Creating A Nation Of Lawbreakers

I don't know if you've noticed it, but I have. So has John Stossel.

What am I talking about?

A host of ever growing laws and rules that make it more difficult to be a law abiding citizen.

Something's happened to America, and it isn't good. It's become easier to get into trouble. We've become a nation of a million rules. Not the kind of bottom-up rules that people generate through voluntary associations. Those are fine. I mean imposed, top-down rules formed in the brains of meddling bureaucrats who think they know better than we how to manage our lives.

Cross them, and we are in trouble.

This problem is getting worse all the time. We hear stories about some poor sap ending up being fired or expelled or arrested for breaking some nonsensical and totally useless rule or law that no one in their right mind would ever think were necessary or desirable.

One of my pet peeves when it comes to this kind of nonsense? Zero tolerance policies.

I've written more than once how such policies are crutches for the weak willed pencil-pushers and bureaucrats too damn afraid or too lazy to apply a little common sense and make a judgment call.

Stossel also provides a few examples of zero tolerance laws that do nothing more than make the local policymakers look like imbeciles. My favorite is this one:

Ansche Hedgepeth, 12, committed this heinous crime: She left school in Washington, D.C., entered a Metrorail station to head home and ate a French fry. (Emphasis added) An undercover officer arrested her, confiscating her jacket, backpack and shoelaces. She was handcuffed and taken to the Juvenile Processing Center. Only after three hours in custody was the 12-year-old released into her mother's custody. The chief of Metro Transit Police said: "We really do believe in zero-tolerance. Anyone taken into custody has to be handcuffed for officer safety." She was sentenced to community service and now carries an arrest record. Washington's Metro has since rescinded its zero-tolerance policy.

Examples of that kind of stupidity and sloth abound. Yet Congress and the federal government continue to crank out new laws that criminalize the most trivial behavior, or in some cases non-behavior in an effort to control every aspect of our lives. And it's not just the feds, but state and local governments and institutions that have fallen into the same mindset.

How do we solve this increasingly monstrous trend?

I can think of a few remedies, including a constitutional amendment that requires that for every new law passed, an old one must be repealed. And not just any old law, but one of equal import and scope. If not for that condition we'd be seeing all kinds of new laws passed that end up being balanced by repealing trivial laws that have outlawed things like spitting on the sidewalk.

Another tactic is to file a class action suit against every trivial, wasteful, and mind-numbing piece of legislation or regulation that comes out of government at every level. Bury them in endless litigation, making it difficult, if not impossible to enforce.

One of the tactics I like best? Ridicule. Make it known far and wide the abject stupidity of any law, rule, or regulation that defies common sense and has a profound negative effect on the citizens and allows the bureaucrats from actually having to make any decisions about anything. Let the people know of the unintended consequences of imposing such laws, rules, or regulations and let them know who it is that created them. Show them for the lazy dunces they are.

A follow up to this last tactic: Vote them out of office or fire them. People this stupid or lazy shouldn't be holding positions of authority over any of us.