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Law and Its Shadow

Laws are an expression of force, designed to compel citizens to do something, or prevent them from doing something. 

There is little point in passing laws that force people to do what they would freely choose to do.  That means there will always be resistance.  Every law casts a shadow of disobedience.

A just law is disobeyed primarily by a small group of outright criminals.  The laws against murder, for example, are directed at the relatively small portion of the populace who would seriously consider killing someone.  There are those who disobey these laws, and great force is rightfully deployed against them.  Very few of us spend time thinking about how to avoid the laws against violent crime.

When it comes to regulations and restrictions that affect most of the population, there are forms of disobedience which fall short of lawbreaking.  People and businesses may choose legal methods to avoid the intentions of the regulators.  The more economic sense it makes to avoid a tax or regulation, the more people will do so.

The acolytes of Big Government only pretend not to understand this when it suits their purposes.  Sometimes they explicitly cite the principle of avoidance in their social engineering plans.  For example, General Motors Dan Akerson made headlines this week by announcing he wants the federal government to impose an additional dollar per gallon in gas taxes, to herd an unruly populace into purchasing more of the fuel-efficient cars he has been directed to produce. 

Akerson’s idea is that people would avoid the extra gas tax by switching to small and expensive high-efficiency cars.  He thinks even now, with the American economy smothered by rising gas prices, fuel costs are still too low to over-ride the free choices of consumers. 

Of course, if Akerson gets his way, a lot of people will avoid the huge new gas tax by driving less.  This would have disastrous effects on many industries which depend on highly mobile consumers, from retail sales operations and restaurants to delivery services and entertainment.  People who think like Akerson would be reliably surprised by the “unexpected” economic collapse which followed, just as they are surprised by the current one. 

One of the fatal weaknesses of social engineers is their belief that they can harness disobedience, and use it like a chisel to carve a captive population.  Disobedience doesn’t work that way.  It’s chaotic by nature.

Along those lines, Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute writes in the Wall Street Journal today of a new study that finds “up to 50% of employers say they will definitely or probably pursue alternatives to their health-insurance plan in the years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”  This will lead to a “radical restructuring of job-based health coverage.”  This could push up to 35 million workers into government-subsidized coverage, raising the already staggering cost of ObamaCare by over a trillion dollars over the next decade.

One of the reasons for this impending collapse in the private health-insurance industry is that the cost of disobeying ObamaCare, a fine of $2000 per worker, is less than the cost of complying with it.  Turner notes that the likelihood of disobedience increases among employers with “a high awareness of the health reform law.”  The more they know about it, the more paying two thousand bucks per employee to escape from it sounds like a good deal.

This will probably lead to a tremendous increase in the amount of the non-compliance fine… which will, in turn, dramatically increase the value of those wonderful ObamaCare waivers distributed to friends of the royal court.  Thus does socialism become fascism.

Do you remember any of that during the sales pitch for ObamaCare?  Of course not.  You were told explicitly that “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.”  Well, not if your employer stops offering it. 

The elected representatives of a limited government should always think about the shadow of disobedience that follows every law.  How will the economy be shaped by the efforts of people who don’t wish to comply?  If those effects are catastrophic, the law is clearly unjustified.  If the methods needed to ensure compliance are draconian, the law has no place in a nation of free men and women.  The great republic envisioned by our Founders should never be in the business of writing inescapable laws to shackle honest citizens. 

This was obviously not done with ObamaCare, which was passed in a frantic scramble of back-room deals and special exemptions.  No one responsible for it had even read the law at the time of its passage, never mind contemplated its ramifications.  If you would return to an America of freedom and prosperity, you must remove the people who view your free choices as unacceptable disobedience.

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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