By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Professional provocateur Charles Murray has published a new manifesto excerpted on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, recommending himself as the Gandhi of our times (or perhaps the Martin Luther King Jr.) in opposition to the encroaching nanny state.
A scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Murray argues that Americans (or “white American males, at any rate”), who once enjoyed unfettered liberty to live their lives the way they wanted and God intended, now must bow and scrape as if they were nothing more than “Norwegians, Germans or Italians,” blindly giving obedience to their government masters.
“What made America unique first blurred, then faded, and today is almost gone,” Murray laments.
Murray’s new book, “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission,” argues that the bloated American regulatory apparatus can only exist if we voluntarily comply with it.
Murray’s “modest” proposal: “Let’s withhold that compliance through systematic civil disobedience. Not for all regulations, but for the pointless, stupid and tyrannical ones.”
Our big corporations don’t seem to be groveling like some kowtowed Norwegian.
Murray has been preoccupied for much of his career studying the moral failings of poor Americans that lead them into lives of petty crime and poverty, so he probably hasn’t noticed the moral failings of our managerial class that propel them into lives of great crime and immense wealth.
Murray apparently hasn’t noticed that corporations large and small have been taking his advice for years. They’ve been withholding compliance all along. Not for all regulations, just the “pointless, stupid and tyrannical ones.”
Our banks, pharmaceutical companies, auto makers, food companies, energy companies and other corporations don’t seem to be groveling like some kowtowed Norwegian. Instead, they ignore regulations that inconvenience them or cut into their profits; that is to say, the “pointless, stupid and tyrannical ones.”
For instance, the pointless rule that requires that banks that wish to foreclose on homeowners must prove that they actually own the mortgages that are in default. Such a pointless rule! Would Citigroup /zigman2/quotes/207741460/composite C -1.47% , J.P. Morgan Chase /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM -0.21% , Wells Fargo /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC +0.08% , Bank of America /zigman2/quotes/200894270/composite BAC -0.55% or Ally Financial /zigman2/quotes/206227672/composite ALLY -1.53% foreclose on a property if they didn’t own the mortgage?
Or rules that require auto makers to build and sell cars that will stop when drivers apply the brakes , and go only when they step on the gas. Next you’ll want General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -1.32% , Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F -0.69% , Bridgestone /zigman2/quotes/205589013/delayed JP:5108 -0.97% and Takata to fix their killer ignition switches , exploding gas tanks , defective tires and airless airbags!
What about those stupid rules that require companies to produce food free from deadly pathogens like listeria, E. coli and salmonella. How can our major corporations exercise their god-given right to the pursuit of happiness if they can’t randomly kill a few customers?
Or the stupid rules to stop banks /zigman2/quotes/203020019/delayed XE:BNP -2.29% /zigman2/quotes/206172872/composite UBS -1.96% from helping clients to launder money or avoid taxes . Or rules that prevent traders at too-big-to-jail banks /zigman2/quotes/208409333/delayed UK:BARC -3.10% from manipulating financial markets.
Or the tyrannical rules that say if you /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP -3.48% are drilling for oil a few miles beneath the Gulf of Mexico, you must be able to quickly stop any oil that might leak out of your well.