WHAT IS A LAW?
In simplest terms, as far as any non-lawyer is concerned, "a law" for you and me is a kind of a rule or edict that either makes us do something or prohibits us from doing something.
Most laws are - technically - not "laws" but rather "clauses" within laws or "rules", or "provisions" - or any such euphemisms. For the purpose of this simple article, let's agree to suspend these technicalities and just define "laws" as anything we can get in trouble for.HOW MANY LAWS ARE THERE, OFFICIALLY?
Trying to establish how many laws there are on the books in the US is extremely difficult. Unsurprisingly, getting a simple answer from any one place is impossible.
The official data puts the number of new laws at around 100 per year, on average, since the 1970's until a couple of years ago - but this clearly only counts the passed bills (about 2-5% out of all bills proposed), each of which may contain tens, even hundreds of "sub-laws", "clauses", "provisions", "acts", "rules", "secret interpretations", "footnote regulations" and so on. And in some cases, literally thousands - such as the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, (a.k.a. Dodd-Frank with a multitude of mind-numbing clauses which - as we already know - accomplishes the exact opposite of what the title suggests, which was the whole idea); The Patriot Act which dots the i's and crosses the t's of the evisceration of your personal freedoms in the name of "your safety"; health laws such as Obamacare (with its dozens of hidden tax hike laws - including even another gun law), the ultra-convoluted tax laws and so on and endlessly on!
In 2011 MSNBC estimated that some 40,000 new laws would be added that year alone. But they too didn't explain exactly which "laws" were they counting. Was it just federal laws as defined by the US Government or did they include state, city and other local laws, rules, regulations, regulatory provisions, clauses, proscriptions, resolutions, bills and other legislation? Did they include military codes? Labor regulations? Local community rules? Anything else?SO, HOW MANY LAWS ARE THERE, REALLY?
As indicated above, I'm taking a broad view here. Hence a "law" in this article is "any kind of a legislation or a rule which makes you into a criminal or at the very least subject to a fine."
With that definition in place, a conservative estimate is that nigh on 160,000 (!) such provisions are introduced each year to make your life "better", "safer" and more "regulated"!
If that figure is correct - and I have every reason to suspect that it actually errs greatly on the side of caution - then over a period of the last 10 years, the US was graced by 1.6 million such NEW "laws". And never mind the tens of thousands (millions?) of "old laws" already in existence.
All told, then, if we take "laws" as "any rules that can get you in trouble", we can estimate that there's no fewer than 5 million of them by now, but more likely closer to 10 million in the US alone.
Meanwhile the legislative and rule-making trend continues to accellerate leaving me certain that within a few short years there will be as many such "laws" in the US as there are American citizens. Nice.WELCOME TO THE GLOBAL CLUB.
While the US is the world's biggest bureaucracy, the race is on between legislators, lobbyists and bureaucrats of the world to better that number. The European Union creates new "laws" at an equally breathtaking pace (some say, greater still), and virtually all countries and blocks around the world are doing everything not to be outdone. The UK media admitted to over 3500 new laws in just one year - and that's just the "big" laws - never mind the secret little clauses, rules and provisions each of which has a separate and distinct ability to make a person's life a misery. It's a bureaucrat's Mecca!A GROWTH INDUSTRY.
"Moore's Law", the observation which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles each 18 months - a geometric progression - seems to apply in this case as well. The number of new rules and laws appears to follow a similar incremental path. Call it "Moore's Law for Legislation".
No single human being knows more than a tiny fraction of a percentage of those laws. And thus, every single human being is potentially a criminal in the eyes of the law! In fact, UK's Daily Mail estimated that everyone breaks at least 260 rules a year and each adult commits 16,250 acts of rebellion in an average lifetime. So, yes, you the reader of this article are a criminal. Everyone is. No wonder the number of prisons is growing so rapidly. We're all waiting in line to get in!
And as the number of laws grows, so does their utter inanity. You're a criminal in North Dakota if you order pretzels and beer at the same time. You're a criminal if you sell a circus ticket to anyone under 12, in Georgia. It's illegal to handle any kind of reptile during a religious service, in Kentucky. You're a criminal if you purchase or sell sex toys in Alabama, You're a criminal if you make love while hunting, fishing - or on your wedding day - in Oblong, Illinois. You can be put away for wearing high heels in Carmel, California. The list goes on. And on. And on.WHOM DOES THE LAW SERVE?
The irony of this situation is that we really - really - don't need any of those laws. Did I just say "any"? Yes. Any and all these laws should be scrapped. And they'd better be - or we're all doomed.
These laws don't serve us. We serve them!
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