Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yet Another Republican Idea

The real difference between the parties is one wants the government smaller, the other wants it to do more.  Traditionally, upon gaining power, both sides increase the size of the Federal government.

There is a flaw in the US Constitution related to the amendment process, which, over time, will necessarily increase Federal power.  I wrote about this before, the problem is that no one but the Congress can propose a particular amendment to the Constitution, the States can only propose that a whole Constitutional Convention is held, and they have no guarantee that the issue that inspired them to call the Convention will ever be discussed.

This post is about another flaw, a flaw present in all legal systems with which I am even remotely familiar.  The fundamental problem is that it is far easier to propose new laws than to clean up, or clear up, old laws.  Most of us have heard of strange laws still on the books, dating from the Colonial period, which would be a natural result if repealing laws was difficult.

There is a fame factor involved.  Passing any law (and, for all intents and purposes, repealing a law follows the same process as passing it in the first place) is a time consuming process, and there is far more glamor associated with passing new legislation than scrapping the old.

Regardless why it happens, the United States Code continues to get longer and longer.  The Constitution is about 4400 words.  The tax code, according to this fun page on the length of the tax code, is about 16,845 pages.

I propose that we use computers, and this would be easy to do, to help out.  Each legislator, once elected, would get a new entry.  They can, in their own time, and without the effort one associates with getting new legislation passed, simply mark down that certain laws, or subsections of laws, should be repealed.  The computer could keep track of which laws had the most such negative support, and make it known when any law reaches 50% (and each higher percent?) of such support.

Now, most lawmakers won't spend too much time on this, but at the same time, most lawmakers are probably aware of laws they know need to be repealed.  Personally, I'd like repeal of any section of the tax code which subsidizes oil.  Libertarians would have a field day with this. 

To my thinking, the longer the law gets, the more impersonal and insurmountable it appears to the average citizen, the more lawyers are required.  Unlike many Libertarians and Republicans, I think lawyers are great, and the law among the most noble professions.  Most of America's first 24 Presidents were trained in the law.  The lawyers weren't the ones that made the law so complicated in the first place.

I'd appreciate that if you read this, you leave a comment saying whether or not you approve of the idea.  Thank you.

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