10,000 Regulations

You just have to like John Stossel’s cut to the chase approach.

Writing at Reason, he states:

“If you have 10,000 regulations,” Winston Churchill said, “you destroy all respect for law.”

He was right. But Churchill never imagined a government that would add 10,000 year after year. That’s what we have in America. We have 160,000 pages of rules from the feds alone. States and localities have probably doubled that. We have so many rules that legal specialists can’t keep up. Criminal lawyers call the rules “incomprehensible.” They are. They are also “uncountable.” Congress has created so many criminal offenses that the American Bar Association says it would be futile to even attempt to estimate the total. 

 So what do the politicians and bureaucrats of the permanent government do? They pass more rules.

That’s not good. It paralyzes life.

Politicians sometimes say they understand the problem. They promise to “simplify.” But they rarely do. Mostly, they come up with new rules. It’s just natural. It’s how the public measures politicians. Schoolchildren on Washington tours ask, “What laws did you pass?” If they don’t pass new laws, the media whine about the “do-nothing Congress.”

This is also not good.

When so much is illegal, common sense dies. Out of fear of breaking rules, people stop innovating, trying, helping.

Read it all: Complex Societies Need Simple Laws. (h/t to Instapundit)

I once had a professor put it to me this way, he asked me, “Mike, once you go past the speed limit, what is the limit? Is it 65…75…85…105?” [the limit was 55 at the time]

His point being that if you don’t respect the limit in the first place as a legitimate constraint, there are no rules.

Of course, if you get caught  there are penalties – but like the number on the sign, this is an administrative barrier, not a physical one. The only thing stopping you the next time is your tolerance for the risk of getting caught.

As our “progressive” friends have done to our Constitution, once you interpret something to mean anything you want, it actually means nothing. A thing cannot exhibit the nature of  being general and specific at the same time.

This is the clearest argument that I have ever heard for constrained government and against judicial activism.

3 thoughts on “10,000 Regulations

  1. The public (us) demands action against (and for) percieved problems which leads to more and more rules, while businesses (contributors) demand payback for political contributions in the form of support.

    Kid’s car stereo next to you too loud? Pass a law. See an opportunity to line the city coffers? Place five state troopers on FBR during spring break and write seatbelt tickets for traffic moving at a snail’s pace. Septic tank industry see an opportuntity to hold up everyone in Flordia? Private prison industry see an opportunity to increase business? Get in a representative or senators good graces (or hip pocket) and watch the new rules fly from the legislators.

    Wonder where so many rules come from? I don’t.

    • I’m with you. In the old days you would have stepped over to the kid and told him to turn the stereo down – if his dad didn’t do it first. Now there is a lack of direct action, everything must be done indirectly through laws that impact everybody when only a minority need to be told the shut the f*ck up and sit down.

  2. Nice. But then, this is an ancient principle, isn’t it? 🙂

    The more laws, the less justice.

    –Marcus Tillius Cicero

    And why the founders said the solution was morality, which rests upon a belief in God and judgment day. This issue is all wrapped up in another simple quote:

    “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

    –Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House

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