Coastal Voices: There ought not to be a law


Have you been to the Crescent City post office lately? If you have, you probably noticed the sign on the entrance door.

It says, "Armed robbery of a postal employee or postal facility carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction."

Now I would have thought that it was self-evident that robbery of a postal employee or facility would carry serious prison time. So if anyone with a peanut-sized brain could figure out that it is a federal felony to commit this type crime, why is it necessary to put this sign in the window of the post office?

It could be possible that someone who robbed a post office somewhere

in the United States came up with the following defense argument:

Defense attorney: So, Mr. Defendant, when you held up the post office

did you know that the offense was against the law and would carry a

sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction?

Defendant: No I did not. I thought I would only get 20 years if I got

caught. If I had known that I would get 25 years I would never have

held up that post office.

I can't think of another reason why this sign was posted on the post

office door, and of course, if it's on our post office's door it must be

on every post office door. Think of the time and effort it took the

U.S. Postal Service to investigate all of the alternatives and come to

this as a possible solution.

However I don't think that this is the end of this. I can envision

another courtroom drama that may go like this:

Defense attorney: So, Mr. Defendant, when you held up the post office

did you know that the offense was against the law and would carry a

sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction? Didn't you see the sign on

the door?

Defendant: Well yes I saw the sign, but I am an elementary school

dropout and I have trouble reading and comprehending. I really thought

that armed robbery meant that the holster had to be attached to my arm,

so considering I was holding the gun in my hand and the sign failed to

say hand robbery, I was safe.

Now this is not going to stop there. Naturally this case will prompt a

new federal law. The law will mandate that every elementary school

student be instructed in the meaning of every word in Title 18 of the

United State Code as it applies to holding up post offices. The cost

will run into the billions of dollars, which each school district will

have to pick up as a non- reimburseable expense.

Of course this will necessitate a special education credential that

says only qualified teachers are hired to teach the material, along with

the hiring of a school administrator to make sure that every teacher

carries out this mandate and submits the proper paperwork to insure


Well, by now, you can see where this is going. We have hundreds of

state and federal laws on the books that must have utilized this same

crazy reasoning.

Our new state senator has proposed that we look for state laws that

can be eliminated, that serve no purpose or that may be in conflict with

other laws on the books. I think we need to go a step further and

suggest getting rid of some federal laws that have no rational basis,

such as the law that mandated that bright red sign on our post office


Bob Berkowitz of Crescent City is the owner of LifeStyles Research

Company and a former Del Norte Unified School District Board member.

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Tuesday May 23, 2017

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