How Large is your Penis?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where Laws Come From

There are different kinds of laws, there are mathematical laws, there are naturalistic laws (science), but the kinds of laws that I will be speaking about here are human made laws restricting interaction and what people can do (or cannot do). The Arizona shooting story has made me realize the main source of the formation of laws - irrationality and fear.

See the common understanding of how a law comes into place is that an intelligent group of people discuss among themselves the proper laws that need to be put into place and they legislate those laws into place with a lot of care. Laws are developed because they are necessary. A function of the state is to create laws based on empiricism and rationality so that it will result for the best of everyone living under the state.

This is what most people think of laws. I used to view laws in the same manner too. I imagined that all these laws in the books that are now in place have been put into place because of necessity, and furthermore they were developed based on a lot of thought and rationality.

But this is not how most laws come into being. Most laws are made for utterly foolish reasons, often motivated by the passions and by fear. Some laws are bribes some people pay to others so that they can benefit from this law. I am sure you can find examples of laws that were based on rationality and a well-thought out argument, but most of them are not. I will demonstrate this proposition by observing the reaction to Arizona shooting and past history of law making.

You need to keep in mind that statism is not usually a respectable political philosophy (if it can even be called a "philosophy", more like barbarism to me, "obey or die"). Most statists and arguments in favor of statism that you will come across are motivated by fear. More specifically, the fear of the unknown, you can read more about what I wrote in the past here. Statists are fearful to live in an uncalculated world so they would prefer to deceive themselves that a calculatable world is possible, in order to live with less such fear. Statists also run into the problem of providing an ex-post facto justification of their beliefs (for an exaplation of what I mean by this you can read this). Statism very rarely results from a thought out philosophy that builts upon certain concepts and principles. Instead, statism comes up with justification after it claims itself to be a legitimate institution. This is why I say that your common statist is motivated by fear, his passions, and irrationality. You can find some statist political philosophers that were able to transcend this, I guess you can say Karl Marx, but those are rare, and exceptionally rare within the statist population.

There are two laws that got passed or are going to be passed or at least considered to be passed in response to the Arizona shooting that will illustrate how fear, passions and irrationality drives the law making behind statism. I will begin with the Westboro Baptist Church. This Church got banned from attending the funeral of the girl victim of the shooting. To be fair the law has not banned the speech of the Church, it only put a restriction on how far, and when, they must be distanced from the funeral. But the intend of this law is clear, to drive away the Westboro Baptist Church as far away from the funeral service. Arizona called this an "emergency law". Why all of the sudden did this law get passed? Westboro Baptist Church has been protesting funerals of many different people already. Why suddenly is there an "emergency" that this law needs to get passed? All the other protests were not "emergencies"? It seems to be rather obvious that because this is a funeral of a kid people got a lot more driven by their passions. You know how irrational people are around children, even think they are better than other human beings (which is why the news will always say "30 people were killed including 5 children", as if this matters, all human life is supposed to be equal, no need to put emphasis on children). If restricting the Westboro Baptist Church in this manner is so important why has it never been done before? Because the people were not as motivated by as much passions. The fact that this was a kid changed the normal response people would have otherwise. The people of Arizona did not work out well thought-out arguments for or against this law. Instead, they knew the Westboro Church might be coming so they got angered by the thought that they might come. This is how this law got inspired. Not by rationality, but by the chaos of passions within the people of Arizona. There was nothing "necessary" about it, nor was there any kind of "emergency", that was rather the excuse people came up with to support a law for which they done so directly out of their passions.

The second law in response to the shooting was more gun control. I am not sure if there was a new law signed or not (obviously, I am not up with the news as you can see) but some new gun regulation was proposed. Whenever a shooting takes place you can always be sure there will be gun control nuts fighting against gun nuts (I am a gun nut myself). But in this case the gun control nuts are irrational and driven by fear. As I say numerous times, statism is driven by fear. The gun control nuts are frightened that if no control is put into place then there will be chaos in the streets, babies will be shot, and be an all out war between all gun owners. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but there are people who do believe in what I just said, not all gun control nuts are that scared. But, I have came across these people in my life that do hold this parodied view of what gun ownership will imply (usually Europeans who support a complete ban on guns). Regulations are very funny to me. One hundred years ago there might have been 50 pages of regulations (in the abstract, not referring to any specific regulation, just as an illustration of a point I am trying to say). In 2000 there were 30,000 pages of regulations and by 2008 there were 35,000 pages of regulations. And somehow problems still happen. How foolish must someone possibly be to suggest another 1,000 pages of new regulations? Why should we expect this time to prove an exception if all the past history shows otherwise? This is why regulations make me laugh, it really is insanity to keep on regulating and regulating and somehow never being able to achieve what they wanted. Gun control is no different. The gun control nuts see one bad shooting, in response, driven by their fear, they scream for more regulations, foolishly ignoring all past regulation history, and thinking that this time the regulations will prove to be an exception.

It is in human nature to look at the bad and completely overlook the good. When one bad gun shooting happens it is natural for people to start blaming guns for this shooting. Sadly, the gun control nuts are not being rational here if they only considered the number of good people. There were 50 million gun owners yesterday who did not kill anyone, or anyone in the past week. It is completely irrational to pick one bad case of a shooting and compare it to millions of good people who were responsible and did nothing wrong.

There is no gun shooting crisis in the US when you make this numerical comparison. And for that matter there is no airplane accident crisis anywhere in the world. Millions of people fly on the airplanes everyday and nothing wrong happens. There are a few exceptional cases of people dying in airplane accidents, but those are just that, exceptions. They are far far from the norm. People who are afraid of flying on airplanes are not coming to this conclusion because of rationality but because of fear. They are afraid of flying and so they let a few tragic airplane stories scare them. What is funny is that not so many people are afraid of driving cars. But cars are responsible for way more deaths than airplanes and guns. Your chances to die in a car accident is much higher than to die by being shot or an airline accident. However, since the car is very common and it is on the ground people are not driven by fear, they are a bit more rational, and say "I will take my chances, I am a safe driver".

The gun control nuts who use this Arizona shooting are therefore driven by fear. It is not a surprise why this occurred directly after the shooting. Before the shooting people were not as fearful of guns. But the moment they heard a bad story they get captured by fear and abandoned their rationality for a false promise of security that will alleviate their fears.

Perhaps you are one of the people who do support gun control. Sure you can consider this position. And you might even have well-thought out reasons for your position. However, this is all irrelevant. All what I am writing here is not pro gun vs anti gun, instead I am showing how fear, not rationality, was a response for a law.

This fear driven anti-rationality approach to laws has always existed. I will give some examples of past history how fear was used to motivate newer laws, exactly as they are being used today. There was a time when the US had no consumer protection agency (its official name is the Consumer Product Safety Commission). According to Milton Friedman (you can watch the full video here) the push towards the CPSC resulted from a car that was suspected to have been unsafe to drive. The people were terrified. They said that if the wise overlords of the state do not intervene in their satefy then they might be killed by unsafe vehicles, or even products. People said you cannot trust the market for satefy. And so the people were motivated to support an agency like the CPSC not because or any kind of rationality on the matter but rather because they were fearful and scared of what will happen if a CPSC would not exist. The funny and sad ending to the story is that by satefy standards this condemned car was considered to be safe. Talk about fear.

We can go past 2011, past 1972 (CPSC), all the way to 1906, the FDA. It is hard to find people today who agree that the FDA needs to be abolished. The common argument that I hear in defense of the FDA is, "you greedy psychopath who only cares about money, if the market was so perfect and wonderful as you say then why would the FDA come into being, the fact that it exists is proof that it is necessary". No, I disagree, the fact that a law exists does not make it necessary. In the middle-east homosexuals are stoned to death, is this necessary? During the medieval ages witches were burned, was this necessary? In Uganda, a democratic government, a new law has been passed to imprison or kill homosexuals, is this law necessary? The Ugandians certainly claim it is "necessary". How do I know, because I saw the interview with the president of Uganda, or whoever the fuck he is, who said this view. The silly Ugandians might see it as necessary, but we do not. Hence, let me repeat what I said, the fact that a law exists does not make it necessary. Indeed, my three previous examples demonstrate that fear is the driving force in the formation of these laws, not rationality. The people did not sit around a table and in a reasonable manner develop their thoughts on these subjects, instead they were motivated by fear which drove to the formation of these laws.

What inspired the FDA? Was it really true that food and drugs was poisoning people all the time that laws were necessary to prevent this from happening? Not really. The push towards the FDA was inspired by fear-mongers who greatly exaggerated any problems that existed without the FDA. Perhaps, the most influential fear-monger was Upton Sinclair. I remember a brief mention of "The Jungle", in high-school history, about how this book was a criticism towards the free market system of food and drugs. I have to admit that I have never read this book, nor do I plan to. But from reading what it is about online I can form my review of this book. This book is a fear-monger text, nothing more to that. Why do I say this? Well, consider that "The Jungle" is not a non-fiction book. That is right, "The Jungle" is a fiction book. It is a novel. It is not intended to be a researched book on the quality and standards of food in the market, rather it is a novel about immigrants who come to America. Furthermore, the book does not even focus on the lack of food regulations so much. This book was intended to be a socialist book, Upton Sinclair spends more time discussing wage slavery, than what the book became known for - lack of food regulations. Upton Sinclair, and similar people like him, were successful in driving people into fear. So it is no exaggeration to call "The Jungle" as a book of propaganda. Genuine socialists would have it in their best interest to distance themselves from this guy as much as possible. As I said numerous times before, the food regulations laws were not put into place because of a well-thought out position that was formed by the pro-regulators, instead the laws were a reaction to the fear driven outrage of the public.

I am not suggesting that people who support the FDA are irrational and foolish. It is possible to be reasonable and support the FDA. I am saying something diffrent: if you believe that the FDA going away will lead to chaos of people dying in the streets because of lack of regulations, then you are driven by fear, and yes, you are being foolish in that. If you do support the FDA then your argument needs to be that the FDA leads to a higher quality of satefy which is desirable and something which the free market cannot give itself. Instead, of creating a fantasy chaos world of where people are dying non-stop. This chaotic doomsday scenario is sadly portrayed by a lot of people I speak with when I tell them my anti-FDA views. Which once again shows that their support of these such laws is out of fear.

Not all laws are reactions to fear mongering. What I discussed above does not apply to all laws. Some laws are bribed into place. The common term for that is "lobbying", but I hate political euphemisms. Euphemisms hide the true meaning of words, so I would from now on refer to this as "bribery". What is even more surprising is that bribery for new laws is often done under the name of "regulations" or "protection".

There is this myth out there that businesses hate regulators. To explain why this is a myth let me first explain how the masses view the job of regulators. In explaining how people view regulators I will use the terms of the masses, these are not my own terms that I use, but I will stick to what they say.

The masses believe that there are two conflicting interests. The business interests and the public interests. The business interests are all in it for themselves, the business interests are only to make money. The public interests are justice, fairness, equality, support, protection, and other noble causes. The business interests have no interest in any of the public interests because they are anti-profit. If someone is too far to the right then he is pro-business interests, and if someone is too far to the left then he is only pro-public interests. If you move too far to the right then you are a laissez-faire capitalist and you only care about business interests with no concern for the public at all. You only care about making money. But laissez-faire capitalism is unjust, it is brutal, it is harsh. The opposite point of view is moving too far to the left, that would make you a communist/socialist. That is when you entirely reject business interests and only think about the public interests. Though this is a more noble cause it does not work. Because as harsh as business interests are they are important to keep running the economy. So it not possible to have a well-functioning economy without any sort of business interests. It is also not a good idea to only go towards the side of the business interests because that will create the brutal laissez-faire world where everyone is trying to out compete his fellow man. So there needs to be a balance between business interests and public interests, a balance between capitalism and socialism, so that there is a well functioning economy without the brutal competative struggle for money. The free market is for the business interests to make money and thereby run the economy. While the government is for the people, to make sure that the interests of the public are satisfied. Regulations are government controls on the market to make sure the country does not only work in the favor of business interests, but also public interests. The job of regulators is to put controls on the market and make sure the businesses are not in it only for themselves with no regard for the people around them.

This is the prevailing view of what the function of a government is today. Both by liberals and conservatives, conservatives happen to be a bit more skeptical about the government and its efficiencies. It is understandable then that if someone holds this view of government why someone would often support government intervention (the degree to how much is what separates liberals and conservatives).

This is a myth that does need to be abandoned, because it is very wrong. The government is not an entity that sits on high in a temple of pure justice and divinity with the ability to judge the world beneath them. It has its own interests too, which include money and profit, in a way it is a business too. And its interests can be bought by the wealthy through bribery. I know that certain politicians get on stage and say, "this government is by the people, for the people, and it will be such, no more government for the powerful, no more government for the well-connected, this time for the people!". Of course they say that, they give a message of hope, but like all other promises that politicians say it will once again turn out being a false promise. Barack talked the same game when he was a politician, but his promises and hopes were again false promises and false hopes. If people are being fed millions of dollars under the table it is foolish to suggest that the bribed will refuse the bribes. Why should the government be any different, unless, you believe they have some magical moral powers to prevent this from happening.

Now let me get specific with what I mean. A large business might support higher taxes on itself if it means its forgein competitors will be hit with an even larger tariff. Yes, they are now paying more taxes, but their competitors are paying even more. A business may support strict licensing of its workers if most of their workers are already licensed. This will protect this business from present and future competitors who need to meet these licensing procedures. Or consider, for instance, the catalytic converter that was installed on US cars. The US car making companies supported a regulation requiring all cars to have a catalytic converter, which was said to be more safe, because it meant that Japanese competitors will have a tougher time getting past the regulations since they did not install catalytic converters. These are just a few examples, there is an entire myriad of such examples all the way from healthcare, tobacco, and environmental regulation. I will post a video that mentions a few more real examples of these favorable business regulations, here.

Not only do such regulations act in the interests of the businesses some of them have been used to establish and secure monopolies. It is often said that government is the enemy of monopolies, that is what we learn in schools. However, the same kinds of bribery that has been used to protect businesses has been used to secure monopolies , again contrary to what we have been taught and what most of us believe.

There is this funny cartoon that I seen. It is cartoon making fun of libertarians by saying they are just anarchists for the rich, here. This cartoon would have a point except that this cartoon assumes the common myth that government is against the rich and against business interests. It is true that libertarians are not anti-business, but they are neither pro-business; so a business that seeks to gain protections or monopolistic power is much more likely to vote for Republicans than for libertarians.

I am not saying that all laws that ever get passed get passed either because of fear, irrationality or the promotion of business interests. You can find laws that have been passed in the public's interests, and you can find reasonable laws too. There is no conspiraciy of the Illumaniti ruled by wealthy capitalists and Jews who control the government. The government is not some conscious entity. Instead the government is up for grabs, and the rich just have more money, and so an easier time to grab the power in the government. What I am saying is that a lot of these laws that many of us consider to be sacred and assume that without them society will erupt into chaos and disorder do not achieve this at all. Many of the laws that we assume are there to stabalize the country and economy have rather been put into place out of our fears and irrationalities.

And this returns me back to my main point that I was making in the beginning of this post. Namely, that laws, contrary to popular believe, are not created to keep society in check and to prevent chaos. Instead, these very same laws that we consider to be so vital come into place out of fear and sometimes even greed.

1 comment:

  1. I think this column would benefit from Hayek's distinctions between laws and administrative orders.