Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lawlessness and Anarchy

Note picture of man who does not recognize U.S. government holding U.S. flag.
 Do you know the difference between lawlessness and anarchy? 
  • Lawlessness: not regulated by or based on law, unrestrained or contrary to the law, not governed by law.
  • Anarchy: a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority.
We seem to tolerate a great deal of lawlessness here in America, but we tell ourselves that anarchy would be dealt with swiftly and surely, should it ever come to be.  There not much difference to me, ‘cept that it seems that if one or two people are doing it, it’s lawlessness; if everyone does it, that’s anarchy.

I bring this up because I’ve been bothered for the last few months about the cell phone law here in Oregon.  Now, it’s not a new law - it’s been on the book since 2011.  Pretty much everyone involved with driver safety agrees that driving while using a hand-held cell, or texting while driving, is a dangerous pursuit.  In Oregon, it’s not just risky - it’s not legal.  The law is four years old, and the fine went UP on January first of this year to $142 (minimum) - that’d one expensive phone call. 

So why do I see so many people using their phones while driving?

It can’t be that they don’t know about the law - it’s been in place for FOUR FRICKIN’ YEARS, and it’s discussed constantly on the news, talk shows, etc.  It has to be blatant disregard for the law.  When we take our daily walk to the beach in the off-season, we see maybe 10-20 cars along the way.  We have NEVER had a day where NO ONE was using their cell phone, and often we see two, three, or more driver’s happily chatting or texting while careening down 12th Avenue (that’s how we lost our power pole two years ago - taxi driver, alone, texting a friend, and dislodging the pole with his taxi’s front end).

So that’s lawlessness.  But if EVERYONE did it, would that be anarchy?  Is anarchy just a measure of how many folks are not playing by the rules?  Must disorder be in multiples?

And that brings us to Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who is a bit behind in his grazing payments to BLM.  He is called a patriot by some, and to me this is like calling a dog’s tail a leg.  No matter what you call it, a dog still had four legs.  No matter what you call Bundy, he’s breaking the law, regardless if he recognizes the authority or not.

Bundy claims not to recognize the U.S. government (which is why there are so many US flags at all of his speeches and rallies, right?), but  last time I checked, he was an American citizen.  So, that means he has to play by ALL the rules, not the ones he doesn’t like.  He used to pay his fees, but stopped.  TWENTY YEARS AGO.  He actually acknowledges that he owes money, but the amount and who should have it differs. He says $300K and Clark County; BLM says over a million dollars, and the U.S. government.  One side note - even though Bundy recognizes State of Nevada and Clark County sovereignty, he hasn’t paid THEM, either.

So what if EVERY rancher stopped paying their grazing fees?

It would hardly be anarchy, but it would be costly.  And who pays?  Well, you do.  Just like you’re paying Bundy’s share.

See, here’s the thing - when so other guy cheats on his taxes or doesn’t pay his fees or breaks the very laws you follow every day, they are making a knowledgeable choice to do so, and usually (like so many things) the choice is economically motivated.  If they pay less in this zero-sum game we play called “life,” someone else pays more. The guys and gals who play by the rules.  You and me (well, certainly me, and most likely you).

Here in Oregon we have more than $3 Billion in Income taxes, parking tickets, and court fines, unpaid in the last decade.  The Department of Revenue is responsible for collecting debts, but hasn’t done a very good job.  They recognize that owed money could ease the burden on taxpayers or pay for better services.  And yet they don’t change a DAMN thing in their methods. 

Bundy could move here, but no thanks.  We have enough lawless moochers.

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