Laws or Suggestions

Henry Waxman

The other day while torturing myself with CNN I heard Henry Waxman, that living argument for congressional term limits, tell us that the new, all singing and dancing,  US health care bill would not fund abortions or pick up the tab for illegal immigrants.  Maybe Henry is telling the truth, hey it could happen, pigs can fly if they’re dropped high enough, but I suspect Henry is confused about laws and suggestions.

Laws come in many forms and flavors but all laws mathematical, scientific and legal have a common trait: enforcement.  Mathematical laws, theorems if you will, are self enforcing.  If you accept the fundamentals or axioms of a theory and adhere to clear logical rules of inference you don’t have a choice about accepting valid results or proofs.  A sure sign of crankhood is the steadfast refusal to accept mathematical results. To this day we still run into circle squarers.  They’re a dying breed and I find their insanity kind of cute.   If only \pi was an algebraic number there would be hope but fortunately it’s transcendental and there isn’t.  Even the FSM, (Flying Spaghetti Monster  — or God for you fundamentalists),  cannot square the circle with a straight edge and compass; it’s an absolute impossibility.  Mathematical laws are not girly men.  They’re tough enough for any neighborhood and won’t back down even for deities.

Scientific laws also police themselves.  You aren’t going to build a perpetual motion machine,  get colder than absolute zero,  force mass faster than the speed of light or convince a stubborn coin that its past has any bearing on the next toss.  Nature is a tough cop and she isn’t going to take crap from anyone.   Mathematical and scientific laws are called laws because you are forced to obey.  Law and enforcement is symmetrical;  you don’t get one without the other.

When we enter the legal domain this symmetry breaks down.   Legislatures, parliaments and dictators can pass any law they want but unless they enforce it it’s not a law; it’s a suggestion.   Have you ever driven down the freeway at the speed limit and watched all the cars, even the ones driven by little old ladies, zip past you?  Are all these drivers breaking the law?  In some looney legal universe yes; in the real one they are ignoring the suggested speed limit.  Without cops there are no speeders!

As a matter of personal policy I ignore all legal  suggestions.  I only obey enforced laws.  Without parking tickets I would always park in the handicapped spots; they’re more convenient.  Without the IRS I wouldn’t pay a dime of taxes.  Without prisons I would steal with impunity.  I’m not a bad person just an honest one.  Human legalities only become law when enforced.  Now Henry’s health bill may contain verbiage forbidding payments for abortions and illegals but unless they’re is a corresponding, rigorous and funded enforcement regime to insure that Henry’s suggestions become laws he’s just spouting bullshit.