Charles Murray, author of Losing Ground and other controversial books, has a suggestion. For business people. Pillars of the community. Fine, upstanding citizens.
He’s suggesting, says John Stossel, that we ignore the parts of government that don’t make any sense, all the nonsense in the big books of the regulatory state.
Murray’s done this in his latest, intriguingly titled book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. Stossel discusses it on reason.com:
Murray says, correctly, that no ordinary human being — not even a team of lawyers — can ever be sure how to obey the 810 pages of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 1,024 pages of the Affordable Care Act or 2,300 pages of Dodd-Frank.
What if we all stopped trying? The government can’t put everyone in jail.
This is a provocative idea, even if not new.
Henry David Thoreau spent a night in jail for not paying the poll tax, a tax that helped pay for the Mexican war he so despised (and was right to despise). Thoreau eloquently argued for civil disobedience in such cases; Herbert Spencer did something similar, in his 1851 Social Statics, with the chapter “The Right to Ignore the State.”
It is a risky tactic, of course. Thoreau was, after all, incarcerated for that night. You could wind up spending more time in the hoosegow.
Still, it could be worth it. Civil disobedience has good effects. Stossel cites “historian Thaddeus Russell [who] reminds us that many freedoms we take for granted exist not because the government graciously granted liberties to us but because of lawbreakers.”
It’s another path for citizen-initiated reform.
And it’s Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.