Day 17 – Are rules enough?

17 02 2010

Rulers, rule, ruled

After reading Al’s guest post and thinking about some of the hardships he’s faced on his various adventures I’ve got things into perspective a bit and have cheered up.

All my issues are of course gloriously first world problems. There are people undergoing genuine hardship in the world. People who can only dream of breaking a 2,500 calorie limit or of having the sort of life where they worry about taking regular screen breaks. In short, quit fucking whingeing, I thought to myself.

Today was a really busy day at work so I didn’t have time to explore any new rules. I did have time to worry about existing ones though. I have a niggling feeling that I’m at risk of missing my fish consumption targets. It’s really hard to remember everything so I’m having to check back on my food tracker to see what I’ve missed or I need. I need to eat a portion of oily fish and a portion of non-oily fish this week still. I also know I need to get two alcohol free days in. I guess tomorrow night will be one and Sunday the other. The thought of a booze free weekend is too awful to contemplate.

I met up with my upcoming best man tonight for 1.5 x 4% beers. He’s a tax lawyer and we had a really interesting chat. Stay with me, I promise it was. His entire business is built on trying to interpret and manage the rules in a beneficial way. I wanted to know whether he thought it was OK to do things that are ultimately detrimental for society but still within the rules. It was a slightly unfair question. He’s an agent acting on behalf of a company so is obligated to do what’s best for them. Although if that company has shareholders it’s ultimately obligated to them. So the buck stops with an individual somewhere along the line.

We chatted around the issue for a while but I think the conclusion we reached was that in business, rules are there to be interpreted and challenged but as a moral being they aren’t always enough, we need to have an awareness of what’s acceptable without rules to guide us. Our elected representatives have been in trouble recently for what we as a society consider immoral behaviour but very few of them actually broke any rules. The same with bankers.

So here’s the question: Can the rules ever keep pace with clever and inventive people’s ability to subvert and re-interpret them? Should they try? Our collective disgust at MPs excesses probably ensured that they wouldn’t do it again, regardless of any changes to the rules that have now been brought in. If the horse has already bolted, why are we bothering to bolt the stable door? I find it really interesting that we’re often clamouring for rules and guidance to help us but actually they don’t always do the job and can sometimes be detrimental. Maybe we just need to make a reasonable judgment about things and then adjust accordingly if that’s out of kilter with the prevailing wind of public opinion.

Maybe we should work on making things socially unacceptable rather than against the rules. A nice idea but would you want to trust it?


Weight 13st 11lb

Body fat 16.8%

Frustration 4

Infractions 9.5

Wellbeing 7

No new rules today




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