Sunday, February 11, 2007

Too Many Laws

The more laws we have, the less freedom we have. Ideally, a nation has enough laws to provide stability but not so many that you can't keep track of them or that they unnecessarily impede the enjoyment of living in a free land.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is bouncing the idea around of outlawing cell phone use by teenagers while driving. It is the third year this legislation has been introduced, and as is so often the case with proposed legislation, the intent is good. It resulted from an accident when the driver of a car, distracted from driving because she was talking on her cell phone, pulled into the path of a fast-moving truck and was killed in the accident, and her passenger seriously injured.

However, it is a well-accepted maxim that you can’t legislate morality, and it should be just as well accepted that you can’t legislate common sense, as this bill attempts to do. The death of the young girl and the injury of her young female passenger are tragic, to be sure. But they are not a proper basis for a law.

Laws should be relatively few and should be directed at major areas of concern. We shouldn’t have laws prohibiting spitting on the street, crossing in the middle of a block, riding a motorcycle without a helmet and riding in a car without a seatbelt, and a huge array of behaviors that do not substantially harm the populace at large.

We have too many laws already, and we Virginians should hope that the General Assembly has sense enough to stop this law again.

Here are some thoughts on laws and legislation by some smart people:

"It is one of the finest problems in legislation, what the state ought to take upon itself to direct and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual discretion" - Edmund Burke

"Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes." - Abraham Lincoln

"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered." - Lyndon B. Johnson

"The world is not going to be saved by legislation." - William Howard Taft

"As a rule of thumb, Congressional legislation that is bipartisan is usually twice as bad as legislation that is partisan." - Thomas Sowell

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