The hid­den flaws in rules

> Most new laws look good on pa­per but ac­tu­ally are the cause of more prob­lems in real life

The Sun (Malaysia) - - GOOD VIBES -

HID­DEN LAWS are re­ally trou­ble­some. Take for ex­am­ple the re­port about a school which re­cently re­jected a woman who ap­plied for a job as a Span­ish teacher be­cause she could not speak Span­ish.

You might think that was a rea­son­able de­ci­sion, but the woman, Tracy Ros­ner, took out a law­suit against the Mi­ami school un­der an ‘af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion’ law guar­an­tee­ing jobs for eth­nic mi­nori­ties.

“Most new laws look good on pa­per but cause prob­lems in real life,” said reader Ali­son Au, who sent me the re­port.

So true. I told her about the prob­lem in Heng­shui, a city in the He­bei prov­ince of China, where of­fi­cials re­cently passed a law forc­ing all taxi drivers to switch to elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

This made the of­fi­cials ap­pear very for­ward-look­ing – but hor­ri­fied taxi drivers, since the city had no elec­tric car­charg­ing sta­tions!

Heng­shui’s taxi fleet might not be able to move, but at least it will look great.

More­over, cit­i­zens will have to go back to their bi­cy­cles, which will be bet­ter for their health and for the planet, so I guess the world needs more of­fi­cials like th­ese.

Mean­while, back in the United States, a reader re­ports that a new law in Ari­zona last week made it il­le­gal for any adult to touch the pri­vate parts of any­one un­der 15.

This sounded wise, un­til res­i­dents re­alised that all the ba­bies in the state now have to change their own nap­pies and give them­selves baths, or their par­ents can be ar­rested.

The le­gal sec­tor needs to copy the sys­tem used by tech peo­ple – have a ‘beta’ pe­riod where new laws are tried out. The of­fi­cial ob­jec­tion to this is that so­cial en­gi­neer­ing is evil.

I dis­pute this, since a great many of us al­ready do so­cial ex­per­i­ments on hu­man be­ings, a tech­nique known as “par­ent­ing”.

For ex­am­ple, since the Olympics, I have en­cour­ag­ingly re­ferred to my chil­dren as “Olympic hope­fuls”, a phrase much used on TV.

They are use­less at sport, but there’s no law against us­ing be­ing hope­ful, right?

The ad­van­tage of hav­ing a test­ing pe­riod is that we could try out much-needed laws which might be con­tro­ver­sial.

Case in point: There clearly needs to be a law say­ing that once a year, all singers need to sing in pub­lic with­out au­to­tune.

This would lead to the tragic ends of the ca­reers of Brit­ney Spears, Ri­hanna, Justin Bieber, Ke­sha, T-Pain, One Di­rec­tion ….

It would also mean that my chil­dren would stop talk­ing to me. Good news upon good news.

Be­fore I had kids, my favourite game was ‘rock pa­per scis­sors’. This is be­cause, as a writer, I loved the fact that this game recog­nised that pa­per should ac­tu­ally be clas­si­fied as a pow­er­ful weapon.

But now I have kids and they beat me every time, as the game shame­fully pe­nalises peo­ple who are loyal to any par­tic­u­lar com­mod­ity.

By the way, did I men­tion my kids are Olympic hope­fuls?

Nury Vit­tachi is an Asia-based fre­quent trav­eller. Send ideas and com­ments to life­style.nury@ the­

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