Saturday, May 29, 2010

We have too many laws, and too many cops willing to enforce them

I'm sure many, if not most, men and women who join the police force do so because they believe they are actually helping to make their neighborhoods safer. Unfortunately, too few police officers are willing to question the tasks they are expected to perform.

Consider what happened last year in Haverford Township, Pennsylvania. Seven neighborhood kids, in the spirit of traditional American entrepreneurship, set up a lemonade stand. But, alas, this is 21st-century America, and some people have a problem with that kind of freedom. A local resident was offended by the display of unbridled capitalism and summoned the cops, who promptly shut down the stand because the kids failed to get a permit. Talk about making lemons out of lemonade.

You see, in order to engage in the exchange of goods and services in the Land of the Free, permission must first be obtained from the state and the requisite extortion paid to the proper authorities. That's the kind of "law" cops are expected to enforce -- and they do so willingly. "I am," the cop will say, "just doing my job."

The punch line to the story is that when the cops actually bothered to research the law they were supposedly enforcing, they discovered that it was perfectly legal for those kids to sell lemonade without a permit. In Haverford Township, a permit is only required for those 16 years of age or older. What the kids experienced that day on their neighborhood street was just a taste of what they will have to deal with on a daily basis in a few short years. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts, kids.

We could examine incidents of police beatings, Tasings, botched drug raids, and countless other examples to see the erosion of freedom, but somehow the shutting down of a lemonade stand run by children drives home the point that government control reaches into every aspect of our lives. The fact is that we live in a country of too many laws, and when those charged with enforcing those law can't even keep them straight, you know we're in trouble.

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