Monday, 8 July 2013

"Check The Receipts"

"If the Executive Yuan, as the nation’s Cabinet and highest executive authority, has lawfully exercised the powers exclusively invested in it, then how can subordinate bodies like the Interior Ministry’s urban and rural planning division and local governments overturn its instructions or add their own conditions and restrictions?"
This little paragraph was written by a lawyer, Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) in an op-ed for today's (Monday's) Taipei Times. My immediate thought on reading this was "well, shouldn't a lawyer know?" I wonder whether it was in fact Wu and his Cabinet back in 2010 that exceeded their legal authority...

Regardless of the sordid political details, the point is that the empowerment of government agencies to act in the "public interest" is institutionalized in nature, whereas the protection of people and their property rights is left to the uncertain, short-term and discretionary intervention of politicians. The direct implication of this is that nobody in Taiwan has any "rights" - there are only contingent permissions which may be revoked if and when they obstruct the designs of politicists with access to the State's predatory apparatus.

The protection of individual rights is a problem of institutional design, not a problem of electing the right personalities.

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