Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Ten Thousand Commandments

Do our laws serve us, or are we slaves to the law?

Our government is becoming increasingly dictatorial. It started way before President Obama, and republicans are just as much to blame as democrats. A government no longer respects the rights of the people when its legislation goes beyond expressing the will and values of the people and instead turns to dictating commands.

America is mired in a tarpit of accumulated law. Reformers propose new laws to fix health care, schools, and the regulatory system, but almost never suggest cleaning out the legal swamp these institutions operate in. These complex legal tangles not only set goals but allocate resources and dictate the minutest details of how to meet those goals. Most are obsolete in whole or part. (Philip Howard)
Philip Howard advocates a radical concept: Rather than lawmaking, our elected representatives need to be destroying them, untangling them and taking them off the books.

Imagine that! Politicians running for office by promising us not more laws, but less! I would love to see debates where they vied with one another over who could slash more red tape tangle that is strangling the nation.

Howard writes in his book, Life Without Lawyers, that too much law is choking innovation and snuffing our ability to think for ourselves:
Howard's book is a withering critique not of lawyers, but of us: a nation paralyzed by fear, unwilling to assume responsibility, both overly reliant on authority and distrustful of it. Law is wielded as a weapon of intimidation rather than as an instrument of protection.
"To restore our freedom, we have to purge law from most daily activities," writes Howard. But this seething polemic is less about a society buried in paperwork than one that clings to procedure like a crutch — and has lost its capacity for independent thought in the process. (Life Without Lawyers)
I'm waiting for the progressives to chime in, so I'll close with this thought. If our government were as expansive as Australia's or Germany's, but also as efficient, we probably wouldn't be having these arguments.


Thersites said...

Constitutional laws were NOT created to express the "will and values of the people"... they were created to establish a zone of negative liberty around each individual where the will and values of the people could NOT penetrate. In other words, to protect political "minorities".

Always On Watch said...

Decades ago, my father said, "People need to get over the idea that "There oughta be a law!" to control everything thing they don't like.

Now look where we are!

I'm typing in a comment about the local government....

I can't even leave out in my side yard a watering can without zoning administration swooping in on me.

Furthermore, every time I think that I've got a handle on what the list of forbidden things is, I find out that another ordinance has been passed and have to scramble around to comply -- or face a fine of $100 for every day that I'm not in compliance. The only reason that I'm not being fined is that Mr. AOW is handicapped, and federal law precludes any such zoning-administration harassment here now.

This place used to be a farm property. There is stuff all over the place and not in plain sight either. Never mind that....Zoning enforcement walks the property and digs into what is covering up the ladders, the wheelbarrow, etc.

I AM allowed to leave out the following: the garden hose and the grill.

Now, I'd build another shed to house some of the items not in compliance. By "items," I mean the portable car ramps, the ladders, the tool boxes (under the carport, which only a few years ago was deemed by the local authority as acceptable shelter for those items but no longer is acceptable). The county will not allow me to build another shed -- never mind the acreage here; clearly, another shed would take up a smaller proportion of this acreage than all of my neighbors have covered with "allowed" outbuildings and their McMansions themselves.

Oh, and here's another conundrum. Although the county has a fit about my ladders, wheelbarrow, etc., the county has ZERO problem with unsightly "arboreal waste." Let a tree fall down, and it can stay there until hell freezes over.

One more thing....Here in this county, unless one has a fully-closed garage, the zoning Nazis patrol the neighborhoods to make sure that vehicles are moved every 48 hours. "No disabled vehicles allowed in sight" (That means, no car covers, either. outside of one's garage) -- and we're not talking about obviously disabled vehicles up on ramps, either. The ordinance applies to a vehicle that appears perfectly operational and is not of the hoopdi variety. This move-the-vehicles regulations even applies to vehicles in one's driveway!

I don't have either a driveway or a garage. You got it! The county won't let me have either one. I might be allowed to build a privacy fence; however, when I approached the county about doing so, I got this response: "We'll tell you how high and where you can build it."

I'm not sure that a family can even have a swing set without the county first issuing some kind of permit. I don't see much outside play equipment for the children in this neighborhood. In years past, everyone had a backyard swing set.

As one who grew up on a farmette, I am of the opinion that artificially-groomed lawns and intricate landscaping in this neighborhood are the truly unsightly things.

LD Jackson said...

I wrote yesterday about the unintended consequences of government regulation. Far too many times, the laws that are on the books are used in ways for which they were never intended. Leave it to some unelected bureaucrat in Washington to figure out a way to use a law for their own purpose. That's what has happened to Gibson Guitar.

@AOW - I feel your pain. Even local ordinances can get out of hand. My employer wanted to build a warehouse on the backside of his property, for use by the US Marshals. He basically had to bribe the city council before they would relent about having it bricked. This was on a building that couldn't even be seen from the public road, except for the roof.

Silverfiddle said...

Thersites: I dig what you're saying, but since you used a big emphatic, ALL CAPS "NOT," I'll refer you to Blackstone and Hayek.

Silverfiddle said...

Zoning enforcement walks the property..."

They have no respect for law and liberty. When government succeeds in violating our property rights, the other rights fall quickly.

The Debonair Dudes World said...

"I'm waiting for the progressives to chime in"

And if they do, you will see a spin job that will make you dizzy!

Ducky's here said...

But Silver, you're getting your wish.

There's a rider on the current defense authorization bill to remove all restrictions on the government issuing domestic propaganda.

Now you may say that it won't make much difference but we don't know.

Meanwhile, go back and whine with the rest of the wimps about needing to buy energy efficient light bulbs.

Ducky's here said...

Constitutional laws were NOT created to express the "will and values of the people"... they were created to establish a zone of negative liberty around each individual where the will and values of the people could NOT penetrate. In other words, to protect political "minorities".

Unless the homos want to get married.

Anonymous said...

Well, we do call them lawmakers so we shouldn't be surprised when they do just that. As AOW pointed out, local governments are particularily intrusive. We the peole need to redefine what we want from government. But, I won't hold my breath waiting for a political party to take up that mantra. We are going to need a lot more Nr. Howards.

Robert Garding said...

I am so glad you posted this. And you worded it just right. Both parties are at fault here, but the democrats have it down to a "fine art". What the people have to realize, is that to vote on a new law requires not only a vote, but a knowledge of what is in the law. That is where the people have allowed the government to grow to the point where now it is growing of it's own accord. And both parties are at fault....though only one has tried at times to stop it.

Great post my friend.

Thersites said...

You can keep Blackstone's "That the King can do no wrong, is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution."

I prefer Madison's, "Because Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: it is limited with regard to the co-ordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves. " from his Memorial and Remonstrance.

Thersites said...

Unless the homos want to get married.

If homo's want to get married, let them pass laws establishing said "right" instead of marching into court and demanding a heretofore unestablished "right". Marriage represents a "positive" act of union, not a "negative" liberty expressive of a desire of being "left alone".

Unknown said...

This speaks volumes for the necessity of a congress to follow Art 1; Sec 4 "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year"
Government has always thought to make their position a full time job, even though it was never intended to be by the Founders.

Finntann said...

@ "....Zoning enforcement walks the property and digs into what is covering up the ladders, the wheelbarrow, etc."

If the property is not open to the public, i.e. fenced, the courts have generally upheld that consent or a warrant is required.

"if consent from the property owner and the occupant cannot be obtained before entering private property that is not open to the public, code enforcement officers should obtain an administrative inspection/abatement warrant".

That requirement does not apply if the property is open.

"The “open fields” exception only applies to completely unfenced, unimproved property." Under the “open view” doctrine a person has no privacy interest or protected property interest in what is observable from a place open to public view.

Court opinions have varied widely by state, although the supreme court has generally affirmed property rights since 1967 in Camara v. Municipal Court of the City and County of San Francisco,See v. City of Seattle, Marshall v. Barlow Inc. The most recent being Michigan v. Clifford in 1984.

Here is a good outline of property rights and court cases in this regard from the State of Washington:

I myself have thrown a fire inspector (wildfire abatement inspection) off my property when I discovered him in the vicinity of my barn due to my dog barking wildly one evening.

He simply entered the property without obtaining consent or presenting credentials. I informed him he was trespassing and that I was calling the sheriff. He seemed utterly flabbergasted and quite P.O'd that I wouldn't let him wander around my property, but off he went.

I notified the sheriff's office that this idiot was wandering around and onto private property without asking (they laughed), and confirmed with his office that he was indeed performing wildfire abatement inspections. They confirmed that he should have obtained consent and also informed me that I was under no obligation to allow him on my property.

He returned about a week later and presented himself at my door with his credentials, again for the wildfire abatement inspection. At this point I declined simply on principle and informed him that he was free to inspect my property from the road, as it is surrounded by road on three sides and all of it is easily visible from the road.

It should be fairly simply for you to find out whether or not your state/municipality requires an administrative warrant. Chances are probably pretty good that it does and you simply have overzealous zoning inspectors.

And since I'm in a lawyering mood:

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.


Ducky's here said...

I'm waiting for the progressives to chime in, so I'll close with this thought. If our government were as expansive as Australia's or Germany's, but also as efficient, we probably wouldn't be having these arguments.

The progressives are just going to ask for an amen from the congregation.

However, the current right wing (DO NOT take that personally) is much more concerned with making government work for their Galtian overlords. Just strange.

Silverfiddle said...

And therein lies the bi-partisan problem, Ducky. Government has gone way beyond infrastructure and passing legislation to simply keep us out of each others' hair.

It is now a big bully, and whoever has fistfulls of cash can get the bully to protect them or to even go beat up enemies.

Cap marinetet68 said...

Ducky, your bitterness and negativity and hate and your. being close minded is the trait of those who can find no fault in the person, or thing they support. Humans are not perfect, but they write their leader the Socialist Lord and Savior, Barack Hussein Obama or other blacks can do no wrong. They believe that one person is a political messiah. They are bitter, hate filled, and wrong. Wrong about their leader. Wrong about their behavior to protect their leader. Truly, politically immature and personally immature.

It seems the followers of “hope and change” have no hope and expect no change. Of course not, they are to wrapped up in their hate. You have now tolerance for any opposing view, although you claim to want to hear it, and when you do, you mock the person or accuse them of trolling. It's going to be a revelation when Obama is defeated, and won't that would be fun to watch

Maggie@MaggiesNotebook said...

"America is mired in a tarpit of accumulated law."

Lawyers have fortified their lair and they will not abandon it. Attorneys hold a majority in Congress. Liberty will continue to suffocate in that tarpit.


Z said...

I so wish that we had the law that whoever loses a lawsuit pays. It's like that in Germany and they have, I think, four cabinets of laws, not libraries full of precedent. A friend broke her wrist while we all lived in Paris and she sued. Our French friends thought that was shocking. She tripped, bad things happen....but this Canadian had to sue. I never heard the outcome, it went on forever. I'm quite sure nobody in France knew quite how to handle it. How heavenly.

SF, what would you say is THE biggest reason for the huge divide between the Republicans and Democrats today? It's larger than ever and it seems like the obvious reasons (taxes, etc.) are hiding the truth, but I'm not sure quite what it is. We've always had tax arguments...what is this new situation that's strangling America?

The Truth Will Set Us Free! said...

The Liberals are going to Destroy Our Nation if they are able to re-elect Barack Obama to the Presidency in November 2012.
These liberal buffoons have bought the lies that the liberal politicians have been telling them hook, line, and sinker. These people actually believe that they are owed something when they have not done a damn thing to earn it. They have NO self respect because they gave that up when they accepted all that so-called help from the government. Obama's 'FREE health care' is a perfect example of what America does NOT need..

Anonymous said...

There is an Underground Society that includes, but is not exclusive to, the millions of illegal immigrants that dwell among us. This is a world of barter, of swapping, of privately conducted, unregistered cash sales, panhandling, odd jobs -- a world of risk, grave danger, permanent insecurity -- and the kind of FREEDOM -- we have not seen since the days of the pioneers.

It is this untracked, hopefully untraceable, rapidly growing band of individuals -- call them "The New Gypsies" -- who've either been forced through job loss, bankruptcy, rejection, ostracism and eviction -- or have deliberately CHOSEN -- to abandon organized society -- who may well prove to be The Hope of the World.

Do you remember "The Proles" in Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four? They were the homely, common, earthy creatures who lived outside The System. The Proles had nothing, and were forced to work at menial tasks for mere survival, BUT they were the only ones left still capable of SINGING -- of feeling and expressing JOY.

What we have given up in the names of "Safety" and "Security"are most of the things that make life worth living.

AOW's depressing and infuriating tale is a clear indication that we have already arrived at something perilously close to Orwell's nightmare dystopian vision.

Shakespeare, as usual, was right when he had Hecate say, "Security is mortals' chiefest enemy."

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

"[W]hat would you say is THE biggest reason for the huge divide between the Republicans and Democrats today?'

The problem that threatens to destroy everything about this country we know and hold dear is that there is no appreciable difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, and hasn't been for a very long time.

Haven't you realized yet that G.W. Bush and Obama are basally two sides of the same coin?

We see substantial differences between the parties, only because we perpetually indulge wishful thinking.

Surely most people who think at all must have noticed by now that anyone who stands up from inside the Republican Party ranks and appears to threaten the status quo to any meaningful degree is either ignored, dismissed, denigrated or vilified by the enemedia, of course, but also by the Republican Party Establishment.

Why else do you think that no matter who gets elected NOTHING EVER CHANGES?

A Third Party is not the answer, but heightened awareness of reality would be the only hope of ever getting up enough gumption to force meaningful change on The System.

We've been owned, operated, manipulated, bilked and enslaved to an increasingly corrupt system for many decades, and still the vast majority haven't the faintest inkling of what's really going on.

Why? Because the more affluent among us can still occasionally dine at posh restaurants, shop at gourmet stores, buy liquor, watch crap on Big Screen HD TV or listen to Pop Music with Surround Sound, and bitch to our heart's content while we sit at our computers braying into cyberspace with an ever increasing sense of desperation.

~ FreeThinke

Z said...

Well, my goodness, FT, for a country whose parties seem so alike to you, we've sure got a lot of hasty division.

Ducky's here said...

Well FT, there are many among us who don't think we'll be in recovery until the liberal media moves a little closer (it's almost there) to being an amalgam of Leviticus and Atlas Shrugged.

Cheer up, we've got a couple good years left.

Grung_e_Gene said...

I could agree but, what right-wingers have turned this idea upon it's head. Let's get rid of the EPA! Let's eliminate the Clean Air Act of 1972! Let's gut OSHA!

These federal institutes and their applicable laws don't affect the positive liberty of individuals. But, they sure impact BP (a non-US Conglomerate) which short-cuts on safety features and violates dumping laws in Lake Michigan for a decade.

Silverfiddle said...

Gene: I just want to point these weapons at the true enemies of the state.

For example, for any company to drill, they should sign a contract obliging them to financially make up for any damage they cause.

Z said...

Ducky, that's a terribly clever phrase there, but it's not what ANYBODY says from the Right, and you should know that from hanging at our blogs.
How many times do we have to ask for THE FACTS? We just want less opinion, we want ALL the news, and we don't want a media that covers for a president's mistakes. Why's that too much to ask for and why do you twist our truth?

Anonymous said...

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 - 1962)

Submitted by Freethinke

MathewK said...

"Howard's book is a withering critique not of lawyers, but of us: a nation paralyzed by fear, unwilling to assume responsibility, both overly reliant on authority and distrustful of it."

Exactly right, all these laws are around strangling, stifling and keeping us down because we want them. To be fair they were mostly well intentioned to begin with, but it's our own fault for squawking for them in the first place without thinking about the consequences.

Anonymous said...

I dont' think so, RWT, it's all been IMPOSITION from OH HIGH -- for the sake of "The Poor," etc.

No one I've ever known in my 71 years has ever "WANTED" any of this.

~ FreeThinke