“The More Laws, the Less Justice”

This past weekend we entered a local park hard upon the Chesapeake Bay.

At water’s edge stood several head of fishermen.

Each extended a line to pluck aquatic beings from the “immense protein factory” — as H.L. Mencken labeled the fruitful Chesapeake Bay.

All was peace.

Of a sudden a vehicle of the Maryland Natural Resources Police came pulling up.

From it emerged an officer of the same authority. He was armed as any other policeman is armed — with a sheathed firearm.

Why does an officer of the Maryland Natural Resources Police require a firearm?

The answer is somewhat dark to us. Yet let it pass.

Your Papers, Please

The officer descended upon each of the assembled fishermen, one by one.

He was in search of papers. That is, he was in search of fishing licenses.

That is, he was in search of permission slips from the state of Maryland.

A man may not fish the Chesapeake Bay without one.

By some miracle of God they each possessed the required documentation.

Some had to abandon their rods and withdraw to their vehicles to secure it. Yet each had it.

To be certain: This was not a hostile affair.

The officer appeared to be a pleasant, even affable fellow. He gabbled with each potential felon.

“Hey, how’s it going? Beautiful day for fishing. Any luck?”

So on and so on. Et cetera, et cetera.

You Can Keep Your Dinner

The interrogated men responded with equal affability. They did not appear the least irritated, flustered or annoyed.

Both officer and fisherman exchanged multiple laughs and guffaws.

At one point the officer took a fisherman in tow and both men withdrew to the police vehicle.

From it the officer retrieved a ruler. He stretched a captured fish out upon it.

The fish evidently met specification. It was no youth of child-rearing age.

The man could keep his dinner — and escape a fine.

Eventually this officer of the Maryland Natural Resources Police abandoned the scene… and drove off… we imagine to the next fishing spot… in quest of some felonious hellcat fishing without official grant.

The entire incident passed without incident. The lines remained in the water and the fish came out of the water — with no additional interruptions.

No one was clubbed, no one was jugged.

In fact, the officer extended the fishermen high respect. They in turn extended him high respect.

If all police encounters were so peaceful policemen would not bear billy clubs and firearms.

One Question

Yet we emerged from the incident with a question: Why should a man require the state of Maryland’s permission to lower a fishing line into the water?

Your editor has not fished since he was perhaps 12 years of age.

He did not require documentation. He was never approached by an armed policeman demanding to see it.

He was merely exercising his rights as a somewhat lunatic and murderous 12-year-old fish hunter.

We understand the authorities may wish to regulate the commercial fishing fleets.

We do not abhor or detest conservation — and commercial fishermen may at times yield to temptation.

Their vision at times may fail them. The juvenile eight-inch fish they cannot legally haul aboard appears 16 inches to them.

Many would work the dockside scale to a favoring calibration… downward… if they could pull off the caper.

But a solitary fisherman casting an individual rod? Who may — if fortune favors him that particular day — pull up two or three unfortunate fish?

It is of a different character. We do not believe this man requires permission… at least in the absence of very rigid and demonstrable justification.

To our knowledge flounder lack all presence upon the endangered species list.

Land of the Free

Each of the fishermen from the abovesaid incident was Hispanic.

Their English was accented. In some cases, very heavily.

Did they require fishing permits in their countries of origin?

We do not know. Perhaps none require them. Perhaps some require them. Perhaps all require them.

Yet it makes no nevermind.

These men are presently camped within the United States — the land of the free — at least in verse and in theory.

Should they not fish in freedom… without documented permission from the state of Maryland… or any other united state?

More Laws, Less Justice

“The more laws, the less justice,” said the old Roman Cicero.

We are convinced beyond all convincing that this ancient was correct.

The United States Code of Federal Regulations ran to 16 pages in its 1936 debut.

Today the thing runs to some 70,000 pages — each singly spaced and finely printed.

That is, today’s law list is 4,375 times thicker than 1936’s law list.

Has American justice expanded with it?

Is the 2023 United States 4,375 times more just than the United States of 1936?

To ask the question is essentially to answer the question.

A decent man can scarcely put in one single day without fracturing half a dozen laws.

On dark days the same man may fracture a full dozen.

When Laws Justify Injustice 

A man can “miss the forest for the trees,” as the popular expression runs.

Well, a nation can miss the forest of justice… for the trees of laws.

Vast injustice can — and in fact often does — parade as justice because it assumes the color of law.

A government goon (bureaucrat) can cite this regulation or that regulation as the warrant for actual injustice.

You request examples?

An Oregonian was jugged 30 days for collecting rainwater on his property.

That is because the state of Oregon operates under the theory that it owns the rain that falls on it.

Thus an Oregonian requires a government permit to collect and hold rain.

It is the law. Yet is it just?

Law Run Amok

An Arizona man was fined for holding religious meetings in his residence.

Officials cited fire safety. The man subsequently came into compliance.

Officials proceeded to inform him that he required exit signs above the doors and safety ramps outside of them.

Their fines ran to $12,000.

It is the law. Yet is it just?

In Vermont it is illegal to deny God’s existence.

You may or may not be a fool to deny God’s existence. Yet are you a criminal to deny God’s existence?

Meantime, you violate federal law if you sell wine with a label harboring the word “Zombie.”

Don’t You Dare Call It Ham Turkey!

There exists a meat product known as turkey ham.

Within the United States it is illegal to peddle turkey ham with a label of “ham turkey.”

Nor can the words “ham” and “turkey” appear in differing fonts. They must be identical.

If you do not comply you have acted contrary to the laws of the United States.

And you will face the attending punishment.

Here we cite but some examples. Others multiply and multiply.

Yet these are the laws that “govern” us.

What It Means to Be Governed

And as we are fond to observe: To be governed, noted 19th-century philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon:

Is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded… registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished… drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed… repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.

The more laws, the less justice.

This past weekend… however minor in appearance… we witnessed its reality…

The Daily Reckoning