Francesco Insolia must soon report to a federal penitentiary to begin serving a one-year sentence. His crime? Hiring illegal aliens from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in his leather-goods company in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He has also been ordered to pay $1 million to the federal government.
Meanwhile, if it turns out that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld. Alberto Gonzalez, John Yoo, and other high U.S. officials violated laws against torture and illegal wiretaps, there are people arguing that the Justice Department should not prosecute them because they were high government officials who meant well.
Something definitely seems wrong with this picture. After all, let’s compare the Insolia’s “crime” and the crimes that Bush and his cohorts allegedly committed.
Insolia’s “crime” involved no initiation of force against another human being. The relationship that he had with those workers was entirely consensual. Insolia and the workers voluntarily entered into the employment relationship because they both benefited from it. Moreover, Insolia and the workers were producing a product that presumably benefitted people. Otherwise, he would have gone out of business. So, here you have three different groups of people who were benefiting from a consensual economic transaction — the employer, the workers, and consumers.
On the other hand, no one can argue that the crimes that Bush, Cheney, and other U.S. officials allegedly committed involve consensual acts. Torture involves the initiation of force against another human being and oftentimes results in death, injury, or severe psychological damage. Wiretapping involves the intrusion into a person’s most private affairs. Since these acts involve direct infringements on the rights of others, there is good reason that the law makes them criminal offenses.
Something is dreadfully wrong with a nation in which good people like Francesco Insolia are being punished for engaging in peaceful, consensual, and beneficial economic relationships with others while high government officials who allegedly violate criminal laws against acts of violence are given a free pass.