Sunday, December 6, 2009

MAKING SAUSAGE

They say that two things you should never watch being made are sausages and legislation.

Both are amalgamations of diverse unappetizing ingredients, made palatable only by integration into a single unidentifiable mass.

The currently debated health care bills are surely sausage in the making. Two thousand pages of arcane federal statutory language are sufficient to hide enough scraps of rotting pork and associated garbage to gag an army.

The result of this omnibus approach to health care, of course, is to invite scatter gun arguments for and against, with proponents and opponents pointing to unrelated sections, conflicting provisions, and opposing interpretations.

Apparently the conventional Congressional wisdom advises that bills need to be broad enough to induce support from a majority of each house by creating coalitions of legislators who have different axes to grind.

By this method, regulations which themselves have literally no public or legislative support can become the law of the land simply because they have been bundled up with a mass of unrelated rules, each of which claims a bare majority of supporters.

Article IV, Section 24 of the Michigan Constitution provides:

“No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title.”

No doubt there are similar provisions in most State constitutions.

Perhaps it is time to amend the federal Constitution in a similar vein. How about this for the 28th Amendment:

No Bill in either House of the Congress shall embrace more than one object which shall be expressed in its title, nor shall any bill consist of more than one thousand words in the English language.

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