Hart: Incomprehensible laws and the legislators who layer them

This building, the U.S. Capitol, and not the Pentagon, as was given the answer on an oral civics test, is where Congress meets.
photo Ron Hart

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"Bart, we live in a society of laws. Why do you think I took you to all those 'Police Academy' movies? For fun? Well, I didn't hear anybody laughing! Did you?"

- Homer Simpson, to his son Bart

Incomprehensible laws on when an incoming president's national security adviser can talk to a Russian ambassador cost Mike Flynn his job. I am actually for term limits, but I believe our national security adviser's term should last longer than a gallon of milk.

Barack Obama signed an executive order in his final days saying all intelligence agencies can share information. He did it to trap Donald Trump, knowing career Democrat bureaucrats would be able to leak something on Trump. About 90 percent of D.C. government employees are Democrats. Clearly, Obama did not want this law in place when his was "the most transparent administration in history." Obama signing that executive order with just days to go in his administration was as magnanimous as Thomas Jefferson freeing his slaves in his will.

The problem is that we are becoming a country of too many laws, lots and lots of laws, layered upon each other with perpetual ambiguity. And it seems we keep adding to the laws that we have, thus making government larger and more unaccountably powerful with each and every bill the president signs. Enacting more laws, laws that even lawyers cannot understand, makes Americans less free.

When a problem happens in this country, legislators from both parties run to the microphones, wag their fingers with amazement that it occurred, blame the other party, and announce another law that they are going to pass or an agency they will start. Most of the time, it just makes the matter worse. The Affordable Care Act was not affordable, and the Patriot Act was not patriotic. So bad law is piled upon bad law, unevenly enforced. It has all become a joke.

Sure I would like to remove that pesky tag from my pillow, but that is forbidden by federal law. So I sleep each night, in my home, with a pillow that I paid for, trying to keep that tag from scratching my head - I don't need trouble. I also dream of a day that I can tape a baseball game "without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball," but I know deep down that my desire will remain only that. I'm not even sure how my DVR gets away with recording TV.

There is not a person in this country who could not be harassed, indicted and probably convicted on some law by a zealous prosecutor. Just ask the Duke lacrosse team kids. Yes, they were eventually acquitted, but a politically ambitious prosecuting attorney who was up for re-election ruined some young men's lives.

I once saw a saying on a bathroom wall that said "Give me ambiguity or give me something else." I have never hired a lawyer to look at some legal issue who came back quickly with a straight answer. Usually, he or she comes back with more questions than answers. Since they are paid by the hour, they like it that way.

Trump needs to decide what is important in this country and almost start over with our laws and tax code. We need to rebuild our laws, starting with the most important ones where there is a clear victim (rape, incest, murder, robbery). And we need to stop at some point when we realize a law is outdated, unclear, unenforceable or redundant. Whatever laws the government has need to be clear and evenly enforced. And citizens need to understand them.

A more evolved society needs fewer laws. The more totalitarian a country, the more laws and rules it has. We really need to take stock and realize that passing law upon confusing law is not the direction we need for our country.

I wrote this same column in 2006, when George W. Bush was in power. Sadly, the problem has gotten worse. I hope that President Trump will look into the fatty folds of government and cut out many of these rules and regulations. When you have a hammer, you are always looking for a nail. So it is with growing government agencies, laws and regulators. With each law or regulation, freedom is diminished.

Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated op-ed humorist and TV/radio commentator, at Ron@Ronald-Hart.com, Twitter @RonaldHart or visit RonaldHart.com.