“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be to-morrow.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 62, 1788
When Chief Justice Roberts asked if the defenders of Obamacare expected the Supreme Court to review all 2,700 pages of this overreaching law, he posed a question that should have been asked 100 years ago when the “progressive” movement started. It made no more sense to the Court than it did to Charlie Rangel or Nancy Pelosi–who insists a bill must be passed so we can find out what’s in it! Tea Partiers formed committees to take on 20 pages each among them. It wasn’t pretty! Mz Nancy still claims her Congress took the Constitution into consideration. Now the 1,200+ page Immigration bill is so long that not even Reps. Jim Costa, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, or Dolores Huerta can honestly tell you what is in it or what its causes and effects are on all of us.
Do we want to leave that up to faceless bureaucrats as they establish their power bases? Lawmakers have their overpaid fun for a while; but bureaucrats make careers out of draconian rules, harassment, and fines to justify their existence.
If things are ever to turn around, lawmaking and bureaucracy must incorporate “Subsidiarity” – personal responsibility (the opposite of entitlement) — and “Solidarity” (together in the unity of “e pluribus unum.”) It will always be played out in the wonderful Chaos of human interaction with proper and minimal government oversight. Then there is a chance to preserve the American Way of Life in our Constitutional Republic where all have a chance to prosper - to try, to fail, and to try again to rise above our personal poverty to dreams fulfilled.
Five important questions should be consistently asked, truthfully answered, and applied with integrity when writing legislation and running any resulting bureaucracy:
o Will this new law help or hurt initiative or personal responsibility?
o Does the legislation or the bureaucracy it authorizes equally benefit the wider community?
o Will this legislation put people or regions in a creative or entrepreneurial strait jacket or against one another?
o Will the legislation encourage and maximize private enterprise and employment without requiring major government oversight?
o Is the legislation less than 100 pages in length, devoid of selective privileges and unrelated attachments and riders?
Entitlements discourage individuals from challenging and motivating themselves. Are the people allowed to do their best when challenged? There will always be hard to define needs of the helpless that should largely be handled locally, especially in the long term. We’re all needy – we’re not all helpless!
Individual and community initiative and uniqueness must never be subordinated to a rigid plan for central control through taxes, financial manipulations, or bureaucratic overreach. Challenges and competitions between communities would be far more productive by exhorting beauty and quality rather than harassment and fines. Unexpected opportunities in the chaos of daily pursuits lead to the development of individual gifts and talents (and from these, new technologies, industries, and services.)
Bills of great length are by definition what the Founders called “pretended legislation,” filled with taxpayer poison pills and bureaucratic license. We must no longer pass bills so we can see what’s in them. If a bill is too long, it becomes impossible to analyze and critique its truthfulness and constitutionality before the damage is done. Look what a disaster Obamacare has become. I would think a fair, equitable, and functional immigration bill can be written in less than 100 pages so even dummies like me can figure it out. We launched the Interstate Highway System on 27 pages.
Photo credit: terrellaftermath