Thursday, December 30, 2010

The 10 Million Commandments

The Federal Government is not God

I did a blog post on The Ten Commandments awhile back, and diving into a Jewish website on the subject, I learned that God gave us way more than just 10 commandments.

The Lord Almighty can give us all the commandments He sees fit; they are for our benefit.  The Feral Government, on the other hand, needs to knock it off.  We have too many laws, they are too wordy, and they are strangling us and choking off the kind of innovation that drives economic growth.

Such a hopeless tangle of impenetrable legal sludge makes a mockery of the very idea of law.  Such laws, that ordinary citizens cannot be expected to understand, leading them to routinely violate the law, do great damage to the Rule of Law. 
The current convention of law-as-instruction-manual suffers the idiocies of central planning, forcing everyone to go through the day with their noses in rule books instead of using their common sense. It also spawns such complexity that overhauling the vast accumulation of law would be hopeless - like trying to prune a jungle.  (Phillip K. Howard)
 Howard offers a solution:  Radical Simplification...
There is one common technique that has been used in successful legal overhauls, from Justinian's recodification in ancient times to the Napoleonic code that is the basis of modern European civil law to the uniform commercial code adopted in the United States in the 1950s. The technique is this: radical simplification.

Simplification of law has many virtues. It allows legislatures to pass measures of a general nature, setting goals and operating principles without trying to anticipate every regulatory situation. Think of the Constitution or the straightforward recommendations of the deficit commission. 
It will be interesting to see if the GOP can turn back this tide of legislative insanity that now washes over every last corner of our lives.  Those who decry a lack of bipartisanship need look no further than the burgeoning federal code, produced by statists in the Republican as well as Democratic party in equal measure.

WaPo - One Nation Under Too Many Laws


Shaw Kenawe said...

The current convention of law-as-instruction-manual suffers the idiocies of central planning, forcing everyone to go through the day with their noses in rule books instead of using their common sense.

An over-the-top exaggeration if I ever read one! I've managed to live a law-abiding, productive and prosperous life without having my nose in a rule book, except when I needed to teach my kids a new board game. Totally exaggerated and a bit hysterical, IIMSS.

As for people using their common sense--one person's "common sense" may be another person's idea of nonsense. Who would decide what is "common" sense?

I've heard these arguments for the nostalgic yesterdays, when this country was more homogeneous than it is today, or will be tomorrow.

We are a nation of many cultures, religions, races, and what is "common" sense for one group may not be "common" sense for another.

Wishing for the good old days of the 19th century in a 21st century world is foolish.

IMHO, this sort of wishing for oversimplification of laws comes from the inability of some people to deal in today's complex world--I believe it is fear-driven.

The law should be clear, but I don't think laws will ever be less complex. They will have to be as complex as the issues they deal with.

Silverfiddle said...

So it follows then, Shaw, that as our population gets bigger and more diverse then we will need even more laws?

Common sense is buying groceries at a grocery store instead of the stab and grab convenience store on the corner, and government has no role in such a personal decision.

On a larger, public level, common sense says I am sovereign over my own life and actions, and may do as I please so long as I do not harm others.

Why is the federal government expending resources to punish me for chugging a 6-pack of Four Loko?

I love this oft repeated meme:

"Four Loko's mixture of alcohol and caffeine causes young people to engage in risky behavior.

The government can ban a caffienated alcoholic beverage, but they can't ban hormones, of which the same statement could be made.

Bastiatarian said...

As I posted the other day, the 2010 Code of Federal Regulations consists of 225 volumes, with 35,367 pages of fine-print regulations.

That's micro-management on a galactic scale. It's pathological. No psychologically healthy person tries to regulate others outside the absolute sphere of the protection of the right to dictate one's own life, liberty, and property. Very few federal regulations have any reasonable connection to that. At all.

Bastiatarian said...

>causes young people to engage in risky behavior.

Being a young person causes young people to engage in risky behavior.

Liberty is risky. Slavery is safe.

Take your pick.

Finntann said...

Shaw, not to be mean, but you obviously don't have a clue and lead a fairly simple life. To illustrate SF's point, one of my clients does electrical work which falls under OSHA Standard 29CFR, Part 1910 subpart S. 1910.132(d), 1926.28(a) applies. These standards govern electrical worker safety.

OSHA 29CFR1910 is 742 pages long and costs $99.99 at Amazon.

The OSHA reg tells you what you must do, not how you must do it, and OSHA, loving to follow the vague term of "industry standard practices" refers you, in this particular instance to NFPA70E.

NFPA70E is 142 pages long and costs $61.00 at Techstreet.

Not done yet... Now we have the compliance requirements well documented, but not the methodology used to determine those requirements...NFPA70E refers you to IEEE 1584 which is the industry standard to perform the analysis.

IEEE 1548 in a softcase CD format costs $647

Now I've gathered all the appropriate references at a cost of $807.99 and haven't even paid for any of the engineering work yet, let alone the upfront or lifecycle costs of compliance.

Common sense tells me that the equipment I'm talking about does not meet the criteria for mandatory compliance, but OSHA doesn't take common sense answers, like in math class you need to show your proof.

So the choice is pay $20K upfront and $2K in recurring equipment and training costs to comply with the published tables, or do the engineering analysis to scientifically prove that compliance is not required. Engineering bills at $300/manhour, so chances are the work involved in proving compliance is not required for the quantity, type, and locations of equipment is probably going to be more than the cost of compliance.

So in short, poof, there goes $22000 in 2011, and probably another $50,000 in lifecycle costs to comply with a regulation that does not apply, because it is cheaper to comply than prove it is unnecessary and doesn't apply.

So honestly, I don't believe that SF's illustration is an "over-the-top" exaggeration.

29CFR1910 is 742 pages long and is one of thousands of federal laws and regulations. This is reasonable to you?

Finntann said...

SF Great Post!

As you can see above, I coincidentally spent 7 billable hours today dealing with the "impenetrable legal sludge" mentioned in your post.

If anyone has even attempted to read the 1990 pages of HR. 3962 they can easily see what you are talking about.

All laws, resolutions, acts, etc. should be written in plain english and limited to no more that 10 pages.


And Happy New Year to you and yours.

Maggie@MaggiesNotebook said...

Silver, simplification is needed in every aspect of our feral government. We need heroes in Congress to take this on.

Democrats are mocking the Republican plan to read the Constitution as the new 112th Congress begins. Mocking...

I agree that Republicans have been complicit in the stealth overtake of our private lives, but they are saying every piece of legislation must pass constitutional muster. I pray that will actually happen.

Great discussion here.

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