Saturday, November 8, 2014


Megan Kelly is all atwitter. Bill O’Reilly gloats. The votes are in and the GOP controls both Houses of the Congress. Now the media is awash with commentary about the need for compromise, prospects of either progress or stalemate, predictions of deadlock, impeachment, vetoes and votes to override vetoes. Bottom line, politics as usual.

In 1866, Gideon Tucker, a lawyer and newspaper editor in New York, penned these immortal words: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe when the legislature is in session.”

It bears repeating. It has become common to judge the accomplishments of a legislative session by adding up the number of bills that have been passed before adjournment.

Before we start demanding that our newly elected Congressmen and Senators get to work and start passing laws, it might be well for them to give some thought to repealing some of the laws which have already been put on the books.

If freedom is defined as the right to do whatever we want to do, without restraint by the government, it would seem rather obvious that the more laws we have to obey, the less freedom we have.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the number of federal criminal laws:

There are conflicting opinions on the number of federal crimes, but many have argued that there has been explosive growth and it has become overwhelming. In 1982, the U.S. Justice Department could not come up with a number, but estimated 3,000 crimes in the United States Code. In 1998, the American Bar Association (ABA) said that it was likely much higher than 3,000, but didn't give a specific estimate. In 2008, the Heritage Foundation published a report that put the number at a minimum of 4,450. When staff for a task force of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to update its 2008 calculation of criminal offenses in the U.S.C. in 2013, the CRS responded that they lack the manpower and resources to accomplish the task.
In short, there are so many federal crimes, we can’t afford even to count them!

Exactly how, pray tell, can the citizens of this great land be presumed to know and expected to obey laws that are too numerous even to be counted by the government?

George Mason, one of only three delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia who refused to sign the Constitution, expressed the fear that the national government would toggle between a monarchy and a corrupt oligarchy.

Oligarchy. That’s a system of government in which a few people rule. It may be hereditary, like the Mafia, where certain families are recognized as the rulers, or it may be merely like a continuous game of “King of the Castle” in which shear brute strength or military might determines who rules until the next challenger comes along.

Our national government has become a more subtle version of oligarchy. There is indeed a strain of hereditary leadership. Debbie Dingell was elected in 2014 to a seat in Congress held by her husband and his father for over eighty years. Hillary Clinton is expected to seek the position her husband held for eight years and there is talk of a candidacy by Jeb Bush whose father and brother both served as President of the United States.

Beyond these rather obvious examples of a leadership class, there are more subtle classifications.  There is a plethora of evidence that residents of certain cities, graduates of certain universities, members of certain organizations and ethnic or economic groups have a disproportionate share of the decision making in the United States.

The people of the United States are pitifully underrepresented in the Congress. If the original House of Representatives had been based on the proportions of the present one, it would have consisted of four people. That would certainly have been considered an oligarchy.

And when two of the three branches of the federal government consist entirely of  graduates of three Eastern universities, what do you call that?  

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