Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Solution For Bills That Are Too Big To Read

Mark Steyn brings it into focus with this post on NRO (emphasis added):

"Rep. John Conyers can't see why lawmakers should read the laws they make. What's the point? They wouldn't understand 'em anyway:

“I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Conyers.

“What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

As Betsy Newmark comments:

At least some representative's aides somewhere have read some part of the bill so that should be enough, right? Who says that when you're rejiggering over one-sixth of the US economy and incurring massive future debt that you need to know what it is you're voting on.

Thousand-page bills, unread and indeed unwritten at the time of passage, are the death of representative government. They also provide a clue as to why, in a country this large, national government should be minimal and constrained. Even if you doubled or trebled the size of the legislature, the Conyers conundrum would still hold: No individual can read these bills and understand what he's voting on. That's why the bulk of these responsibilities should be left to states and subsidiary jurisdictions, which can legislate on such matters at readable length and in comprehensible language.

As for optimum bill size, the 1773 Tea Act, which provoked the Boston Tea Party, was 2,263 words. That sounds about right."

H/T Instapundit

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