Miller’s Organic Farm Case: Part 2
[Editor’s Note: Read Part 1 here.]
The let it be The position of government regulation is that by overriding the judgment of individuals about production, trade, purchasing, professional practice—virtually every aspect of economic life—regulation violates liberty and property rights. Because the individual’s judgments, choices, and actions—and the value he derives from them—are equated with the process of living, ultimately regulation violates our right to life.
Regulation replaces government judgment imposed by the threat of fines and imprisonment for individuals. It replaces the government bureaucracy directly involved in every phase of economic life (and certainly in many other areas) and overrides the judgment of those responsible.
Translated into practice this means innovation, imagination, experimentation, innovation, initiative and reduction of value choices. Most of the controls are imposed on the basis of our protection. But the most powerful incentive for businesses to provide consumers with safety, quality, convenience, fair treatment, and integrity is the profit motive—as we all know when to sell what products or buy what we need.
Among the worst effects of regulation, as Alan Greenspan argued in “Attack on Integrity,” is that it pretends to guarantee those things—making sure our government takes care of us—and erodes the competitive edge that companies can gain through earnings. A reputation for safety, quality, cleanliness, integrity and more. Consumers assume that companies provide those protections only because regulations require them As a result, companies have an economic incentive to do more than comply with the regulation’s minimum requirements This regulation achieves the lowest common denominator: uniform compliance with regulations.
Would this argument be good for Amos Miller? This is an argument in principle against rules. If Miller’s case involves “fringe regulations” — the latest bright idea for increasing government control — those regulations could be rolled back.
Unfortunately, regulations were born in America when it came to food safety and purity. Amos Miller’s idea of how to produce the highest quality food flies in the face of total control regimes. He cannot be treated as an exception because he stands against the regulation in principle.
A report dated August 11, 2022 states that federal attorneys want to jail Amos Miller for failing to pay $105,065 in fines and court costs…
And so, to return to the beginning of this article: what does it mean to describe a problem that cannot be remedied? The answer I see is that the Amos Miller incident brings us back to a consideration of the fundamental clash of freedom with regulation – the clash of principles. And back to the risk to human productivity.
William L. Anderson, writing for the Mises Institute, specifically traces the origins and growth of regulation in the United States during the Progressive Era and rightly concludes:
This…out-of-control system cannot be ‘fixed’ by politicians. Furthermore, no US president is going to surrender his power willingly… Yet, the modern regulatory apparatus is as much a threat to the freedom and well-being of us all as the destructive system of rules imposed by it. [French comptroller, 1665-1683, Jean-Baptiste] Colbert on the helpless French people.
It is not becoming a law unto itself; It has already reached that stage. The only thing that can be done to end this reign of terror by bureaucrats is to dismantle the entire US regulatory system and return to the common law system that has served this country so well for so long.
Yes, there are alternatives to regulation, fully compatible with freedom. Any business can be sued for damages for its products, services, financial transactions, fraudulent claims and misrepresentations – to name but a few examples.
(Necessary notes: Today, traditional liability law has been captured and corrupted by lawyers chasing huge “contingency fees,” often 30 or 40 percent of a settlement, that they collect if they win a case. This does not negate the law of liability; This is an abuse, a separate problem with a separate solution for another discussion.)
Common law operates on the same principles as criminal law in matters such as liability and negligence. A person can act without interference from authorities unless he is accused of breaking the law – in other words, violating the rights of others. If the alleged violation involves (broadly speaking) some variation of fraud, the recourse is civil law with due process and other protections.
The fundamental difference between control and remedy at common law is the important difference between preventive law and remedial law. No evidence was adduced and no one alleged that Amos Miller harmed anyone – quite the opposite. But the regulations made him a criminal facing ruinous fines and jail time.
Walter Dunaway is a writer and author with more than a dozen books available on Amazon and an editor for the e-zine Savvy Street. He was the program officer or director of two leading New York City foundations in the health care field: the Commonwealth Fund and the Dana Foundation. He has published nearly two dozen articles in Blockchain Healthcare Reviews.