Last week I came home from work after having left the garbage can out on the curb for pick up. To my surprise only half the garbage had been taken from the can. I thought - what did I do wrong this time? There was no construction debris. There was no dirt or grass clippings in the can. There were no un-crushed boxes left on the side. What was it this time? I asked my wife, please darling - find out why the garbage man is not taking our garbage. I told her, honey - I think I know garbage when I see it. Why doesn't the garbage man see what I see - garbage?
My story illustrates something that's been under my skin for a while now. The over criminalization of social and economic behavior in America. In 2003, Paul Rosenzweig wrote:
Congress has exercised precious little self-restraint in expanding the reach of federal criminal laws to new regulatory areas. Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. The American Bar Association reported in 1998 that there were in excess of 3,300 separate criminal offenses. More than 40 percent of these laws have been enacted in just the past 30 years, as part of the growth of the regulatory state. And these laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages . . . The appetite for more federal criminal laws is driven principally by political consideration, and not by any consideration of whether particular laws are intrinsically federal in nature. The growth of "public welfare" offenses will, therefore, be restrained (if at all) only by a public or a court system educated as to the need for restraint.The National Federation of Independent Business commented:
Small businesses are required to comply with more than 75,000 pages of federal regulations, and more than 27,000 of these pages of regulations carry criminal penalties. Unfortunately, an increasing number of well-meaning, unsuspecting small-business owners are being convicted and serving jail time for regulatory crimes they did not even know existed. In addition to facing criminal prosecution for not complying with U.S. regulations, small-business owners can face criminal prosecution for violating foreign regulations of which they might not have been aware.Writing about a bill pending before the U.S. Senate titled the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007," Chuck Colson writes:
We’ve seen where laws like this can lead: Hate crimes have been defined to include verbal attacks—and even peaceful speech. The Thought Police have already prosecuted Christians under hate-crime laws in England, Sweden, and Canada. And in Pennsylvania, 11 Christians were prosecuted under the state’s hate crime law for preaching on a street corner against homosexuality.On the Texas Hold 'Em Blogger, the author writes here about the criminalization of thought. Apparently, two 16 year old girls in Crystal Lake, Illinois were arrested and charged with felony hate crimes because they printed and distributed an anti-homosexual flyer.
Yep, the garbage man has brought to a head my disdain for the over criminalization of social and economic conduct in our county. By the way, do you know why the garbage man did not take all my garbage last week? It seemed I did not have everything inside a bag - then placed inside the can. I was enraged. How could the garbage man have this much control over my life? Well, it appears it is simply a sign of the times. Here's hoping the garbage man takes all your garbage this week!