Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Criminalizing everyone

My father once pointed out that 1913 was a bad year for our country. Prior to 1913 Congress was motivated to close before the hot, muggy summers. They would be in session for a couple months, pass a few laws, and then return home to escape the heat.

But in 1913 air conditioners were installed and Congress could pass laws all year round.

Congress has passed so many laws that most of us break the law monthly, maybe even weekly or daily, without ever knowing it. Criminalizing everyone explains this problem:

"You don't need to know. You can't know." That's what Kathy Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother of eight, was told when she tried to ask court officials why, the day before, federal agents had subjected her home to a furious search.
The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris' longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.
The six agents, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with - get this- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Kathy and George Norris lived under the specter of a covert government investigation for almost six months before the government unsealed a secret indictment and revealed why the Fish and Wildlife Service had treated their family home as if it were a training base for suspected terrorists. Orchids.


The article later explains:

Mr. Norris ended up spending almost two years in prison because he didn't have the proper paperwork for some of the many orchids he imported. The orchids were all legal - but Mr. Norris and the overseas shippers who had packaged the flowers had failed to properly navigate the many, often irrational, paperwork requirements the U.S. imposed when it implemented an arcane international treaty's new restrictions on trade in flowers and other flora.

What this country needs is fewer laws, not more laws.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

Technorati tags: government, reform

1 comment:

HomeSchoolCollegeCounselor said...

Amen! America also has more prisons per person and any other country. George Orwell would be proud.