Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Congress and the Law

 

“When Congress makes a joke it’s a law, and when they make a law, it’s a joke.” – Will Rogers

The one law always in force is the law of unintended consequences. Congress can ignore it, and yet it remains, a reef to create the shipwreck of their hopes. This is the secret inherent in Will Rogers’s quote. No one individual is smart enough to foresee every possibility arising from an action. That is one reason it is always best to get a lot of outside input for a decision – especially one outside your area of expertise.

Congress contains 535 individuals who view themselves as the smartest person in the room. Yes, many of them are very smart(or very clever). Yet among the smart and clever is often the conceit that they know everything worth knowing and that something they do not know is by definition, unimportant. Throw in the desire to do something — quickly — when a crisis erupts.

The result? Legislation that ignores the law of unintended consequences. In the once and future Speaker of the House’s words, “We have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.” And chaos inevitably results.

If it is hard on everyone else, at least it gives humorists material.

There are 10 comments.

  1. Saint Augustine Member

    Right on.

    And long live Socrates!

    And shall we add to this a Joke of the Day? Picked up from Stupid.com when I was a kid: If pro is the opposite of con, what’s the opposite of progress?

    • #1
    • December 19, 2018, at 4:22 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  2. I Walton Member

    Yes, most of our serious enduring problems come from bad law and regulations created because of them. Good law doesn’t assume law makers or regulators can see the future, which is impossible, or know what the hell is already happening which they don’t know is also impossible, nor what could happen with the regulations necessary to implement the law.

    Any law should be so simple and clear that regulations almost write themselves. As it is now, and the Pelosi comment summarized all of it, few can read or understand what is being written so there is no alternative to these vast laws such as Obamacare, Dodd Frank, et al than to have the industries most affected help un elected un accountable bureaucrats write the regulations. In most cases, under our constitution state legislatures should make the laws and states and cities implement them, and state tax payers foot the bills.

    And yet it’s even worse. To develop the momentum to pass a Federal law, there must be a media frenzy, a presumed and most often invented crisis so that inevitably there is not time to be thoughtful, to consider whether any Federal law is required, whether the problem under focus, if there is one, is the result of existing bad law and stupid regulations which is probably true in 99.9% of the cases.

    Any candidate who talks about fixing some domestic problem, generating employment, reducing crime, improving health, eliminating poverty, raising income, protecting industry should be rejected unless the candidate completes with the phrase, by cutting, reducing simplifying Federal government.

    The Federal governments job is national security, foreign policy including international commerce, immigration and money and it’s not even doing that well in part because it isn’t easy or obvious how to do those things. To give the Federal government more responsibility is just dumb and almost always deeply corrupt. Obamacare? good lord.

    • #2
    • December 19, 2018, at 5:09 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  3. GrannyDude Member

    I have what may seem a very stupid question: At what point do we no longer need new laws? There must be a gigantic pile of them by this time. 

    • #3
    • December 19, 2018, at 5:20 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Seawriter Member
    Seawriter Post author

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I have what may seem a very stupid question: At what point do we no longer need new laws? There must be a gigantic pile of them by this time.

    As with every profound question, it is so simple it seems stupid. We no longer need new laws – or rather we need no new laws added – when there are so many laws a reasonably prudent person is incapable of understanding all of the laws currently on the books. At that point equal protection requires either the simplification of the code of laws, or the elimination of the principle that ignorance of the law is no defense. If we eliminate the principle that ignorance of the law is no defense – that being unaware of a law is a sufficient defense for breaking it – we cease to be a nation of laws.

    The problem is lawyers have a rice-bowl interest in seeing the law is as complicated as possible, because that generates business for them – and most legislators are lawyers. This works against simplifying the legal code. Perhaps if we pass a Constitutional amendment barring those who practice law from from holding elective office we would get more rational laws – or at least laws a mere mortal can understand.

    • #4
    • December 19, 2018, at 5:43 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I have what may seem a very stupid question: At what point do we no longer need new laws? There must be a gigantic pile of them by this time.

    The only law we need is the one that hands over all authority to the administrative state. We could replace all existing laws with that one. Perhaps we already have.

    • #5
    • December 19, 2018, at 7:16 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Stad Thatcher

    Seawriter: Throw in the desire to do something – quickly – when a crisis erupts. 

    There’s an old saying, “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

    During my check ride with the FAA inspector (for my private pilot certificate), he showed me a nifty trick in case my plane (a Cessna 152 in this case) got into an unusual attitude during takeoff. He took the controls, then did a power-on climb in a turn, pulling the nose higher and higher until the plane stalled. The plane broke sharply to the side opposite the turn, in a dive. The guy let go of the wheel immediately after the stall, and when the plane stabilized in attitude, he pulled off the power, rotated the wings horizontal, then pulled the nose back until the plane was level. He added normal power, and there we were, safe and sound. He told me to look at the altimeter. We had only lost 100 feet of altitude. He had me try it a couple of times.

    The lesson? Even in a crisis, it’s sometimes best not to take immediate action. Don’t just do something, stand there.

    • #6
    • December 19, 2018, at 7:20 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  7. Vectorman Thatcher

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Perhaps if we pass a Constitutional amendment barring those who practice law from from holding elective office we would get more rational laws – or at least laws a mere mortal can understand.

    There are many laws that are easy to understand, until you get Swamp Creatures like Comey (i.e., lawyer) who explains why water isn’t wet.


    There are 4 openings left on the December Quote of the Day Schedule, the easiest way to start a conversation on Ricochet. And if you’re busy between Christmas and New Year’s, there are many open dates on the January Quote of the Day Schedule. We’ve even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #7
    • December 19, 2018, at 7:46 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Saint Augustine Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Seawriter: Throw in the desire to do something – quickly – when a crisis erupts.

    There’s an old saying, “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

    During my check ride with the FAA inspector (for my private pilot certificate), he showed me a nifty trick in case my plane (a Cessna 152 in this case) got into an unusual attitude during takeoff. He took the controls, then did a power-on climb in a turn, pulling the nose higher and higher until the plane stalled. The plane broke sharply to the side opposite the turn, in a dive. The guy let go of the wheel immediately after the stall, and when the plane stabilized in attitude, he pulled off the power, rotated the wings horizontal, then pulled the nose back until the plane was level. He added normal power, and there we were, safe and sound. He told me to look at the altimeter. We had only lost 100 feet of altitude. He had me try it a couple of times.

    The lesson? Even in a crisis, it’s sometimes best not to take immediate action. Don’t just do something, stand there.

    Daoism.

    Free market capitalism.

    An old idea, a new idea.

    A good idea.

    • #8
    • December 19, 2018, at 1:40 PM PST
    • Like
  9. aardo vozz Member

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Yes, most of our serious enduring problems come from bad law and regulations created because of them. Good law doesn’t assume law makers or regulators can see the future, which is impossible, or know what the hell is already happening which they don’t know is also impossible, nor what could happen with the regulations necessary to implement the law.

    Any law should be so simple and clear that regulations almost write themselves. As it is now, and the Pelosi comment summarized all of it, few can read or understand what is being written so there is no alternative to these vast laws such as Obamacare, Dodd Frank, et al than to have the industries most affected help un elected un accountable bureaucrats write the regulations. In most cases, under our constitution state legislatures should make the laws and states and cities implement them, and state tax payers foot the bills.

    And yet it’s even worse. To develop the momentum to pass a Federal law, there must be a media frenzy, a presumed and most often invented crisis so that inevitably there is not time to be thoughtful, to consider whether any Federal law is required, whether the problem under focus, if there is one, is the result of existing bad law and stupid regulations which is probably true in 99.9% of the cases.

    Any candidate who talks about fixing some domestic problem, generating employment, reducing crime, improving health, eliminating poverty, raising income, protecting industry should be rejected unless the candidate completes with the phrase, by cutting, reducing simplifying Federal government.

    The Federal governments job is national security, foreign policy including international commerce, immigration and money and it’s not even doing that well in part because it isn’t easy or obvious how to do those things. To give the Federal government more responsibility is just dumb and almost always deeply corrupt. Obamacare? good lord.

    Your comment reminds me of a poster advertised on the website “Despair.com”. The poster was a picture of our nation’s capital with the following caption: “Government: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.”

    • #9
    • December 19, 2018, at 5:42 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. JosePluma Thatcher

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Right on.

    And long live Socrates!

    And shall we add to this a Joke of the Day? Picked up from Stupid.com when I was a kid: If pro is the opposite of con, what’s the opposite of progress?

    Man, the first time I heard that one, I laughed so hard I fell off my dinosaur.

    • #10
    • December 19, 2018, at 11:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes