Technology

Creativity Triumphs Over the Law, Again and Again

When humans focus their innovative talents on the task of defeating control freaks' pronouncements, freedom wins.

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Human creativity is a boundless resource. It produces great works of art and philosophies that explore the meaning of life. Creativity brings us technological innovation and exploration of the unknown. And humanity's innate ability to find new approaches and examine problems from different perspectives also brings us ever-evolving ways for defeating the would-be tyrants and petty nannies in our midst.

Without creativity, not only would we still be huddled in cold, dark caves, we'd also be living unquestioningly under the thumb of the latest in a long line of control-freak tribal chieftains.

Take drones, for example. Sure, hobbyists have fun slapping cameras on them and spying on their sunbathing neighbors. But the remote-controlled flying devices have serious uses, too.

"The Yuma Sector Border Patrol has recently encountered small remote controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as drones, being used to smuggle drugs into the United States," Customs and Border Protection announced in April. "The drones vary in size, but are commonly between 2 to 4 feet wide."

The use of drones to carry contraband was almost old news by then. In January 2015, a drone carrying six pounds of crystal meth across the border from Mexico crashed in San Ysidro, California. Overloaded, the robotic smuggler couldn't reach its destination. On a similar note, Brayan Valle and Jonathan Elias were caught near Calexico, California, while loading the nearly 30 pounds of heroin they'd already flown across the border with a remote-controlled drone.

But nobody knows how many loads successfully cross over the line between Mexico and the United States, unobserved and unintercepted.

When you think about it, drones make perfect sense for smuggling. The devices are difficult to detect, fly over barriers, and are relatively easy to operate. Even if intercepted, the actual smugglers have a better than usual chance of escaping themselves while authorities gain only one load of goods and an inexpensive and easily replaced widget.

Drones are such natural and affordable smuggling tools that they've become a favorite means for prison inmates to receive deliveries of banned drugs, cell, phones, and smokes—while those of us in the outside world still await the introduction of such convenience.

Innovation also drives letter-of-the-law compliance with many gun restrictions, as well as workarounds that render such laws irrelevant.

When New York lawmakers crafted restrictions and registration requirements for so-called "assault weapons," they had to write detailed descriptions of what they were banning, since the targeted category of firearms has no firm definition. Most New Yorkers just ignored the new registration requirement. But others looked at the list of features that differentiated restricted "assault weapons" from untargeted everything else, and tweaked their property to eliminate a few cosmetic details that brought them under the law. "The modified gun still fires at the same rate and with the same power," noted The Guardian. "The shooter just holds it slightly differently. These modified weapons do not have to be registered with the state."

Famously, tinkerers led by Cody Wilson harnessed technology to make it easier for people to make their own guns, to nudge personal arms even further beyond the reach of government officials. Wilson first created a working pistol with a 3D printer and released the plans to the public. The plans continued to spread and evolve even after the U.S. government ordered Wilson to remove them from the internet. "Limiting access may be impossible," the Department of Homeland Security conceded in reference to the wonderfully subversive technology. Wilson has since moved on to CNC mills that turn unregulated partially finished AR-15 receivers into fully functioning rifle guts.

California officials responded with an unenforceable new requirement that people building their own guns out of sight of the authorities, using technology intended to kneecap the law, submit to background checks and apply for serial numbers. The DHS seems to be onto something about the impossibility of limiting access.

But even in a tech-driven age, human creativity can sometimes be very old school, in keeping with the age-old resistance to being bossed around. That's certainly the case with the black market in contraband condiments that the Canadian province of Quebec created with a legally enforced monopoly on the export of maple syrup. In Quebec, people commercially manufacturing the sweet stuff are legally required to sell most of it to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, subject to centrally set prices and quotas.

Many producers are unwilling to tolerate the monopoly. "In scenes that could come from a Hollywood drugs movie, they load barrels of syrup on to a truck as quickly as possible, and then race it over the border line under the cover of darkness," the BBC reports.

The rebels are taking a risk, since the cartel has been known to seize the entire inventory of producers who defy its will. The monopoly is open about its authoritarian ways, too, denouncing "certain free market advocates, libertarians, and other free rider types" in sniffy pronouncements.

But the rebels haven't backed down—even taking seized syrup back in at least one high-profile, multi-million dollar caper. And now "the cartel that produces 72 percent of the world's maple syrup is starting to crack," according to Bloomberg, under pressures from the black market resistance within and competitive pressures from producers in freer economies—primarily American states where producers make and sell as much as they wish and buyers happily snap up local production as well as smuggled product from north of the border.

It's an inspiring sight—scofflaw creativity bring yet one more set of control freaks to the brink of defeat.

Just imagine what the maple syrup rebels could accomplish with a fleet of syrup-hauling, 3D-printed drones.

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  1. Just imagine what the maple syrup rebels could accomplish with a fleet of syrup-hauling, 3D-printed drones.

    Wryly grimace as they realize a small 3D-printed drone can’t pick up a several-hundred-pound barrel of maple syrup?

    1. silly rabbit, clearly they only drone fly the high-end small bottled variety for the time being.

      1. “Hmmm, a bottle of Chateau d’ Rufus…2015 Extra-Fine Maple Syrup. Excellent!”

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  2. THEY ARE NOT DRONES!!! They are remote control aircraft.

    *shakes fist, yells at cloud*

    1. The drones are the federal employees staring slack jawed as the robots fly over them.

        1. Fortunately, in many instances the law defeats “creativity.” The citizens of this great nation should all be grateful to New York’s finest for hunting down the author of fake “NYPD drone” ads,

          http://www.theverge.com/2012/1…..rveillance

          and see the documentation of America’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  3. This is why I’ve been saying for years that we need to start legislating based on possible outcomes and not actions. Designer drugs? What lawmaker can keep up with banning all the new ones that come out? But feeling good? Yeah, that can be blanket banned. All the different new grips and stocks and features on your military-style assault weapon? No one law, no matter how comprehensive, can account for all of those. But if the possible outcome of your design is to make me feel unsafe knowing it might be out there being enjoyed by someone somewhere? That can definitely and easily be quantified and codified into law.

    1. That’s exactly what Britain has just done. No new chemicals that have psychoactive properties are legal until and unless they have been approved by the government.

  4. That press release, ragging on libertarians, free marketers, and other such hooligans, is priceless! “Yes, our market share is declining, but we’ve stabilized prices!”

    Maroons. Coconutty maroons.

  5. What a heartening article! The human spirit always finds a way to resist control.

    1. J.D.’s good at that.

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  7. RE: Creativity Triumphs Over the Law, Again and Again
    When humans focus their innovative talents on the task of defeating control freaks’ pronouncements, freedom wins.

    Having humans focus on their innovative talents in defeating the wise and prudent policies of our obvious superiors is nothing more than subverting the laws and diktats of The State. These people who employ creativity to get around our ruling elitist filth laws only creates more problems when trying to oppress the lowly plebian class. It would be much wiser for these counter-revolutionary subversives if they obey every law our socialist slavers have implemented. This way, the collective will be able to enjoy doing what they are told and when they are told. How else can we achieve a true workers paradise if we don’t follow the orders of our beneficent oppressors? For too long, the doubters in our proletariat heaven have questioned the powers that be and their judicious decisions. Now is the time for Dear Leader, our kind and benevolent secret police forces and the members of the Soviet Supreme Senate to rid our country once and for all those who are foolish enough to question and condemn the wise practices that came from Saint Karl Marx, may his name be blessed, Stalin, Castro, et al if we are to achieve the political nirvana we all so desperately are trying to achieve. The only creativity the collective needs come from those kind enough to suppress and control us all.

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