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The Legislation Industry

A Public Nuisance.

by Barnabas
June 4, 2003

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The Legislation Industry_Barnabas-A Public Nuisance. I have in my hand the latest absurdity instigated by the legislative branch of government—a two-page document (“Notice of Privacy Practices”) from our small-town pharmacy. It requires my wife’s signature before I can continue to pick up her prescriptions when I’m in town. The document instructs us that if we need further information—we already have more than we care about—we may contact the “privacy officer” of this tiny retail establishment.

It reminded my wife of another legislative mandate. When her mother, in her late eighties, had to enter a nursing home with a broken hip, more than one staff member interviewed the elderly woman with the prefacing statement, “State law requires us to ask you these questions.” The law requires. Forget the convenience and comfort of a very old person under great stress. The law must be served.

I am sure there are reasons for these laws and hundreds more like them. I am sure that much earnest research and exhausting committee meetings went into them. I will not argue with anyone who explains the reasons to me. I am sure some abuse somewhere, sometime, is being redressed because these laws exist. Let’s be clear, though, that the fundamental reason such laws exist is that legislatures make laws. They don’t know what to do if they can’t make laws. Laws are their product, like Band-Aids are the product of Johnson and Johnson. If a problem comes to their attention, they do what they do—make a law. The more detailed the problem, the more detailed the law, resulting in tons of printed paper. (What does one say about a society in which the manufacture of paper shredders is a major industry, and their use a major activity?)

The biggest waste is of time—committee time, consultation time, investigative time, legal time, and clerical time. And to what end? Limited good to a comparative few, nuisance to everybody else.

I am not a member of the Libertarian Party. It’s easy to see, however, the attraction of Libertarianism when we contrast it with the absurdity of the legislation industry as it now exists.

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