Tuesday, April 12, 2011

L is for Laws

is for laws.  We, a long time ago, decided that we would be a society that is governed by them.  There were always laws of a sort I suppose, from back in the day when we had social pack animal rules that were just known and implied in our genes, but we have somewhere along the way decided that we are going to live by a code of laws written down on paper.  The problem with this system, was we are finding out or maybe have found out, is that it as grown obscenely complex and there are too many laws, so it is pretty much possible to get people on anything you want to get them on, and it is possible to get out of just about anything.
    There is a gross proliferation of laws in this land.  For instance, I work in a government office that is charged with implementing the laws regarding one specific issue, and those laws for just our county take up like 80 pages.  So multiply that by the 25 or so different issues that our laws cover and you are up to like 2000 or so pages, actually 2000 pages to be exact if each one is 80 pages.  So that is just this county.  Our state laws - just the laws - take up five volumes of books that are each like two inches thick, and that is just the laws.  The administrative rules could fill a bookshelf.  Times that by fifty states, PLUS the US government and you have a bagillion different laws that you are bound to follow.  And more come in each day.
     Part of the reason is that there are laws for things that probably don't need to have laws, and lawmakers use laws to take care of situations that don't probably need laws.  For instance, a local farmer in a small midwestern town drives his herd of pigs right down Main St. to get them to the slaughterhouse on the edge of town on the same day that the Senator happens to be passing through, so everyone flips out and pretty soon it is a law that you can't have livestock on a paved, public road in the county and when Johnny Cow Farmer's cow gets out and is standing on the county road, suddenly he is in jail.   There are so many old, situation-specific laws on the books that there are actually books made of the silliest ones, and every so often a list of them appears on the front of Yahoo!
     The worst part is that there are so many laws and rules and ordinances and such that sometimes when our elected lawmakers make a new one, it will directly contradict an old one that they didn't know about!  Like there will be a law from the 50s that says that you must put rain gutters on your house, and then there will be a law made next week that says rain gutters are forbidden.  Well what the hell do you do then?  You've gotta know because the gutter guy is on his way over to give you an estimate.  I would suspect that the easiest way is to just forget about it, wipe the slate clean, then restart.  That would be best, even though it is never going to happen.  Never in a million billion years.  So I guess that for now we just do the best we can and hope that we don't end up in jail.

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