the murdered Roman statesman, explained the law thusly:
is the highest reason implanted in nature, which commands what ought
to be done and forbids the opposite.”
men know the law without resort to a lengthy civil or criminal code.
They know it through simple living, passively absorbed common law,
and mostly by religious teaching and custom. Indeed, the most basic
laws governing one man’s relationship with another are the Ten Commandments:
Thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet
thy neighbor’s wife and so on.
history has taught us anything, it’s that law’s going beyond these
few simple things creates more problems than it solves, hands one
man unjust power over another, and creates a parasitic political
class and Leviathan government.
law invites contempt not only for government but also for the law
few facts about the law, which permits government or its agents
to do all of the following:
a business doesn’t hire an applicant of the “right” color or sex,
the owner is punished.
repeatedly taxes the same income: when it is earned, when it is
spent, when investments earn dividends, and finally, when a citizen
dies. These taxes do not include other government “fees.”
prosecutes crime victims.
tell doctors how to practice medicine, and stop manufacturers from
marketing life-saving drugs.
teachers and bureaucrats “educate” your children.
requires drivers to pay five different fees, each requiring proof
of payment: a license, a registration, a license plate, a county
tax decal and state inspection sticker.
levy fines for not wearing a seat belt.
tells barkeeps and restaurateurs to forbid smoking at their businesses.
permits doctors to perform abortions on minors without parental
consent. Government gives teenage girls birth control pills without
their parents’ knowledge.
strike down laws they do not like, and write new laws in their place.
help dishonest plaintiffs put companies out of business with frivolous
murders foreign leaders and citizens.
is wrong when government, using a mammoth tome of unintelligible
laws, takes a citizen’s money and gives it to someone else.
is wrong with a law that tells a small businessman who he must hire,
or that regulates smoking on private property.
is wrong with a law that tells parents they cannot know whether
a teenage daughter and abortionist are murdering their grandchild.
is wrong when government prosecutes frightened citizens who use
guns to protect themselves from violent criminals. Something is
wrong when a lawnmower manufacturer is held liable, because an idiot
nearly cut off his leg when he used a mower to trim a waist-high
is wrong when government can tell a doctor what to charge for a
procedure, or tell parents how to educate a child.
wrong is this: Law has gone beyond the legitimate purview Cicero
and others described.
ruin looms ahead of us for many reasons: cultural disintegration,
public education, mass immigration, racial strife, and abortion,
to name just a few.
almost all these ills can be traced to irksome, unjust or ill-conceived
laws, which breed scorn for appropriate and just laws.
laws seem contrary to Cicero’s model: They command what shouldn’t
be done and forbid the opposite.
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.