The strictest law often causes the most serious wrong. – Cicero
There are issues beyond just what some in the GOP think of immigration reform proposals that helped David Brat unseat [mc_name name=’Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001046′ ] and successfully win election to The House of Representatives from Virginia. He puts what it means to the citizen every time the Congress passes a law in beautiful perspective below.
“If you refuse to pay your taxes,” Representative David Brat recently noted, “you will lose. You will go to jail, and if you fight, you will lose. The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military.”
Every law passed gives the state more reason to send in the police. Pass enough laws and send in enough police and you eventually get a police state. This is true without any relation to whether the cops are bullies or noble-minded knights in blue, shining armor. When everything is pretty much illegal, the police are involved in just about every facet of your life. There are some things in life you want police to handle for you. There are other things that they have no particular business being involved in. Even if they are the best and most honorable members of the force. You simply can’t have big government without a police state.
Charles Cooke makes an interesting argument that Eric Garner would still be alive, if big government could mind its own stinking business. Here’s how the gentleman argues.
1) The state of New York wished to regulate the sale and taxation of cigarettes; 2) Eric Garner wished to violate those regulations; 3) As a result, he was subjected to the full force of the law; 4) In the process of its application, he died.
One can easily argue that Eric Garner had no business breaking the law. You’d have a point. Even if Eric Garner wasn’t exactly a Rhodes Scholar on contraband laws, ignorance of the law is no excuse to resist arrest. Fine and dandy, once the law is passed and on the books; but does anyone ask themselves during debate over these laws “Say, is this really worth choking the Bajeebus out of some guy just so we can regulate X?”
Has anyone not on the Board of Directors for Phillip Morris done a cost benefit analysis on whether a law against contraband cigarettes really justifies choking some guy out? Assuming Eric Garner obeyed meekly, paid his fine and promised never to sell a cigarette again until he found employment with the appropriate oligopoly, would America be a better, freer nation?
And now that Eric Garner is dead and the Mayor of New York City is upset, the NYPD is upset and Eric Garner’s family is upset. Al Sharpton is smelling the profits. He has people out closing down bridges and major highways in the middle of rush hour. But on the other hand, Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds can rest assured that nobody can sell a cancer stick that isn’t FDA regulated. Eric Garner’s family has a point. The Police Union has a point. The NYC Government – not so much.
When laws get passed, policemen have to enforce them. If it turns into a life and death confrontation, the police have to kill or be killed. If Eric Garner thinks a stupid law is stupid and chooses to resist arrest as a result of this conclusion, the policeman still has to kill or be killed. The police officer has to kill or be killed, even if Eric Garner is intellectually and morally correct that the law in question is pointless and stupid. The law is the law. The police enforce it. They are not legislators. They are not paid to decide which laws are smart and which ones are stupid or corrupt.
And that’s what truly makes the death of Eric Garner a tragedy. A law passed by a corrupt government to protect an industrial monopoly was the cause of Garner’s confrontation with law enforcement. Unlike a lot of the activist community, I don’t blame the officer here. He had a job to do. It was a dirty one, but he was paid to bring in his collar. If there’s a law against having unpolished shoes on Friday, I’d better get the polish out, pay my fine, or the police are entitled to bring me in. The question that needs to be asked is what societal purpose is served by having such a ridiculous law?
That’s a question everyone who favors a bigger government needs to ask themselves every time they pass another intrusive law or regulation. “If people don’t go along with this, is America a better nation if the cops make all dissenters take a dirt nap?” Could a death be more pointless than the one Eric Garner recently died? Was the government who passed that ridiculous law really there to help us on that one?