Thursday, October 08, 2009

Basic questions to ask before implementing a new law

"[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community." ~ Benjamin Rush

I recently read Leslie Carbone's book, "Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform," and while it deals with the issue of taxes and developing a better tax system, it includes some questions that I think are pertinent and should be asked whenever a new law is considered.

I was thinking about this in relation to Issues 1, 2 and 3 on the November ballot, as well as the texting while driving ordinance before Toledo City Council.

What I'd like to know is this: who has asked - and answered - these questions (paraphrased from the book) on these proposals:

* What does the Constitution say?
* What are some of the unintended consequences? Does it promote dependence or laziness? Does it make immoral behavior easier or attractive?
* Does it pervert justice?
* Is it true reform or just tinkering? Will it increase or decrease complexity?
* Is it impartial, simple, transparent?
* Is it a proper function of government? Is it a good idea? Can the government do it well? What is the track record in similar areas?
* Does it inhibit economic growth?
* Is the government likely to keep its promises regarding the matter?
* Will it expand the power of the state? Does it set up a new state apparatus that could do damage to individuals, liberty or freedom - sooner or later?
* Will it erode privacy - financial or otherwise?
* Is it the best solution or just the quickest fix.

And my question: how does the proposal increase freedom, liberty and encourage personal responsibility? The goal, after all, is freedom.

Before you vote on the state-wide issues, ask yourselves these questions. And before Toledo City Council passes a new law, ask the members of council what the answers to these questions are - or if they've even considered these questions as part of their deliberations on the law.

We'll have a better city, county, state, and nation, if we think about these things before, rather than after, laws have been put into place.

And think, too, about this point: when was the last time a government actually repealed a law - voluntarily???? If we wait until after laws are passed, it's too late.


Mad Jack said...

From Maggie Thurber: And my question: how does the proposal increase freedom, liberty and encourage personal responsibility? The goal, after all, is freedom.

You get five stars for that one, Maggie.

I'm convinced that most legislators (about 90%) never consider any of these issues when proposing new legislation. I believe that many legislators couldn't recite the entire bill of rights from memory. Mind you, it isn't that legislators don't understand how a particular bill infringes on our constitutional rights; it's that they don't care. They haven't cared in years.

Tim Higgins said...


Your question is a good one, but it not the one currently being asked by legislators at any level. It appears that government no longer sees charters and constitutions as reasonable limits, but handcuffs that must be escaped from. Far too often those most praised are those best able to exhibit 'Houdini-like' performances.

It appears that we need more clear thinkers and less of these side-show charlatans. With an election coming up in less than a month, perhaps we will manage to choose some.

John Sims, Commissioner said...

Simply outstanding advice! I will be using this advice in my next Commision meeting regarding an Ordinance that intentionally thwarts personal responsibility. THANK YOU

Google Analytics Alternative