As Americans, many of us were taught that we are a nation of laws, and that was assumed to be a good thing. Of course some laws are completely necessary. Taking the property of others without their consent and physically harming others should be against the law. It has been a long standing mantra that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”
If you ask a lawmaker how many laws currently exist, it is most likely that they do not know. There are thousands of federal statutes that impose criminal sanctions. There are millions of regulations nationwide which also carry criminal penalties. Does anyone else come to the same conclusion that there is something wrong when almost everyone commits crimes unintentionally simply in the course of making an honest living?
Most laws are born from a good faith intent. An incident occurs which is viewed by someone as a bad thing, so someone aware of that incident decides to try to make sure that what happened does not happen again. Our enforcement today is very efficient and very aggressive. So aggressive that some visitors from other countries such as the UK, France, Canada, Russia, Germany, Japan, Austria, Sweden and more, are warned that visiting the USA requires diligence to avoid prosecution from myriad laws that are strongly enforced, for behaviors that are innocent in their native lands.
We cannot blame law enforcement for doing what we hire them to do. Sure there are pervasive issues in enforcement due to overzealous individuals, but if we were to think twice about making the law or creating the regulation, that would take care of many of the problems by default.
So with over 1,000,000 regulations in the USA, how is it that ignorance of the law is no excuse? Is it the outright intent of our government to make small business impossible? If everything we do in the pursuit of self employment is illegal, does it remove the option of self employment from our people? What will it take for us all to see the big picture, and the damage we are allowing via our own government?
It has been said that licensing is simply when government removes our right to do something and sells it back to us. I agree wholeheartedly. This is a vicious spiral against personal liberty. Here is a somewhat factual and somewhat fictional example of the pattern created with regulation and licensing:
1) The State of Texas demands that every computer repair technician in the entire state acquire a private investigator’s license to repair a computer.
2) In order to enforce this requirement, a new enforcement entity is created.
3) A new license is created for computer repair technicians to qualify as private investigators.
4) Definitions are put in place, such as “If you perform certain repairs without a private investigator’s license, or if you have your computer repaired by someone without a license, you can be punished by a $4,000 fine and one year in jail as well as a $10,000 civil penalty.”
5) License revenues are put toward financing the new enforcement division.
6) Fines are paid to that enforcement division.
7) The new enforcement division has enough revenue to hire more enforcers.
8) Enforcement gets more and more pervasive and unwilling to bend, as that revenue is now needed in order to sustain the new enforcement division.
9) The additional enforcement makes the division continue to grow in size and with that growth comes even more enforcement.
Do you see the problem?
By the way, the regulation used as an example is not fictional. How many computer repair technicians would be aware of this requirement, and even if they were, how many were actually qualified under Texas law to obtain a private investigators license? After all, To get that license, you are required to have a degree in criminal justice or perform a three-year apprenticeship under a licensed private investigator. All to fix computers? It looks to me that some poor person who paid for their education as a computer repair technician would lose their investment in time and money overnight with such a regulation.
So how many of these crazy regulations pop up that destroy the careers of hard working Americans? More than you would care to know.
“Regulated out of business” represents a growing cause of business failure in the USA. Why is it so important for government to create this landscape? Why is small business such a threat to government? I don’t know either. What this phenomena is creating is the environment that destroys lives for good.
If the only opportunities to support one’s family come from government or large businesses, and these entities exclude employment of a person with a record, and more and more Americans are getting criminal records due to excessive laws, regulations and enforcement (So far one out of four Americans now have criminal records), how are we to continue as a nation? What happens when one in two Americans have records… or two out of three…?
Something needs to happen. What needs to happen is the elimination of the majority of regulations, as well as the elimination of laws which create crimes with no victims. At this point, ignorance of the law is a real excuse. Once we reached the point that legislators are not aware of all the laws, we also reached the point that the people are held to a higher standard than those who actually create the laws.
All of this is a symptom of the real problem. Growth of government is directly proportional to reduction of personal freedom. I think its a good bet that the founding fathers did not include this in their plan for a nation of liberty and in which the people were also their government.