Sunday, November 24, 2019

Legislation, laws not the same thing

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for October 23, 2019)

How much do you respect and obey laws? How much should you? I suppose that depends on what you mean by "laws".

Most people confuse legislation for laws. Laws were discovered-- usually thousands of years ago-- while legislation is made up by politicians and imposed under threat of violence as if it were law. Occasionally, legislation is written to copy or reflect law, but not often.

Law concerns respecting the rights of others, while legislation is almost entirely written to give excuses for government to violate individual rights. Thus "don't murder" is a law, while "pay this tax" is legislation.

Laws don't need to be written down for you to have the right to defend your life, liberty, or property from violators. Nor do laws have to be enforced. People must only be allowed to defend themselves and others from anyone who violates law.

Since most people use the word "law" for legislation, I'll make things simple and switch to following the common usage below. Just keep the difference in mind.

I have lived in many places. Each time I moved to a new place I was subjected to a new set of laws. I never felt glad about the laws which were being enforced in my new location. Not even once. I have, however, often been glad about the laws which either hadn't been written or weren't being enforced.

I'm much more likely to comply with a harmless policy, even if it's arbitrary, if I'm asked nicely than I am if someone puts it into legislative language and turns it into a threat. I see all laws as a negative; a drain on society. The fewer laws, the better.

In the Tao Te Ching, written in the 6th century BCE, Lao Tzu wrote: "The more laws and restrictions there are, the poorer people become...The more laws and commands there are, the more thieves and robbers there will be."

So. thousands of years ago, smart people had already realized that laws aren't good for society. Politicians and their hired guns still pretend otherwise.

I once asked a retired deputy sheriff-- a former legislation enforcement officer--  whether something was "legal". He replied, "By the time a person sits down to breakfast they've already broken a bunch of laws, so don't worry about it. Just live the best you can without harming anyone else and you'll be better than most people."

Great advice for everyone, unless you suffer from a law fetish.

See also: Law, legislation, or Unholy Writ

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You can't violate the imaginary

"You and I don't have any rights."

This statement is often followed by a list of ways political government violates our rights, "proving" we have no rights. But if we have no rights, how can government violate them?

The "We have no rights" claim is a circular argument just like the "Rights don't exist" claim. They both just lead back around to absurdities.

Every human on the planet has equal and identical rights. And once humans leave Earth their rights will go with them wherever they end up.

Will those rights be violated by someone? Guaranteed! So?

If I tie you up so you can't use your arms and then claim that since you can't use your arms you have no arms, is anyone going to buy that argument? Doubtful. That some make it nearly impossible to exercise your rights doesn't mean those rights don't exist-- they are just being violated.

Now, I could chop off your arms and claim you have no arms-- and I think you would agree I have a point, but arms are material while rights are immaterial. The only way to "remove" your rights is to kill you. And if you have no rights, where's the problem with that?

Writing to promote liberty is my job.
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