I break the law every single day. And guess what? Very likely, you do so as well, whether you know it or not. With thousands of ordinances just in my small town alone – added to the legal code for the state of California, as well as the federal code for the United States – we are hemmed in by restrictions and regulations. With so many thousands of pages of legal jargon that none but a lawyer can understand, so many pages that one simply could not read them all in a lifetime, particularly as they are so frequently changing, the phrase
‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse‘
becomes nothing more than the most unutterable balderdash.
The worst part of it all is that this dismal conglomeration is entirely unnecessary. I don’t need my family, my neighbors, or complete strangers in DC telling me how to live, yet somewhere along the lines, power-hungry narcissists decided they needed to lock people within cages of legalese for their own good.
Thanks, but no thanks. I can determine my own good quite well on my own.
So yes, I break the law every single day. No, I don’t go around robbing and killing people, of course; I simply break the laws that are nonsensical, the ones that curb actions that hurt absolutely nobody.
For instance, I drank alcohol before achieving twenty-one years – as did many of my peers, of course. Did this action harm anyone? Not in the least.
When I’m driving in the middle of the night, and there is no one around, I don’t come to complete stops at stop signs. Number of victims of my actions: zero.
I pay cash for services whenever I can, particularly to people or businesses who can most easily hide it, so they won’t have to report the income. If I can receive a service for which I don’t necessarily need a receipt, I gladly put the checkbook or credit card aside and pay with good ol’ (albeit worthless – though that’s a matter for another time) US Dollars, knowing perfectly well that the person with whom I’m conducting business can slip those bills into his wallet while the IRS is none the wiser.
I shop very rarely, but when I do, I typically shop online, particularly with businesses that offer free shipping, just to avoid paying sales tax. Again, no victims – and this helps me, having to spend less money, as well as the vendor, who is saved the time, expense, and hassle of collecting and reporting the tax.
When I walk the three blocks to my father’s house, I cross the street where there are no crosswalks. Yes, I jaywalk! Horror of horrors! If, instead, there’s pouring rain, and I drive those three blocks, I do so without wearing a seat belt. Victims? Again, none.
Thanks to a delightful book by the bowtie-wearing gentleman anarchist, Mr. Jeffrey Tucker, I also confess that I turn up my water heater, remove flow restrictors from my shower heads, and shave without foam (alright, so that last isn’t exactly breaking the law, but it is one of the fun lifestyle changes to be found in Mr. Tucker’s book, in addition to cooking with lard, and washing laundry with trisodium phosphate). As a side note, regarding the shower heads, if you’re concerned about my water usage, I have two things to point out: 1) more water flow means a more effective shower, thus considerably less time standing under the water; and, 2) my personal water use is so immeasurably minuscule [see: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/wateruse-total.html]that it becomes a nonsensical waste of time for the government to be regulating this use.
I have no problem with gay marriage, gun ownership, drug use, or prostitution. Not one of these things directly affects me or any other outside party, as they are all simply matters of subjective preference and personal lifestyle choices. Until and unless an actual crime has been committed – such that an actual victim can be identified – the simple matter of owning a gun or using a recreational drug has absolutely zero effect upon others. Thus, these should not be legal matters whatsoever. Gay marriage is a commitment between two people, so no third party should be able to dictate this union cannot happen. Prostitution is nothing more than a business arrangement between the sex worker and the client, a process to which both parties voluntarily agree, each exchanging a lesser for a greater value, and not harming anyone else in the processes. There is no need to have laws against these matters.
My worst offense by far, however, is one that I commit on a daily basis: I break labor laws. Quite literally everyday at work, I am in my office from 7:30 in the morning until at least 5:00 in the evening. No coffee breaks, no lunch breaks. No, my employer does not demand this of me; I choose to do this myself. In fact, if anything, it is my customers who demand this of me. Heaven forbid I take two minutes to go to the bathroom, thus leaving the office unoccupied and making them have to wait a few extra seconds before they can be helped. The government dictates that I must take so many minutes of break time every so many hours – and there are certainly days I would be exceedingly thankful for a break – but it is quite honestly easier to be constantly present and available, rather than coming back from a break and having to put out fires and clean up all the hell that broke loose in my absence. Most days, I can mentally and physically handle this work schedule, and I can make that choice on my own. I do not need the government to tell me how many hours of work I can handle – for my own good. I can decide that, and all other aspects of my life, perfectly well on my own.
Is anyone hurt by my decision to work straight through the day? Absolutely not, including myself (overtime pay is a wonderful thing when one has a mortgage to pay all by oneself). If anything, more people are helped by my choice, since my customers are happier. If I were to obey the law in this case, however, I would instead be losing customers, and very likely soon see my shop with a depressing ‘Going out of business‘ sign on the door. Yet, because the government says so, both I and my employer can be punished for my desire to assist my customers. How did our world come to this?
The laws are claimed to protect us, stop crime, and help victims, but it does none of these things – and quite often just makes criminals. I am by no means a fan of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, but his work includes a truly excellent and applicable line:
…what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves [criminals] and then punish them.
No victim, no crime. That simple phrase would eliminate the vast majority of our legal code in one fell swoop. Choosing my own work hours? No victim, so not a crime. Using a recreational drug in the comfort of my own home? No victim, so not a crime. Owning a gun for my personal self-defense, should the need ever arise? No victim, so not a crime (and note, this action would prevent me from becoming a victim, yet there are laws coming down to restrict even this). The list goes on and on.
No victim, no crime. When Adam Kokesh was arrested at a Smoke Down Prohibition event, and the crowd started chanting No victim, no crime!, I got chills. It was a beautiful sight.
I confess: I am an anarchist, and I break the law everyday. Yet somehow – and according to the government, by sheer luck or magic – I harm no one. Amazing, isn’t it?