Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the ... uh ... Let Me Get Back to You on That ...

One of the things that often makes me shake my head in amazement is our approach to solving problems by issuing more and more laws. The US Code - the compilation of Federal laws - already has 51 "titles" subdivided into many thousands of individual elements (or "laws") ... if you have a few years of time on your hands and a desire to learn all the ways lawyers can bedevil your life, you can peruse the full US Code here.

If we have a problem, we tend to think it can be solved with a new law. Did someone kill someone else? We used to call it murder. Nowadays, it can't just be murder ... it's first-degree murder, second-degree murder ("Murder Two," in TV law terms), manslaughter, or perhaps negligent homicide, among other gradations of the crime. Can't make the murder charge stick? Make it a hate crime, which has its own set of laws. Don't just accuse someone of stealing ... make it grand larceny or - if that doesn't stick - conspiracy to perform grand larceny. Some drunken ass clown doesn't steal a car and go joyriding ... he performs grand theft, auto.

At this time of year, we worry (often without realizing it) about Title 26 of the US Code - the Internal Revenue Code - which, in its many tens of thousands of pages, requires us under the weight of many penalties to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Title 26 also helps you, if you are a major corporation or a wealthy and well-connected individual with a battery of really good lawyers and accountants, figure out how to legally avoid rendering unto Caesar like the lesser schmucks have to. Every year, Congress passes more and more clarifications, exemptions, and changes to Title 26, to the point where figuring out what you owe in taxes is a lot like figuring out what your airline ticket actually costs.

Even religion is not immune from the mighty avalanche of legal complications. This article from last January discusses how more and more Catholics are taking their troubles to church courts, navigating their way through the Code of Canon Law ... which in its seven books contains 1752 canons (roughly, individual laws).

Oddly enough, God Himself (or Herself) only needed ten commandments.

Shakespeare famously wrote (in Act IV, Scene II of Henry VI, Part 2), "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Unfortunately, he was too late. The first thing he should have done was kill all the people who write useless and confusing laws.

Have a good day. Do it legally, if you can find the appropriate laws to cover it.

More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

6 comments:

KathyA said...

I'd say it's time to call another Continental Congress together, but don't think the current assclowns could possibly pull off what the originals did. We'd still be a colony. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

Mike said...

You probably broke some law by writing about this.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The fact that laws are so complicated has given steady employment for lawyers. Give me the old Napoleonic code.

Banana Oil said...

We definitely need a simplified code of laws. And really need an understandable tax code.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Most of state legislators here in Alabama are lawyers. And too many in Congresshave that sort of background.

Grenouille Fille said...

St. Yves was a lawyer,
And a Breton as well;
But not a liar
Strange to tell.