Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 410, March 25, 2007

"Every boy or girl should have a .410!"


Law Pollution
by Kent McManigal

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Recently, I heard a politician mention that "America is a nation of laws". When I hear that phrase, I understand that the speaker has no moral compass at all. Every nation, by definition, is "a nation of laws". Germany was in the 1930s, the Soviet Union was during all of its existence, and America is today. Big deal. The problem arises when most, or even any, of those "laws" are counterfeit. This is the state America finds itself in today: a state of "law pollution". It is easy to shrug and say "enforce the laws we have instead of passing more". That is the normal "conservative" cop-out. The real patriot will say to stop enforcing the "laws" that are aimed at regulating something other than actual force or fraud; you know, the counterfeit ones. Then the amoral state-worshipper will whine: "If you don't enforce one law, where will it end? Which law will you stop enforcing tomorrow?" How about all the ones which are counterfeit? Who, other than a control-freak, could have a problem with that?

It makes me wonder: do laws solve problems? Do they cause more problems? I am not being facetious here, but I am truly looking for any instance of a law being passed that actually solved a problem. Not a problem caused by a previous law either, (like "shall issue" concealed carry laws reducing crime rates), nor an authorization to punish someone for a crime. A case (or cases) where there was a real problem, and then a law was passed, and the problem was gone. Has it happened? Can it happen? I think that "Bill of Rights Enforcement" would truly solve a lot of problems, but even this is simply a case of cleaning up the mess made by all the counterfeit "laws" that have been foisted on us.

I know there is a huge chasm between "legal" and "right". I am not a lawyer so I do not pretend to have any expertise in legal matters. What some may call "simplistic", I think of as "cutting through the crap". I also believe that the "law" has lost most of its relevance to "right and wrong" precisely because it has become so convoluted and self-contradictory that it requires legal scholars to decipher.

In my view, laws should be easily understood by the average person in a particular culture. "Average" means that this particular person would probably seem rather dull-witted to most experts who concern themselves with "legal matters". If a law requires panels of judges or law-firms to interpret and rule upon, then it is too complicated to be useful in day-to-day life. I have had lawyers admit to me that they have very little understanding of laws outside of their direct area of expertise. How then could a government expect you and I to understand the laws which they insist we obey to the letter? I don't think that most of these "laws" were put in place in order to destroy our lives; most were probably proposed with good intentions, but I do think that destruction of lives has been the primary unintended consequence that has come out of it. Plus, in the case of "laws" which attempt to regulate something other than actual initiation of force or fraud, they have no ethical standing to begin with. They are "counterfeit" just as surely as if I were to run dollar bills off my home printer. Having the appearance of legitimacy does not make something legitimate. "Legalese" does not make a "law" legitimate.

Someone made the comment to me that my simplistic views on "laws" can't work in today's society because we no longer live in the 13 original colonies, but in 50 states with a multitude of jurisdictions. I think this is an example of inverted thinking. The more people you try to apply the "law" to, the less specific it must be. This could be called the "simplest common denominator" legal theory. You can't declare that all people must be 5'6" tall and weight 200 pounds. Human variances make such declarations absurd. It is also just as ridiculous to declare that people are allowed to vary between 5' 1" to 6'4" tall, but must get a permit for anything outside this range. You must accept that people are different, and have different values. As long as they do not aggress against others or defraud them in any way, you must leave them alone to live their lives as they see fit. Doctors have a principal precept which states "First, do no harm". If it is your intention to write, pass, or enforce laws, you have an obligation to make the exact same pledge: "First, do no harm".

As I have said many times in the past, I don't care if you pass laws from sun up to sun down "legalizing" some criminal action such as taxation, victim disarmament, or "no-knock raids". A "law" will never make those things right. The claim that I am incorrect for thinking this way is a symptom of how far from free our society has fallen.

Kent McManigal is a Presidential Candidate. See:

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