I recently did a Google search to find out how many laws there are in the United States. A lot of articles were served up from various sources, and I quickly learned that there are literally too many laws on the books to count. With this in mind, and regardless of your political leanings, one has to step back and wonder why there is still so much crime occurring? The crime statistics may vary from place to place, but we’re still seeing murders, rapes, robbery, thievery and fraud occurring in all socioeconomic circles. Worse, the crimes we are hearing about are becoming more heinous, which has led to an outcry for even more laws.
Most of us know intuitively that a civilized society needs laws in order to protect its people from lawlessness and chaos. We also know that having laws in the USA requires agents of the local, state and federal government (depending on their legal jurisdiction) employed to enforce those laws. But all these laws, enforced by highly trained officers using sophisticated techniques, can’t seem to prevent crimes, especially the more horrific ones like Columbine and Newtown Connecticut, from being committed in the first place. There are also over 2 million people in local, state and federal prisons according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. So as necessary as they are, adding more laws, law enforcement, and prison capacity are only responsive solutions to the real problem of more and more people failing to exercising self-control, or self-government.
Self-government is the issue. To give a medical analogy, laws and enforcement are like pain management. But pain management only deals with symptoms, not the disease. To put another way, since self-government is the problem, the solution has to be related to restoring self-government. Until that happens, we will continue to see civil government increase to meet the demand created by the cultures lack of self-government.
In future articles, I hope to talk about some of the things that cause us to fail to exercise self-control.