Something I heard on the radio recently made me think of the famous novel by Victor Hugo “Les Miserables.”
This is a story of a man who tries to make a new life after serving 19 years in prison for stealing bread (and 14 escape attempts). French law required that he carry a yellow passport that identified him as a convict, but this passport also meant that he could not engage in any normal commerce and was destined to a life of poverty.
With the help of a compassionate soul he starts again under a false name, thereby breaking the law. Years pass. He becomes mayor of a town, and a successful businessman. A policeman named Javert suspects the mayor for actually being a convict, and dogs him in order to find evidence to put him back in jail. Only when an innocent man is accused is the mayor forced to come clean to stop an innocent man from going to prison.
"Les Miserables" is a tale of the nature of justice, adherence to the law, personal redemption, morality, society, and doing the right thing.
Dave Daughtry, a local radio announcer, recently talked about an event that happened in Cape Canaveral. A woman went for a cruise with her husband and family. Upon return to Florida she was met by police who arrested her for an outstanding warrant of petty theft.
In 1991, when she was 18, she was accused of shoplifting a pack of cigarettes and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Twenty-one years passed and it was only through unconstitutional TSA regulations (that require everyone must pass a “secret” counter terrorism check with the FBI and get government permission to travel for all Americans who use commercial conveyance) that the 21-year-old crime was discovered and referred to local law enforcement.
In the U.S.A. that I grew up in, universal inspections without a warrant are illegal. Government permission to travel was unheard of. The woman was fined $85 for the theft and court fees, and she spent a night in jail. I can only surmise the law now accepts the phony notion that she gave consent to being searched because she was traveling using a public conveyance.
This, of course, is ridiculous, and means the only way not to give consent is not to travel. It makes the Fourth Amendment meaningless. Cops in New York City are now regularly searching handbags on subways.
Mr. Daughtry then spoke of how the State of Florida found out he had paid a speeding ticket from another state 20 years ago, but had not reported it in accordance with a Florida law. He never heard of the law (me neither!), but was fined $700 for his offense after Florida found out through “cooperation and sharing” programs with other states.
Around 20 years ago the Federal Safe Schools act was enacted that made it a federal felony to “possess, transport or use” a firearm within 1,200 feet of a school. Since I lived within 1,200 feet of a school, every time I went to use my weapons I was committing a felony. Fortunately, around 1996 this particular part of the law was determined to be unconstitutional, but what if in those early years I ran across a Javert who saw my rifles as I departed my house so close to a school?
Meanwhile, Jon Corzine, former senator and governor of New Jersey and CEO of financial giant MF Global, openly admits his company stole $1.6 billion from customer accounts.
There has yet to be any legal action taken against this Washington insider.
The list of major crimes acknowledged by other banks and CEOs has reached epic proportions, but none have yet to go to jail. HSBC bank recently admitted to massive money laundering, and was fined millions, but no officer went to jail.
Guess who is paying their fines? We are, of course, in higher fees.
We are Les Miserables. We are all carrying yellow passports. Our government has become Javert tracking us all down while those who steal billions are immune.
I wonder what Victor Hugo would say.
Pete Blome is chair of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County.