The fourth branch of government.


“No tyranny is more cruel than the one practiced in the shadow of the laws and under the colors of justice — when, so to speak, one proceeds to drown the unfortunate on the very plank by which they had saved themselves.”

Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

Tacitus

I hear you saying… moron, there are only three branches of government. Really? Then perhaps it is you and not I that requires a civics lesson.

[Source: Congress Must Stop Death-by-Decree, by Stephen Moore]

In the past 50 years or so, Congress has acceded more lawmaking authority to federal agencies than they exercise themselves. Agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and dozens more are virtual fiefdoms that reign over America. They are not accountable to Congress.

In the last decade or so, most of the big laws that affect private industry and consumers have been enacted by non-lawmakers. Let us take for example just one year, 2013. Federal agencies issued 3,659 final rules in 2013, compared to Congress which passed 65 laws, according to a study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That’s a ratio of 56 regulations imposed by unelected federal bureaucrats for every one law enacted by elected representatives.

If you break a law you expect that you may be fined, imprisoned or both. How about if a citizen breaks a regulation? Can you be fined or imprisoned? Let me ask you, how many of the 65 laws and 3659 regulations passed in just 2013 can you describe. Can you be fined or imprisoned for a regulation you never knew existed?

Do Congress and “the agencies” mail a booklet to you? Were you personally informed of the 65 laws and 3659 regulations passed in 2013 by letter and instructed in the manner to conduct yourself so that you will not be sent to prison for “failure to follow a regulation or law?” A joke, say you. That isn’t how it “works!” Well, how does it “work?” And, are you sure you can’t be sent to prison because you weren’t sent a letter “instructing you in the manner to conduct yourself so that you will NOT be sent to prison.” Tell it to Abner Schoenwetter.

“Abner Schoenwetter had been in the commercial seafood business since 1986. Over the years, Schoenwetter built a successful company distributing seafood across the country, including lobster tails imported from overseas. As far as Schoenwetter knew, all of his business transactions were perfectly legal and he never had any suspicion that any of his business partners were breaking any laws. But at 7 a.m. one morning in 1999, armed agents from the FBI, IRS and National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) showed up at his south Florida home with search warrants. The federal agents herded him, his wife, his mother-in-law and his daughter (all still in their night-clothes) into the living room where they were told to sit and be quiet. A year later, Schoenwetter was sentenced to eight years in prison, three years of supervised release and fined over $100,000. His crime? Specifically, the NMFS charged Schoenwetter with violating the Lacey Act, a well-meaning law that makes it a crime for an American to take wildlife in violation of domestic laws or regulations. The law was intended to punish, for example, an American who killed an elephant in Kenya in violation of Kenyan wildlife protections. So what foreign regulations had Schoenwetter violated? Well, the NMFS claimed that the lobsters he had contracted to buy were in violation of three Honduran regulations: 1) they were in plastic bags, not cardboard boxes; 2) they were undersized; 3) some of them were egg-bearing lobsters. Despite the fact that this specific shipment was no different than any of the hundreds of other deals Schoenwetter had done over the years, despite the fact that Schoenwetter had never seen the lobsters in question and knew nothing of the Honduran regulations, and despite the fact that the Honduran Attorney General confirmed that the size regulation had never actually been signed into law and the Honduran Minister of Justice testified that the egg-bearing regulation was directed at turtles, not lobsters, Schoenwetter’s conviction was upheld.

No matter how you frame it, the truth is that Mr. Schoenwetter is now a convicted felon who has just spent… six years of his life in federal prison for entering into a contract to buy lobsters.” [From: The Foundry, The Heritage Foundation, Posted October 6th, 2010 in Rule of Law.]

Think about it.

Roy Filly

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About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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3 Responses to The fourth branch of government.

  1. trailbee says:

    This must be what the EPA is modeled on. We are in so much trouble.
    And, being a felon, Mr. S. cannot run for office, which should have been the next step.

  2. Anne Malcolm says:

    Mr. Schoenwetter will also lose his 2nd A right. Terrible injustice. I wish there was some way to make him and his family whole again. I wonder if anyone “followed the money” to see if there was a competitor in the shadows, either here or in Honduras, who benefitted in taking down Mr. Schoenwetter’s business, or if he had actively supported a political foe and is thus the victim of a political miscarriage of justice?

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