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Jun 15 2019

Chronicle of Our Most Ludicrous Laws

In the beginning, treason, counterfeiting, and piracy were the only federal crimes. They were so few in number because the Tenth Amendment explicitly excludes the federal government from having authority where power has not been explicitly delegated:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Unfortunately, the Tenth Amendment is no longer in force. It was never officially repealed. However, everyone in Washington has tacitly agreed to ignore it, which is a repeal in effect.

Stripped of precious Tenth Amendment protection, we are at the mercy not only of the skeevy authoritarians who largely comprise Congress, but of the still more authoritarian fourth branch of government. This is the regulatory state, which is unaccountable to voters, and which tends to pursue the same statist objectives regardless of who wins elections.

As a result of this process of decay, there are now more federal crimes than you can shake your fist at. No one could possibly be aware of more than a small percentage of them — and ignorance of the law cannot be used as a defense.

Virtually all of these laws are arguably unconstitutional. Many of them are conspicuously absurd, as criminal defense attorney Mike Chase documents in his book How to Become a Federal Criminal.

There are so many federal crimes that, as Chase points out, “the specter of criminal liability hangs over all of us all the time.” Ayn Rand explains the objective:

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, 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 laws. - Ayn Rand

On a tip from Jack S.

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