I migranti di Fahrenheit migrano ancora… (IV inbloggazione)

Riformare la legge disubbidendo

In “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, Charles Murray ha come obbiettivo quello di combattere l’oppressione demo-burocratica, un concetto chiarito una volta per tutte in epoca moderna da Tocqueville:  

I think that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world.… The supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Finora gli Stati Uniti avevano tutto sommato sventato la minaccia ma oggi il “Grande Progetto” su cui si fondavano ha il fiato corto. Anzi, possiamo ben dire che è giunto al termine. Gli USA si stanno lentamente “europeizzando”:   

The twin propositions of this book are that we are at the end of the American project as the founders intended it, but that opportunities are opening for preserving the best qualities of the American project in a new incarnation…

Ma cosa deve intendersi per “Grande Progetto”?         

By the American project I mean the continuing effort, begun with the founding, to demonstrate that human beings can be left free as individuals, families, and communities to live their lives as they see fit as long as they accord the same freedom to everyone else, with government safeguarding a peaceful setting for those endeavors but otherwise standing aside… What made America unique first blurred, then faded, and is now almost

Come reagire? Opzione numero uno: disubbidire alla legge.

Il Leviatano ha un punto debole: sfornando una regolamentazione ipertrofica, neanche lui riesce ad applicarla concretamente. Spesso si riduce a fare il Mago di Oz: voce grossa senza seguito.  

The federal government is genuinely powerful, as it should be, when it comes to tasks such as defending the nation. But when it comes to micromanaging the lives of more than 300 million people, government is the Wizard of Oz: fearsome when its booming voice is directed against any single target, but, when the curtain is pulled aside, revealed as impotent to impose its will in the face of widespread refusal to comply with its rules. Part II describes practical strategies for taking advantage of this weakness, using the resources of the private sector to nullify rules that arbitrarily and capriciously interfere with ordinary people trying to live their lives as they see fit…

A metà del secolo – negli USA – la prima crisi colpì duro, molti liberali ormai disperavano dei regimi democratici considerandoli oppressivi: un nemico da colpire in qualche modo:  

THE MIDDLE of the twentieth century, the concept of limited government seemed moribund. Americans still called their nation the “land of the free,” but hardly anything was said about the dream of the founders, in which “the sum of good government,” as Thomas Jefferson expressed it in his first inaugural address, is one that “shall restrain men from injuring one another [and] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”…

Ma poi accadde qualcosa, personaggi riaccesero il “pensiero madisoniano” (dei Padri Fondatori: prima Goldwater, poi Reagan)..

Just four years later, the Republican Party nominated Barry Goldwater… In terms of excitement and optimism, the Reagan years from 1981 through 1988 saw the apogee of the limited-government movement…

Anche l’accademia recepì il messaggio esaltando studiosi di chiara impronta liberale:  

Milton Friedman and George Stigler… The venerable American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution, and Foundation for Economic Education were joined by the Heritage Foundation in 1973 (Joseph Coors provided the seed money), the Cato Institute in 1976 (marking Charles Koch’s entry into the policy world), the Manhattan Institute in 1978 (Antony Fisher and William Casey), and the Pacific Research Institute in 1979 (Antony Fisher and James North)…. Robert Nozick’s dazzling philosophical treatise… Irving Kristol’s The Public Interest and Norman Podhoretz’s Commentary…

Nel frattempo la sinistra screditava se stessa infilandosi nel ginepraio delle astruse filosofie  post-moderne:   

… Meanwhile, the intellectual wing of liberalism was digging itself into the humorless and impossibly abstruse schools of postmodernism and semiotics, explaining every conceivable topic with the new holy trinity of the left: race, class, and gender…

Oggi si registra un paradosso: in termini intellettuali il pensiero libertario sembra aver vinto la sua guerra culturale

Today, rigorous Madisonian policy analysis is prominent in almost any important policy debate. The nation’s leading law faculties include Madisonian constitutional scholars. Free-market economists are represented in the economics departments of the nation’s elite universities. In the popular culture, talk radio and the Fox television network abound in spokespersons for Madisonian ideas. By objective measures, the last fifty years have seen Madisonian thought emerge from obscurity to prominence and influence…

D’altro canto, il governo espande i suoi compiti, la montagna delle regole cresce a dismisura e la burocrazia prospera come non mai.  

Government Metastasized The resurgence of Madisonian thought also coincided with unprecedented—actually, previously unimaginable—growth in the size and reach of government… In 1963, the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations was about the same as it had been at the end of World War II. From 1963 through 1968, the code increased by an average of 5,537 pages per year…

Cio’ non significa che il pensiero libertario non abbia fatto sentire il suo influsso

The government’s continuing expansion doesn’t mean that the resurgence in Madisonian thought had no effects. On the contrary, the resurgence made a big difference in terms of discrete policy issues. Crime is no longer a national issue, as it was during the 1970s and 1980s, in large part because of scholars and activists on the right whose work revolutionized policing and imprisonment policy… Such scholars and activists were instrumental in producing the welfare reform act of 1996 and the large drop in the welfare rolls that followed… Scholars and activists on the right energized the school-choice and deregulatory movements… Free-market economists have over the last half century established the superiority of capitalism in generating wealth, with immeasurable effects on sustaining capitalism (which had been losing ground before the Madisonian resurgence) and reducing poverty throughout the world… Similar observations could be made about the positive effects of efforts from the right that dealt with taxes

Ma mentre si sono vinte delle battaglie si rischia di perdere la guerra. Come evitarlo?

Murray propone un piano di disobbedienza civile sistematica volta a resistere contro la regolamentazione più invasiva e finanziato da un fondo privato destinato a patrocinare le cause legali.

Il piano ha tre obiettivi: 1) difendere i cittadini vessati 2) rendere buona parte delle regole inapplicabili 3) stimolare in sede giudiziaria una revisione interpretativa della regolamentazione.  

This program’s first objective is to defend ordinary individuals against government overreach, even if it accomplishes nothing else. Its secondary objective is to make large portions of the Code of Federal Regulations de facto unenforceable. Its tertiary objective is to provoke specific, plausible Supreme Court interpretations of existing law that could transform the way that regulations are created and enforced…

Il piano ha una premessa: gran parte delle regole-laccio è fuffa senza la supina adesione dei cittadini… 

… cases for concluding that the federal government has lost its authority to command voluntary compliance with its vast edifice of laws…

Ma perché la disubbidienza civile è giustificata?  

American government does not command our blind allegiance to the law. It is part of our national catechism that government is instituted to protect our unalienable rights, and that when it becomes destructive of those rights, the reason for our allegiance is gone… The Chinese used to call it the mandate of heaven… medieval kings were thought to rule through God’s will… It was grounded in John Locke’s argument that, in a state of nature, all political authority resides in individuals… That transfer must be voluntary; otherwise, the political authority is not legitimate. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” is a restatement of that Lockean position…

In Europa la legittimazione politica ha basi diverse:   

… in Europe has rested on ties of ethnicity and culture, faith in the rulers, loyalty to the rule of law, or combinations of the above…

Il patriottismo americano è ben diverso da quello europeo:   

American patriotism was quite unlike patriotism in other countries. “It is not an instinctive attachment to scenes with which they are acquainted from childhood, or to men to whose familiar converse they are accustomed… It consists in the love of principles, for which they are ready to make every sacrifice, and which in the outset they preferred to their homes.” By principles…  meant the principles of liberty… Tocqueville made a similar point about Americans’ passionate belief that their liberty to pursue their own interests without hindrance was the key to making America work—the principle that he labeled “self-interest rightly understood.”

La differenza si condensa tutta nel discorso in cui il presidente Grover Cleveland si oppose all’istituzione di un (misero) fondo per i terremotati texani: non esiste né un diritto né un dovere del governo a spendere i soldi di tutti a favore di chi soffre.  

… I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering.… The lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood…

Se questo è lo standard, possiamo ben concludere che il governo americano non ha più alcuna legittimità.

Ma ci sono altre ragioni più pragmatiche per giungere alla medesima conclusione: gli americano stessi si esprimono in tal senso, cosa che non sognavano di fare in passato. 

… Since 1958, pollsters have periodically asked exactly the same question of representative samples of Americans: “How much of the time do you think you can trust government in Washington to do what is right: Just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?”… The secular trend has been down…  disturbed by laws that are so complicated, they are impossible to obey;… American government isn’t supposed to work this way… Washington looks like a sophisticated kleptocracy… government are systemically corrupt…

Prima si era contenti perché non ci si aspettava nulla dai governi.

…Kennedy administration still had no significant role in K–12 education, local law enforcement, or health care

Inoltre il governo – girando al largo dai  moralismi – non divideva la platea. 

… This was exemplified by the dispute over slavery, … the most divisive of all American moral disputes… By imposing federal policies on abortion, affirmative action, drug use, education, employment, expressions of religious faith, marriage, and welfare, the federal government has alienated large numbers of Americans from all points on the political spectrum…

Oggi il governo ha molti compiti e quindi molte colpe.

… When the government creates a Federal Emergency Management Agency—slow and inept, as so many government agencies are—it gets blamed for the catastrophe in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. That New Orleans was built below the level of the Mississippi River…

E’ ovvio che il risentimento esplode se mi chiedi di pagare parte dello stipendio di Santoro! Non ci vuole Thomas Jefferson per capirlo: 

… “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical…

Un governo del genere merita la disobbedienza ma soprattutto contro un governo talmente screditato è possibile disobbedire, i tempi sono maturi.

La disobbedienza che ha in mente Murray è di gruppo, ben coordinata, ben diversa dall’obiezione di coscienza individuale, e anche da quella realizzata in caso di necessità:

I need to define the specific way in which the concept of civil disobedience is used here, to wit: when a group of people agrees to ignore a law or regulation. This is distinct from following one’s individual conscience and acting individually, as Henry David Thoreau advocated in Resistance to Civil Government (1849)… My use of the phrase civil disobedience is also distinct from decisions to break the law because of overriding circumstances…

Tra le regole a cui non ha senso disubbidire ci sono quelle che proibiscono la realizzazione di un male in sè:  

… Laws prohibiting acts that are bad in themselves—malum in se—are exempt from systematic civil disobedience… murder, manslaughter, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, fraud, arson, destruction of another’s property, and kidnapping…

Anche le tasse sono escluse: qui “la bestia” è particolarmente sensibile e si rivolterebbe con una tale violenza da annientare l’obbiettore. Inoltre, molte tasse verrebbero giustificate con la nozione di bene pubblico che per quanto ambigua è fondata e gode di un certo credito:  

… The tax code is exempt from systematic civil disobedience… taxation is one of the legitimate functions of even a Madisonian state. In particular, the income tax… There is also a practical problem. Principled civil disobedience to the tax code would be indistinguishable in appearance from cheating on your taxes… Regulations that foster public goods classically defined are exempt from systematic civil disobedience… National defense is one classic example; protection of the environment is another…

Una possibile disobbedienza puo’ riguardare il godimento della proprietà: perché non posso verniciare la mia casa di rosso, per esempio? 

… Regulations that prohibit owners of land from doing whatever they wish with it are subject to strict scrutiny…. the proper limits on the right to use one’s own land as one sees fit trace back to an ancient precept of the common law, “Use what is yours so as not to harm what belongs to others.” No property owner has the right to pollute his neighbor’s water, for example.

Molte leggi sull’ambiente meritano la disobbedienza: perché non uccidere un lupo che minaccia le greggi? Perché dovremmo “tutelare” certi territori paludosi paralizzando in questo modo il godimento dei legittimi proprietari? E l’attribuzione a parco di certi terreni?

… regulations putatively justified by the protection of the environment or endangered species have resulted in egregious infringements on property rights… The “wetlands” provisions of the Clean Water Act have been the source of some of the most well-publicized government overreach (you will get an example at the end of chapter 10), as the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have applied absurdly wide definitions of “wetland” and thereby stripped private property of its value.6 Any farmer or rancher can give you other examples of regulations imposed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies that prevent them from engaging in innocuous maintenance or improvement of their property…

Il mondo delle professioni e dell’artigianato è una miniera per il “disubbidiente”: scrivanie pericolose dotate di angoli acuti, armadi da chiudere col catenaccio, combinazioni e lucchetti ai cassetti per la privacy, imbragature da indossare in caso di lavori in ufficio o officina… Perché non disubbidire platealmente a norme tanto assurde?… 

Regulations that prescribe best practice in a craft or profession are subject to strict scrutiny… Most of us are happy that many agencies regulate the health industry, that the Federal Aviation Administration regulates the airline industry, and that the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates the financial industry. But talk to any physician, pilot, or financial executive about those regulations, and you will get a sense of how different things look from their side of the street. They will agree that certain rules need to be in place—but the necessary rules are a small subset of all the ways in which regulators have made it more difficult for them to do their jobs as they should be done…

Ma l’abusivsmo stesso puo’ essere oggetto di disobbedienza. Se in alcune professioni l’albo ha senso, ormai un lavoratore su tre lavora con licenza:

… One may argue that the government has a compelling reason to pass licensing laws when the profession is one that involves life and death. But licensing now affects about 1 out of 3 workers… Should people really be required to get a license to work as an interior designer? Shampooer? Florist? Coffin maker?…

La regolamentazione sui rischi volontari è un ambito in cui la disubbidienza plateale potrebbe trovare terreno fertile.

Regulations that prevent people from taking voluntary risks are subject to strict scrutiny… They should be free to ski down dangerous slopes, scuba-dive in hazardous waters, climb sheer cliffs, and engage in all the other recreations that can easily break bones or even end lives… People should also be free to make informed and voluntary decisions about their health care, even if those decisions put them at risk. Regulations that prohibit access to a nontraditional treatment or to a drug that shows promise but hasn’t completed the FDA’s tortuous approval process are subject to strict scrutiny.

La strategia è quella di innescare processi improbabili e convogliare l’attenzione su tali processi:

… it is essential that people reading or watching news reports about the trial are overwhelmingly on the side of the defendant, even though everyone knows that the defendant is technically guilty….

Anche per questo meglio evitare gli ambiti in cui aleggia una cappa di sacralità, per quanto la regola sottostante tenda ad essere assurda. Ambiente, rischio, discriminazione… sono ambiti in cui la gente si schiera ideologicamente, meglio lasciar perdere se si mira al consenso:  

… Avoid choosing regulations with halo effectsProtection of the environment is the leading example. Even people who are not active environmentalists reflexively think that violating a regulation intended to protect the environment is wrong. Sometimes environmental regulations are so egregiously stupid that the halo effect can be overcome and systematic civil disobedience is appropriate… Many safety regulations also carry a halo effect, so we should avoid arguing that “ignoring this regulation increases the risk of injury only for people who are complete idiots.” Sometimes that argument will get support (the woman who sued McDonald’s because her coffee was too hot was widely derided), but we live in a world in which a substantial part of the population has become amazingly risk-averse… Employment regulations involving discrimination carry a halo effect. Affirmative action is a divisive issue in American life. In that context, disobeying regulations that are supposed to prevent discrimination will seldom get the overwhelming popular support that is needed for successful civil disobedience….

L’idea è quella di ribadire un principio: “niente danni, niente proibizioni”. E’ poco? Ma sapete quanta regolamentazione diverrebbe irrilevante se solo il principio fosse messo in atto? Nello sport si chiama “regola del vantaggio”: se non danneggi il tuo avversario la tua violazione è irrilevante. Avete presente i limiti di velocità?

A good way to think about my strategy is that it will force regulators to confront the same reality that faces state troopers on America’s interstate highways. Typically, the flow of traffic on an interstate is above the stated speed limit. A majority of drivers on America’s interstates are engaged in civil disobedience just about all the time. The state troopers could stop any one of them and fine them. But normal practice is to stop only those people who are driving significantly faster than the flow of traffic or driving erratically. The state troopers are forced by circumstances into limiting enforcement of the lawIn sports, this enforcement philosophy is called “no harm, no foul.” If a violation of a rule has occurred but it has no effect on the action of the game, the officials ignore it and the game goes on, to the greater enjoyment of both players and spectators.

Murray fa affidamento sul fatto che lo stato non sia in grado di fronteggiare un nugolo di violazioni, non è nemmeno conveniente farlo:  

… The government can throw huge resources into a case against a Microsoft or Morgan Stanley, where the stakes are also huge …

Facciamo il caso di quella che in Italia è l’ Ispettorato del Lavoro:   

… Consider OSHA. By its own estimate, OSHA is responsible for overseeing 8 million worksites around the nation, and it has issued regulations that all of them are supposed to observe. But OSHA’s staff for enforcing all those regulations amounts to about 200 inspectors who actually work for OSHA and another 2,000 who work for state agencies… What are the odds that an OSHA inspector is going to show up at a given workplace that is not inherently hazardous? Close to zero

Lo stesso dicasi per l’agenzia ambientale:  

… Or consider the EPA. In fiscal year 2013, the EPA’s civil enforcement included 18,000 inspections, 1,440 Final Administrative Penalty Orders, and 873 Administrative Compliance Orders.4 In a sense, the number of actual penalty and compliance orders is just the tip of the iceberg. In uncounted other instances, the EPA threatened action for regulatory violations and got compliance just by making the threat…

Cio’ significa che un fondo per la difesa dei disobbedienti è fattibile, non serve accumulare somme esorbitanti. Il fondo (Madison Fund) avrebbe tre funzioni:     

Specifically, the Madison Fund would have three goals: 1. To defend people who are innocent of the regulatory charges against them. 2. To defend people who are technically guilty of violating regulations that should not exist, drawing out that litigation as long as possible, making enforcement of the regulations more expensive to the regulatory agency than they’re worth, and reimbursing fines that are levied. 3. To generate as much publicity as possible, both to raise the public’s awareness of the government’s harassment of people like them, and to bring the pressure of public opinion to bear on elected politicians and staffs of regulatory agencies…

Per istituirlo sarebbe buona cosa affidarsi ai multimiliardari che simpatizzano con le idee liberali, ce ne sono parecchi in america:

The emergence of many billion-dollar-plus private fortunes over the last three decades has enabled the private sector to take on ambitious national or even international tasks… It could get started the way the Tea Party got started, as a popular movement. Money isn’t going to be a problem if the strategy can be shown to be workable…

Sarebbe il caso di trasferire le risorse dalle attività di lobbying a quelle di disubbidienza:  

I propose that professional associations shift some of their money from lobbying to insuring their members against mischief from the regulatory state, and then reflect upon the possible consequences when government is seen as just another insurable hazard, like fires or floods…

Il clima di disubbidienza diffusa e di lotta legale in processi dove il buon senso si schiera facilmente la speranza è che nasca una nuova consapevolezza tesa a influenzare la giurisprudenza costituzionale orientandola verso un principio come “niente danno, niente colpe” che farebbe perdere di valore a gran parte della regolamentazione.


Charles Murray è tipo da prendere sul serio, già in passato i suoi libri sono stati alla base di riforme politiche epocali (penso alla riforma sul welfare USA) ma questa volta non vedo una facile applicazione del programma qui formulato: forse che la diffusa violazione del limite di velocità ha condotto i politici a desistere adottando per la strada un generico principio del “comportamento pericoloso”? Tutt’altro. Il burocrate lascia correre dove non conviene intervenire ma colpisce duro quando vuole farlo, quando si sente preso in giro (o per fare cassa) e quando colpisce sono lacrime e sangue: un controllore fiscale o previdenziale che ti prende di mira, in pochi giorni puo’ far saltare in aria l’opera di generazioni, la legge è talmente vaga da consentire ogni ricatto. Si parla tanto di “controllori catturati” dai controllati, quasi che il burocrate sia la parte debole, la verità più diffusa è esattamente quella contraria: sono i politici e i controllori che con minacce velate manovrano l’azione delle imprese. Per stare negli USA, chiedetevi come mai nessuna delle grandi assicurazioni sanitarie si è espressa contro la riforma Obama: solo una casuale coincidenza di opinioni? Come mai nessun banchiere critica la regolamentazione finanziaria? Solo una coincidenza di idee? No: se non collabori con la politica e le riforme da lei proposte sei fuori, se non coltivi le tue relazioni sei fuori. Bene, adesso chiedetevi cosa rischiano realmente quei “multimiliardari” che contribuiscono sostanzialmente al “Madison Fund”. Avranno anche delle loro idee ma difficilmente sono meri idealisti, più probabilmente si tratta di persone che alimentano oligopoli intrecciati profondamente con la politica e che la politica puo’ affondare con un decreto legge concepito in una notte: il loro primo cliente è il governo. Il coltello dalla parte del manico ce l’ha la politica, o si combatte sul serio e frontalmente o si cerca il cambiamento per altre vie.




Una risposta a “Riformare la legge disubbidendo

  1. Pingback:Dove stanno i poteri forti? | fahreunblog

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