Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Run-Away Legislatures

By Dave Dargo

How many laws are enough?  How many unintended consequences can we create in a single year?

I ran across three articles over the past few days that really have my head spinning.

In the first article, the Sacramento Bee published an AP story showing how many bills have passed in the California legislature in the first half of their current legislative session.  I was stunned by the number, which I will share momentarily.

As I pondered the number presented in the article I started to wonder how many new laws would be reasonable and what justifies a new law.  I remember an Ayn Rand quote I used in a previous posting,

"There's no way to rule innocent men.  The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.  Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them.  One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
I started thinking, well, it's reasonable that homicide be illegal, stealing, assault and many other crimes I could agree with.  Those actions that infringe on the rights of another have a good shot at being illegal.  I then started wondering how long it took us, as a species, to come up with a reasonable list of actions we would deem to be unreasonable and create laws against those actions.  I would think that as time passed we would need to pass fewer and fewer laws as the list of laws grew to encompass all those bad things one person can do to another.

I, apparently, was wrong.  In the first half of their legislative session the California state legislature discovered 1,200 things that had not been covered before.  In the first half they passed 1,200 new bills. I am so thankful that such thoughtful people are looking out for the benefit of those they represent.

But wait, I said there were three articles.

This article describes how the Connecticut state legislature had to modify all the gun-control laws they passed after the Sandy Hook tragedy.  It seems they were a bit hasty in their legislative free-for-all and now have to correct a number of mistakes they made in so hastily passing laws based on emotion rather than reason.

The final article discusses how the president of the Colorado State Senate is facing a recall because of his support of that state's new gun-control agenda.  He says,

"This is a hill worth dying on.  This is a fight worth having; it's a fight we've already had on the floor of the Senate; it's a fight worth winning."
Sir, you may have already had the fight on the floor of the Senate but it appears there are enough people in Colorado who believe you were on the wrong side of that fight.

The purpose of a state legislature is not to continue to introduce bill after bill and then spend their time correcting their past mistakes.  The purpose is to represent the best interests of their people while maintaining a presumption of liberty and acting with cool-headed objectivity rather than emotion.

I'm beginning to really appreciate part-time legislative bodies.  All that time off gives the hot issues time to cool down before some hot-head decides to make a name for him or herself at the expense of my liberty.

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