I engaged in an instructive Facebook conversation recently. I approached it Socratically at first, but ended it with some food for thought (pun intended). Here it is in full, edited for presentation. The topic is the applicability of government laws as it concerns the food vendor that was robbed by campus police recently, and then given justice via GoFundMe.
Karri: Umm. Anyone wanna buy a hot dog from me so I can get a ticket for not having a permit and a license and then raise me almost $60,000?
Yeah it pisses me off. Wanna know why? I did everything legally and still get called out as a scammer and a liar by people. I applied and paid for a tax license. I applied and paid for a business license. I still have to pay to be a vendor anywhere. And I can’t give you food poisoning or some weird disease by not handling my product correctly.
So this guy doesn’t follow the law. He doesn’t get the required licensing. He doesn’t pay to be a vendor. He is selling something that can make you sick if it’s mishandled, which is the whole reason they require a special permit for it in the first place.
Yeah, I get the guy has a job and was trying to just earn extra on the side. I’m not faulting him for that. A lot of people are doing the exact same thing, and I am in full support of it. Do it legally and there won’t be an issue. And they always confiscate the money you have on you as evidence and proof you were selling something for profit. So don’t tell me it wasn’t necessary or right. The cop may not be a nice guy, I don’t know him so I can’t say, but he did his job and said “let the judge decide”.
I see all these people with amazing reasons they need financial help, kids with cancer, kids with degenerative diseases, trying to get custody of kids that are being mistreated where they are, funeral or hospital expenses that aren’t covered with insurance, natural disasters, all sorts of reasons for needing extra help and they get ridiculed and belittled for “begging” or trying to take advantage of people. But this guy… Literally tens of thousands of dollars donated because he broke the law and got caught. Period.
Skyler: Market regulation > government regulation. If his hotdogs made you sick, he’d lose customers. He has every incentive to ensure quality product, especially someone as visible and vulnerable as a street vendor.
Karri: Just because you don’t agree to government regulation doesn’t mean you don’t have to adhere to it or face the consequences. I’m not here to argue government power and overreaching. The laws are the same for everyone.
Skyler: What evidence can you provide that the laws apply to me (him)?
Karri: Do you live in the United States and want to run a business as a street food vendor? Then yeah, you need a food handler’s permit and usually a business license, or a temporary vendor license at the very least. You don’t have to like it, but that is the law and it applies to everyone the same.
Skyler: You’re making the claim that the laws apply to me just because I live here. What evidence can you provide to support your claim?
Karri: What evidence do you have that they don’t? Unless you have diplomatic immunity, which I’m sure you don’t, the laws apply to you. Go to any other country in the damn world and break their laws and then try to claim they don’t apply to you and see what their reaction is.
Skyler: Isn’t the burden of proof on those claiming we owe them money? Are you saying that because violent enforcers believe the law applies, that that constitutes evidence that they do, in fact, apply? (That opinions = facts?)
Karri: I already told you I’m not arguing government control with you. That’s not what my post is about. I guess if he can prove the law doesn’t apply to him then he’ll get his ticket removed, get his money back, and have made $60,000 for his troubles.
Skyler: Isn’t he innocent until proven guilty? Doesn’t a legal claim begin at the claim that the law applies in the first place? Seem like due process 101 to me.
And if you can’t provide factual evidence that the law applies, maybe you should stop claiming that it does. Wouldn’t that be the honest thing to do?
Karri: So having the right to be innocent until proven guilty applies, but being expected to obey the laws of the land doesn’t? Interesting concept.
Skyler: Do you not believe in due process, then?
Karri: I absolutely believe in due process. I also believe in obeying the laws of the land in which I live. If I moved to or visit a different country I would obey theirs as well. Why should the rights apply to everyone if the responsibilities don’t have to?
Skyler: I, too, believe in following the law, but probably not for the same reasons. Laws don’t apply. Jurisdiction is a myth. I follow the law because if i don’t, I’ll be attacked. That’s the beginning and the end of my approach to government laws.
(Someone else then asked what was going on.)
Karri: The dude got a ticket and had his money confiscated because he was selling hotdogs out of a food cart and didn’t have any licensing to do it. People freaked out because he was “being robbed” by a cop and made a GoFundMe for him and have raised $60,000. Of course, the guy doesn’t speak English so it has to be racism, too.
Skyler: Why does he need a license?
Karri: Because it’s the law in California to have a food vendors permit to sell food. Not a hard concept to grasp.
Skyler: You keep making the claim that the law applies. Where’s your evidence, your proof, your factual basis for making this claim?
It shouldn’t be a difficult thing: If you believe the law applies to someone, just provide the evidence to support your belief. Or is the idea that laws apply only a matter of belief, and not fact?
Honest inquiry here.
Karri, I understand where you’re coming from, I really do. You’ve spent all this money and jumped through all of these hoops, and here comes this fella, who doesn’t, is then robbed at gunpoint for it, and then people, good people, IMO, come to his rescue.
That irks you I’m sure. Why should he get such a lucky break? That sucks. It really does. But it’s a great question. Why should he?
Because it’s the right thing to do. These people robbed him without cause. They have no evidence that their laws apply. They could never provide it, and would never provide it even on the stand. The prosecutor would impeach the officers as being unqualified to testify on legal matters before they could even answer the question.
The injustice here is not that people are paying him (ie. taking justice into their own hands and wallets), but rather, the injustice here is that you had to spend so much of your hard earned money and jump through so many hoops to run your business. You shouldn’t have had to do that.
If you do something wrong, your consumers will punish you by leaving. That’s all that’s needed. Really. These officers have attacked a nonviolent and innocent person. That’s wrong. And people are recognizing that that’s wrong and putting their money where their mouth is. I applaud them for it.
Karri: Hahaha. Robbed at gunpoint? Really? It was a freaking Berkley campus cop that was issuing citations to the vendors on campus that didn’t have permits. They didn’t “attack” anyone. They gave him a ticket and confiscated $60. But whatever. I’m done with you and your stupid argument just for the sake of arguing.
Karri is displaying what most people display on that end of the conversation: a superstitious/mythical belief in government authority. I don’t blame her for it. Such a belief is indoctrinated into us from a very early age. It’s the entire basis of our belief in so-called jurisdiction. Factually, it doesn’t exist. Factually, there are people who call themselves government forcing other people to pay them. That’s all there is to it. Philosophical opinions are irrelevant when it comes to the factual actions of individuals.
Karri can’t provide any evidence that laws apply because there isn’t any. Time and time again bureaucrats and prosecutors are likewise unable to provide any evidence of their claimed jurisdiction over other people. And the more we challenge them on it, the better off we’ll be, methinks.