04 Mar 2006

Identifying a Fallacy

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Eric at Classical Values identifies the typical maneuver employed by statists to expand the definition of crime:

Existing laws don’t “work”! New laws are needed! I’m confused about what seems to be a recurrent pattern in this country. When there are laws against something, and these laws are not enforced, instead of enforcing the existing laws, there’s always a demand for new laws.Tougher laws.

It’s as if there’s some magical belief system that the tougher the law is, the stronger it is, and the more likely that human conduct will be deterred. Enforcement of existing laws never seems to enter anyone’s mind.

The point here is not whether I happen to agree with the laws. It’s just a recurrent pattern. The drug laws started as a tax measure in 1914, and ever since, they have become ever more draconian. Examples aren’t really needed, although the latest trend (now that they’ve run out of drugs to make illegal) is to criminalize precursor ingredients. So Americans are no longer allowed to buy cold medicine over the counter — all because it might be used to manufacture illegal drugs. What’s next? Glassware which might be used to cook drugs…

The pattern seems to be pass laws, ignore them, wait until the problem is huge, then pass draconian laws, plus new laws against conduct which resulted from the previous climate of non-enforcement.

It has long been illegal for felons to buy or possess guns, and to buy, sell, or transfer a gun to a felon. But felons buy guns all the time illegally. Which means that we need a crackdown on what? On perfectly legal purchases of guns by ordinary citizens.

Add to this the trend of sending in SWAT teams to perform routine law enforcement, and it’s fair to wonder whether the goal is to create a police state.

I hate police states — and I’m just wondering whether neglecting to enforce the law is one of the precursor ingredients.


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