Rules, rules, rules.

We are a nation of laws.  From the Federal level to the state, local, and even our HOA.  As rules and laws are developed, they start with an idea to make our community better (the spirit of the law). When the ideas are memorialized in writing, the words give us clear instructions for enacting and protecting them (letter of the law). Laws and rules are abolished or modified when they are obsolete (don’t leave your horse on Main Street after sun down) or society’s needs change (don’t block the electric car charging station).  It is the citizens’ duty to know and obey the laws and the government’s duty to uphold the laws.

Now, I said all that to say this, the law exists to make us better. It dos not exist just to be enforced.  For example.  Driving your car over certain speeds is dangerous, so speed laws were written. They are enforced to make the roads safer.  Depending on the conditions, most traffic cops write citations for more than 10 miles per hour over the limit. The fines increase the faster you go. The fear of financial penalty will make you drive slower and thus safer.  Now imagine if every car going more than 1 mph over the limit was stopped and the driver cited. The letter of the law allows for this but the spirit of the law does not.

As we draft new rules or enforce existing ones, I would like us to focus on the spirit of the law as we consider the letter of the law.

robert phillippi

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