There is no word for “the act of ignoring” other than ‘shun’, so we commandeer ‘ignorance’ because the word feel seems accurate here.

I have been thinking about “selective enforcement” of laws in general. I recently did a quick math exercise to illustrate how impossible it would be for government to physically confiscate guns from citizens. In doing this, I came across what I think is a cul-de-sac in the entire gun registration issue. Firearms dealers use paper ledgers to maintain what little information is collected on gun purchases. The government may have a database, but errors in translation from paper to digital and the sheer number of registrations make this database unusable in all but a very rudimentary fashion.

And then there was the conversation with six of “the boys” – my son and five of his twenty-something friends. Their options are narrowing.

My son took a job at a university. Employer mandated 401-K contribution, mandated healthcare and deducted “processing fee” of $9 per month. His $35K per year job, with mandated Social Security deductions and IRS deductions and the above university employer deductions allows him a gross check amount of $2900/mn, but he is netting out $1900 after the mandated deductions. This is 30% off the top, and he cannot save much of anything after utilities, car payment, insurance, etc.

Another just quit working (effectively) at his job stocking at a local grocery. He decided that if they laid him off, his benefits were more than his current take-home pay. He slacked off and when the crunch came, he was the first to get cut. His take-home is $150/week higher on unemployment than working. Same kind of thing – mandated 401-K, health insurance, social security and IRS deductions.

They brought up the subject of just ignoring the rules. They are not being left with much choice. The most successful of their peers grows weed in Colorado. Another does TV commercials, but she has her own particular set of issues. In her words; “I sometimes do things to get the work that should get me thrown in jail.”

They are all about finding a way to get out of a system that beggars them. Ignoring the rules is what they think may make more sense. So we talked about what might happen if enough people ignored the rules that were just stupid or designed for fleecing.

Let’s do some more math, but first set the stage…

The CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) contains all the laws that Federal Agencies, under Federal authority, simply decree into existence. They have this power by Congressional and Executive authority.

The CFR, as it existed in 2011, was contained in large volumes, in fine print and each page was double columns. The CFR is bound in large books. These books, if stacked on top of each other to be carried by men, were over 25 feet in height. My guess is that we are easily over 26 feet in height today, but the CFR printings lag behind by several years.

The USC (United States Code) consists of the presently enforceable laws passed by Congress. When stacked in similar fashion as the CFR above, the height of this stack of laws is over 12 feet.

There are over 350,000 federal printed forms available through the US Government printing office.

These are just FEDERAL laws. When one adds state and county and municipal laws, the burden is truly egregious. Citizens are breaking laws every day of their normal lives – merely looking at the number of laws on the books makes every citizen a potential criminal. Hypercomplexity again, and all politicians do is pass laws – that is their job, and it adds complexity every year at every level.

Which brings us back to math, and it is the same numbers as for gun confiscation; 22,000,000 government versus about 246,00,000 adult citizens, or 1 government employee versus 11 adult citizens.

I cannot imagine these government employees can decipher the CFR, USC, state and local laws effectively or fairly. They have never been able to. Lawyers wrote these laws, and many are self-referential. Decoding them is a daunting task, which is why lobbyists are so successful in jamming legislation through our system; they have specific agendas and the politicians simply do not have the time for the complexities of navigating their own rules any longer. It is far easier to rely on a “trusted friend” or “experts” in legal codes.

My contention here is that we already ignore more of the “laws of the land” than we are aware. Further, I will contend that NOT ignoring many of these laws would shut down the economy and government. What we have today is an economy that functions in spite of regulations.

This happens because the governments cannot adequately enforce criminal laws, much less civil laws. At best they can make an example of some poor guy every now and then to keep the rest of the herd in line. After me throwing these numbers out to them, ‘the boys’ replies were uniformly “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?”

So what happens if the populace begins to ratchet up non-compliance?

Let’s take Obamacare.

So they are using Treasury to enforce Obamacare mandated insurance. How is that working for them? Have a look at page 4 in their annual report:

Now look at page 5, where you can see the staffing trend.

This is just the tip of the enforcement nightmare iceberg.

I think back on the Vietnam era, of how very few draft dodgers were actually caught during the draft. Everyone knew people skipping out, disappearing, and running assumed names to avoid being caught in the meat grinder. The guys that actually got nabbed honestly weren’t trying hard. Lots of them just tried to ignore the SS (Selective Service) and didn’t change anything they were doing. And back then there was more nationalism existing, more sense of duty than exists today. Adding women into the draft registration process will only make things more difficult, if the draft ever rears its ugly head again.

What would happen if everyone failed to renew his or her driving license? What would the state do in the face of that? What could they do? There isn’t enough jail space in any state for that, and not enough court docket time for due process, even if only half the tickets were contested.

The truth of things is that when they go too far, they have to back away. It’s just the numbers.

The other truth is that when it gets to a certain point, passing a law means nothing if it isn’t enforced effectively. And here the numbers are the same – they can never be enforced. People can be coerced by fear, but true door-to-door enforcement can only be temporary at best, and extremely localized.

What may happen, if governance continues to degrade in its value to us, is that people simply stop listening, participating and obeying. My kids have many friends that are ignoring the Obamacare debacle because they cannot afford it. Interesting that the penalty for non-compliance is almost identical to the lowest premiums touted (in their own televised PSA no less!). Forcing 18 year olds in the prime of their life and health to buy medical insurance – well, young does not necessarily go hand in hand with stupid.

What if we had governance we ignored and simply did not listen to? There is no justice in the legal system any longer – whoever has the most money wins. I’ve played in that arena, and the game is completely rigged at every level. Why? Well, because judges and District Attorneys and City Council members are elected, or appointed by those that are elected. A ‘contribution’ gets results directly proportional to the amount. This isn’t governance – it is simple bribery codified into law.

Legal, revolving job-doors allow regulators and lobbyists to interchange places within every level of government. This is why Flint has lead in their water, why bee-killing pesticides are stupidly allowed and why GMO crops next to you allow the patent owner to sue you, if their plants happen to cross-pollinate your own farmland. The list of stupid and egregious only grows – it never seems to shrink.

This isn’t a USA phenomenon – it is global. Every government has the same basic ratio of citizens to governors. Every government has lobbyists in one form or another. Sharia law may not allow you to charge interest, but the loan origination fees and other add-ons more than equate to interest, and are added into the ‘payment plan’. Every country has a CFR equivalent, and the EU has even more, with their additional layer of governance.

I can’t tell you how this is going to turn out. I can tell you that it cannot continue indefinitely. My feeling is that we are near the point of government making itself ineffective. Today, it is effective for a select few if the right amount of money is applied. The results are laws that are specific to a select few or of benefit to a select group.

The reset will come. It has to because the system is so complex and convoluted that it takes teams of specialists to decipher the laws today. The lobbyists adding more laws into the stacks outstrip those deciphering teams. Uniform enforcement is impossible, making selective enforcement the only option. And that opens the door to an enforcement selection process, within the legal system, being very actively, well … traded.

I think our best outcome might be had by actively ignoring ridiculous laws and edicts. We have been doing that unconsciously all our lives, self evident by the amount of rules that have been written, of which we know nothing about. Maybe it’s time for some conscious and planned irrelevancy?

These young men and women feel the system is rigged, and rigged badly and at their expense. The words they use for the baby boomers in congress hurt my ears – and not in a good or volumetric way. If HRC gets elected, it may signal a time for them to get more serious – they were uniformly disgusted at the prospect of her election, and the other party was resoundingly condemned as being more BAU, and they would be on the short end of either stick. This means, once again, there are no options for them with respect to appreciable change.

Prohibition was much like Obamacare – mandated. Ignoring it seemed to work well and got things turned around, back to sensibility.

“The boys” equated it to football – what happens when the fans stop coming out to watch the game? The team folds or gets sold off to some other rich guy, but ticket prices never drop. Which is why they never go to watch games, and many don’t watch them on television anymore. That, in itself, I found very interesting.

Ignoring the government is a requirement to function economically and socially, but how far can it be pushed? And when will the gray and black markets begin to come into permanence, as happened during Prohibition?


Ignorance As a Methodology — 6 Comments

    • I think black markets will take hold when the cost of complying with laws for key, necessary items hurts sufficiently enough. Or if government outlaws certain items that people really want – pot comes to mind. How’s that ‘drug war’ working for us? I’ve already made the case that enforcement is based on near-uniform compliance. When non-compliance provides monetary or survival advantage – IMHO it (black and gray markets) will burgeon.

  1. The writer has a good command of written English, so the article appears to have some intelligence behind it. However, the author has an ax to grind, so the observation(s) are one-sided. Well constructed, it probably took a significant amount of time to produce, but what is the value or the point of the article?

    • Well, your command of English may be just dandy, but if you do not understand the point of the article, then you must be living in quite the bubble universe…

  2. There is a book titled, “Three felonies a day” The author contends that there are so many laws that every adult in America commits three felonies a day and doesnt even know it.

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