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Old 2013-07-12, 03:33 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
robocpf1
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Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


I would appreciate input from people in other countries that have large or politically powerful states or regions (Quebec in Canada, for instance, or the Basque in Spain).

In the US, we have a dual government system of both Federal laws (that affect everyone in the country) and State laws (that only affect people in that particular State). Both federal and state governments also have different political structure and power, but that's not what I want to get into right now.

Specific to the question at hand, you can have two completely different sets of laws between two different states. If you get pulled over for driving too fast in North Carolina, for instance, how fast you were driving determines what kind of offense it is. Just a few mph over the limit is an infraction, but if you reach...I think 15? mph over the limit, the offense becomes a serious felony.

However, in other states, for a simple speeding violation it doesn't matter how fast you were going at all - every iteration is still only an infraction, just a minor blemish on your record and not very serious.

So my question is, for the US (and I guess for any other country that utilizes this dual system) should we have some sort of Standardization between the states' different laws? Are there really things that, between different states, should be considered a grand crime in one state but not at all illegal in the next?
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Old 2013-07-12, 05:49 PM   [Ignore Me] #2
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Well in the US it's a double edged sword. On one hand the multiple laws allows us to experiment with different policies. On the other hand it also allows states to create laws that are destructive and purely for political gain. A big issue is the lack of oversight at the local levels. The smaller you get the easier it is to create laws that affect only a handful of people or companies and get away with it.

Ideally states should be taking notes on laws they pass that differ from other states and be ready to revert them if their hypothesis fails. That doesn't happen though in the US. We have legislatures that continually create laws for their own political gain without any consideration for the real impacts it causes.

Your example of creating different fines for driving has been an issue for a while. Instead of creating fair fines proportional to the damage they cause we have a lot of state laws that are using the system for profit. This is similar to how many states run for profit prison and prison companies lobbying laws with the intention of increasing capacity with stricter or more diverse laws toward petty crimes.

I'm personally fine with having different laws in different states. It lets people experiment with regulation reform for instance. That is reform going both ways. It's up to law makers to not be bribed though. The ability for a company to simply buy lower regulations within one state or bribe politicians with jobs if they lower regulations is a massive issue with the system. We need ethical law makers that know when they're being manipulated. Sadly there's always a few that will create any law for anyone and try to get it passed no matter the consequences just for political gain. For instance, "I got a new manufacturing plant built with 1000 new jobs! (I just had to lower some regulations on chemical storage requirements)."

It's also up to the federal level to set minimum requirements or maximums simply for sanity reasons. Things like minimum wage for instance since if it was up to some states they wouldn't have one allowing easy exploitation of workers.
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Old 2013-07-12, 08:58 PM   [Ignore Me] #3
Helwyr
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Originally Posted by robocpf1 View Post
So my question is, for the US (and I guess for any other country that utilizes this dual system) should we have some sort of Standardization between the states' different laws? Are there really things that, between different states, should be considered a grand crime in one state but not at all illegal in the next?
The examples you provided do demonstrate problems in a lack of standardization. However the solution of standardizing laws requires giving more power to a larger more centralized authority further removed from those it purports to represent. In short the solution is far more harmful than the problems it aims to resolve.

Regarding Quebec... Although I have little common political ground with PQ/BQ types I've always supported the Quebec separatists being able to break away from Canada. But just as Canada ought to be divisible, so to is Quebec. Unfortunately, Quebec nationalists have never shown any indication of willingness to offer what they demand from Canada to anglophone, First Nation, and other communities that would likely want to separate in turn from them.

Finally to expand on what Sirisian said, having independent States not only allows for experimentation, but more importantly choice at the individual level. This allows people to vote with their feet, and ensuring that bad corrupt systems are more apt to sink as people and businesses flee to other States. It's also especially important where people are very politically and culturally divided. Giving people the opportunity to live how they wish according to their values, rather than have an 'all or nothing' situation where one side imposes it's values on everyone else.
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Old 2013-07-12, 10:49 PM   [Ignore Me] #4
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Apply the US model to the entire world and it becomes far clearer. People and cultures vary too much to have universalism prevalent. Now many laws could very well work for everyone, but other laws not so much. You have to consider the local and regional incongruities.

Not to mention that people feel more represented at the local level.
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Old 2013-07-14, 12:39 PM   [Ignore Me] #5
Phantomdestiny
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Well i have quite bit of experience with the Spanish system . The "federal" system is just there to coordinate between the different autonomous regions of Spain but also to give help or move surplus of capital around .

In terms of the judiciary system infractions are indeed standardized in all regions because it allows judges and attorneys to move around the country without having to relearn a penal system.

The only differences in terms of law that comes to mind are the management of languages and their preservation as there is 5 official languages in Spain those are delt by the regions themselves. That lack of power by the regions is making some regions like Catalonia want to leave Spain because they believe that they give more then the rest akin to Texas in the United States . My personal opinion is that Catalonia much like Texas would fail as an independent state
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Old 2013-07-18, 08:18 PM   [Ignore Me] #6
sylphaen
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Is corruption equal everywhere ? Are cultures equal everywhere ? Are climates identical everywhere ?

I there was still a USSR, should the USA align to their laws or vice-versa ?

"Should" is not the right word to use, I believe. And if it was possible, wouldn't it mean a uniform world with a single unique culture ?

I understand you mentioned states and regions but overall, we could simplify those as cultures/nations belonging to a larger state due to history.

Would you consider Québec to be of French culture ? Anglo-saxon culture ?Canadian culture ? What about its indian people ? Are all Canadian provinces equally Canadian ?

In the end, legal-wise, it's a matter of: centralization or decentralization ? Then cultures and history decide how much of each force is applied (and they are not constant over time, just like people are not consistent over time).

The Austro-Hungarian empire was a mess.

Last edited by sylphaen; 2013-07-18 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 2013-07-19, 03:23 AM   [Ignore Me] #7
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Originally Posted by sylphaen View Post
Is corruption equal everywhere ? Are cultures equal everywhere ? Are climates identical everywhere ?
Well when we get to the point of a standard law system there will be a unified culture. Or at least a unified morality. As cultures begin mixing more there will be laws that are identical and pulled out as the basis for an objective law system. (Probably will be a few hundred years though). You can already find many objective laws that exist with varying punishments, like for murder. The big debate though with some laws is their current implementation. For instance, in the US we have states that are experimenting with the death penalty system. A huge part of that is cultural between regions. Same thing for say drug laws. Some states are going more toward rehabilitation methods rather than a purely criminal direction. We've already seen what can happen if the federal level is allowed to control that. We end up with prohibition and drastic decisions with no experimentation with alternatives.

The important thing is that a law system can't be forced. (An example being prohibition or Sharia law, though non-secular law systems are inherently flawed). Laws grow and evolve with cultures and it requires a lot of experimentation and discussion to find the best system. Having a purely centralized system would probably make change difficult. You don't have to look further than our current US legislature to understand how hard small changes are to make.

I think I'd say from my previous post that standardization is something that comes about naturally as independent states agree on issues. It's already happening all over the world slowly, but it's just not immediately obvious with more extreme issues.
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Old 2013-07-19, 04:18 AM   [Ignore Me] #8
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Re: Should states or regions of a country standardize their laws?


Originally Posted by sylphaen View Post
The Austro-Hungarian empire was a mess.
Very weak argument.

Because it was very decentralised, being a feudal state including freshly conquered/inherited regions and city states. I mean it included the Balkans after taking it from Ottoman occupation. The Hapsburgs were quite busy expanding/consolidating and in constant competition with Bohemia and other nearby nations while trying to integrate hundreds of local cultures. Which btw, today have merged laws to a far greater extend than when the Hapsburgs tried to start that. And of course that met with local resistance: power was being stripped from local (war)lords!

So was the Holy Roman Empire, BECAUSE it was highly decentralised and everyone competed for their own dominance.

But the Roman Empire? It had one legislation

Was the kingdom of Poland-Lithuania unsuccesful despite being wedged in between Rus, the HRE and Bohemia?

How come France with all its departments and all the local cultures (Norman, Burgundian, Breton, Cosmopolitan, Dauphine, etc.) can have one set of national laws?

In fact, standardisation of for instance the postal services by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I did a lot to help facilitate things within the empire! Having one currency within countries where before each city could have its own coin facilitated a lot of things as well.

Having the System Internationale, in other words, the metric system, is a bad thing now? I mean, there's actually aircraft crashes that occured because people had to convert to other measurement systems and put too little kerosine in the tank! If the system had been standardised, that would not have occured.


The same can be said for laws: the fast majority (95%) of laws can easily be standardised. If you look at the USA for instance, you don't have separate cultures in each state. You may have differences in which subculture is more dominant, but not exactly different cultures.



Amish, Mormons, protestants, indians, etc. will have to abide to the same road laws as the remainder of the state. (Sub)-culture is not a replacement for standardised safety tests. It is not an argument for differences in basic laws. The majority of values are shared by all people in the nation. On top of that there are those laws (like environment protection laws) that are transposed on them because it's been determined by experts in a certain field that outweighs public opinion. If public opinion and culture says "throwing chemical waste in the river, but only dumping it near the border so it flows accross it", then that isn't exactly fine because it's "local culture" or "not our problem". In fact, it may mean "culture" (habits, norms and values) are in need of change through enlightenment. Yet loads of nations use this policy to place annoying and polluting things on their neighbours doorstep. And loads of politicians use the culture argument to dominate other (sub)cultures within their realm.

In several muslem nations for instance, non-muslems had to wear specific clothing, they got extra taxes and in general were treated as second rate citizens (even if not burned like the catholics did to say the Cathars).

And yes, we had such issues with Germany putting nuclear power plants, NATO airfields (with airstrips aimed at the border) and heavy industry at the border of our nation, polluting our nation's air, ground and water, as well as France and Belgium putting toxic chemical plants on their borders next to a river that would flow straight to the Netherlands so they could dump their heavy metal and chemical waste somewhere cheap without creating a hazard for the own national populace. International laws took care of most of that.

Btw, speaking of road safety... US road safety testing is different from European and Japanese safety testing, because iirc Europeans focus on impacts on moving objects and pedestrians, while the US just test on stationary solid object impacts. Both have their merits and flaws, so STANDARDISE THAT and the requirements so you can compare all cars properly when they show a safety test score!




Standardisation is generally a good thing. Is universal suffrage unsuited for certain nations because the local culture is male dominated? Is separation of state and church a bad thing for muslem nations because only the minorities in those nations would gain protection from it?

Culture is a poor excuse for abuse of power. Culture dominated laws usualy lead to prejudice and discrimination, so they should not be a basis of standardisation. Principles behind laws should be non-arbitrary, fair and beneficial to all and trump culture.




In fact, if you want to see how it works when different laws apply in a federal nation... Look at Belgium and cry.

Last edited by Figment; 2013-07-19 at 04:26 AM.
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