Signs of Decline

by kelly

Urban Fishing Rules
Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

The lawyer in me appreciates a finely coordinated set of codified rules, but knows that they are rarely either coordinated or enforced.

The libertarian in me knows that that a society that imposes too many rules, as our prolific governments do today, at all levels, simply causes, by definition, widespread rule-breaking.

And so, I find these signs in the park mildly amusing but quietly unfortunate.

A majority of the people who frequent this park don’t speak English natively, if at all.

So the laws announced in these signs result in the creation of multiple violators – citizen and otherwise.

I have to find the quote I’ve bookmarked at work – it cites Plato on how prolific legislation is a sign of a society in decline.


Notice in the Park
Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

The rules on these signs may have been better observed at the time of their original drafting. But today, I fear, they are reminders that our country is sliding toward lawlessness as simple a result of suffering under too many laws.

3 Responses to “Signs of Decline”

  1. Editor B Says:

    I’d like to see that Plato quote!

  2. Kelly Says:

    Turns out I was remembering a paraphrase (of Plato’s Republic), from this article:

    The summary paragraph I like is:

    In his Republic, Plato (429–347 bc) argues that it is the mark of a badly governed society to need constant rafts of legislation. He likens such societies to the sick, who imagine that they will get better by stuffing themselves with varieties of medicines, when they should be changing their way of life instead.

  3. Kelly Says:

    I found a copy of the source dialog, here (toward the bottom of the page):

    Some of it is quoted here:

    -I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about them on good men; what regulations are necessary they will find out soon enough for themselves.
    -Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the laws which we have given them.
    -And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on for ever making and mending their laws and their lives in the hope of attaining perfection.
    -You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having no self-restraint, will not leave off their habits of intemperance?
    -Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they are always doctoring and increasing and complicating their disorders, and always fancying that they will be cured by any nostrum which anybody advises them to try.
    -Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this sort.
    -Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth, which is simply that, unless they give up eating and drinking and wenching and idling, neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amulet nor any other remedy will avail.