Wednesday, September 19, 2007

breakin' the law?

There is no surer way to pervert the law than to institutionalize breaking it. So why would there be majority support for breaking the law to fight organized crime?

If you don't see why this is such a scary proposal, consider the following - should the government, the police or anyone consider it a good idea to break a law that shouldn't be repealed? I would argue that the answer to this question is "no" in any case, but especially in the case of government, who has the power to change laws they don't want followed, or the police, who, being entrusted with enforcing the law, should be the last ones to break it.

Further, what laws would have to be repealed in this case? The laws protecting individual rights from the government; laws protecting us from unnecessary search and seizure, protecting our privacy, and protecting us from entrapment. And yes, protecting us - all of us. These infringements on the rights of Canadians always seem to be assumed to affect everyone but the people advocating them, but how long until someone finds something you're doing, without hurting anyone, offensive enough to barge into your house and forcibly stop you from doing it?

(Apparently there is also support for overturning the laws protecting freedom of association, since people want to make it a crime to be a member of some gangs even if you haven't committed any other crime.)

It's also important to look at the crimes that are so serious that we need to stop them by striking a blow against every Canadian, law-abiding or not.

If the government didn't outright create organized crime, they certainly gave them a better boost than they've ever given another industry by prohibiting alcohol, gambling and, to an even greater extent after the legalization of alcohol and gambling - drugs. Taxes and regulations are almost as bad, but certainly don't compare to the effects on price that an outright ban.

Do you think there would be any market for black market cigarettes if people weren't overpaying so drastically that the government was going above and beyond covering the costs of their medical care and making a profit off of them? Would gangs be making millions of dollars selling pot and other drugs that might not even be safe if you could go to the store and buy clean, reliable drugs for a fraction of the price? Of course not. Government subsidizes organized crime more than it subsidizes any other industry.

The scariest part is that people are so willing to have the law broken - and for what? The bans of the mid-twentieth century allowed for big business in organized crime through rumrunning and casinos - two industries now controlled (and, in the case of gambling, promoted) entirely by the government in Ontario.

No wonder we're starting to hear stories about police so frustrated that they tase students or berate folks parked at road stops - what incentive is there for bad cops to show restraint or respect for individuals when there is no expectation that they do so? And how frustrating must it be for good cops to be attempting to enforce laws when we institutionalize breaking them?

We certainly aren't doing the officers willing to put their lives on the line to protect us justice.

If we're going to advocate repealing a law (institutionalized breaking of a law is just stupid) then why aren't we talking about freeing the markets funding organized crime?

As it stands, the financial incentive is far too large for any crime-fighting initiative to ever stand a chance of putting a real dent in organized crime, so why not take it away? Would being able to go to the store to buy some product containing cocaine (basically extra-strength caffeine) or pot cigarettes to smoke on a Saturday night really be worse for society than a watered-down police state?

(cross-posted to The Natural Society and Bureaucrash)

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