Possession/sale of controlled substances; having no ID/refusing to show ID; importing/exporting without paying taxes; buying/carrying guns without a license; selling services and goods without permits: what do all these things have in common? They are “victimless crimes.” There is no crime if you hurt no one. Nor is there a crime if you hurt yourself on purpose or by accident. Yet the government has decided that the above should be criminal offenses.
Shouldn’t the law punish only those who have hurt others? Yes. Unfortunately, that is not the way things work today. Instead of the law being used to redress grievances against victims, the law has become an end in itself. To follow the law no longer means to naturally respect the life and property of others. Contemporary legislative law has degenerated to mean obedience and allegiance to the state and takes on the following form: “Failure to do X shall be considered a criminal act,” where X is any activity that has no victim. If anything, it hurts the pride of bureaucrats and politicians, whose welfare are directly related to the amount of wealth they can plunder from everyone else.
Let us not forget that the establishment of state law itself is a scam, as no one has the authority to rule over others. Spooner eloquently elaborates on this:
No human being, nor any number of human beings, have any right to make laws, and compel other human beings to obey them. To say that they have is to say that they are the masters and owners of those of whom they require such obedience.
The state is nothing but a collective mental construction which legitimizes criminality and, to use Marc Steven’s definition, government is just a group of men and women offering services at gunpoint. Can this really be as good as it gets? Of course not. A peaceful society is one that does not destroy life and property. A peaceful society lacks institutionalized coercion and favors voluntary agreements over violence.
So-called victimless crimes prey upon the average person, the entrepreneur, the dissident and the patriot. Absolutely no one is hurt by those activities. On the contrary. Most of the time they serve a useful purpose. Against the government’s predatory taxation and licensing, those who heroically engage in the “underground” economy offer goods and services for which there is a demand. If people are paying for it, it means that for them the legal alternative is overpriced, overregulated or undesirable. Sometimes there isn’t a legal alternative at all.
But is it not true that underground and illegal goods are often times associated with crime? Sometimes, yes. The two are related. This is the case, however, only because those activities have been deemed illegal. When was the last time that beer companies engaged in turf wars? Have you ever seen beer pushers around school grounds? Government criminalization of free market activities inexorably leads to social irresponsibility, the nanny state, and a decay of freedom.
In the context of a peaceful market exchange, both parties benefit; otherwise they would not trade. Absent fraud or force, there cannot ever be an exchange that is not mutually beneficial. Thus, any victimless crime is not a crime at all, but a “crime-by-decree.” The opinion of a judge or a legislator becomes “law.” And that is no law at all but rather written words backed by coercion or the threat of coercion. To ignore them implies fines, jail time and, with sufficient determination, death.
Resist the advance of the tyrannical state. Refuse to accept its authority. Dissent fully. Disobey when prudent.
Manuel Lora [send him mail] is a freelance TV producer and multimedia specialist in New Orleans.