Hidden Wonders

Politics·Society

Laws Have to Be Enforceable


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Introduction[#]


I am the Law and the Law is not mocked!

— Javert, Les Miserables

This article from the New Yorker——it’s a useful publication to read on occasion to better understand what an average left-leaning person believes in——highlights an issue that has been bugging me for a long time now. Essentially, this article from the New Yorker supports banning private ownership of guns.

Now, I’m not writing this article about guns, or about my political opinions. What I’m writing this article about is the law, and how in the past 200 years or so governments have grown in power and——as a result——have begun passing into law unenforceable legislation. This leads to one of two outcomes: an increasing disrespect for the law as the government fails to enforce legislation it passes, or an increasingly powerful federal government as the government resorts draconian measures to try and enforce their unenforceable laws.

Gun Issues[#]


Back to that New Yorker article: it mentions bump stocks, which have since been banned. Now, a bump stock is just a fancy piece of plastic that allows a non-automatic gun to shoot faster than normal——see this video [watch?v=K2IOZ-5Nk5k] for a good demonstration. So, how can the government reasonably enforce such a ban? If someone were to 3D print a bump stock in their basement, are they breaking the law for owning an illegal piece of plastic? The aforementioned link mentions plans by the government to hand in or destroy the bump stocks: take a look at this link and see how no one actually turned in any of their bump stocks. There was supposed to be a government buyback plan, but only a thousand were collected. So, hundreds of thousands of the bump stocks are unaccounted for, proving that the government has yet again passed another law they have no means to properly enforce!

The same issue would come up if the government bans all assault rifles. They are already in the hands of the people, and the people are not going to give them up easily, and the government will never be willing to take the measures necessary properly enforce their law.

Crypto Tax?[#]


The government wants to tax crypto currency mining? To be specific, they want to tax cryptominers “a tax equal to 30 percent of the cost of electricity they use in cryptomining” (source).

How can this possibly be enforced? Will the government use this as an excuse to monitor everyone’s power usage, looking for irregular spikes that look like cryptomining? Will the police search your home looking for GPUs and ASICs? The amount of resources the government would need to actually enforce this bill is absurd.

Obviously, the government must mean that they will just tax major cryptomining warehouses, but that’s not how their laws are worded. This is probably because the government officials who drafted this bill don’t fully understand how cryptocurrency works and don’t understand that crypto can be mined on a smaller scale.

Generative AI Bans?[#]


Looking at some current news, we see all sorts of fearmongering about generative AI. Too lazy to cite anything but, there have been calls for the government to ban LLMs, to require background checks for GPUs, and to make AI-generated pornography illegal.

Anyone who calls for this type of legislation clearly doesn’t understand that the cat’s already out of the bag. The technology to create AI generated text and images is already installed locally to millions of peoples personal devices. There is no way to ban this technology because the government cannot control the types of programs we have installed on our own computers. There is no way.

And of course, many of these calls for banning AI are actually coming from the major AI companies as well, showing that these bans are not for ethical purposes, but rather to try and create a monopoly on this kind of technology.

Encryption: The Government Wants to Ban Math![#]


Encryption is just math! Spain wants to ban math, the US wants to ban math, and a whole bunch of other countries too. “But we must protect the children! Think of the children! We have to ban math to protect the children!”

Oh right, I was supposed to be unbiased in this article, let’s try that again: let’s assume for a moment that banning encryption is a good idea——just suspend your belief for a little bit. Now, assuming this, now the question becomes how an encryption ban could possibly be enforced. The answer: it can’t! If the government passed a law requiring every single piece of digital storage hardware to have a built-in government backdoor to access it, then they could probably limit encryption use. Yet again we see how passing such laws requires increasing the power of the government if said government intends to enforce those laws.

Right now, my home partition is encrypted. If the government passes a law banning encryption, what would they do to me? Nothing, because there’s no way they could vet every single hard drive and SSD to determine if it’s encrypted or not. All such a law would accomplish is the vilification of privacy conscious individuals. The public at large would be brainwashed into thinking encryption is some evil thing only pedophiles use, even though the public at large doesn’t understand what encryption is. Ignorance is the only way such idiotic bills can even be considered for a moment by any sensible government.

It’s honestly comical if you think about it: one of the most basic forms of encryption is the Caesar cipher, so would the level of encryption you can do on a piece of paper be illegal as well? “No,” says the ignorant government representative, “we only want to ban the hard math we don’t understand.” It would be possible to do some form of a Caesar cipher with binary data——perhaps adding n ones to every byte of data, giving 2^8 - 1 different values for what n could be set to (excluding 0 since that would be a very pointless cipher)——so making some kind of law saying “disk encryption is illegal” would also effectively ban certain usages of the Caesar cipher.

The less someone understands something, the stronger the opinion they seem to have about it and, oftentimes, the more they desire to ban it.

And all that’s without even considering the legality of such a law in the US:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

— U.S Bill of Rights, Amendment IV

Now, effects is apparently defined as “movable property”, so the question now becomes whether computer data is movable property? I would argue yes, since you can transfer this data digitally or physically move the hardware storage from one location to another. So, a person desiring to further increase the security of their digital effects would turn to encryption, and this should be guaranteed by US law. But it isn’t, because US law is a joke, where lawyers and judges interpret for days to get what they want while ignoring the plain English of the most important set of foundational laws in the country.

I’m sure the Patriot Act has basically overturned that amendment though, giving the government the right to do whatever they want to your “effects” with or without a warrant——how could invasive flight security checks could be legal otherwise?

Everyday Infringements[#]


Because of how restrictive the laws that governments pass are, the common man probably breaks the law every day.

If you’ve lived in a city for any significant period of time, you’ve jaywalked across the street. Under U.S law as well as in most other countries, this is illegal. Yet millions of people jaywalk every day without punishment! I do not think that these innocent people should be punished for walking across the street, but I do think that this law is nonsensical because there is no conceivable way of enforcing it! Maybe it could be enforced with some draconian AI surveillance cameras, but increasing the power of the government in this way is a terrible idea——hopefully that’s obvious to whoever’s reading this.

The speed limits on the roads are often insanely low. Major roads in cities like New York City have their speed limits set to 25mph——far too slow for major two or three lane roadways. Thus, everyone speeds. Then again, even in areas with sensible speed limits, people travel a bit over the speed limit all the time. People go 60mph in a 55mph speed zone, or 75mph in a 70mph speed zone. Thus, they’re breaking the law. The governments of many countries have been trying to enforce these laws using speed cameras, which I’m sure gives local governments a nice cash boost. Meanwhile, the seriously dangerous driving behavior that generally causes most accidents——recklessly changing lanes, tailgating——is not caught by these cameras. The average driver is punished more or the same as a reckless driver.

Never before has it been easier to break the law than at the hand of a motor vehicle. Just put your foot on the gas for an extra five seconds and you’re a criminal who should go to jail. It should be obvious why such legislation exists——we don’t want people traveling at ridiculously high speeds. This leads into one of the arguments presented by Ted Kazynski in his essay, The Industrial Revolution and It’s Consequences: by empowering the individual with technology like cars, guns, artificial intelligences, and encryption, the government has had to empower itself in order to deal with the issues posed by these technological advancements. Big advances in technology causes bigger government.

In an ideal world, a minimal federal government would be able to let smaller regional governments arbitrate their own affairs in accordance with a permissive set of guidelines the federal government would present to the regional governments. Then, a small government would be able to pursue it’s own policy regarding AI, gun ownership, and jaywalking that is more inline with what residents of the locality believe makes sense. Unfortunately, this is not the way things are heading it seems.

Conclusion[#]


Laws have to make sense, be reasonable, and be enforcible. When the government passes ambitious laws, they are forced to either increase their power to be capable of enforcing the laws, or they pass laws which are never enforced to begin with, thus making a mockery of the law and of themselves!

The foremost responsibility of any government is to preserve and protect the rights of its people, and these days governments seem more focused on limiting those rights to protect us from ourselves.


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