Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Laws make problems, not solutions

(My Clovis News Journal column for March 11, 2016)

Every time someone gets a bee in their bonnet over a possible problem, you can be sure a new law will be presented as the solution.

If we have learned nothing else from history, we should have learned laws don't solve anything.

People who dream up laws ignore the reality that others will adapt and change their behavior to get around laws. While trying to avoid being inconvenienced or harmed by a law they may cause unintended consequences worse than the original problem.

The War on Politically Incorrect Drugs is just one example. As centuries-old substances were criminalized, newer, stronger, more dangerous, substances were invented. Stronger so a smaller amount- easier to hide and transport- had the same value as larger amounts of the old substances. Instead of trying to smuggle a bale, smuggle a brick.

Severe laws largely weed out the casual producer and seller, replacing them with people with more to gain or lose; willing to do whatever it takes to meet the demand. If you are forced to habitually break counterfeit laws to stay in business and out of prison, it becomes simple to break the real laws- such as those against theft and murder.

The same goes for anything which is targeted by a law.

Often laws even create problems where none existed before- such as dishonestly named "gun-control laws".

The only thing any anti-gun law has ever done is make it harder for good people to defend themselves from bad people. That's it. They never make good people safer; they remove much of the risk of being a bad guy. The fact that the very ones pushing and enforcing anti-gun "laws" are some of the bad guys should give you pause.

Even things as simple as pollution are made worse by laws. Property owners are often prevented from getting restitution from those who harm their property, because the worst polluters are either the government tasked with legally protecting the property, or its corporate cronies whom the government will grant immunity when they cause harm. At most, polluters will be coerced into paying a "fine"- the vast majority of which simply goes to fund more government rather than compensating the injured property owners.

Until people start seeing made up laws as part of the problem, rather than a solution, I don't expect this to change. Nevertheless, I will shun the law and seek real world solutions until that day comes. Will you join me?


1 comment:

  1. A nice explanation of the natural Law of Unintended Consequences.