Monday, August 15, 2011

Community Solidarity and Regulations

The Forward has a piece on adherence to regulations.  In sum, a village in NY which is inhabited by Hasidic Jews has a long history of ignoring state and municipal fire codes. I think this is the way democratic politics works.  In cases where a geographic area is dominated by one group, the group runs things its way and ignores laws and regulations with which it disagrees.  Sometimes we recognize things legally, as in giving some sovereignty to Indian tribes.  Or we make exceptions for religions, as with making provisions for the Amish schools, conscientious objectors, and taxes.

I'd also link this phenomena to the Lord Acton adage: "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."  I suspect the Hasidic Jews described in the Forward piece would argue that, because of the way the community operates, there's less likelihood of dangerous fires and less need for fire codes.  But in the absence of a significant group of voters willing to agitate for enforcement, the community will rock along unless and until there's a lethal fire.

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