Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 3, 2016

in Law, Myths and Fallacies, Seen and Unseen

john_singer_sargent_james_coolidge_carter… is from page 3 of James Coolidge Carter’s posthumously published 1907 volume, Law: Its Origin, Growth and Function (original emphasis):

There are a vast number of laws on the statute-books of the several States which are never enforced, and generally for the reason that they are unacceptable to the people.  There are great numbers of others the enforcement of which, or attempts to enforce which, are productive of bribery, perjury, subornation of perjury, animosity and hate among citizens, useless expenditure, and many other public evils.  All these are fruits of the common notion, to correct which but little effort is anywhere made, that a legislative enactment is necessarily law, and will certainly bring about, or help to bring about, the good intended by it, whereas such an enactment, when never enforced, does not deserve the name of law at all, and when the attempted enforcement of it is productive of the mischiefs above-mentioned, it is not so much law as it is tyranny.

DBx: Among the most dangerous myths still common in the minds even of thoughtful people is that legislation is law.  An even more dangerous myth is that law is only that which is declared by, and enforced under, legislation.

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