After the introduction of new technology, society goes through a recognizeable cycle. At first we experiment — everything is new and the sky is the limit. Then something arbitrarily bad happens and society creates countless laws as a result. Over-regulation becomes so hindering that movements are made against the authorities to slacken the rules because they are not reasonable once the paranoia subsides. Sooner or later democracy prevails and a middle ground is reached.
Right now I can spot many areas where we are in a period of over-regulation:
- Arguably, (and don’t judge me for this) affirmative action will at some point be unnecessary. I don’t think it has reached the point where it is over-regulation, however.
- Rape, sexual assault, and stalker laws are heavily weighted against males in reaction to years of neglect towards women.
- The nuclear power industry was crippled due to over-regulation during the 70s and 80s that made it virtually impossible to make money at it. Only now is the industry recovering from the effects.
- Hacker penalties for somewhat inconsequential tampering are greater than what would appear to be much more violent and disruptive crimes.
I can certainly understand why things are the way they are today in America. It is not at all surprising that years of neglect induce equal and opposite reactions by the government and community. In a way, it is like a societal immune system where you need to have a flare-up in order to preserve the greater whole. And while the flare-ups suck, these controlled fires are necessary for self-preservation.
On the other hand, our own immune system and natural flora can also be harmful when misused or misdirected. Bacteria that help us can easily kill us. Laws and regulations that protect some can also destroy others unjustly.
I hope societal judgement improves over time, so medium ground may be reached before any of the innocent pay the price.