I never aspired to be a law-abiding citizen. I still don’t aspire to that, honestly. To me, “law-abiding” sounds like “obedient”, and I am an unrepentant defiant, a non-conformist. I don’t do things for the approval of others and am not strongly discouraged by their disapproval. When a “lawmaker” in an expensive suit tells me to do something or not do something, my response is “why?” or “why not?”. He wouldn’t do what I told him to do. He didn’t ask me about whether I something should be a law or if I thought he should be able to make laws. Seriously, what IS the warrant, the underlying basis for them to tell me what to do, in many cases long before I was born and/or long after they are dead?
Laws are supposed to work for the common good, but they tend to affect minorities more heavily. Let’s look at a few examples:
A law against automobile theft affects automobile thieves (a small subset of all thieves) and automobile owners (a subset of the general population). Well, what do I care if someone steals a car? What do I care if someone’s car is stolen? Not my problem, so is the law really enacted on my behalf?
Child abuse does not affect me, as I am no longer a child. I could commit child abuse, but in that case, I would probably be strongly against anti-child abuse laws. If I wanted myself punished for an act of child abuse, I could punish myself, regardless of a law or no law.
Insider trading, this is a good one. It pertains to what you can know when you make certain financial decisions. And, who is harmed by a trader knowing more than he is supposed to? His competitors! To put it in every day terms, if you know a car will hit you but have already decided to cross the street, you cannot change your mind. How does this serve anyone, letalone everyone?
We can see pretty clearly that some laws are not really intended to serve the greater good. Even in cases where laws restrain small groups to protect large ones, shouldn’t we wonder if that is right, if that is just? Should tall people be barred from playing basketball? Should beautiful people be restricted from competing with ugly people for movie roles and modeling jobs? Should there be a law that good drivers cannot hold jobs driving professionally? Such a law would make sense from the standpoint of a bad driver who wanted a job driving, and that is the crux of the problem.
Laws are supposed to promote good and inhibit and redress harms. But, what if they don’t? They are supposed to make society better and prevent it from getting worse. But, what if they do the opposite? What if they were intended to do the opposite?
There is a saying that the best weapon to use against an enemy is another enemy. Laws, many of them, work on that principle. The police, by default, are the “other enemy”, but laws are more effective when more groups are willing to help enforce them. Mostly, though, we leave actual enforcement to the police, the military, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, traffic lights, stop signs, etc. Only in rare circumstances, when confronted with criminals or crime directly, do we really consider “the greater good”, which in these circumstances just happens to equate with saving our own stuff or protecting our own person.
As we can see, laws are not really for the greater good. They are for the lesser good. They are a political weapon that one person or group uses against another person or group. Let’s look at some examples:
Theft is the taking of objects of value from one person by another. But, lets look a little closer. Are most people thieves? If they are, then how do places like Wal-Mart stay in business?
Every time I patronize a Wal-Mart or Target or some other commercial retailer, I see people, lots of them, a good percentage of whom are apparently in need of something, for whom money IS an object, and who are supposedly willing to commit theft. You would think such businesses would face rampant shoplifting and couldn’t keep their shelves stocked, letalone turn a profit.
Try this narrative: Anti-theft laws mostly protect thieves from other thieves. After all, places like Wal-Mart don’t exist to supply your needs. They exist to take your money. They do that by giving you something less valuable in return.
Auto-theft laws? Ask yourself why there should be any special laws for stealing one kind of valuable item versus another kind. Then, consider the amount of revenue automobile traffic produces. People with cars are people with jobs that pay taxes, get traffic tickets, participate in commerce, etc. Any smart politician would want to protect his cash cow from other people trying to milk it or harm it.
Murder: Does there really need to be a law? If there was nothing inside a person that innately guided them not to murder, then they probably need more than just a law to ensure that they are restrained.
“Thou shalt not kill.”, “Thou shalt not steal.”, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” etc. These are not laws so much as they are statements of principles. The problem is their ambiguity. To follow the letter of these or any law at all times, under all circumstances, is not practical. It might be useful to just state, directly, the reasoning behind the law . . .
People shouldn’t die.
People should be able to keep what they have earned.
Men shouldn’t want to fuck my wife.
If we take a closer look at the principle that “Men shouldn’t want to fuck my wife.”, we might take issue with . . . it. But, here’s the thing: Do you want to antagonize God by wanting to fuck my wife? God would be a powerful “other enemy” to have arrayed against you, and all just for wanting to stick it in my domestic partner. Eternal damnation, unimaginable suffering, hellfire, brimstone, and my wife isn’t even a good lay. Don’t do it. And, by “do it” I mean “want to do it”. Therefore, don’t want to do it.
Yeah, so, if we state certain laws as principles, they sound utterly ridiculous and the “other enemy” i.e. the police would laugh in our face if we tried to have them enforced. (We might have to resort to making up an “other enemy” out of thin air.) Such “laws” would be politically untenable.
You should not fuck someone’s stupid daughter just because she is willing.
You should go away when nearby property owners tell you to.
You should wear clothes.
You should give money to the people who wrote this sentence.
You should not burn stuff.
Stating principles makes it easy to understand and decide whether we support a law, which is exactly why we don’t state principles, because if you understood and decided for yourself, politicians could not trick you into doing and supporting things that were only in theirs or their cronies’ interests or that were in conflict with your interests. Hence, politicians obfuscate. Here’s one of my favorite “laws”: You should never fight back when we are attacking you, not even if we are wrong or are killing you.
One more: You should not make people think they are about to die.