So are laws a good thing?

So I’ve been thinking lately… Well intentioned politicians talking about ‘the laws we pass should be enforced’, and I tried to think through that and figure out what circumstances I’d agree with the statement. Of course I first considered ‘if it’s Constitutional it should be enforced’, but then I thought of many laws that are Constitutional that nobody wants. Then I thought, ‘well, laws that people want, but that are also Constitutional’, but who wants them? Some? A majority? The ones who actually pay taxes? Nah, you could never manage that.

Then I thought; do we need laws? And it occurred to me, what is the effect of a law on your rights? Well, the effect is that the more laws we have, the less value your rights have. Why can’t you steal? Because there is a law against it? Because ‘the state’ says you can’t?

No! You can’t steal, because I have a right to my property. Because each individual has this right, we don’t need a law. What is the effect of this? The focus is on the individual and the rights of the individual, rather than the power of the state.

John Adams spoke of ‘a government of laws and not of men’, with the intent as I understand it to be that we should ALL be subject to the law, with no favoritism because of position. While that is a nice sentiment, there is a presumption in it, and that presumption is that there must be laws to tell us what to do and not do.  I believe that presumption is wrong. The Thomas Jefferson / Henry David Thoreau sentiment that “That government is best which governs least” is far more compatible with our Constitution and the intent for these United States.

We are to be a nation of rights, not of laws. Can I take your car? No you have a right to that property. Can I kill someone I’m pissed at? No, they have a right to life. Can you consume a plant that makes you giggle and eat Oreo cookies? … Yea.

No victim, no crime? This is quite simplified, as we’d need to consider concepts like drunk driving that you don’t want to or can’t wait till there’s a victim, but certainly at it’s base it is our rights that are to ‘protect’ us, and the job of our ‘justice system’ is to protect those rights.


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