restriction on behavior towards one’s self determination is when that behavior infringes on another person’s self-determination. Behavior which infringes on another’s right to self-determination is harmful behavior.

Much of the history of the evolution of law in a modern, liberal (free) democratic society is the story of the development of a body of laws which seek a balance between the maximization of freedom to self-determination and which do not unduly interfere with the same right of others.

Very generally, then, laws which restrict or allow certain patterns of behavior are meant to maximize the rights of citizens to self-determination while minimizing any behavior which interferes with citizens’ self-determination. Laws protect our freedoms to become the kinds of persons we want to be by restricting behavior which interferes with such freedom.

Inevitably, the idea arose that certain persons need to be protected from themselves, for some of their behavior is harmful to their healthy determination. Minors are among those, along with mentally and emotionally challenged people.

Bob is quite right, I think, when he says, “The trick is finding the right balance between what must be controlled by the state and what is best left to individuals to sort out.” But, the real trick is finding a balance which maximizes everyone’s right to self-determination while not harming anyone else’s right. Personally, I also believe that, where possible, laws need to promote community, wherein no citizen thinks exclusively of his or her own rights, but is equally concerned to protect the rights of others. Yeah, the Golden Rule is applicable but needs explication in this context.

Ray Lanfear
Bob’s Ward, whichever one that is.

From: Carole
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2010 3:52 PM
To: BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us ; csweetccr at yahoo.com ; pnooney at earthlink.net ; mloftis at wgops.com
Cc: missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Committee Update 12-8-10

Really, when you get right down to it, isn't it all about living the Golden Rule?


Carole



-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Jaffe <BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us>
To: Craig Sweet <csweetccr at yahoo.com>; pnooney at earthlink.net <pnooney at earthlink.net>; mloftis at wgops.com <mloftis at wgops.com>
Cc: missoulagov at cmslists.com <missoulagov at cmslists.com>
Sent: Mon, Dec 13, 2010 8:04 am
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Committee Update 12-8-10


I generally look at government as the entity we construct to manage the collective affairs of the community. This includes things like encouraging and enforcing behaviors the community wants encouraged and enforced. This isn’t an issue of passing responsibility from the individual to the state. If anything, the proposed ordinance is the opposite. It proposes making people responsible, in a heavy handed way, for a certain behavior.
I think what Patrick is saying, taken to an extreme, is that laws are unnecessary since each person should control their own behavior. That would be nice but it’s not very realistic and does not acknowledge the way we are all interrelated in society. My actions do affect my neighbors. The trick is finding the right balance between what must be controlled by the state and what is best left to individuals to sort out. Laws, and law enforcement are not nearly as agile and nuanced as individuals in solving a problem.
Possibly the frustration Patrick is expressing is over the tendency to try to delegate more and more of our behavior as things that the state should intervene in and control. Making a new law is not a way to say we are no longer responsible for our actions, it is an acknowledgment that we have failed to be responsible. In general, I would agree that we tend to think that by making a law, a problem will go away. This is rarely the case as laws tend to treat symptoms and not causes. If by making the law, we think we are relieved from the work of building a world where people do the right thing, we are fooling ourselves.
This may get to another point of disagreement. Is it even our job to “build a world where people do the right thing?” Some folks would prefer that we all just mind your own business. I’m more of the mind that my actions do in fact affect other people’s actions and like it or not this is an unavoidable law of the universe. This is the self serving side of social work or “healing the world.” Make a world where people are fulfilled, happy, and their needs are met so they don’t steal my stuff or hurt me. Making the world a better place is accomplished through our personal actions and the work we do for the community, and a number of other things. Making a law is the biggest, bluntest, and easiest to grab tool in the tool box.

-bob




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From: Craig Sweet [mailto:csweetccr at yahoo.com?]
Sent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 9:53 PM
To: pnooney at earthlink.net; mloftis at wgops.com; Bob Jaffe
Cc: missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Committee Update 12-8-10

Is it not the responsibility of government to punish people that act irresponsibly and break a law? And is not a point of punishment to be a deterrent to bad behavior by others? It seems to me there is a shadow of an attitude hovering over this discussion and that attitude is it's okay for me to give alcohol to teens because I'm a responsible person and s0 long as I think I'm a responsible person, where's the harm?



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From: Patrick Nooney <pnooney at earthlink.net>;
To: 'Michael Loftis' <mloftis at wgops.com>; 'Bob Jaffe' <BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us>;
Cc: <missoulagov at cmslists.com>;
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Committee Update 12-8-10
Sent: Mon, Dec 13, 2010 12:13:48 AM
I agree. There has to be a limit to which SOCIETY, CHURCH and GOVERNMENT
control behavior. People, whether parents or children or neither, take full
responsibility for their behavior regardless of what it produces. The only
responsibility that SOCIETY, CHURCH and GOVERNMENT owes to people is to
inform them of the consequences of their actions and behavior. Once that is
known and everyone implicitly acknowledges, it becomes solely the individual
choice. Whatever social, religious, legal or economic consequence then
becomes the individual to bear.

Granted we have the familio-, socio-, religio-scars to bear, but we have to
accept the individual act, the individual choice, to behave. The criteria
that distinguishes us from the general animal kingdom is the ability to
choose, regardless if it is wise or not. No other animal is capable of
choice beyond mere survival.

People who drink, whether by rational choice or some obscure psychological
or peer-pressure excuse, deliberately choose their action. Parents likewise
choose who support such behavior.

Bottom-line is that parents and children must choose responsible behavior.
It is not ABSOLUTELY NOT society's and government's responsibility.

----- Patrick




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