“A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.”
- H.L. Mencken
There are 27,000 pages of Federal code and many criminal offenses sprinkled in them. Most of these laws are malum prohibitum and not malum in se; in other words, they are criminal offenses because the government says they are. That enormous figure is the figurehead of the code, the respective executive agencies charged with interpretation and enforcement divine their own regulations and code. The EPA alone has 25,000 pages of Federal regulations comprising almost 15 percent of the total Federal corpus by some estimates.
Mordor does not even know how many laws there are now:
“Counting them is impossible. The Justice Department spent two years trying in the 1980s, but produced only an estimate: 3,000 federal criminal offenses.
The American Bar Association tried in the late 1990s, but concluded only that the number was likely much higher than 3,000. The ABA’s report said “the amount of individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions in the last few decades.”
A Justice spokeswoman said there was no quantifiable number. Criminal statutes are sprinkled throughout some 27,000 pages of the federal code.”
The numbers are staggering but the inherent madness even more so. The EPA is currently trying to bankrupt the good citizens of an Alaska town for non-criminal environmental offenses totaling in the tens of millions for a town of several thousand. Sometimes water can even be “too clean” for fish. This madness goes on every day.
No one sums it up better than Keith Richards in view of consensual crimes: “I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.” The governments seek to make victimless crimes punishable.
Take a look at these statistics. There are four times as many folks ensnared (not counting families and friends of the convicted) in the US penal system than the peak population of both criminal and political prisoners combined in the gulag system in the USSR. The Land of the Free has the highest per capita prison population on Earth.
I have written before about the size of the American criminal penal systems and the innocents and political prisoners ensnared in it. The sheer obscenity of so many laws dictated from on high that make no sense whatsoever to reasonable men (this was Blackstone’s expectation).
The Federal government has always been too large and has metastasized in the 20th and 21st centuries into a monster determined to destroy itself. I can only encourage any behavior that leads to its self-immolation. There was a recent town hall meeting in Alabama where a potential mining consortium just threw up their hands and said we will simply not open the mine due to the overwhelming burden of Federal regulation and oversight.
Those of you in business for yourselves can speak with aplomb on the sheer immensity of regulatory compliance and how it strangles the provision of goods and services in America.
It gets worse:
Occasionally, Americans are going to prison in the U.S. for violating the laws and rules of other countries. Last year, Abner Schoenwetter finished 69 months in federal prison for conspiracy and smuggling. His conviction was related to importing the wrong kinds of lobsters and bulk packaging them in plastic, rather than separately in boxes, in violation of Honduran laws.
According to court records and interviews, Mr. Schoenwetter had been importing lobsters from Honduras since the mid-1980s. In early 1999, federal officials seized a 70,000-pound shipment after a tip that the load violated a Honduran statute setting a minimum size on lobsters that could be caught. Such a shipment, in turn, violated a U.S. law, the Lacey Act, which makes it a felony to import fish or wildlife if it breaks another country’s laws. Roughly 2% of the seized shipment was clearly undersized, and records indicated other shipments carried much higher percentages, federal officials said.
In an interview, Mr. Schoenwetter, 65 years old, said he and other buyers routinely accepted a percentage of undersized lobsters since the deliveries from the fishermen inevitably included smaller ones. He also said he didn’t believe bringing in some undersized lobsters was illegal, noting that previous shipments had routinely passed through U.S. Customs.
After conviction, Mr. Schoenwetter and three co-defendants appealed, and the Honduran government filed a brief on their behalf saying that Honduran courts had invalidated the undersized-lobster law. By a two-to-one vote, however, a federal appeals panel found the Honduran law valid at the time of the trial and upheld the convictions.
This is a great omnibus example of so many things wrong with the system. And in the end, you and I and our children (Mordor on the Potomac borrows at least 40 cents of every dollar it spends to oil the works that enslave all of us) pay dearly for the shackles binding us.
In criminal law, Blackstone’s formulation (also known as Blackstone’s ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle: “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”, expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s. He is also the worthy who opined that ignorance of the law is no excuse as reasonable men apprehend it. No man of any intellectual merit could possibly be apprised of all the laws on the Federal books. This does not even speak to the secret laws whose merits we aren’t allowed to see because they are…secret.
Tacitus said ‘[t]he more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.” As with all governments, the US Federal government is nothing more than a manufacturing facility for generating tyranny. Liberty is its enemy. It is nothing more than a sophisticated program to fine, cage, maim and kill ALL citizens if they happen to fall afoul of the impossibly incomprehensible web of laws and regulations it vomits out on a perennial basis.
There is no reform or repudiation or referendum or reconstitution possible to remedy the vicious and wicked system of laws emanating the Federal government. The only path to redemption is its ultimate self-destruction at its own hands to join the ash-heap of history that the other empires have tumbled on to.
The unfortunate reality is that every one of us in America is moments from a police encounter or judicial decision that robs you of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There is no common sense to the law anymore. It is simply a means for a monstrous and unthinking bureaucratic machine to slowly crush everything in its path including our very futures. The answer remains: there is no government like no government.
“A country is in a bad state, which is governed only by laws; because a thousand things occur for which laws cannot provide, and where authority ought to interpose.”
- Samuel Johnson
“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.”
- Pierre Joseph Proudhon, quoted in The Match!