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More laws! Yes, it’s just what the law doctors ordered. We now have more laws throughout our fifty glorious states than we can possibly remember or enforce. Of course, it’s OK if law enforcement can’t remember all of them. Not so for all of us “little” folks. We can’t use ignorance of a law as an affirmative defense for violating it.
The three most popular areas for local law proliferation are cell phones, immigration, and guns/drugs. Thousands of back-road, two-horse towns all over the United States seem to be locked in mortal competition over which one can come up with the most outlandish laws regarding these three areas of social interest. And, behind all of it, we’ll find mental midget politicians with too much money, too much time, and too little real work to do.
I was driving down I-95 last week. I was doing my usual 90-MPH because the truckers consider anything less as obstruction of traffic. A Lincoln Continental pulled along side of me. The only reason I looked over was that it swerved slightly towards my lane. I was shocked at what I saw.
The driver’s left hand was holding a mirror at about the 11-o’clock position on the steering wheel. She was using her right hand to apply eyeliner and shadow. She caught herself swerving because she moved away from my lane, but she never stopped applying the make-up.
It scared the living daylights out of me! When I saw her initially swerving towards me, my own head sort of jerked back a bit. Of course, this caused my own cell phone to slip from its position between my left shoulder and left cheek, causing me to lose contact with the person with whom I had been talking.
Even worse, when the phone fell, it hit the beer can I had stuck between my legs. The beer spilled all over the place, leaving an embarrassing “wet” ring that encircled my crotch and butt areas. It was cold, too! I damn near rear-ended a Cadillac that was in the process of obstructing traffic due to its slow, funereal, snail’s pace of 80-MPH.
When that driver looked up from tuning his radio, he saw me approaching. The look of horror was something to behold. He dropped his cell phone, too. I hope he didn’t have hot coffee between his legs.
Other than my pants, I don’t think anyone was injured. My point, though, is that we don’t need more cell phone laws. We NEED laws to prohibit others from applying make-up while driving on an interstate highway. We also need some laws governing when, precisely, a driver may tune a dashboard radio.
My kidding aside—I really don’t drink beer while I drive, just an occasional scotch—our inattentive driving laws cover these matters and many others. If we happen to kill someone while inattentively driving, the charges elevate to serious felonies in a hurry.
THERE’S NO NEED FOR MORE LAWS! Just enforce the ones we have. I suspect that a contributing problem to the inconsistent enforcement is that many police officers can’t remember all of them, either.
The country is currently up in arms over our immigration laws. The Bush administration recently tried to push more laws through the Congress. The attempt failed and Mr. Bush promptly blamed a Democratic Congress. Of course, he conveniently forgot to mention that most of his own party rebelled against him.
We have a serious immigration problem in this country. However, it isn’t because there is a lack of appropriate laws. It’s because our borders are wide open and grossly undermanned. It’s also because we fail to enforce the laws we already have. The fact that obtaining legitimate citizenship is now a multi-billion dollar legal industry adds to the problem, too.
I realize that immigrants, millions of them, built our nation. They accomplished this right alongside of millions of natural citizens that were born here. This is the hue and cry from the open border proponents. I don’t subscribe to our open border policies of yesteryear because things have changed radically.
The population in this country in 1930 was 123.4-million people. To my knowledge and the history books, I do not recall many of the immigrants of that time wanting to blow us up. By 1990, our population had grown 102%, to 248.7 million people. Some of the immigrants of that era had already voiced a desire to blow up a few of our buildings and people.
According to our census population clock, our population, so far in 2007, has reached 302.2 million. Accordingly, we experience one birth every 7-seconds, one death every 13-seconds (unfortunately nothing to report on Dick Chaney), and one international migrant every 27-seconds. The result: a net gain of one person every 10-seconds.
Since it took me about 3-minutes to type and revise the above two paragraphs, our population is no longer 302.2 million. We have to add another 180 people! While this is a lot of people gaining access to this country, many wishing us harm, please note from the above statistics, that for every one gained through immigration, almost four result from sex between our own citizens.
I don’t know what this means from YOUR perspective, but from MINE, everyone but me is getting laid!
We don’t need MORE immigration laws. We need to stop screwing so much. At least many of you should cut back a bit. Perhaps it would give me a chance to score occasionally. However, it wouldn’t hurt to secure our borders more stringently, while persistently enforcing the laws we already have. And, yes, maybe a slight tweaking of some of the laws wouldn’t hurt, either, but not many of them.
Last, but certainly not least, we don’t need more gun/drug laws. We need to revise what we have to make more sense, particularly with regards to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Many of the ones on the books make matters worse, while some that would make matters better do not even exist. For example, mandatory minimum sentences for drug pushers makes more sense than they do for drug users.
Tough on crime campaigns do not work. They don’t deter crime. U. S. Department of Justice statistics prove it. In 1980, we had 1,842,100 adults under the control of federal and various states’ corrections departments. At the end of 2005, that number had jumped to 7,155,806 adults, an increase of 288%.
Think about it. In 1980, 1.1% of our 162.8 million population was under some level of prison supervision. By the end of 2005, 3.2% of our 222.3 million population was under some level of prison supervision. Great news, huh! From 1980 through the end of 2005, our population grew 36% while the percentage of adults within that population grew 288%.
In 1980, sixty-five percent of these adults were probationers. By the end of 2005, that percentage had dropped to 59%, but the number of adults inside of prisons had jumped from 319,598 in 1980 to 1,461,132 in 2005, an increase of 357%.
By the end of 2011, we’ll have an additional 200,000 adults in prison, at the current rate of increases. But, most will be women and older people. The trends… they are a changin’!
The cost to the nation is staggering. Just counting the additional 200,000 adults above, it’s going to cost about $28 billion over the next 5-years. Of course, we’ll need more prisons to house all them, so, add approximately $30 billion more.
Drug-related crimes account for between 60 and 70% of these numbers. Of these percentages, seventy-five percent of them are drug users—1st and 2nd offenders, hard-core addicts, and casual users—as opposed to drug dealers. And, over 60% of THESE are probation violators.
A typical convict, having served the time and released under various probationary conditions, does not WANT to violate probation and return to prison. However, typical released convicts might face a combination of fines, court costs, and probationary supervisory fees in the range of $15-thousand dollars. And, they’re walking back into a society that is not all that eager to have them back to begin with.
Simultaneously, they’re still at the same psychological mindset and job skill level as they were when they were arrested. Neither, I hastily add, do they have any real prospects of finding, even menial jobs. Additionally, because of the nature of their crimes (drugs/alcohol), they’ve lost their driving privileges and must attend drug rehabilitation sessions at a per session cost to them of $80 or $90 (that they don’t have). There are usually about 9-sessions per program, too!
Essentially, these people are in hock to their eyeballs, have no means of paying it off, have no actual job prospects, AND, couldn’t drive to work or to find a job, even if they had some hope of getting work. If they miss a single fine payment, the court issues a capias for their arrest. They violate probation and end up back in jail.
I know people who are trying, desperately, to mend their lives. I’d bet that they account for over 80% of drug-related probationers. They are doing everything in their power to abide by the rules. Sometimes, though, the rules are just plain impossible. They sound good from a politician’s election/reelection standpoint. As in the case of many politicians, though, the rules are stupid.
Many convicts in our prisons will never be useful members of society. They consist of about 25% of our prison population. They should stay where they are. We must treat them humanely, of course, but not turn them loose on society. I do not include only the murders, rapists, and child predators in this group, either.
I’m not soft on crime. I do not condone the use of illicit drugs, or the misuse of legal drugs. But, there has to be a better way of getting such people back on their feet and back into meaningful contributions to society. Those of you who advocate a “toss them in jail and forget about them” philosophy need to understand that the cost of doing it will bankrupt us in short order.
Every dollar we spend on this foolishness is a dollar we can’t spend on building better roads, a better educational system, and adequate health insurance coverage for people in dire financial straits.
This nation could have the highest, most productive standard of living on the face of this globe if we’d stop wasting our money on contrived reasons for going to war, make believe methods of insuring our safety, and our stupid, macho ideas that we can eliminate crime by building more prisons and forcing judges to use them.
Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.