Monday, April 17, 2006

Books that confirm our prejudices

I received a catalog from CATO that lists Trapped: When Acting Ethically is Against the Law. John Hasnas tells us that

federal business regulations do not target only morally culpable conduct; rather, they enforce arbitrary rules of behavior created by regulators, often punishing behavior that is not morally blameworthy. [...] Businesspeople are routinely convicted of violations of statutes they never knew existed on the basis of evidence that doesn't incriminate them specifically.
The blurb doesn't mention the point that often people are faced with multiple conflicting regulations that require them to both do and to refrain from doing the same thing, on pain of fines and imprisonment.

There are probably many details here that I'm not familiar with, but the underlying point isn't going to be surprising, so I'll wait for a stronger recommendation before ordering a copy. If you're skeptical that this happens or want to know how nasty the bureaucrats can be, maybe you should order a copy.

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