Archive for the ‘Law’ Category
Originally written for digitaljournal.com visit the link and vote for the story to improve its visibility.
On May 11 the US Post Office is raising the price of stamps by 2¢. Even in the face of increasing prices, many people will argue that the Post Office is necessary because a private organization could never perform these functions for a similar cost. The story of Lysander Spooner, however, might rekindle the debate over the necessity of a monopoly Post Office.
WHO WAS LYSANDER SPOONER?
Lysander Spooner is an obscure figure in American history. He is so forgotten, in fact, that his voluminous Collected Works has remained out of print for many years. The six-volume collection, which contains 36 works, can be found used on sites like Amazon.com for upwards of $400. This current obscurity, however, does not mean that he was an unimportant figure.
Spooner achieved many great things in his lifetime including his active campaigning against slavery and the publication of his most famous work titled The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (1846), which influenced the likes of Fredrick Douglas. One of his lesser-known ventures, however, was his creation of the American Letter Mail Company, which was a private mail delivery service that was meant to compete directly with the United States Postal Service.
Spooner was born on January 19th 1808 at a farm in Athol, Massachusetts. He studied law under John Davis, who would later serve in the House of Representatives and Senate and as Governor of Massachusetts, and Charles Allen, who would serve in the House of Representatives. Spooner, however, never attended college. Under state law, non-graduates were required to study under attorneys for five years, while graduates were only required to do so for three years. Spooner, however, saw this law as unfair and he therefore flaunted it, setting up his own practice in Worcester, Massachusetts after only three years. He also viewed the regulations as unfair discrimination against poor individuals who might not be able to afford attend school.
Spooner’s legal career turned out to be a disappointment, as his radical writings seemed to have driven customers away. He also attempted to make a living as a real estate speculator, but that venture failed as well. Spooner decided to move back to his father’s farm in 1840. His time spent as lawyer, nevertheless, was not a total waste, as it would eventually aid him in his future court battles over his private mail delivery company.
Spooner’s most well known book, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, was published in 1846. The book was very influential at the time, inspiring such prominent individuals as Fredrick Douglas. Douglas was originally a disunionist abolitionist who believed that the United States Constitution legally recognized and enforced the oppression of slaves. He would later come to accept the pro-Constitution argument, citing Spooner’s arguments as his rationale.
From the time the book was published to 1861 Spooner actively campaigned against slavery. He provided his legal services to escaped slaves, often free of charge, while also publishing pamphlets on the concept of Jury Nullification. This theory provides that a jury may find a defendant innocent despite their violation of the letter of the law, if they believe that said law is inherently unjust. Spooner presumably believed that informing the public about this idea would allow them to find escaped slaves innocent even though they violated the law.
Previous to the publication of The Unconstitutionality of Slavery Spooner founded the American Letter Mail Company as a direct opposition to the United States Post Office. Today, many Americans believe that it is a necessity to have a government sanctioned monopoly organization, such as the Post Office, deliver the mail. They will argue that a private company could never fulfill such a daunting task as delivering the mail across the entire country without charging outlandish prices. Not only does Lysander Spooner’s saga prove this mentality wrong, it also shows that the government is just as likely over charge for the delivery of mail as a private corporation.
To briefly recap the interview, an 88-year-old New Hampshire man has recently received a letter from the EPA insisting that he pay a $17,400 fine within thirty days. If the payment is not made on time it will double to $34,800.
Some twenty years ago the man in question owned a gas station that also performed oil changes for customers. As was typical for most service stations at the time they hired a third party company to pick up and dispose of the old, dirty oil that was removed from the vehicles. Well, it turns out that the EPA is claiming that this company was not disposing of the oil properly, but simply dumping it in the ground.
The EPA is now holding the gas station owner responsible, to the tune of $17,400, for the pollution that was perpetrated by a separate entity. To top it all off, the man’s wife is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
The interview goes into much more detail, so check it out at the top of the story.
H.R. 414 , cleverly named the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, is sponsored by Peter T. King who is the representative for New York’s third district. The law would ensure every cellphone makes a sound when the camera function is being used.
If passed, the law will require “any mobile phone containing a digital camera to sound a tone whenever a photograph is taken with the camera’s phone. Prohibits such a phone from being equipped with a means of disabling or silencing the tone. Treats the requirement as a consumer product safety standard and requires enforcement by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).” In other words, the tone would be considered, by the government, as a safety feature and disabling it would violate safety standards set up by the CPSC.
Judging by the name of the law, it may have been proposed as a measure to combat the recent trend of taking “upskirting” pictures with camera phones.
Looking at recent cases of police brutality, however, might reveal a more sinister side effect that could occur if the proposed law is passed.
Take, for instance, the San Fransisco Bay Area BART incident (video below) where a police officer shot a man, who was on the ground and possibly handcuffed, in the back. The officer’s excuse is that he meant to pull out his taser, but grabbed and fired his handgun instead. A gun, however, is much heavier than a taser, and he should have realized the difference.
Later news came out revealing that the cops at the BART station were confiscating the phones of people whom were using them to take pictures of and video record the incident. Luckily, many of the people who were recording the incident were on the train and it left before the officers could collect their phones.
If all of these cellphones were making clicking noises as they recorded it would have been much easier for the police to identify those that were being used to obtain evidence of the incident.
Whatever the reason behind the proposed law it is clear that the House of Representatives should be focusing on more pressing issues like the state of the US economy.
Article originally published on digitaljournal.com
Or was it for sitting down too slowly?
Either way, check out my article on DigitalJournal.com about the whole incident and make sure to vote for it. The more visibility this story gets the better.
While you’re at it, listen to Saturday’s episode of Free Talk Live where Mark and Toby discuss the incident and hear from callers:
Hidden within the historic presidential election were two referendums that represented a victory for marijuana reform activists.
The first was proposal 1, which legalized marijuana in the state of Michigan for medical use. It was passed despite a smear campaign from opponents that claimed that marijuana dispensaries would open near schools and playgrounds.
The law, however, does not allow for the creation of licensed dispensaries. It only removes penalties for cultivation and buying of marijuana by severely ill patients.
The law goes into effect on December 4th, at which point nearly a quarter of the US population will live in one of the 13 states that allow access to medical marijuana.
In Massachusetts, voters chose to decriminalize the possession of one ounce of marijuana or less, and the crime will no longer be a punishable by jail time. The offence is now punishable by a citation, a $100 fine, and the confiscation of the drugs.
If the offender is under the age of 18 they must complete a drug awareness course or face a harsher $1,000 fine.
Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, spoke about the two victories. “Tonight’s results represent a sea change,” he said and, “Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of ‘Reefer Madness.’”
A group of armed thugs burst violently into the home of a Portland Oregon woman, forcing her husband and roommate to the floor at gunpoint. They were screaming, “Where’s Tim?” Tim was there, alright, but it was the wrong guy.
The would-be thieves were looking for a Tim that they believed was a drug dealer and marijuana grower. Emily Morden knew it must have been a mistake. “Tim is not a drug dealer! He works at Fred Meyer!” she said, later adding, “Are you sure you have the right house?”
Turns out they did not.
The Tim they were looking for was a medical marijuana grower that lived next door.
Realizing their mistake, the criminals slowly backed out of the house while apologizing to the family for their inadequate map using abilities.
The outcome seems almost comical.
What is not funny, however, is that police offers have raided the wrong house on numerous occasions, employing the same strategies as these thugs.
They violently break down the front doors of homes they believe to be inhabited by seedy drug dealers. They force everyone in the building to the ground. If your dog gets riled up, it will likely be shot for the safety of the officers.
What? No drugs in the house? Huh? 698 Maple Drive? I thought you said 689. We shouldn’t even be here!
At least in the case of Emily Morden the criminals apologized and were prosecuted and sentenced. So much can not be said for the police officers in their no-knock wrong house drug raids.
All of these cases are a direct consequence of the War on Drugs. A war that has done little to solve the problem that it set out to fix. But that is the nature of war, and this war will not end anytime soon. There will always be collateral damage.
I just hope it isn’t you or I.