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June 04, 2004

I've often said that official policies are intended to substitute for rational thought. This is not to say that leader-generated policies are necessarily ridiculous, but when you let bureaucratic hacks and lawyers into the policy-making process, there is little or no check on their pettifogging micromanagement of the lives, behaviors and activities of the people subject to their dictates.

Am I wrong? Consider some of the policies that have issued forth from the HR department at your place of employment.

Consider also the ridiculous "zero-tolerance" policies so prevalent in public schools today. Were it not for an "official policy," perhaps the people in charge in the following situations might have acted differently:

A sixth-grader gets suspended because of a science project. The project involved cutting an onion. He brought a kitchen knife to school. Bad sixth-grader.
A third-grader has a brother serving in the Army in Afghanistan. The proud third-grader draws a picture of his brother. The drawing shows his brother with a gun. Suspended.
(Examples lifted from today's Neil Boortz column.)

These policies are ridiculous in the most literal sense of the word.

In certain cases, "well-meaning" bureaucrats came up with these policies after a few highly-publicized school shootings, as if laws against murder didn't already exist. As if a law is going to stop someone intent on doing mischief or harm. As if a "policy" is going to scare miscreants into behaving.

Boortz approaches the problem from a different angle than I do - his concern is with the effect of these policies. He didn't intend to address the root cause of the problem.

So why these policies? One word: lawsuits.

The Law used to be a (mostly) noble profession. In many respects, it remains so. I could point you to lawyers I know who maintain the highest ethical standards, and who provide valuable service, whether it is negotiating a contract or drawing up a will.

Sadly, too many lawyers these days look at the "Esquire" after their names as licenses to print money. Something should be done.

I burned my hand pretty badly the other day, but one thought never crossed my mind: who can I sue, and how much can I get?

Perhaps I need to have a zero-tolerance policy for charcoal and bourbon.

Posted by Russ at 04:11 PM, June 4, 2004 in Idiots

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