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Federal Law: Virtue Signaling While Abusing Rule of Law

William L. Kovacs

June 2021

Federal Law:  Virtue Signaling While Abusing Rule of Law

There are probably more well-deserved jokes about the U.S. Congress than any institution in the world. Will Rogers quipped “When Congress makes a joke it’s a law, and when they make a law, it’s a joke.” Rogers perfectly captures how the actions of Congress are more often virtue signaling than efforts to ensure a rule of law society.

“Virtue Signaling” describes “…the act of showing support of doing something ‘virtuous’ because it makes you look good to your peers, rather than because you truly believe it.” While virtue signaling is part of the DNA in most organizations and cable news, it is front and center in Congress. Unfortunately, members of Congress find greater ego satisfaction virtue signaling to supporters than doing the hard work needed to enact carefully crafted laws that will be effectively implemented. While there are thousands of examples of the disconnect between what is enacted into law and the real-world policies of the U.S., the laws outlawing child labor, forced labor, and illegal immigration are excellent examples of the disconnect.

Toronto Child Labor

Virtue Signaling – Congress signaled great virtue when it enacted Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 to prohibit the importation of goods made, in whole or in part, by the forced labor of children. With more virtue signaling, Congress in 2005 assigned the Department of Labor the responsibility to reduce the likelihood of these goods being imported into the U.S.

Abuse of Rule of Law – Unfortunately, still today, many of our most in-demand products are made by the forced labor children and are being imported into the U.S. Wise step, a recruitment software company, in an article, identifies the 28 companies that still use child labor. Most of the companies are top brand names but more interesting is the breadth of industries still using child labor to produce products for American consumers. The industries include chocolate making, food production, fashion, apparel, sneakers, toys, and cell phones.

Mahobā Forced Labor

Virtue Signaling – Forced labor, commonly referred to as “slave labor,” is defined by section 307 as “All work…extracted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its non-performance which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily.” While the statute prohibits any product mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, by forced labor, it has little enforcement due to a clause that allows the U.S. to waive enforcement if it lacks the resources (i.e., money) to conduct inspections or the products are no longer made in the U.S. but wanted by consumers.

Abuse of Rule of Law – As to the lack of inspection resources, Congress merely fails to appropriate the money for inspections. As to products no longer made in this country, U.S. business decades ago exported its manufacturing base to acquire cheap labor.

Having two self-fulfilling reasons for not enforcing prohibitions on forced labor, the federal government rarely used its section 307 enforcement powers; only 60-75 times between 1930 and mid-1980 and 27 times between 1991-1995. There were no enforcement actions between 2000-2016. In 2016 Congress removed the exemption clause. Since then, there have been 16 enforcement actions.

buy ivermectin uk Immigration and Illegal Immigration

Virtue Signaling – Congress enacted a comprehensive Immigration and Nationality Act that is several hundred pages long. It addresses everything from application forms, different aspects of travel for the different status categories, to visas and foreign entry, to detention procedures. Literally, every step of the legal immigration process is established so that foreign citizens can apply to the United States for citizenship or permission to work. The law is supplemented by regulations, policy manuals, memoranda, and Handbooks, comprising tens of thousands of pages on how to become a U.S. citizen. It appears nothing is left unsaid by the bureaucrats.

Congress has been legislating on citizenship issues since 1790. While Congress has legislated many inconsistent policies over the years, e.g., exclusion at various times of Chinese, Communists, idiots, alcoholics, preferences for nurses at times, and countless other categories of exclusion or preference, it has always had detailed policies on legal entry into the country.

Abuse of Rule of Law – Notwithstanding the countless immigration policies and procedures for legally entering the U.S., President Biden, without any change in law, promised good treatment to undocumented immigrants crossing our Southern border, in violation of U.S. law. He also reinstituted catch and release policy in which these unauthorized citizens are caught and immediately released into the interior of the country, making it impossible to ever find them. For all intents and purposes, these undocumented people are now permanent residents of the U.S., they just lack paperwork.

In the month of March 2021, alone, there were 172,000 persons in this category. Estimates are that 6000 people, per day, are now entering, the U.S., the highest in our history, without complying with our immigration laws.

These unauthorized entrants include drug cartel members, and gang members with indentured servants, sex traffickers and drug dealers, and those sick with Covid-19.

The Rule of Law Is a Fiction in the U.S.

The United States continuously signals virtue claiming to be a Rule of Law society. We have comprehensive laws regulating or prohibiting child labor, indentured servitude, sex trafficking, drug smuggling, and have a process for legal entry into the country. Actually, the U.S. has tens of thousands of laws that regulate most aspects of society, from low-flush toilets to the ethical treatment of animals. We have more laws than any other country in the world. In short, we constantly signal our virtue to the world.

Unfortunately, we have a government that randomly and arbitrarily implements the laws of the nation. We have a big business community that regularly skits the law for extra profit. We openly allow illegal entry into our country of people who are the worst of the lawbreakers, i.e., drug dealers, cartel operators, sex traffickers, and those who enslave others.

The U.S. government should be honest with the laws it enacts. It could legalize certain drugs and prostitution. It could increase the number of work permits for foreign labor. Taking these steps would make our laws consistent with our actions. But the U.S. won’t do any of this. In the end, the federal government wants a massive number of laws so it can prosecute, regulate or eliminate those it finds objectionable.

Tacitus warned us that “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” By that definition, we are the most corrupt nation on earth. Congress needs to eliminate all unnecessary laws and enforce the necessary laws. In more colloquial language, Congress needs to stop virtue signaling and start being responsible lawmakers. Having reasonable laws that are obeyed is the basis of the rule of law society and engendering respect for our institutions.







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  • Rule of Law or Different Rules for Us and Government

Rule of Law or Different Rules for Us and Government

William L. Kovacs

October 2019

Rule of Law or Different Rules for Us and Government

The rule of law is a centuries old concept that all members of society, citizens as well as government officials, are equally subject to the laws established by their duly elected government. This concept is described in many ways such as “the law is the king”, “no man is above the law”, or “we are a government of laws, not men.” We are told these concepts so we believe our government will always be fair to us and if our government breaks the law, the government official or the government itself, will receive the same treatment under our legal system as we would receive for similar activity. Very comforting as a concept. But keep in mind the “rule of law” is not a law of any kind and it has no binding effect on anything. It is merely a concept or more appropriate, a fable repeated by governments to make themselves sound accountable.

The U.S. Constitution places limits on the powers of government and how the government must treat us should they want to act against us, which is the requirement of due process, a procedural right. Additionally, Amendment XIV of the Constitution establishes that the government cannot deny any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws. Note, it requires the government to treat persons equally when the government acts against them. Other than limits placed on the government by the Constitution or laws passed by Congress, there is scant mention of how our legal system applies to the operation of government when it acts illegally.

Cementing this disparity of how government relates to its citizens, is that after our Constitution was ratified the federal courts adopted from English courts the doctrine (not a law) of sovereign immunity, i.e. “The King Can Do No Wrong”, which means that no one can sue the federal government without its consent. While the federal government has given its consent to be sued on specific matters (e.g. torts, breaches of contract, copyright violations, open records laws, and violations of civil rights when government officials are acting under color of law), the doctrine of sovereign immunity usually bars citizens from taking legal action against the illegal operations of government.

Our legal system operates on two separate tracks. The first is the law imposed upon ordinary citizens for which we are prosecuted for violating. And since the government has hundreds of thousands of laws it can always find a violation of some law by a person it wants to prosecute.

The second track is the one under which government operates. This second track, due to sovereign immunity, can only enforced if there is a specific statute that allows citizens to enforce it, or by political means, i.e. voting or impeachment. Otherwise, the nation’s courts do not recognize the right of citizens to have standing in a court of law to sue their government unless the government grants that right.

A few examples put this disparity into perspective.

A Navy officer took photographs of a nuclear submarine he worked on and was imprisoned for improperly handling national security secrets. During the same time period a presidential candidate maintained an illegal a secret server in her home that illegally received classified security information and by not properly protecting it the security secrets were obtained by other governments. Because the presidential candidate was closely tied to the sitting president, she was not ever seriously investigated; yet alone prosecuted.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations investigates the alleged criminal activity of one presidential candidate but not the alleged criminal activity of the other presidential candidate who had the backing of the sitting president.

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) files misleading and dubious applications with a national security court and obtains a court order to spy on American citizens, a felony, if falsely obtained. DOJ and the court both refused to even investigate these illegal actions. If any of us filed a false application with any court we would be subject to criminal prosecution.

Congress issues a subpoena to the DOJ for information on false filings before a national security court. The DOJ refuses to provide Congress with the documents to avoid embarrassment and likely the acknowledgement of criminal activity. By refusing to provide such information the constitutional checks on the other branches of government are eliminated. Imagine what would happen to any of us if we refused to comply with a federal subpoena?

And there is a story in the Washington Times about a senior FBI official who lied to the DOJ Inspector General about accepting free tickets to a professional sporting event. He told the FBI he paid for the tickets, yet he received them free. The DOJ decided not to prosecute, yet several citizens working on the Donald Trump campaign were prosecuted for lying.

The moral of this article is that the government has truly separated itself from us. Government operates in a netherworld of secrecy, deceit, arbitrariness, and finding targets to attack. The government can usually act any way it wants to act, and there is little we can do since we are barred by the doctrine that the “government can do no wrong” and the courts will not grant us standing since they believe we have not been harmed by government’s actions. We are merely citizens without the ability to hold our government accountable.

We, the people, only have control over the parts of the government we elect. We need to fully embrace the only real power our founding fathers gave us, the right to vote which is a legal mechanism for revolution. With our votes we can vote out all elected officials over four years and hope that the new government officials will establish a government that willingly stands before us as accountable servants of the Constitution. Unfortunately, such accountability, under the current legal structure, is voluntary.

This article was first published in The Reality News, November, 2018.