John Stossel says the problem is “bad laws.” Rafael Mangual describes it as the “overcriminalization of America.” Both are talking about the same problem and teamed up to produce a video that highlights an issue that needs to be addressed.
To put it simply, we have too many laws on the books, many of which are outdated and need to be removed. For example, there is a law in South Carolina that bans 18-year-olds from playing pinball. Taking a rake from New York to New Jersey is actually a federal crime.
Stossel pushes back on some of the examples in the video by pointing out that nobody goes to jail for silly or outdated laws. Mangual responds, “That doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem.” Compliance takes time, money, and effort. He then provides an example where people were prosecuted.
A woman was prosecuted for sheltering animals during a hurricane. She said she was just trying to make sure these poor animals weren’t drowning. But North Carolina prosecutors filed criminal charges against her for practicing veterinarian medicine without a license.
In Kentucky, one man was giving eyeglasses to needy people who could not afford eye doctors. But the state officials told him that his act of compassion was a crime.
In these cases, you can see that part of the problem is that established businesses are using existing laws or getting other laws passed so they can push out competition. They have lobbyists and can use laws and bureaucratic regulations to give them a market advantage.
The bigger issue is that we have too many laws on the books. People commit crimes nearly every day without even knowing that they are doing so. State legislators need to focus some of their attention on existing laws that are outdated and unnecessary. Before they pass new laws, they should repeal the laws that we no longer need.