Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Too Many Laws.

The other day a stand up comic made a joke about unemployed guys sitting around in their underwear watching court TV shows. Guilty! Judges Judy, Milian, and Alex are my current favs. The other day Judge Alex posted a question on his facebook page.

"Have you ever said to yourself..."there outta be a law..."?
If you could make up your own law, what would it be?"

While an interesting topic for discussion, I think it points out a real problem in our society. The desire to meddle.
There are far too many conflicting, overlapping, and unenforced laws. I'd like to see a limit on the number of laws each level of government can have. If they want to pass a new one they have to remove an old unused or bad one. Perhaps each law should have a 10 year expiration period, and if no one has been charged with it, it just automatically deletes itself.

But I believe there are few things as corrosive to a society as unenforced and ignored laws. When laws are not enforced law breakers have more contempt for the rule of law generally. It leads to excuses like "everybody does it", or "it's no big deal". Breaking laws should be a big deal. For people to take them seriously, legislators need to exercise care in finding the things that are really important, and that the police are able and willing to enforce. Sure, it's only speeding, or littering, or smoking a joint. The more little laws you break and justify in ignoring, the more likely you are to break bigger ones and have less respect for yourself and those around you.

So while I enjoyed Judge Alex's conversation starter, I think a better question would be "What laws can we do without?"

How about this. It takes a 2/3 majority to approve a law, but only a 1/3 minority to take it off the books. If 1/3 of the people don't want a law, is it REALLY a good idea?


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