Pare down the law

I have been contemplating recently whether our usual gripes about government aren't missing the point.

Rightists vs. Leftists, Libertarians vs. Democrats vs. Republicans, tend to argue over the principles on which government is based.

But there is one simple constitutional change that would make a major difference to the quality of government, and which furthermore is so neutral that it ought to intuitively appeal to most people, regardless of their ideologies.

The change is this:

Pass a constitutional amendment that imposes a maximal total size on the amount of federal or state law that can exist at any time.

This limit, of course, would have to be vastly lower than the amount of law that currently exists, and would have to be put into effect over the course of several decades. The constitutional change would require future Congresses to slave away until they have pared down the sheer quantity of law to a size that is comprehensible.

The entirety of state and/or federal law would have to be publishable as an average-sized paperback. There would be a limit to the total number of English characters that the law may span in its entirety. Any definitions of required words that are not in common use would count toward the limit.

This change, alone, would reduce the overwhelming complexity of government to a level that is humanly manageable, and would allow for the whole system to be governed again, rather than it growing like a tumor.

Then we can argue about the principles of government - once the government is actually in a manageable state.


verbatim said…
Great idea! I would like to see your idea to be implemented in practice.

Then we could actually get rid of stupidness like that from one new county law in Florida - 328 words just to define buttocks.

"The area at the rear of the human body (sometimes referred to as the glutaeus maximus) which lies between two imaginary lines running parallel to the ground when a person is standing, the first or top of such line being one-half inch below the top of the vertical cleavage of the nates (i.e., the prominence formed by the muscles running from the back of the hip to the back of the leg) and the second or bottom line being one-half inch above the lowest point of the curvature of the fleshy protuberance (sometimes referred to as the gluteal fold), and between two imaginary lines, one on each side of the body (the 'outside lines'), which outside lines are perpendicular to the ground and to the horizontal lines described above and which perpendicular outside lines pass through the outermost point(s) at which each nate meets the outer side of each leg.

Nothwithstanding the above, buttocks shall not include the leg, the hamstring muscle below the gluteal fold, the tensor fasciae latae muscle or any of the above-described portion of the human body that is between either the left inside perpendicular line and the left outside perpendicular line or the right inside perpendicular line and the right outside perpendicular line. For the purpose of the previous sentence the left inside perpendicular line shall be an imaginary line on the left side of the anus that is perpendicular to the ground and to the horizontal lines described above and that is one-third the distance from the anus to the left outside line, and the right inside perpendicular line shall be an imaginary line on the right side of the anus that is perpendicular to the ground and to the horizontal lines described above and that is one-third of the distance from the anus to the right outside line. (The above description can generally be described as covering one-third of the buttocks centered over the cleavage for the length of the cleavage.)."

How stupid is that?
denis bider said…
The stupid part is probably that this definition is needed in order to outlaw the showing of buttocks?
verbatim said…
Yes. To ban smaller bikinis on the beaches and to ban dancers in private venues (nightclubs etc.) to dance in thongs.
denis bider said…
Detailed definitions are necessary in such cases because otherwise people work around the ban.

For example, a local law that required "nipples to be covered" resulted in strippers painting their nipples in translucent latex.

A law that prohibited "total nudity" resulted in strippers first shedding their bra and keeping their panties, then stripping their panties only after putting the bra back on.

A law that banned "alcohol and nudity at the same address" resulted in a club where the stage was at a neighboring address to the bar, with a glass wall between.

The stupidity is in attempting to outlaw such things in the first place. Once you do make the stupid choice of outlawing them, however, bullet-proof definitions are necessary, because people will look for ways around them. :)

The above examples are from Annie Sprinkle's My Brushes and Crushes with the Law.

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