Here’s something that bugs the hell out of me.
It came to the front of my consciousness today because I was working with a colleague who has a difficult contract situation on his hands and we spent a long time reading and studying the verbiage of the contract and all its clauses and addenda.
For the purposes of our discussion, a contract is defined as a written agreement between parties that 1) defines the purpose of the agreement, 2) what is to be done, 3) what the responsibilities of the each of the parties will be in the execution of the agreement and 4) what each party receives as a consequence of the agreement and 4) the term of the agreement.
Because I am a conservative who believes in the rule of law, I want laws enforced. I don’t agree to arbitrary and capricious enforcement where some people are subject to laws others are not. If the laws aren’t enforceable across the board, they are not good laws. Of course, due to the border issues brought about by the President’s move to actually enforce rather than ignore our immigration laws, I got into a discussion where I was accused of violating the “social contract” for not wanting to allow every Tom, Dick and Jesus free access to the United States.
But am I the one breaking the “social contract”?
First of all, what is the American “social contract”?
So, as I noted before, a contract:
1) Must be agreed between the parties, and
2) Must spell out the purpose of the contract, and
3) Must spell out what is to be done, and
4) Must spell out the responsibilities of the parties, and
5) What each party to the contract is to receive, and
6) How long the term of the agreement is to last.
What in America meets all these requirements?
Well, the closest thing to this is our Constitution, combined with our legitimately enacted laws. The Constitution is the body of the contract and the laws are all the clauses and addenda.
My protégé made a mistake last year – he wanted to be “helpful” and “fair” to the other party and as a result he allowed things to happen (his company did extra work to “help”) and now the other party has expectations that are outside the contract and they are using the “help” they were given in 2017 as a basis to essentially enforce new terms of the agreement that do not exist.
As a mentor of mine taught me as I began my career, when dealing with contracts, no good deed goes unpunished. Under a contract, what is “fair” is what is spelled out in the terms of the contract.
But who in this case is breaking the contract?
The answer is my protégé broke the contract by not obeying its terms. While the other party is now seeking to take advantage of the situation, they did not break the terms of the contract. They are not at fault here, they are just playing by the new rules established by the breach in 2017.
Like the business contract, the people who want to see the terms of our American “contract” followed to the letter are not the violators. The violators are the ones who do things outside the contract (or allow them to happen) and ignore the clear clauses and addenda thereto.
As I explained to the person with whom I was discussing the border situation, I am not the one breaking the “social contract”, in point of fact, it is he. I want to abide by the terms, he doesn’t – and his inability to understand that is what irks me.