Back in the day when I served in the state legislature, I often remarked in my speeches that the six most dangerous words in Ohio are “there ought to be a law…” We are over-lawed (new word?). In other words we have too many laws. What we need are accountability and responsibility. If you hurt someone or their property because you were negligent or intentionally destructive, then you should be held accountable. As an example, if you’re texting, drinking or under the influence of prescription drugs and you crash into another car, you should be charged with negligence and failure to maintain control.
Why is it necessary to have traffic laws that ban driving while drinking, driving while texting or any number of potential distractions or performance degraders? If they are necessary, we should include driving while drinking coffee or eating. We might also include shaving or applying makeup as tasks that should be prohibited while one is operating a motor vehicle. There are even more activities that could or should be banned while driving such as reading, talking to a passenger, adjusting the radio or CD player, or picking one’s nose. I have witnessed every one of these distracting behaviors while driving. It isn’t pretty out there, folks.
Obviously as the clever readers you are, you have discerned that I am disturbed by the proliferation of laws that our legislators and regulators have thrust upon us. It is a common practice among despotic or totalitarian governments to pass numerous laws so that nearly every citizen breaks some of them and then selectively enforce them. This bi-polar approach causes the populace to be fretful and fearful but allows the leaders to dole out favorable treatment for friendly elites. For example you may be charged for munching on an Egg McMuffin while pursuing your morning commute, but the police may have strict orders to ignore the Assistant to the Associate Deputy Secretary of Secretarial Assistants when she rabidly consumes a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats while scampering down the freeway at 20 mph above the legal limit. Lots of laws create a maze of regulatory tape that is impossible to navigate without violating one or more of them…that is “soft tyranny.” The government doesn’t throw you in the clink for no reason, but they do create a multitude of trip wires to legitimize your incarceration.
Paranoia is not a typical condition for me, but the profusion of laws, rules and regulations that impact our behavior, our commerce and our daily lives have caused me to become extremely skeptical about our government’s commitment to individual liberty. For now…if we violate a number of the “gotcha” regulations, we are fined. If enough people systematically fail to follow the proscribed rules, it seems probable that harsher penalties may be employed. There are so many fronts where Big Government is attacking the people that this one may seem trivial, but it can lead to hard tyranny as the government and its big-government supporters and enablers seek to wield control---for our own good….of course.
Too many laws lead to confusion, so why not streamline the criminal code to identify the broad categories of unacceptable activity. The penalties, if any, could be based on outcomes rather than law enforcement personnel seeking to interdict every potential violator. If you drive and you harm someone or their property while negligently distracted, you must pay restitution, fines and jail time if appropriate for the offense and the damage. It shouldn’t matter what activity led to the negligent distraction. It’s the result of the negligence that generates the penalty. As someone who cherishes my liberty, I resent the nitpicking package of laws and regulations that have invaded our lives. As someone who believes strongly in accountability and responsibility as necessary for citizenship, my resistance to the plethora of controlling rules grows greater every day. The Nanny State mentality has drifted from our social welfare policies into law enforcement. It sickens me.
It has been thirty years since I first began uttering the line about “there ought to be a law.” Given the nature of our ineffective, inefficient and dominating government today, those six words may not be the worst…the most evil. They are still noxious and still toxic. We have too many laws. We have too many constraints on our freedom. We must be responsible for our actions, our behavior and our stupidity. When the law becomes too complex, it can become abusive. Liberal progressive socialist busybodies love laws because they narrow the parameters of our liberty. The lefties assume that we are too stupid to live without the benign intervention of the government. They do not yet realize that we may be too angry to live with it.
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