Unintended Consequences

by Edgar J. Steele

June 2, 2002

The population of the United States now stands at about 300 million, including all those illegal immigrants out there.  The population of the world stands at about 6 billion.  Thus, we have about 5% of the world's total population.  

However, on a per-capita basis, we have almost 7 people in prison for every person in prison in some other country.  Yes, there are still lots more people in prison elsewhere, but you stand seven times the chance of going to prison in the US than in other countries...all other countries.

It's not for nothing that we have spent our entire lives listening to government bureaucrats complaining about prison overcrowding and underfunding.  It's true, even though we have thrown money at the problem faster than most other aspects of society.

"Not me," you might say.  "I toe the line and pay my taxes and obey the laws."  Probably true, too.  Problem is that government has mushroomed in the past sixty years and legislation has kept pace.  There are whole segments of the American population now in jail for "crimes" that didn't exist even a few years ago.  

Don't believe me?  Brian and Ruth Christine do - they were just sentenced to 12 and 7 years, respectively, for crimes they were forced to commit by the rogue Oregon SCF agency's intemperate actions (see my archives at www.conspiracypenpal.com ).  They join a host of other parents just like themselves, targeted by government agencies that didn't even exist when I was growing up.

And Lonny Rae ("say the N-word and go to prison," again, check my archives) faces a jail term for hurling a racial epithet, even though he was more than adequately provoked.  The thought police are in full swing throughout this country.  Bush and Ashcroft made that abundantly clear this past week when both suggested that Americans who criticize the federal government might face federal charges.  And they can back their threats up since the "Patriot Act" put teeth back into the existing sedition laws.

You think this might not happen to you tomorrow?  Next week?  Next year?  You are wrong.  Two years ago, neither the Christines nor Lonny Rae would have thought their current plights possible.  Today, they are believers, however, just three clients of mine out of many and out of a huge number of others similarly situated today throughout America.

Spank your kids?  Leave a bruise and go to jail.  Hurt a black man's feelings?  Go to jail.  I could make a huge list of offenses like this that weren't crimes a few years ago.

Let me show you how unintended consequences arise from government action, resulting in folks like you and me serving time.  Since we have just seen this in action in the context of the Oregon bureaucratic jungle (the Christines), let's use Oregon as the example, though this occurs in every state and at every level of government, every day.

Oregon's Governor has been moaning over the state's upcoming $900 million deficit, piled upon a $300 million deficit from the last year.  No talk of cutting any programs, mind you, simply of increasing taxes again.  In particular, he is hawking another cigarette tax increase, on the order of 50 cents per pack.

A few years back, Oregon gave cigarette taxes a healthy jolt and saw revenues rise for a year or so, then begin a steady decline as residents established new sources outside the state.  To stanch the "lost revenue" stream, Oregon bureaucrats added bodies to the state agencies charged with policing such "smuggling."  They have justified these armed police state additions ever since by proudly pointing out that they produce more in fines and increased fees than their cost.  But, not enough, alas.

What gets overlooked is the new criminals that were manufactured along the way.  People like you and me, except they smoke and are more resourceful than Oregon law now allows.  Mind you, someone in Eugene can order all manner of products from across the country without becoming a criminal, but not cigarettes.  For that, you go to jail...after paying some hefty fines, of course.  

Unintended consequences.  Oregon didn't set out to increase its prison population.  They didn't sit down in the legislature and say, "How can we turn even more law-abiding citizens into criminals?"  They were trying to get more money and certain citizens were trying to keep more of their own money.  Result: temporary rise in tax revenues, but a permanent new class of criminals.  That's the seamy side of regulation; there will always be those who resist being regulated, with the result that government tracks them down and makes examples of them.

And it's happening with all manner of governmental regulation today:  zoning, schooling, drugs, welfare, etc.  Areas that saw no government regulation whatsoever when I was a kid.

What Oregon ought to do is decrease cigarette tax revenues, which would have the effect of increasing Oregon cigarette sales all across the board, especially to those out of state, who would then be smuggling cigarettes into their states.  In particular, Washington just passed a massive cigarette tax increase of its own.  Let other states criminalize their citizens.  Meanwhile, Oregon could cut the ranks of its cigarette police, cut the cost of prison population maintenance and simultaneously see an upsurge in tax revenue due to the increased sales.  But, you won't hear talk of this sort of approach, since only the superficial tax revenue/loss level is ever discussed.

The results are so logical and so obvious that it is tempting to say they are intended.  But, I refuse to believe that the people in control (that is, those not a part of the inner party, hidden hand, whatever you want to call the NWO crowd) really want to imprison ever larger segments of America's citizenry.  They just want to consolidate and extend their spheres of influence and power.  That takes money.  If a few innocents' lives get destroyed along they way, well, omelettes and eggs, donchaknow.  Unfortunate but unintended.  

Unintended consequences.

Every day, every single day, I receive several unsolicitated letters and emails from people around the country, imploring me to take on their case.  Usually, they are just plain folks who have been caught up in this mind-numbing morass of government regulation, usually the victims of some out-of-control bureaucrat or rogue agency on a power trip.  It breaks my heart to have to simply ignore their pleas, but I can only do so much.  

When I do take on a case, it is usually foredoomed because the laws have my clients dead to rights, like the Christines.  Attorney for the Damned...I'm not really pleased with the moniker, but it often fits, believe me.

But, every high-profile case I take results in a number of people becoming truly outraged for the first time at what is going on in America.  They write and tell me.  Their discomfort delights me no end because I know I have played a part in moving them to awareness and action.  And there are lots of other lives that get touched without my ever knowing it.

I take the cases I do for one reason:  to wake people up to what is going on in this country.  That is also the upshot of my writings, you may have noticed.  So, even in seeing my clients go to prison, I salvage something of a victory.

Once awakened, I realized that awakening others was my job.  If you have since been awakened, it is your job, too.  Everybody can do something.  Everybody can make a difference.  

Some have unique forums that provide access to large segments of the population.  Regrettably, those who use their mass media platforms to awaken others tend to get shut down by the established order.  That's why the surviving talk show hosts seem so pedestrian.  But, the word is getting out.  Truth can never be bottled up forever.  Today, it is being carried by word of mouth, by people just like yourself.

If I have played a part in your awakening, I am pleased.  Now, join me and wake up the others.  Send this and similar columns on to those you know.  Talk it up whenever the time seems appropriate.  Contribute money to PCLU if you can afford to; if not, we are still honored to have your support.  You've always wanted a cause to really believe in.  Well, this one qualifies, because it concerns your future and that of your children.

Time is wasting.  Events are accelerating.  America will not survive the coming unpleasantries in anything like the form it enjoys today.  

Unintended consequences on a global scale.  

Be a part of the coming solution and help pick up the pieces when the time comes.

New America.  An idea whose time has come.

-ed

"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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