The Cato Institute published an article called “The Criminalization of Almost Everything.” It discusses a subject that important in a free country, but it is ignored by the main stream media that is too busy stalking Tiger Woods and Paris Hilton. The subject is that federal state and local governments have passed so many laws that is it impossible to live a normal life without constantly violating laws of which we are totally unaware.
For example, did you know that there is a federal law (the Lacey Act) that says it is a crime to possess certain types of wood? See “Wood Police Raid Gibson Guitar Plant.” Are you sure your home and office are free of all federally controlled woods such as wood from Madagascar? Check your wood immediately before the feds swat team breaks down your door and arrests you for being a wood perp. Just say no to Madagascar wood! You say you and the rest of the citizens of the United States can’t tell Madagascar wood from Canadian wood, but that’s just tough tennis shoes. The law is the law and ignorance is no excuse. You will go to jail if the frame around the picture of your family is made from an illegal wood.
The Cato article begins:
When laws grow so voluminous and vague that they oppress those who live under them, society can become as unlivable as if it were lawless. Subject to the arbitrary scrutiny of prosecutors overcome by ambition for their own 15 minutes of fame, ordinary citizens face the horrors of becoming criminal defendants. At a Cato Book Forum in October, Harvey Silverglate, author of Three Felonies a Day, and Tim Lynch, editor of In the Name of Justice and director of Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice, discussed the growing threat of federal criminal law.
An average, busy professional gets up in the morning, gets the kids to school, goes to work, uses the telephone or e-mail, has meetings, works on a prospectus or bank loan, goes home, puts the kids to bed, has dinner, reads the newspaper, goes to sleep, and has no idea that, in the course of that day, he or she has very likely committed three felonies. Three felonies that some ambitious, creative prosecutor can pick out from that day’s activities and put into an indictment.
An excellent article on this topic is “Where were you when wood became a felony?” See also “Confronting Big Cereal, unregulated garage sales, and other evils.”