Legalizing Crime

The state has a monopoly on behaviour usually deemed criminal. It murders, kidnaps, and locks up people. Sovereignty has come to be identified with the unbridled – and exclusive – exercise of violence. The emergence of modern international law has narrowed the field of permissible conduct. A sovereign can no longer commit genocide or ethnic cleansing with impunity, for instance.

Many acts – such as the waging of aggressive war, the mistreatment of minorities, the suppression of the freedom of association – hitherto sovereign privilege, have thankfully been criminalized. Many politicians, hitherto immune to international prosecution, are no longer so. Consider Yugoslavia’s Milosevic and Chile’s Pinochet.

But, the irony is that a similar trend of criminalization – within national legal systems – allows governments to oppress their citizenry to an extent previously unknown. Hitherto civil torts, permissible acts, and common behaviour patterns are routinely criminalized by legislators and regulators. Precious few are decriminalized.

Consider, for instance, the criminalization in the Economic Espionage Act (1996) of the misappropriation of trade secrets and the criminalization of the violation of copyrights in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (2000) – both in the USA. These used to be civil torts. They still are in many countries. Drug use, common behaviour in England only 50 years ago – is now criminal. The list goes on.

Criminal laws pertaining to property have malignantly proliferated and pervaded every economic and private interaction. The result is a bewildering multitude of laws, regulations statutes, and acts.

The average Babylonian could have memorizes and assimilated the Hammurabic code 37 centuries ago – it was short, simple, and intuitively just.

English criminal law – partly applicable in many of its former colonies, such as India, Pakistan, Canada, and Australia – is a mishmash of overlapping and contradictory statutes – some of these hundreds of years old – and court decisions, collectively known as “case law”.

Despite the publishing of a Model Penal Code in 1962 by the American Law Institute, the criminal provisions of various states within the USA often conflict. The typical American can’t hope to get acquainted with even a negligible fraction of his country’s fiendishly complex and hopelessly brobdignagian criminal code. Such inevitable ignorance breeds criminal behaviour – sometimes inadvertently – and transforms many upright citizens into delinquents.

In the land of the free – the USA – close to 2 million adults are behind bars and another 4.5 million are on probation, most of them on drug charges. The costs of criminalization – both financial and social – are mind boggling. According to “The Economist”, America’s prison system cost it $54 billion a year – disregarding the price tag of law enforcement, the judiciary, lost product, and rehabilitation.

What constitutes a crime? A clear and consistent definition has yet to transpire.

There are five types of criminal behaviour: crimes against oneself, or “victimless crimes” (such as suicide, abortion, and the consumption of drugs), crimes against others (such as murder or mugging), crimes among consenting adults (such as incest, and in certain countries, homosexuality and euthanasia), crimes against collectives (such as treason, genocide, or ethnic cleansing), and crimes against the international community and world order (such as executing prisoners of war). The last two categories often overlap.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica provides this definition of a crime: “The intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under the criminal law.”

But who decides what is socially harmful? What about acts committed unintentionally (known as “strict liability offences” in the parlance)? How can we establish intention – “mens rea”, or the “guilty mind” – beyond a reasonable doubt?

A much tighter definition would be: “The commission of an act punishable under the criminal law.” A crime is what the law – state law, kinship law, religious law, or any other widely accepted law – says is a crime. Legal systems and texts often conflict.

Murderous blood feuds are legitimate according to the 15th century “Qanoon”, still applicable in large parts of Albania. Killing one’s infant daughters and old relatives is socially condoned – though illegal – in India, China, Alaska, and parts of Africa. Genocide may have been legally sanctioned in Germany and Rwanda – but is strictly forbidden under international law.

Laws being the outcomes of compromises and power plays, there is only a tenuous connection between justice and morality. Some “crimes” are categorical imperatives. Helping the Jews in Nazi Germany was a criminal act – yet a highly moral one.

The ethical nature of some crimes depends on circumstances, timing, and cultural context. Murder is a vile deed – but assassinating Saddam Hussein may be morally commendable. Killing an embryo is a crime in some countries – but not so killing a fetus. A “status offence” is not a criminal act if committed by an adult. Mutilating the body of a live baby is heinous – but this is the essence of Jewish circumcision. In some societies, criminal guilt is collective. All Americans are held blameworthy by the Arab street for the choices and actions of their leaders. All Jews are accomplices in the “crimes” of the “Zionists”.

In all societies, crime is a growth industry. Millions of professionals – judges, police officers, criminologists, psychologists, journalists, publishers, prosecutors, lawyers, social workers, probation officers, wardens, sociologists, non-governmental-organizations, weapons manufacturers, laboratory technicians, graphologists, and private detectives – derive their livelihood, parasitically, from crime. They often perpetuate models of punishment and retribution that lead to recidivism rather than to to the reintegration of criminals in society and their rehabilitation.

Organized in vocal interest groups and lobbies, they harp on the insecurities and phobias of the alienated urbanites. They consume ever growing budgets and rejoice with every new behaviour criminalized by exasperated lawmakers. In the majority of countries, the justice system is a dismal failure and law enforcement agencies are part of the problem, not its solution.

The sad truth is that many types of crime are considered by people to be normative and common behaviours and, thus, go unreported. Victim surveys and self-report studies conducted by criminologists reveal that most crimes go unreported. The protracted fad of criminalization has rendered criminal many perfectly acceptable and recurring behaviours and acts. Homosexuality, abortion, gambling, prostitution, pornography, and suicide have all been criminal offences at one time or another.

But the quintessential example of over-criminalization is drug abuse.

There is scant medical evidence that soft drugs such as cannabis or MDMA (“Ecstasy”) – and even cocaine – have an irreversible effect on brain chemistry or functioning. Last month an almighty row erupted in Britain when Jon Cole, an addiction researcher at Liverpool University, claimed, to quote “The Economist” quoting the “Psychologist”, that:

“Experimental evidence suggesting a link between Ecstasy use and problems such as nerve damage and brain impairment is flawed … using this ill-substantiated cause-and-effect to tell the ‘chemical generation’ that they are brain damaged when they are not creates public health problems of its own.”

Moreover, it is commonly accepted that alcohol abuse and nicotine abuse can be at least as harmful as the abuse of marijuana, for instance. Yet, though somewhat curbed, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are legal. In contrast, users of cocaine – only a century ago recommended by doctors as tranquilizer – face life in jail in many countries, death in others. Almost everywhere pot smokers are confronted with prison terms.

The “war on drugs” – one of the most expensive and protracted in history – has failed abysmally. Drugs are more abundant and cheaper than ever. The social costs have been staggering: the emergence of violent crime where none existed before, the destabilization of drug-producing countries, the collusion of drug traffickers with terrorists, and the death of millions – law enforcement agents, criminals, and users.

Few doubt that legalizing most drugs would have a beneficial effect. Crime empires would crumble overnight, users would be assured of the quality of the products they consume, and the addicted few would not be incarcerated or stigmatized – but rather treated and rehabilitated.

That soft, largely harmless, drugs continue to be illicit is the outcome of compounded political and economic pressures by lobby and interest groups of manufacturers of legal drugs, law enforcement agencies, the judicial system, and the aforementioned long list of those who benefit from the status quo.

Only a popular movement can lead to the decriminalization of the more innocuous drugs. But such a crusade should be part of a larger campaign to reverse the overall tide of criminalization. Many “crimes” should revert to their erstwhile status as civil torts. Others should be wiped off the statute books altogether. Hundreds of thousands should be pardoned and allowed to reintegrate in society, unencumbered by a past of transgressions against an inane and inflationary penal code.

This, admittedly, will reduce the leverage the state has today against its citizens and its ability to intrude on their lives, preferences, privacy, and leisure. Bureaucrats and politicians may find this abhorrent. Freedom loving people should rejoice.

How to Get Legal Transcription Jobs and General Transcription Jobs

There are plenty of transcription job opportunities for you out there if you are willing enough to spend time and effort to put in the work. You cannot expect to earn a lot of money doing nothing. The good thing about doing general and legal transcription jobs from home is that you actually get to choose how much work to take in and what working hours you want to keep. This gives you time to spend with your family and to do other things that you want to do. If you are looking for a good way to earn a living from your home, doing transcription work could be just the work from home opportunity that you need.

You can get more information about how to get transcription jobs through the internet. In most cases, you would not have to have specialized training in order to get into transcription. There are, however, some types of transcription work that require knowledge of terminologies and understanding of processes with regard to the medical and the legal fields. General transcription work would normally have less restrictive requirements and will allow you to start getting jobs as soon as you pass your transcription test.

You have to be able to get connected with companies needing to outsource their transcription requirements if you are to start getting general and legal transcription jobs. It is not that easy to find which one of the millions of companies around the world are outsourcing their transcription jobs. While a job search online would yield you several options, it would be tricky to weed out the legitimate offers from scams on your own. Others who have been duped by these scams just chalk up these scams as one for experience. You do not necessarily have to go through this. There are resources that you can turn to in order to avoid these scams.

If a particular site promises you millions in earnings doing transcription work in exchange for a large sum of money you invest in their account, this should be a clear warning signal for you. There is no way through which you can earn millions in a snap doing general and legal transcription jobs. You do get compensated enough for the kind of work that you turn in when you do transcription work. The more satisfied clients you have, the more repeat businesses you will most probably get, and the more money you will earn. Find out how you can avoid these scams, how to get online medical transcription training and how to get transcription jobs without specialized training.

Prepaid Legal MLM Business – Opportunity Or Scam?

Prepaid Legal Services has become one of the largest and most successful network marketing companies ever. They offer a variety of identity theft and legal-protection services, as well as an income opportunity is someone wanted to become an associate and re-sell those services.

There are, however, some very real concerns and issues about starting or participating in a Prepaid Legal business. In this article, I will provide and unbiased review of the pros and cons of developing a Prepaid Legal business, and see if we can find out whether Prepaid Legal is a great opportunity – or a great scam.

Prepaid Legal – The Good

Pre-Paid Legal Services began in 1969 when CEO and founder Harland C. Stonecipher was involved in a vehicle accident which left him with legal bills. He began researching the industry of European legal expense plans. In August 1972, Harland Stonecipher created Pre-Paid Legal’s predecessor, The Sportsman’s Motor Club, offering legal expense reimbursement services as a motor service club. Pre-Paid Legal started selling plans through network marketing in 1983. Pre-Paid Legal went public on the NASDAQ National Market System in 1984, and two years later moved to the American Stock Exchange.

With over 1.5 million members, they are one of the largest network marketing companies in existence today. Their legal plans are sold by independent associates and can be purchased either by a one-on-one basis or in a group setting as the plans may be provided as an employee benefit. These plans provide preventive legal services, which include telephone consultation on unlimited personal legal issues, document and contract review, and will preparation.

The best thing that Prepaid Legal offers is peace of mind. Knowing that you are legally represented, that you have no danger of having your identity stolen or misused, is a very secure state of mind.

Prepaid Legal – The Bad

Prepaid Legal is a network marketing company, which means that distributor of their services can build a downline and earn income off their distribution channel.

Prepaid Legal is one of the oldest and most established network marketing companies. Being over 50 years old, the first flag that we noticed is they are using marketing techniques that worked better 50 years ago. They encourage people to use their “warm market”, i.e. friends, family, work colleagues, to grow your business.

Prepaid Legal also teaches their distributors to use the “3 foot rule”. This is where you are supposed to talk to anyone 3 feet around you about the Prepaid Legal services and opportunity. That type of thing might have worked back in 1960, but in this day and age, it simply positions the distributors as a desperate salesman looking to make a quick buck.

Prepaid Legal – The Ugly

The fact is, someone could absolutely make tons of money marketing legal service products – if they know how to market effectively. Trying to build a six-figure income on the backs of friends, family, and work associates is more than just a tough sell – it can be downright frustrating, not to mention ineffective. Trying to “sell” and convince people on the legitimacy of your product and opportunity is much less fun and much less lucrative than talking to people that have already expressed a direct interest in what you offer.

In closing, I would say that starting and developing a Prepaid Legal business is lucrative if someone knows how to market effectively. It is not a scam, but like any business, success will be determined by the skill-set of the marketer. Prepaid Legal is definitely not a lottery ticket or a stock option – meaning, you do not just buy in and wait for a payout.

If someone does not have the first clue on how to market effectively, then I would suggest they either learn how to be an effective marketer, or else just use the products and leave it at that.