Law for beginners - Part 2

This is a series of posts aiming to make the law more understandable to high schoolers. The target readers are junior high school and senior high school students who want to enter law school someday.

Each post has ten items. As the reader reads and jumps from part to part (from Part 1 to Part 2, Part 3, etc.), she is expected to start developing a clearer understanding of the role of law in our society and an understanding of what the law means and how the law applies to our everyday lives.

It is advised that each post be discussed by the reader with a law student, law graduate or a lawyer so that any question or confusion can be answered sufficiently. It is also recommended that the reader NOT proceed to the next parts unless and until the previous part is FULLY clear to her.

To read PART 1, click here.

[1] Going back to the 100-person world mentioned in Part 1 of this series, we move on and try to answer one important question. What if one person holds the powers to write the law, to implement the law and to judge and decide, all at the same time? The answer is "tyranny." She would be overly powerful and would be given too much discretion. Such a situation would be dangerous because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
NOTE: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. An observation that a person's sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases. The statement was made by Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (
[2] Imagine such a tyrant. She can pulverize all her enemies and anyone against her, even those who are simply unpleasant or irritating to her eyes, by writing a new law (legislative function) specifically targeting them and implementing this law (executive function) in order to cause their imprisonment or death. If any person wants to question the law for being unfair, unreasonable or oppressive, she can easily decide (judicial function) in her own favor. This is too dangerous.[3] So, what do we suggest to this 100-person world so they can avoid being governed by a tyrant? The answer is separation of powers. Give the legislative power to one person or group of persons. Give the executive power to another person or group. And, give the judicial power to a third person or group. This way, all these powers need not be concentrated in one hand. Also, the possibility of them being "in cahoots" with one another would be smaller.

[4] If these 100 people decide to give up their power to certain leaders who will exercise executive, legislative and judicial functions, that would be the very definition of government.

[5] At this junction, the reader should know that these 100 people are busy with their own lives. They cannot be leaders all at the same time. Likewise, leadership would be too unstable to sustain if they change their leaders every day just to make sure that everyone gets his turn. Government direction and government policy would also change too easily if that were the case.

[6] It is simple to expect that items [1] to [5] are a bit more complicated than the items in Part 1. For this reason, let's try to slow down a little bit from here. To summarize, these 100 people have decided to assign certain persons to be their leaders. These leaders will focus on writing laws, implementing laws and deciding/judging issues or fights.

[7] Of course, these leaders also need food for themselves and for their family. So, another problem to resolve would be how to pay them for working as leaders. Eventually, this 100-person world will realize that every member of their society should contribute a little bit of money or food and give it to the leaders so they can focus on governing, rather than hunting, gathering, fishing, etc.

This would be the start of taxation law.

[8] Let's imagine that this 100-person world has decided that only one person should do the executive job; he will be called the Ruler. 12 people should do the legislative job; they will be called Law Writers. 7 people should do the judicial job; they shall be called Deciders.

[9] In this government setup, the Law Writers will write laws that will benefit their society. These laws will be implemented by the Ruler who shall make sure that all members of society follow the law. In case of issues, fights, conflicts and controversies, anyone can go to Deciders and they will render a decision which the Law Writers and the Ruler should respect.

[10] The remaining 80 people will work every day and give a little bit of fruits and vegetables, sometimes meat, to the 20 leaders who will make sure that their society is peaceful, orderly and progressive.


To read PART 1, click here.

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