Want to know just how many laws there are? Here are excerpts from an article by Claire Wolf:
But the major evil of too many laws is the competing special interests that lobby the legislatures or file lawsuits in the courts to get them special treatment under the laws, creating special classes of people. Take Washington State for example. They passed a Growth Management Act (GMA) back in 1991 that is supposed to guide local governments on how to manage growth. The Act contains thirteen (13) goals, only one of which is protecting the environment. But since most local governments are lobbied (or sued) incessantly by environmental groups, the GMA goal to protect the environment has the highest priority, always. One of the 13 goals under the GMA is to protect property rights. Protecting property rights is rarely considered in local government decisions on growth management.
Now all these laws don't hurt large developers or corporations. They just cut deals with local governments to get what they want. The farmers of Washington State have just won a decision in the state supreme court that makes them virtually exempt from many of the wetland and water course buffers required under the GMA. In contrast, the environmentalists and the Indian tribes use the GMA to get what they want by suing everybody. They either sue a local government, or they take their case to one of the state's Growth Management Hearings Boards (GMHB) formed under the GMA. GMHB's are made up of a few un-elected individuals, appointed by the governor, and it is their job to adjudicate disputes arising out of the GMA. Most of the GMHB decisions fly in the face of common sense, property rights, or even the other 12 goals of the GMA, except the almighty environmental goal. It reigns supreme.
So who gets trampled among the developers, the farmers, the environmentalists and the Indian tribes? Small rural landowners. Thus, the developers, the farmers, the environmental groups and the Indian tribes become special interests under the GMA, at the expense of the small rural landowner. The giant developers (usually timber companies) have huge chunks of land they can set aside for open space, while the balance of their land is developed into high-dense, highly-profitable urban communities, in compliance with un-American Smart Growth policies that have come out of the United Nations and codified into law by presidential executive orders (Clinton). The farmers get special treatment because the wide buffers required for wetland and water courses under so-called Best Available Science (an oxymoron if there ever was one) would use up so much of their land they couldn't grow any crops and would go out of business. Meanwhile, the environmentalists sue everybody to get what they want, which is unreasonable environmental protection, paid for by everyone else but the environmentalist.
But what about the small rural landowner? What concessions does he get under the GMA? Little to none! Why? Because he is an un-represented, disenfranchised minority that the three branches of government and special interests can ignore, wholesale. Environmental protection ordinances fall disproportionately on rural landowners, while special interests (developers, corporations, farmers, environmentalists and the Indian tribes) jockey in the legislatures and the courts for relief from those very same ordinances. The city folk remain virtually unscathed by it all.
By just sheer numbers, the more laws that are written, (no matter whom they effect) the less likely the entire population will even know about the laws, or understand them, or know of their consequences or penalties for violation, much less be in compliance with them. And yet, under the law, ignorance of the law is not a defense.
Many laws are written at the insistence of lobbying or special interest groups with very narrow and purposely hidden agendas. (i.e. Corporations, developers, farmers, environmentalists and Indian tribes) The rural landowners never have an opportunity for real input to the process that affects them the most. City-born partisan politics often compromise a new law into meaningless, often conflicting legislation, leaving loopholes over which lawyers can argue for decades.
In the final analysis, extending legislating and law creation to its absurdity, one arrives at a point where there are so many laws that no one is in compliance and we end up losing our ability to enforce any of them. We become in fact, lawless in a chaotic nightmare of our own making. Special interests use the system to protect their turf. Equal protection under the law becomes meaningless.
Thus, the only answer is not in complexity, but in simplicity and fewer laws. Yes, a complex society needs laws to maintain "reasonable" societal order. But as laws increase, after a certain point, order begins to break down under its own weight, as people try to comply with often conflicting and confusing codes, ordinances, regulations and acts. For example, how many Americans are in strict compliance with the Internal Revenue Service code? It's a joke. No, it's a monster injustice. And worse, the more laws there are, the more opportunities for emotionally and financially draining lawsuits between aggrieved parties, egged on by lawyers who make their living off of human weaknesses and interpreting laws that no one else can understand.
There is an inviolate law in nature. Complexity in organisms can lead to the emergence of order. Biological evolution and diversity of life on Earth is a result of that law. However, it has also been shown that too much complexity in these organisms, in almost all cases, leads to chaos and finally extinction.
Ultimately, if we continue on the path we tread, all Americans, but especially the small rural landowner, will be snared in an inescapable spiderweb of law, after law, after law.
Too many laws create competing special interests who lobby the system to entrench their own little worlds, while the un-represented are left out in the cold. Too many laws create victims who inadvertently violate one or more laws and spend their life's savings trying to defend themselves against an intransigent, all-powerful and abusive government. Too many laws leads to powerful, entitled special interests and victims who have no power.
But since we are bent on our own destruction, we will continue to pass law, after law, after law. As in the story of the person crying wolf too many times, too many laws will lead to wholesale non-compliance, and a country of laws will collapse under a billion pages of laws that just about everyone will ignore. A condition that will eventually lead to anarchy.
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Ron Ewart, President
National Association of Rural Landowners
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