We need more laws…REALLY???



By Kenneth Justice

~ “Imagine living in a home where your parents post new rules for you to obey every week. Imagine being 16 years old and having to obey thirty one thousand different rules every Friday night when you go to hang out with your friends, well that is what it’s like living here in this damn country!” he said

Yesterday at coffee I met a constitutional lawyer who was enjoying a week long sabbatical. We were discussing the recent election here in the U.S. when he got on the topic of the legal system,

In the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, we simply have too many laws. Politicians are elected on the basis of promising new laws that will help out their constituents; but the fact of the matter is we don’t need more laws, we need to get rid of laws” he said

In the United States, we have so many laws that nobody really knows how many actually exists, here’s an article that discusses the unknowable number of laws in the USA <click>.

Anyone who has grown up in a strict religious environment knows firsthand that rules tend to drive people nuts. It is one thing to have general guidelines; treat others with respect, don’t lie, etc. But when parents and religious leaders go crazy with endless laws and rules, it tends to cause their children to go crazy themselves.

Some historians theorize that by the end of the Ancient Roman Empire, there were so many laws on the books that many of the laws had begun to contradict each other, since it was a sheer impossibility for anyone to memorize all of them and cross reference each of them.

We live in a day and age when people look to the government for all the answers; people believe politicians and elected officials will bring hope to this crazy world. However, I’m not convinced the answer to our societal woes lies in the idea of politicians enacting more laws.

Perhaps it is time we start electing officials who promise to get rid of laws. Then again, perhaps I’m just a nut who drinks a bit too much coffee.


Categories: Culture & Society

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44 replies

  1. The problem is not the number of laws, but the number of people who think only of themselves and refuse to respect the rights of others.

  2. You make an excellent point. I was discussing the topic of reducing laws with someone a few weeks ago. Of course they were arguing for chaos while I leaned towards order but finding a better balance of less rules and more personal accountability to act with decency would seem like a good step in a better direction than what this country is currently on. Convincing the government to take that idea into consideration though, that’s the impossible task.

  3. We have more people in the penal system than every other countries combined. There are so many stupid laws. Everyone wants to control what other people do. Being selfish or an a $$ hole is not against the law. Otherwise everyone would be in jail.

  4. More common sense – I know, dare to dream – and yes, I agree less laws I judge would make all the difference.

    A little common sense goes a loooooong way 😉

  5. Hear! Hear!! I agree 110%. I think I mentioned before on this site that the average person commits 3 felonies/day. The least we could do is to get it down to say, 2 felonies/week. 🙂

  6. that is the situation for kids, new rules for every new capability they get, and most often, no theme, no rhyme or reason. Not just in religious households, either.
    And that’s why new laws today too, new technologies, new discoveries, meaning new behaviours, opportunities for abuse, and therefore new laws.
    What happened to the lawBREAKERS being the problem?

  7. Hear!Hear! indeed… I agree..

  8. Way too many laws and most of them work FOR the government…a way to get more money from the masses. It’s all about controlling people. Blah.

  9. The larger the number of laws on the books, the more unknowable the entire book of laws is to both the police and the populace, the closer a civilization is to collapse.

  10. Hi Kenneth,

    Agreed 100%.

    Besides the general disrespect for the law engendered by having more laws than anyone could possibly even know, let alone follow, there is a huge economic and social cost to having all those laws. For example, businesses have to hire whole phalanxes of lawyers just to try to avoid falling afoul of the law during the course of their normal operations. That’s a waste of time, money, and human productivity that could be serving the community instead, and improving people’s lives. Government itself has now become the greatest cause of poverty and social misery through the huge burden it places on society by the uncontrolled multiplication of new laws.

    If politicians started getting elected based on repealing laws instead of passing laws, I might even join you for a cup of coffee . . . and I don’t even like coffee! 😉

    • I’m actually a small business owner, I come from a lineage of small business owners, so I’ve spent my entire life observing the way laws effect small businesses and our ability to understand how we’re supposed to operate; thus, this issue is in many ways something I deal with all the time. Great comments Lee

  11. I need to make a point “Yes you are a nut who drinks to much coffee”. That being said you are correct there are way to many laws

  12. #Justice if drinking too much coffee gives you enough courage to post such naked truth…take more..I love this

  13. Nice post. Laws are mostly for people who are inclined to obey them anyway. The locks on our doors keep out decent people. Can’t remember where I came across these ideas, but they came to mind as I read your reflection. Thanks and peace, John

  14. It can get even crazier if you think about all the rules of various industries and institutions (Things that won’t land you in prison, but might get you fired, or might make it hard to get a job, might get you kicked out of school and such).

    A disrespect for law is probably why we would have too many laws – as in, those inside the government don’t respect it themselves, they are not respecting the system they are building. Properly done, the system would create more freedom not less – as in, Freedom / Liberty is the whole point.

  15. I’ve contemplated this topic myself. I personally think it is unfair and unjust to hold someone accountable to follow a law that they don’t know exists. Therefore, it only makes sense to get rid of laws (and rewrite them in understandable language) until there are few enough that people can know them all and therefore follow them.

    • Agreed, I’ve often thought it was strange for instance, that when you drive in a city on vacation that you’ve never been to, you’re held to driving laws particular to that city which you aren’t even aware of…. perhaps there should either be more standardization in laws so we know what the laws are from city to city; or else there should be more flexibility to visitors

  16. It’s funny that it is the lawyer who wants to get “get rid of laws.” Sounds like this lawyer wants to simplify life. Yes, that’s a good idea.

  17. I’m sure he was. Like I said, he’s probably hoping to simplify his life. This is a good thought for all of us. Law is complicated. (Yet, I hear echoes of House Majority Leader, John Boehner. – and I’m not a fan. Ideologically, I like it.) Simplify. Yes. That’s the answer. I like this lawyer.

  18. I grew up in one of those crazy-making laws-and-rules (spoken and unspoken) religious environments. I get you. The only reasonable rule is “Love your neighbour as yourself.” I’m gonna sound like an old Beatles tune, but all we need is love (real love, not the fake stuff). That right there, is the ultimate longing. That right there is worth pursuing,
    In the meantime, fear sets the standards.

  19. There is an old English expression “ignorance of the law is no excuse” – and whilst that might have been fair back in the past, (otherwise every law-breaker would plead ignorance) the sheer number of laws has become overwhelming. When Tony Blair and the Labour party were in power in Britain some years ago they brought in 3000 new laws in 24 months!!!! Often these laws were ill conceived, badly drafted and downright unnecessary and many of them have had unintended consequences. Have any of them been abolished? less than a handful. Some laws go back centuries and have never been repealled. For instance – In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman if he is carrying a bow and arrow. ????!!! Fortunately for Scots visiting the city, no-one seems to have acted on this in living memory!

  20. Exactly! My first book, Boilerplate Reich, featured a constitution of only four articles, which could not be expanded. In essence, every citizen becomes a constitutional law expert! Every citizen is completely qualified for jury duty, and that activity becomes both more routine, and more revered.

  21. I would support a politician who aimed to go through our laws to find and eliminate any repetition, or consolidate laws into coherent chunks, etc. I think it’d be a worthy endeavor, but hard to sell to the general public.

  22. More law does not necessarily translate to more order.

  23. totally agree with you! there are more laws every where than anybody could enforce / follow!

  24. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Politicians don’t know how to solve problems so instead they create and enact laws trying to shape social behavior. There are so many laws this true and they say ignorance of the law is no excuse. Aka what you do to know is your fault. So what are we to do? I hope the answer isn’t become paralegals or lawyers.

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