June 22nd, 2004



One of my mom's frequent gripes with public schooling is that the teachers (and now even the principals) aren't given even remotely free reign to punish deserving kids. Apparently now the threat of lawsuits have reached the point where incredibly disruptive students are getting a few days suspension at absolute most.

Unrelated to this, police officers are receiving more and more draconian powers. Now it's illegal to refuse to give your name if you're walking down the street. If the popular media can be trusted (and I'm not saying whether it can or not, since that doesn't actually matter to this topic), corrupt police officers are becoming more and more the majority. While technically you still can't be arrested on absolutely no grounds, you can be arrested on the basis of "suspicion", and, let's face it, that's as close to groundless as it gets.

Mostly, the school system isn't that bad.

Mostly, the police system isn't that bad.

Unfortunately they're both getting worse. And also unfortunately, they're the same situation, taken in two different directions.

The school system is what you get when the authorities are required to submit to a Higher Power that doesn't understand what they're going through. All the Higher Power has to deal with are the people complaining about the punishments, and the easiest way to get rid of that is to get rid of the punishments. Problem "solved".

The police system is what you get when the authorities are bossless, or under a "big boss" that agrees with their situation. They see the problems, they see that once in a while the authorities really don't have the right power to deal. So more power is given - after all, we're the good guys! We won't abuse it. It's just to make our jobs easier. Problem "solved".

I can't think of a happy medium.

The problem is that dealing with complaints takes time and effort, and excessive complaints leads to excessive effort. Nobody can do a good job when they're spending 90% of their time justifying every small action they do. And yet, nobody can do a good job when they're not allowed to do anything controversial - and nobody can do a good job when they're so all-powerful that nobody is able to make enough of a nuisance of themselves to get bad decisions overturned. (People will make mistakes. That's their nature.)

I don't know of a solution to any of this, unfortunately. Can anyone think of a good solution that takes into account the facts that (1) evil people will find their way into positions of authority, (2) people (possibly with lots of money) will argue against well-deserved sentences, and (3) power corrupts?