Thursday, August 04, 2005

Should Politicians Do Nothing?

An astute commenter wrote, "It sounds to me as if you've created every incentive for a politician NOT to introduce laws and sponsor Bills." He is absolutely right. I won't claim to have created every incentive, but I've tried! The title of my posts alone (Stunting Leviathan's Growth and its continuation) should tell you that my objective is just that: to reduce the rate at which government grows.

I don't put my faith in short-sighted politicians and their ability to write laws that don't violate my rights. I don't believe for a moment that they care more about my well-being than I do. But every incentive that currently exists has the opposite effect of the system of incentives I propose. Rather than encouraging politicians to carefully introduce laws that are genuinely in my interest and do not breach the provisions in the Constitution, the system of incentives that exists encourages politicians to write as many laws as possible, as quickly as possible, and hope that no one has the time to notice the erosion of basic rights that follows. There are so many laws, you can't possibly know which are Constutional or not. You can't possibly even know most of them exist. Don't believe me? The IRS tax laws alone account for nearly 50,000 pages. If you were to read them at a rate of 200 pages per day, five days per week with no vacation, it would take you over a year to complete. Imagine reading an extremely boring novel every day for the next year. That's only the tax portion of the law. You still would need to catch up on the hundreds and sometimes thousands of pages of law passed each week and all the other laws already on the books.

"In framing a government ... you must first enable [it] to control the governed; in the next place oblige it to control itself."[1] Government never ceases to control the governed, but controlling itself requires either extreme self-discipline or serious consequences in the event that it does not. I trust serious consequences over extreme self-discipline.

[1] James Madison, Federalist No. 40, 1787

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