Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sunset Party

It's time for a Sunset Party.  Let's adopt statutes that automatically terminate ("sunset") every existing statute as of a specified date.  Each state and Congress would need to do this separately.  It might make sense to have rolling expiration dates, so not all statutes would expire at once.  We would leave in place the very basics, such as constitutions. 

The legislatures would have to start over.  Before any new bill could come to the floor for a vote, an economic, health, sociological, and scientific analysis would be required -- by a commission with members selected by the various political parties and interest groups. 

Let's call this "zero-based legislation."  Like zero-based budgeting, we would rebuild something from nothing.

Alternatively, we could select certain types of legislation to be subject to zero-based legislation, leaving others in place for a while.

Why?  Because we have too many laws that exist for special interests, often justified by bogus reasons of "public health" or "consumer protection."  For example, I would point to the laws and regulations that limit the sale of milk or cheese.  These rules make it too difficult for small farmers to sell raw milk, even though raw milk may be much better and safer than pasteurized milk and even though some people want to buy it.  The rules favor industrialized monocultural (one-crop and one-animal) production, which we are discovering promotes disease and pest problems.  As another example, consider the rules in some states that require attorneys to handle real estate closings while most states to the west of the Mississippi allow nonlawyers to handle this business; is this consumer protection or lawyer protection?

"Do you think we're legislating ourselves to death?" asks Virginia.

Sometimes I wonder. 

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