Monday, December 27, 2010

We Need a Law

We need a law that bans new laws. In my view six of the most dangerous words in our language are “there ought to be a law.” Every time a legislator, a regulator, a public interest group or a powerful corporate entity has a brain fart, they seek to enact a law that enhances their position or makes life more difficult for their opposition or competitors. As a result, we have laws upon laws upon laws. We have been outlawed. "The essence of fascism is to make laws forbidding everything and then enforce them selectively against your enemies." We are all aware of instances where our governments have current laws that are not enforced while they continue to pass new ones.

In a December 12th article in the “Washington Post,” Philip K. Howard bemoaned that proliferation of laws in the United States. He declared, “Once a law is in place in the United States, it’s almost impossible to dislodge.” Citing the debate over the “temporary” Bush tax cuts, he illustrated that even temporary laws are often embedded in our Federal Code into perpetuity. Add to the proliferation of laws the concept that many of them have no Constitutional justification, and we find ourselves on the path to tyranny. Too many laws, too many unconstitutional laws, overregulation, whimsical rulemaking by bureaucrats seeking to justify their positions and their budgets, and we have a sure fire formula for abuse. Although Congresspersons are the elected representatives of the people, we all know that many of them lose their local, down home perspective and fall in love with the trappings of power.

The imperial attitudes of our elected leaders is often matched by the various agencies and departments who interpret and execute the laws, rules and regulations given to them by our peerless all-knowing “public servants.” The result is that we have a myriad of interlocking, overlapping and redundant proscriptions that make it impossible for the typical law abiding citizen to be fully aware of every action that may affect him or her. It’s similar to the death by a thousand cuts. Every action or movement by a citizen could potentially be an infraction of some sort. It seems possible that as this madness continues, many citizens will simply withdraw…lose their initiative and cease their efforts for creative enterprises and solutions. The overabundance of laws and regulations will have an effect similar to throwing sand in a gearbox. The great engine of ingenuity and energy that has been the historic legacy of our people will grind to a halt.

We are being smothered by an avalanche of lawmaking and rulemaking. The “promote the general welfare” clause in the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States was clearly designed to limit the federal government enactments to those issues that affect EVERYONE in the nation. A cursory reading of the Federalist papers or ratification documents will endorse that view. Can any Member of Congress or Executive branch appointee honestly attest that every one of the multiple thousands of laws, regulations and rules directly impacts every citizen and promotes the general welfare? They may try, but they cannot do so reasonably and truthfully.

Our legal landscape is like a beach that has been mined. We citizens are the ones who are attempting to cross the beach to safety on the solid land. The mines represent the legal and regulatory traps that may blow up in our faces as we seek to navigate through the treacherous sand. Each of us, as we move to safety, will face a different set of mines than our colleagues whose paths are somewhat different. The bloated, self-important government may claim that the general welfare necessity is satisfied because all of us must tread through the minefield, but the fact that each of us encounters different mines blows up the government’s argument and its legitimacy. Too many laws, too many regulations, too many rules, too many bureaucrats, and certainly, we have too much government and too little liberty.

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