I don’t know you personally, but I’d venture to guess you’re an upstanding citizen. I bet you pay your taxes, vote in elections, and are a good person who adheres to the laws of our country.

The U.S. legal code is (as I’m sure you know) monstrously complex. Even though you’re a law-abiding citizen, there’s a good chance there are parts of the law you’re unfamiliar with. The risk in having such a lengthy legal system, is average, honest Americans could be committing three felonies a day without knowing it.

Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate published his book (2009) titled “Three Felonies a Day,” referring to the number of crimes estimated the average American now unwittingly commits because of vague laws. New technology adds its own complexity, making innocent activity potentially criminal. Mr. Silverglate describes several cases in which prosecutors didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand technology. This problem is compounded by a trend that has accelerated since the 1980s for prosecutors to abandon the principle that there can’t be a crime without criminal intent.

You probably broke the law today.

We all know ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you violate a law, you suffer the penalty for it. If you take the U.S. code as it exists right now however, today, if you read 700 pages a week of the U.S. code, national calculations are you can finish the U.S. code in only 25,000 years.

There have been numerous attempts to tally the number of federal criminal laws alone, but you will have died and resurrected three times before you can figure out the answer.

Many new laws don’t go through Congress, but are regulatory laws passed by federal agencies. In 2012 we had 3,710 laws pass that became federal law. Only 127 went through Congress. All the rest of them were regulatory laws. We’ve had 81,000 regulatory laws since 1993.

This makes the government even more able and apt to target the innocent. If someone in government wants to punish you (for ANY reason), the ever-multiplying number of laws and heightened domestic surveillance will enable them to get you for “something,” though it may be an obscure technicality.

For this reason, we must NOT be quick to dismiss the NSA scandal (just as one example) by saying “I’m not doing anything wrong, so what do I care?”

You should care, because in this country, even if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong, you probably are.

 

Together We Can Survive Anything,

Dean Miller

American Survivor

 

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