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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]

Safe, For The Moment
Finally, California’s Legislature is on break…
[Ray Haynes] 7/19/05

The California Legislature has taken its summer break, and we are all safe, for the moment. They can’t hurt us when they are in their districts.

What makes this moment unique is that this is the first time far as many years as I can remember that the Legislature actually took a summer break. In previous years, the Legislature couldn’t pass the budget on time, and so hung around Sacramento all summer long, literally thinking up new mischief. This year we spent $9 billion more on bigger government, and then got out of town.

That being said — I have passed through the looking glass. I hit on a revelation this week. In Sacramento, criminals aren’t punished, citizens are.

Let me explain.

There are two types of transactions in which we all engage: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary transactions, like business deals (contracts), marriage, and associations (like church, social groups and the like), are the ones most of us like, because we won’t engage in a voluntary transaction unless we think it is good for us. Involuntary transactions can be broadly described as crimes and accidents. We don’t like these because we would rather not be involved. We are usually forced to deal with them because of the bad behavior, either intentional or negligent, of someone else.

Government exists to resolve the problems posed by involuntary transactions—to punish criminals or require compensation for accidents. That is government’s essential function. A government that values liberty seeks to maximize voluntary transactions, and minimize involuntary transactions.

The problem with that is if that is all we politicians did, most of us would have nothing to do. We wouldn’t get invited to the best parties. Nobody would laugh at our bad jokes, or pretend like they actually like us. So to salve our egos, most politicians try to intrude on liberty. They turn voluntary transactions into involuntary ones, and then ignore involuntary transactions. They won’t put criminals in jail, and they look for ways to turn everyday voluntary transactions into crimes.

Join a club whose rules they don’t like, and they will fine you. Run a business and make a mistake, and they are likely to look for a way to throw you in jail. Raise your children according to a strong set of values and you are an evil and hateful person. Own a gun to protect yourself from bad people and you are likely to be branded a potential violent felon. Enjoy the fruits of your labor by owning land or saving money, and they will think of ways to take your land (or keep you from using it) or your money away from you. Own a business, and they will punish you mercilessly. But be a criminal, and they will seek to understand you and rehabilitate you.

I think it has to do with the maintenance of power. Business owners, like most people, don’t want to have to deal with government, so they will ignore politicians until those politicians force themselves on the business owner. Then the business owner will pay the politicians money to make them go away. Regulate a business—get a contribution. Stop a crime, nobody cares.

I admit I don’t get it. We punish the productive, and seek to understand the destructive. My colleagues are constantly trying to figure out how to harass you with laws, taxes and regulations, and how to let criminals off. The only time you are safe from this inverted world is when we have to go home and explain to you the mental illness that drives us to these bizarre behaviors.

So—you are safe for now. But session starts again in August. You can relax for the moment, but nobody will be safe when we come back. CRO

Mr. Haynes is a California Assembleyman representing Riverside and Temecula and frequent contributor to


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