I’m starting this from the idea that we have too many laws. If you object to that idea, feel free to make a case for it.
In the US, we have a ridiculous amount of laws. I can’t find a cite on the exact number, but I’ve heard it’s easily enough to fill a large library. The laws on a lot of subjects are so detailed and numerous that only lawyers specializing in that subject can even begin to grasp the complexity. We’re at the point where ignorance may very well be a valid excuse regarding the law.
Many of these laws were passed with a 50% + 1 majority - and so the laws were started on questionable grounds in the first place. If 49% of lawmakers object to a law, it may be fundamentally flawed.
There are no fundamental mechanisms that keep laws ‘honest’, in that that a ‘clean water bill’ can tack on tax cuts to big business, or such.
There are no mechanisms by which laws become invalid or Congress is comeplled to review the laws.
The result is that, even though we’ve had laws covering all the basic criminals acts that can occur in society for hundreds of years, we’ve had hundreds of years of adding technical regulations and restrictions on top of them. Often conflicting and non-sensical, with riders slipped in dishonestly.
Despite the abundance of current laws, as Congress seemingly has nothing else to do, they feel compelled to pass new laws on whatever lobby groups can push them to do. Half of society wants to push laws that restrict the other half of society, and vice versa. The end result is that we have many unnecesary, illogical, and contradictory laws.
Given that minimal and simple laws intuitively seem to lead to more freedom, everything that comes out of our law making factory strips just a bit more of our freedom, and creates an even larger mess.
If we acknowledge that the current ‘law making factory’ motive for Congress is an overall negative, what mechanisms could be used to make Congress into a more reasonable body?
Three come to mind immeadiately for me:
Require a 2/3rds majority (or 3/5ths) to pass any given law. This will result in less laws, and assumably, only the truly important ones would pass - because it’d take a lot to get such a large consensus on a bill. No more BS bills that only slip by because one party has a 1 member lead in Congress - but the laws that are passed are passed because a majority saw the law as a good enough thing to pass. It seems to me that any laws passed where more than 1/3rd vote against it probably should be reconsidered.
Instate a system by which laws automatically expire after a few years. This would automatically get rid of archaic or silly laws (such as sodomy laws, or ‘no fishing on tuesday’ laws). It would also ensure that laws that were merely passed because one party outmuscled the other party by 1 or 2 votes wouldn’t be automatically permanent, and since that the party could lose the advantage in the next few years, bad partisan laws could be gotten rid of. The biggest cost to the system is that political stalling tactics could be used to invalidate laws, and the last thing we need is for murder to be legal because congress didn’t vote on it in time :). But I’m sure a system could be designed to overcome such things. Congress would also have to constantly vote again on some very basic laws against murder, theft, etc., keeping them busy - but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.
Create a house of Congress whose only purpose is to repeal laws. As they’d feel the need to be constantly busy, and have nothing else to do, they’d effective be an ‘anti-law making factory’, and could counteract some of the bad laws passed by Congress, who is constantly churning them out.
Any thoughts on the basis premise (that the constant need to put out new laws is bad), or the fixes I suggested?