Words mean things. That was true in the days of our founding but does it still apply to today’s legislators? The latest legislation being pushed by congress is “Immigration Reform” at a mere 1000 pages. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exceeded 2500 pages (379,894 words) of details that fundamentally transform every aspect of private sector healthcare. The US Constitution was a mere 4543 WORDS. The founders created the greatest framework for the most successful Constitutional Republic in a brilliantly judicious use of words. “Less is more” comes to mind.
The founders spent much of their effort on the use of words, placement of commas, and deliberate phrases to ensure the proper intent to develop our governing document. They did have to add the Bill of Rights but even after adding those words (1436) we have a whopping total of 5979 words as guidelines to run our entire federal government.
The founders knew the most effective government was a limited government as close to the people as possible. That is why they were so adamant about keeping the central government in check. They knew from their study of history that governments were prone to grow and limit freedom of the people being governed. They turned that accepted paradigm on its head by placing the individual at the center of power.
Today we have a federal government completely out of control. Legislators spend their time figuring our legislation that they profess to be helpful but truly steal our liberties. Every word our federal legislators write is in one way or another is an infringement of someone’s liberties. Smoking, drinking, licensing, regulation after regulation about everything from work rules to exhaust to gas mileage is beyond the scope our Constitution but has been accepted by the people as an accepted function of the central government. The argument is not whether we should pollute less or not drink when we drive, the argument is whether or not that is a function of a central government. Where does it end?
I suspect the founders would have written none of the legislation we currently have allowed the federal government to write. But if they did write a law they would be more concise.
The problem today is that legislation is full of goodies, loopholes, favors, exemptions for friends and donors. With 535 legislators and thousands of lobbyists in Washington DC it is no wonder the federal government is out of control.
Every law should be limited to 250 words. If you can’t explain it within that parameter it is probably unconstitutional or unnecessary.
Can you imagine a private sector company creating a 1000 or 2500 page strategic plan for the company? Of course not. It would be impossible to understand and implement. Why do we think laws of this length would be any different?