Government Crap

Here are two depressing and disturbing stories I read this week:

Congressional leaders fight against posting bills online:

Quoting Washington Examiner:

At town hall meetings across the country this past summer, the main topic was health care, but there was a strong undercurrent of anger over the way Congress rushed through passage of the stimulus, global warming and bank bailout bills without seeming to understand the consequences.  The stimulus bill, for example, was 1,100 pages long and made available to Congress and the public just 13 hours before lawmakers voted on it.  The bill has failed to provide the promised help to the job market, and there was outrage when it was discovered that the legislation included an amendment allowing American International Group, a bailout recipient, to give out millions in employee bonuses.

Criminalizing everyone:

Quoting Washington Times:

Robert C. Scott, Virginia Democrat, and ranking member Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, conducted a truly bipartisan hearing (a D.C. rarity this year).

These two leaders have begun giving voice to the increasing number of experts who worry about "overcriminalization."  Astronomical numbers of federal criminal laws lack specifics, can apply to almost anyone and fail to protect innocents by requiring substantial proof that an accused person acted with actual criminal intent.

Mr. Norris ended up spending almost two years in prison because he didn’t have the proper paperwork for some of the many orchids he imported.  The orchids were all legal - but Mr. Norris and the overseas shippers who had packaged the flowers had failed to properly navigate the many, often irrational, paperwork requirements the U.S. imposed when it implemented an arcane international treaty’s new restrictions on trade in flowers and other flora.

These issues infuriate me.  There’s something seriously screwed up about a system that not only can, but does routinely imprison people for accidental and trivial issues while simultaneously letting rapists and child molesters go free with merely probation -- and which is constantly passing new laws that the lawmakers themselves haven’t even read, much less given the public a chance to see.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply


01. Oct 29, 2009 at 04:04am by Anthony:

Just in case you wanted to be even more depressed by this topic:

Quoting We’re All Felons Now:

Congress and state legislatures rarely take old criminal statutes off the books, but they’re always adding new ones.  A 2008 report from the Heritage Foundation estimates that at the federal level alone, Congress has been adding about 55 new crimes to the federal criminal code each year since the 1980s.  There are now about 4,500 separate federal crimes.  And that doesn’t include federal regulations, which are increasingly being enforced with criminal, not administrative, penalties. [...]

In his new book, the Boston-based civil liberties advocate and occasional Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate estimates that in 2009, the average American commits about three federal felonies per day.  And yet, we aren’t a nation of degenerates.  On the contrary, most social indicators have been moving in a positive direction for a generation.  Silverglate argues we’re committing these crimes unwittingly.  The federal criminal code has become so vast and open to interpretation, Silverglate argues, that a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law.  In fact, it’s nearly impossible for some business owners to comply with one federal regulation without violating another one.  We’re no longer governed by laws, we’re governed by the whims of lawyers.

Reply to this message here:

Your name
Website (optional)

HomeCreate PostArchivesLoginCMS by Encodable ]