The Tools and Mechanisms of Oppression

Ayn Rand wrote in her frighteningly prophetic 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged many warnings, among which was this:

There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system!

The Geek with a .45 wrote, back 2004 and unfortunately no longer available at his site, this warning:

We, who studied the shape and form of the machines of freedom and oppression, have looked around us, and are utterly dumbfounded by what we see.

We see first that the machinery of freedom and Liberty is badly broken. Parts that are supposed to govern and limit each other no longer do so with any reliability.

We examine the creaking and groaning structure, and note that critical timbers have been moved from one place to another, that some parts are entirely missing, and others are no longer recognizable under the wadded layers of spit and duct tape. Other, entirely new subsystems, foreign to the original design, have been added on, bolted at awkward angles.

We know the tools and mechanisms of oppression when we see them. We’ve studied them in depth, and their existence on our shores, in our times, offends us deeply. We can see the stirrings of malevolence, and we take stock of the damage they’ve caused over so much time.

Others pass by without a second look, with no alarm or hue and cry, as if they are blind, as if they don’t understand what they see before their very eyes. We want to shake them, to grasp their heads and turn their faces, shouting, “LOOK! Do you see what this thing is? Do you see how it might be put to use? Do you know what can happen if this thing becomes fully assembled and activated?”

Assembly and activation proceeds apace.

Three recent books come to mind, Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate, Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything by Gene Healy, and The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice by Paul Craig Roberts. There are others.

Just a few days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that

For decades, the task of counting the total number of federal criminal laws has bedeviled lawyers, academics and government officials.

“You will have died and resurrected three times,” and still be trying to figure out the answer, said Ronald Gainer, a retired Justice Department official.

They’ve given up even trying to count them.

As I said in Malice vs. Stupidity

At some point it becomes immaterial whether the laws were due to incompetence or maliciousness. That point is when their implementation is indistinguishable from maliciousness. I submit that we’ve passed that point, and the only thing preventing even more massive public blowback is our general ignorance and our well-established general respect for the Rule of Law. As I’ve said, the .gov has done a good job of practicing such persecution on a retail level, rather than wholesale, but it’s getting to the point where the abuse is going wholesale and the stories are getting out to the mass audience.

And I’ve said elsewhere I think a lot of people are getting fed up with ever-increasing government intrusion into our lives. Government interferes lightly on a wholesale basis, but it does its really offensive intrusions strictly retail. So long as the majority gets its bread and circuses, it will remain content.

Until it happens to you. Then you get pissed right quick, and wonder why nobody hears your side of the story.

I’ve reported here at TSM on just a tiny fraction of these prosecutions; George Norris and his orchid import business,  the persecution of Albert Kwan and the prosecution of Joseph Pelleteri are just some examples.  Other bloggers have as well.  Sebastian noted how an 11 year-old escaped the mailed fist of the law in Massachussetts with a mere suspension from school when he could have been prosecuted under felony law, for example. There are many, many, many more such examples. If you have your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Links would be appreciated.

But today’s post is inspired by a YouTube video I watched over at Jaded Haven. I’d not heard of the case, but I was not surprised.  Go watch.

Still, you don’t have to be surprised to have an RCOB event.

A recent Rassmussen poll indicates:

(J)ust 17% of Likely U.S. Voters think the federal government today has the consent of the governed. Sixty-nine percent (69%) believe the government does not have that consent. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

Is there any wonder why?

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