Let me add, to the piece I wrote for Catholic Thing today (here), that were it continued for a few more thousand words, I might make several other points touching on our contemporary lawlessness, both sacred and profane. But as Father Hunwicke says, I type with only one finger, and it is getting tired. (Well actually I type with three, and sometimes use my thumb on the space bar, which is why my pieces often come out longer.)
Disrespect for the law grows from many causes, but one of terrible effect is the quantity of legislation. When I last checked, for instance, a few years ago, the Obamacare arrangements had filled 20,202 pages. Since, by executive order and the like, this has grown considerably, and of course, this not-quite-randomly selected Act and its attachments comprise only a miniscule portion of current USA law overall. I am unaware of page counts for Canadian legislation and orders-in-council (the federal and provincial Gazettes congest with them, every day). In comparison, the Ten Commandments of Moses were easier to remember; and note that Jesus boiled those down to Two.
As I learnt to my cost some years ago, after I criticized a previous Liberal government in perhaps too harsh and public a way, the Income Tax Code is a kind of star-gate, and once one’s file is transferred for audit from Scarborough, Ontario to, say, the notorious office in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, the [omitted] can get you in a million ways; and any appeal to the Tax Court will cost you another million. (Received a letter this week to suggest they are coming for me again, and my only pleasure is that it must cost them a hundred barrels for every pint of blood they can hope to suck from me.)
The modern citizen is a trained wuss when it comes to such things. He will take any tyranny for granted, so long as it comes with the “democracy” label. He has been taking it for a long time, as for instance through the income tax department, which, long before my personal experience of its sick, sadistic ways, I opposed in principle. The department was created not only to pick our pockets, but to give the State access to our most intimate private lives, together with a presumption of guilt in all investigations. The receipts are then applied to leverage debt-based expenditure to purposes themselves, far more often than not, intrinsically evil.
Against this background, it is hardly surprising that the bigger economic players, who can afford whole accounting departments to find existing loopholes, and lobbyists to fetch more when they are wanted, consider themselves to be above criticism if their lawyers can argue they have stayed within the law. But these arguments are useless, should the political powers take a dislike to them. For the government always has larger accounting and legal departments; and when it comes to “lawyering” they hold all the cards.
I laugh, for instance, when anyone proposes a comprehensible “flat tax.” The codes and regulations are immensely complex by design and intention. The purpose was explained to me by a successful businessman once, with whom I happened to be allied, briefly. He said, that whenever he negotiates a contract, he instructs his lawyers to make it hard to understand, by inserting and then insisting upon a myriad of petty little clauses, all of which will appear to be irrelevant. Indeed, he said, all of them may be, but in aggregate they are bound to provide the “wiggle room” should later he decide to welch upon the deal — “legally,” as he put it.
Am I cynical and misanthropic on matters like these? I would think so.
Centralization of human authority in the modern Nanny State is, in its nature, totalitarian. We have governments in control of huge populations, passing the equivalent of municipal by-laws, that apply to the whole country. And these with the full power of police and army to enforce them should any question arise. This is obviously a recipe from Kafka. (Not Barbara; Franz.)
These laws of man make mockery of the Law of Heaven.
But God will have to deal with it, I am too small.