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.