“Where There are Laws, You Will Find Crime”

I heard that a long time ago (it's a good thought project on cause/effect by definition) and for some reason or the other, attributed it to Solzhenitsyn, but a lot of Google searching turns up nothing for him or anyone else.

Anyway, this will do.

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Tacitus

I miss the Greeks.

2,000 years later, and even the Greeks haven't a clue what the Greeks were saying—like, 2,000 FUCKING YEARS AGO! Especially and particularly, so.

But there's nothing to see here. Back to sleep. You—Americans—can catch up with even the Greeks, in time.

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Comments

  1. gabriella kadar says:

    Don’t know but doesn’t the definition of crime rely on actions that are unlawful? I haven’t looked it up but just figured. Sort of like how it’s not adultery without marriage?

  2. Those uncircumcised geniuses! I knew my mom was on to something with me and my brother…

  3. Tacitus was Roman.

    Anyway, a supposed authoritarian such as Plato (an actual Greek) says quite the opposite: good men don’t need laws and bad men don’t follow them. It’s also more plausible. Dictators govern by fiat; they do not bother to promulgate law.

    • Pendant

      Yea, sometimes I don’t check myself and not the firs time I made the error. I suppose I’m so enamored of the Greeks that I attribute shit Romans said to their influence.

      That quote you cite, to me, is right in line, though. Different perspective but essentially the same thing.

  4. gabriella kadar says:

    Now what? It’s very difficult because the USA is no longer a homogeneous society in regards to power and politics.

    The people of the United States are in a sort of flux. The concept of the melting pot is corroding with globalization.

    The founders of the USA were committed to making it work in their here and now. They had no TV, no internet, no computer games and other distractions from thought, discussion, argument and putting words on the page. They had more silence in which to formulate their ideas.

    We are no longer citizens. We are consumers. It is totally amazing, by comparison to what today is considered to be intelligent discussion, to read the arguments posed by the founders of America.

    But, saying that, the younger people in the United States are motivated. I think Richard, you and I are in that slough between them and the earlier baby boomers. Our angsts are not shared by the older generation or the younger one.

    Last year a friend and colleague committed suicide. I did some reading and discovered that throughout, from late teens to the present, our demographic has had the highest suicide rate in Canada. It’s like a boa constrictor bump on the graph with age and date coordinates. Something happened to our cohort and it’s still ongoing. Probably the same in the US.

  5. Richard, the only source I know of this quote has it originally stated in the negative and (ironically) it’s the bible :
    Romans 4:15 “…but where there is no law, there also is no violation”

  6. It sounds like Ayn Rand. I think it was she who said (paraphrasing) that the only way to control people is if they’re criminals, so they make so many laws that everyone is a criminal.

  7. Read today that the UK is making it illegal to serve a hamburger rare or medium rare.

    • Well, shit, even though I don’t think it’s a law in the US, almost nobody will serve anything here that’s not medium or better. I know a couple of places, but they grind their own meat.

  8. Anyone who’s ever worked in IT, programmed anything, or understands how computers work will see that every government as designed is destined to fail for one simple reason: Continuous growth.

    It’s that simple.

    Now, perhaps Richard is in favor of no government. I don’t see that as supportive of the lifestyle I want. I find it highly unlikely that people would govern themselves in everything from cars to airplanes in a way that I would have the freedom I do in those same areas today. And freedom isn’t just defined as the ability to do what I want, it implies a degree of protection from other people doing things that impact me.

    I see an ideal government as similar to an operating system on the computer. It provides the framework under which components work together, allowing a high degree of freedom as far as what runs on the computer itself.

    That said, perhaps it is possible now to design a self-healing system for government similar to what is seen on computers. ZFS anyone? Oh well. So the U.S. Government had a system of checks and balances, ignored to some degree today, but nothing in place to limit growth.

    It’s growth that has to be the limiting factor. Something as simple as mandatory review of law at defined intervals, some of which HAVE to have original authors involved. So, a 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, 10 year, 25, then every 25 year review. The first 4 require the original author/sponsor of the bill to be present. This serves several purposes: First, it creates work on not making laws, thus reducing the time spent creating new laws. Second, any lawmaker knows they’ll be reviewing it later in front of a different group of peers.

    It’s just one idea, but I see government as valuable. The value goes away when it quits being the framework (currency, national defense, etc.) and starts doing what the commerce and charity within the framework should be doing.

    Back to computers, I remember each time I got a newer system thinking “I’ll never fill this hard drive!” I thought that at 40 megs. :) Unfortunately, the government isn’t limited to a hard drive. They don’t fill up, they just keep making more law and eventually will fall under the weight of it all.

    • “Something as simple as mandatory review of law at defined intervals”

      Saga period Iceland had a “reader of the law.” Every year he would recite the entire body of existing law and if he left anything out, it was no longer law.

      • Beautiful! And totally undoable here in the U.S.A. I wonder how many years it would take to recite all of our law. And how would you like to have that job? :)

      • Another “quirk” in terms of Icelandic law was there were no crimes against state of the society. The judgment went to the victim. For murder, the murderer had to pay restitution to next of kin. If he didn’t pay up, then next of kin had the right to kill the murderer.

      • Bill Strahan, speaking of undoable, how do you think you can control government? The checks and balances that were placed in the US originally have been bypassed, as you say, and while I admire the revision process you’ve suggested, any device, method, law, procedure etc. anyone can devise must come up against the simple fact that once a system is created that has power over you, you no longer have power to control it.
        More eloquently perhaps : “There can be no such thing as ‘limited government’, because there is no way to control an entity that in principle enjoys a monopoly of power…” – Joseph Sobran
        Besides, consider perhaps that the benefits you believe you are enjoying from the existence of government are actually benefits from the existence of society.

      • Yeah, there’s the rub. The rules and the rules-maker enjoy an interesting relationship. Or, “It’s good to be the king.” :)

        As to the benefits of society, I see your point. But large society without government just doesn’t seem to work, does it? I think we have the interests of our fellow man at heart when: 1) We’re related. Not family, but related. 2) We see that it benefits us as well. Takes a bit of intelligence to see extended benefits. 3) We think we’ll turn a profit that way. 4) We’ll be penalized for NOT doing something in their interest.

        #1 only applies to small groups. The sewage I dump in this river nearby doesn’t affect me or anyone I know.
        #2 requires the ability to see and value the reciprocal values. Not many people are good at that.
        #3 does nothing for the people from whom you won’t profit, but will affect.
        #4 requires an authority to make the rule and penalties.

        At the simplest level, government provides a form of standardization. Look at the productivity leaps that came about when the Europeans did something as simple as standardizing bolt/nut sizes and threads. That one change made an enormous change in productivity. Bolts and fasteners used to be built on-site as needed. They weren’t interchangeable. Suddenly all of that could be optimized by moving it off site.

        What kind of car industry would exist today without standards for the fuels being used? It’s easy to view government as inherently evil. Perhaps it is. But the absence of a government isn’t better.

        I don’t think we would have moved much beyond cottage industry without a government that provided a larger framework.

        Do I like all that the government does? No. But, hell, I don’t like every single thing my wife does!

        I see the TSA as an example of government gone awry. But, I also don’t think that individuals would have agreed on the airspaces and procedures that allow safe commercial aviation. Both are aspects of the U.S. government.

      • “At the simplest level, government provides a form of standardization. Look at the productivity leaps that came about when the Europeans did something as simple as standardizing bolt/nut sizes and threads. That one change made an enormous change in productivity. Bolts and fasteners used to be built on-site as needed. They weren’t interchangeable. Suddenly all of that could be optimized by moving it off site.”

        I’m so glad the government is there to provide stadardization to all the map makers, GPS manufacturers, Google maps, Apple’s App that I hear sucks but works about the same way for me, Beat the Traffic, and so on.

        So glad the government jumped in to standardize fax transmission, early baud rates, and that we had the official software language.

        Shall I continue?

      • Bill, I see where you’re coming from,
        “but the absence of government isn’t better” is questionable at the least.
        Looking back on history at most of the major advances in human knowledge/crafts/industry, one could notice that any government or coercive authority (eg.church) at the time was either irrelevant or outright opposed them
        .
        Human progress seems to have happened In Spite of government, not because of it.
        .
        As for standards and practices, most professional bodies do their own and do so internationally, I’ve been part of one such group for the laser imaging industry. ASHRAE does it for heating and cooling systems and there are many others. There’s no reason to think the auto industry wouldn’t have done the same for fuels (perhaps if it weren’t so tied to government subsidies/control to begin with).
        I don’t know the background to nuts and bolts, but again, why wouldn’t manufacturers get together over that, it’s to the benefit of each of them.
        .
        So it’s not actually a matter of “taking the good with the bad”, unlike your wife :).
        Instead, it looks like government has been ‘bad’ all the way.
        .
        Government not only stands in the way of progress (in it’s natural self-protective need to hoard power) but directly hurts the vast majority of humanity : ever since the age of agriculture and centralized authorities/ tribes/ fiefdoms/ kingdoms/ governments of all shapes and sizes, the overwhelming majority of any population has suffered under government (slaves, serfs, political oppression, wars, etc).
        .
        Another summary that’s rather more eloquent : “Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us” – Leo Tolstoy.

      • GPS manufacturers? I assume you mean RECEIVERS. The transmitters are all in orbit, thanks U.S. government. Not much use in a receiver with no transmitter. And the private alternative to the global positioning system is…crickets…

        Most of the mapping systems borrowed heavily from TIGER a long time ago. And the mapping systems that rely on zone and zip codes? Hard to geo-code without some government initialized or maintained databases. Thanks big gov.

        Standardize fax transmission? No need, can piggy back on a phone system that was already standardized.

        I really like your GPS mention though. It’s freaking amazing what a $100 device can do when it piggybacks on what the government did for Billions.

        Please, continue. :)

      • So you’re saying that massive institutions that take trillions from individuals and businesses by force are able to build more stuff than companies that don’t.

        Not sure where you’d get the idea I’d dispute that.

        You seemed to argue that government is required to standardize things. In fact, government almost always does the opposite (look at the history of rail gauges, for example, what side of the road to drive on….). Look at Milspec, where one-off specifications are put out to bid for big bucks when there are perfectly suitable off-the-shelf gear.

        Of the three largest standards organizations (ISO, IEC, ITU), the former two, the two largest are private organizations and are responsible for most standards that exist in the world.

      • Please don’t get me wrong. I hate how much I pay in taxes, and find the government wasteful and frustrating.

        Could a private organization have created and implemented a GPS system for far less than the government? Absolutely! So why didn’t they?

        I’m absolutely thrilled with Rutan’s accomplishment with Spaceship One, and look forward to Branson and Scaled doing great things with the ongoing program. And I LOVE that they did it for a fraction of what the government does it.

        The free market will always do things for less than the government will.

        But let’s go back to the GPS scenario. Without the U.S. government via the FCC enforcing specific usage of certain frequencies, I don’t see everyone else playing nicely. What happens when you want to implement your mobile phones on the same frequency I want to implement my GPS?

        And in spite of those regulations, look at the LightSquared issues right now. They’re trying to push it through even knowing positively that it causes problems with GPS. If the government didn’t block them, I am confident they’d just do it and deal with fallout.

        Then what happens in this totally free market when commercial aviation is impacted by sat communications because the people within the market don’t agree on the spectrum to use?

        I see the need for government. I want it to be more limited, but I see the need regardless.

      • “So why didn’t they?”

        Probably for the same reason that the building of private railways stopped abruptly with the building of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific financed by the government. Prior to that, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and others built thousands of miles of track in order to move their goods all over, east of the Missippi. And, James J Hill built the only transcontinental that was all privately financed, in cash, and actually opened up trade with Asia (via Seattle–very interesting history, documented by Burton W. Folsom in his books).

        Or, basically, it’s tough to compete with an entity that can steal with impunity, and when that gets excessive and burdensome, they can just print money and steal via the hidden theft of inflation.

        Of course, you know why I brought up the GPS issue. :) Serves me right.

        Here’s a story. Or course, on Navy ships we had GPS. So too did the French ships I served on. Very unreliable, big cubes about 2x2x2 (FEET!). Yea, one-off Milspec shit. By the time I was working on the French ships in the early 90s, handhelds were already coming out for a few hundred bucks. Most people who owned nice boats like sailboats had them. How funny. They all had more reliable navigation equipment than we did.

      • 8 cubic feet to, now reduced to something TINY. And better and faster. Ah, technology.

        Back to the system, consider a glaring difference between your rail example and the space program. Private space programs didn’t exist until the last ten years. It wasn’t a government program that competed and drove out the private industry, govt was the only game in town. AND, big things were done at a time when it wasn’t really considered all that possible. Part of that is BECAUSE they can be wasteful. As a company owner, there is a big payoff to do the very difficult well. I won’t waste money on the truly impossible. The government has no profit motive. Usually a bad thing, very occasionally it has productive side effects. The GPS system and space program itself being examples in my book.

        I’m probably as close to a free market capitalist as anyone you’ll encounter. But I do see a role for government. Do I think that our (I know we both live in the U.S.) government is totally screwed up, bloated, and doing things to nearly guarantee its own collapse? Yes. Do I think we’ll role things back to a point that the government can be what it was intended to be? Nope, we’ve jumped the shark.

        That said, there is incredible freedom and opportunity here. I haven’t traveled a ton, but I’ve been enough places and become friends with enough citizens of other countries that I think what we have here is pretty damn good.

        I used to rail against government excess and taxation to anyone who would listen. I tried to get people to see a more conservative, small government point of view. I became an Ayn Rand fanatic. Then I finally just stopped all of that, and embraced what is.

        Yes, I’ll pay close to 40% of my income in taxes. Yes, I have to jump through a lot of hoops to do things that should be simple. But seeking the optimum within the game has become my mantra, whether the game of business, or poker.

        The most annoying part of any type of government involvement in my life is renewing my driver’s license. How people who sit through that process can think for a moment that allowing a federal government to provide medical services (let’s quit calling it health care) is a good idea is beyond me.

  9. I’m a Classicist, and that amused me.

    I finally finished my last *required* course for my bachelor’s degree in Classics and it was Greek Literature in Translation, taught by a man who came to the US from Greece without a word of English in 1983. I never regretted choosing Latin over Greek until the last six weeks of this semester.

    The Greeks were incredible (even though it sucked to be a woman unless you were Lacedaemonian), and the literature is incredible. Knowing that so much of Homeric epic has been lost, and so many dramas and Old Comedies just breaks my heart because we will never know what they said.

    On the other hand, the Romans had Catullus, and you can’t not enjoy Catullus, especially when you follow up with Ovid’s Ars Amatoria. I take my Catullus with a few glasses of wine, thank you (all the sex talk in those works makes the wine paleo, trust me.)

    • Alright, Kristina.

      That is right up there with the best and mysterious comments ever to be posted here.

      That’s all I’m going to say.

    • BTW, Kristina, from Alexa:

      “Based on internet averages, freetheanimal.com is visited more frequently by females who are college educated and browse this site from home.”

      I believe a couple of months ago it used to say “from school,” which made me laugh more.

      Are you messing with my metrics by browsing from home?