Small business owners and the federal minefield

This nation’s legislators have passed laws upon laws upon laws going on a couple of centuries now. Can we reasonbly expect this tremendous volume of statutes can be enforced? Don’t be silly. So, one has to wonder about selective enforcement. Who should be pursued? Who decides such actions? And why?

Of course human nature being what it is, and gummint employees being who they are, they always decide to go after the low-hanging fruit. The naive, the poor, and the tax-paying and law-abiding small-business owner who relunctantly trips over a federal land mine (law).

Certainly not well-connected bankers or Wall Street “investors” who are capable of  committing fraud with out even getting out of bed in the morning.

By March 2004, federal prosecutors were well on their way to turning 66-year-old retiree George Norris into an inmate in a federal penitentiary – based on his home-based business of cultivating, importing and selling orchids.Mr. Norris ended up spending almost two years in prison because he didn’t have the proper paperwork for some of the many orchids he imported. The orchids were all legal – but Mr. Norris and the overseas shippers who had packaged the flowers had failed to properly navigate the many, often irrational, paperwork requirements the U.S. imposed when it implemented an arcane international treaty’s new restrictions on trade in flowers and other flora.

The judge who sentenced Mr. Norris had some advice for him and his wife: “Life sometimes presents us with lemons.” Their job was, yes, to “turn lemons into lemonade.”

The judge apparently failed to appreciate how difficult it is to run a successful lemonade stand when you’re an elderly diabetic with coronary complications, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease serving time in a federal penitentiary. If only Mr. Norris had been a Libyan terrorist, maybe some European official at least would have weighed in on his behalf to secure a health-based mercy release.

Criminalizing everyone [ Wash Times ]


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