Communities Must Create Standards, Not Governments

by Robert John Stevens, May 6, 2016

Suppose citizens collaborate and create standards and best practices such as those for safe electrical wiring or safe roads: Governments may be delegated the task to enforce them; however, standards and best practices rapidly change and market-driven forces dictate their acceptance, especially as new technologies are tried and proved or abandoned. Governments must then quickly recognize and adapt to those changes but how?

Drinking water quality standards are unscientific and must be established by communities and not chosen by governments to bless the water filtration industries.

It is impossible to measure the impact of one contaminant upon humans using the scientific method—there are just too many variables to hold one constant and measure its affects upon humans over their entire lifespan and then to consistently repeat the experiment around the world.

Open source software is self regulated. Proposals are made and then communities support or deny them. Some gain traction and others do not. People voluntarily work together to form and perfect standards.

Many standards compete. Others are so good they dominate; for example, HTML 5 and CSS 3 are domineering standards. Communities must choose standards for governments to enforce.

I can’t think of any reason for government to be in the business of creating or choosing standards. Perhaps the military is an exception. I can only envision government’s role in enforcing standards, and not be too quick to adopt new, emerging standards before they are proven.

When government policies change too fast it is probably because certain bureaucrats were paid by special interests; therefore, the admonition of the Apostle Paul still remains true, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:21. It is probably better to be one version behind than to adopt a standard before its mass acceptance.

The Goodness of Conditional Approval

by Robert John Stevens, May 5, 2016

I considered calling this article, “The Tyranny of Unconditional Denial.”

Suppose you submit an application requesting governmental permission to build on your private property after you’ve done your best to conform to their laws and ordinances. You are granted approval based upon certain well-stated conditions that you must resolve. That’s good government. It reminds me of the Mormon scripture:

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.—D&C 82:10

Instead, suppose you submit the same application but are unconditionally denied. You may have spent your family’s fortune and are now faced with an impenetrable roadblock. Should you rectify the situation, borrow money, incur whatever new costs are required and resubmit?

What if your government rejects your application again, presents you with another roadblock, or introduces a new roadblock just to thwart your progress? That’s bad government.

Now suppose instead the government upholds inalienable property rights—that your right to own property is God-given and existed long before governments were formed, and refrains from dictating what you can or cannot do on your own property as long as you are not harming your neighbors and taking away their rights, that’s better government.

While it is easy to create laws and ordinances, enforcing them requires the use of force—application denials, fines, liens, confiscation or even imprisonment. Considering property rights were really never delegated to the government, they have been usurped as laws were corrupted.

When lawyers dictate the actions in government you can expect tyranny. Using cunning and deceptive words and references to legal ambiguity, they may dictate approvals or denials based upon their personal whims and justify it either way by referring to the same written laws and ordinances.

If government approves one application upon certain conditions and denies another application because of certain conditions, you can be sure it is not a government of laws, and surely does not derive “their just powers by the consent of the governed.” When this happens it must either reformed by good men and women in leadership positions or abolished by the People.

—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. — Declaration of Independence