Re: Where we lost America

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Sun Oct 28 2001 - 11:05:01 MST

Miriam English wrote:
> At 10:25 AM 28/10/2001, Alex F. Bokov wrote:
> >Maybe have sunset clauses (expiration dates, like on milk) be the norm, and
> >any law the legislature presumes to elevate to timeless relevance would have
> >to have some kind of supermajority in order to pass.
> That is a very neat idea Alex. Many in the legal profession might oppose it
> on the grounds that going over the innumerable laws again and again would
> be like walking into quicksand. But I wonder if this might not *finally* be
> a way to prune back unnecessarily complex laws and get them redrafted into
> common language. People becoming weary of all these densely worded archaic
> laws might become impatient with them and force modernisation.

I can see a simple hack: introduce the tradition of a single bill,
containing all the laws that most people think should be "permanent"
along with various laws that have some minor controversy but which
their sponsors hope won't merit too much objection, and introduce it
all as a single chunk. To weed out the waste would require going
through it all - an onerous task, especially if it is deliberately
made obscure. The legislators get their pet unpopular legislation
included, so they have no incentive to oppose this scheme. The entire
package is introduced with whatever a reasonable sunset period is
determined to be, and voted on as a block - either take it with the
waste, or let the entire legal code go away.

In computer terms, this would be a compiled binary instead of the
source code.

Perhaps the worst of the waste, that practically no one supports, could
get weeded out this way, if there was also established a tradition of
some appointed (by self or others) legal clerks going through the whole
body and retyping it up for this block; they would skip those laws that
they think should not be. The problem is that copy-and-paste, with no
one ever reviewing the more obscure laws, makes so much more economic
sense for preparing this block of law that the temptation to use it
might be overwhelming. ("Fight temptation" is not an answer unless you
have something beyond mere willpower to fight it with...) I'm not sure
if copy-and-paste preparation of the laws themselves could be
effectively outlawed...

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