Thursday, January 19, 2012

Passing New Laws as a Form of Government Control

In our times, state and federal legislatures continue to pass more and more criminal laws. Each year our governments define more and more areas of human conduct as "criminal." The reach of the government's arm is longer and longer, more and more invasive. I guess government means to make us all into good people, to decide how we need to act, and force us to act that way or charge us and put us in jail.

In our day, it is seldom admitted by politicians that government's reach has gone too far in the area of the criminal law. For example, we are insistent that we will solve the drinking problem, so we charge 18-20 year olds with a crime for drinking a beer. And, we think we can solve the drug problem, so we turn every traffic stop into a drug investigation, running drug dogs around cars of people stopped for minor traffic violations. If a guy is a little drunk out in the public square, we charge him with a crime, put him in jail, just in case he might have been a problem.

And, I'm sure there will be a number of new criminal laws once state and federal congresses convene again. The theory is that we will fix society's problems by passing laws that define conduct we don't like as criminal. We have convinced ourselves that passing a law that purports to solve a social problem actually does solve the social problem. I think this is a totalitarian, repressive way of dealing with social problems, and it is costly and works very rarely.

For example, since the implementation of the harsh federal sentencing laws on drug offenses, has the drug problem subsided? No, it has grown. Some federal judges have remarked that society might be better off in legalizing certain illegal drugs, because the drug war being waged by the government is being lost badly because of the financial incentive to traffic illegal drugs.

But, as I type, I am sure another congressmen has come up with another law that he or she feels will make us all safer and better. And, it won't.