Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do We Need a Permanent Legislature?

Why is Congress in session right now?  I mean, I know that they are taking care of important matters, especially with their out of control budget, but I mean in the general sense.  Why do they meet every year to pass new laws, new regulations, and plan new budgets?

The last part I can understand.  Having served in leadership capacities in the past, though not in an official governmental position, I completely understand the need to properly plan a budget.  It’s probably one of the most important things that you would have to deal with.

However, most of what Congress discusses isn’t really related to budget matters exactly.  Most of the time, they are talking about policies and programs that are in place or will be in place given a majority vote.

The basic function of Congress, of any legislative branch, is to pass laws.  But honestly, how many laws does any sovereign entity really need?  If we take the libertarian stance, for example, and say that only laws should be passed are ones where a person takes another person’s life, liberty, or property through force or fraud.  This limits the laws passed to a select few.  Sure there are plenty of variations, but it would not be very large.

For example, there are two kinds of murder: murder as a deliberate act and murder through negligence or accident, which is also known as manslaughter.  In both cases, you’ve just covered the ‘life’ part of the equation there.  So you really only need two laws and two punishments when it comes to murder and manslaughter.  Kidnapping violates the ‘liberty’ part.  Vandalism and theft deal with the ‘property’ part.  In all cases, you can see how there would be little need for more than maybe 20 laws passed to deal with the various injustices dealt against other people.

Accordingly, only the same number of punishments need to be prescribed in all cases.  And those punishments should fit the crime, where restitution is made for the losses inflicted.  In manslaughter, for example, instead of sending someone to jail, perhaps they are forced to compensate the victim’s families for the financial loss causes by the untimely death.  For theft, the victim is compensated for the amount stolen plus extra.  Unfortunately, the court can only deal in financial matters since other measurements, such as emotional stress, are subjective.

In any case, this hardly makes the case for a permanent legislature to be established.  They would only need to meet to work out the budget and just let the machinations of the system work.

In the state I live in, Virginia, the state assembly only meets for a few months out of the year, as far as I can tell.  They debate, they pass bills, and then they leave and go on their merry way.  While there is always bound to be some form of tyranny or another being passed, it probably happens a lot less since they don’t have as much time.  If we were to follow the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment states that the State governments have many powers, while the Federal government is limited by what the Constitution says.  And yet, my state legislatures don’t see a need to meet for longer than a few months.

Currently, we have over 10,000 Federal laws on the books with many more onerous regulations being created every day by unaccountable bureaucrats.  These bureaucrats have been given a blank check to basically create rules out of thin air by the language of existing laws.  If the United States Congress were to meet only on one month out of the year, I doubt that so many laws would have been passed that made all of us criminals.  And yet, here we are with laws and rules that nobody can completely know.  The human brain has its limits after all.

I once heard that Thomas Jefferson said at some point that as long as Congress is in session, our life, liberty, and property are in jeopardy.  And while it may not be true (I’m not sure if it was Jefferson actually), it certainly holds some value.  As long as we keep on allowing those tyrants to operate in the Capitol without time constraints, save the elections, we will continue to see tyranny and oppression being passed by highly motivated moral busybodies, regardless of party affiliation.

1 comment:

  1. By creating an astronomical number of laws and regulations, the state is creating an astronomical number of ways by which it can arrest and detain members of the public. Everyone is probably in violation of some obscure regulation without even being aware of it.

    For instance, it's probably illegal to write this. Oops.


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