To the Editor,
America is the land of the free, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Our various levels of government collect over 40% of all the money earned by workers in our country through taxes. With a total tax revenue of almost 8 trillion dollars, and a GDP of 19.39 trillion the numbers can be staggering. We certainly aren’t free to spend the product of our labor. There are currently somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 laws regulating the ownership of a firearm in the U.S. according to Quora.com. That same site claims that there are over 4,450 federal crimes. When you add in state and local law, Harvard estimates that there are 40,000+ laws on the books. 40,000 laws in a “Free” country? Perhaps it is time to objectively examine wether there is anything you can do in this country which cannot be construed as a crime. Did you know there are 200 regulations nationwide that regulate the size of the tank on your toilet? How about the 100 laws nationwide which regulate your door knob?
It is little wonder, in a nation with so many laws, so many people run afoul of the government. America has a prison population that is comparable to all of the other developed nations combined. Worlds largest prison population in the worlds most “free” country? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am concerned about the safety of my children. How can they survive unscathed in a nation that has so many laws that there isn’t a single person who knows them all? Statistically speaking, 1 of my five children will end up with a felony. No matter what I do, no matter how well I raise them.
It is hard for me to feel pride in a country that has incarcerated more than 5% of its overall population. That’s right, more than 5% of Americans will be incarcerated during their lifetime. Unless of course they happen to be black. In which case 16% of them are going to prison in their lifetime. We live in a prisoner farm.
For profit prisons actually send lobbyists to Washington to lobby for stiffer penalties for victimless crimes. They want to make harmless misdemeanors into felonies. They seek to lock up peaceful people just to increase their own revenue. It’s frankly disturbing.
Being as this opinion will be published in Waxahachie, I know that the majority of the audience will be republicans. Many of you are probably thinking that I am a raging democrat. That is not the case. I am an independent who usually votes libertarian. I have been looking at the way things are going in the country since I left the Army in 2004. I have been deeply disturbed. The number of people killed by police in this country is disgusting. The number of people arrested, who’s only crime is resisting arrest is truly astronomical! If they committed no crime, why were they being arrested? Does a citizen not have a right to resist false arrest?
I hope that as we go forward as a community we can begin to heal the political divide. Instead of looking at things from the perspective of republicans and democrats, we should look at things from the perspective of intelligent, reasonable, citizens. We can work on the problems this country faces. Together we can find ways forward that do not involve the use of government force. Let’s stand united against the tyranny of a government monster that we created. Let’s stop using laws to “protect” us. Let’s stand together and refuse to fail to find a way forward together.
Adam Bellinger, Ennis