Ignorance of the Law is no excuse. Or so they say. But shouldn’t there be a caveat that the number of laws should be kept at a manageable level? The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, was over 2000 pages long. And yet, we are to be held accountable to every letter of it. How about the Tax Code? I seem to recollect that it is over 50,000 pages long. Seriously? How can anyone comply? And there are other laws of equal immensity, I’m sure. No mortal can truly comprehend the entire legal code. And yet we are accountable to it. There’s got to be a better way.
I heard an old saying once. “In Heaven, there are no rules. In Hell, there is nothing but rules.” That seems profoundly appropriate. Any guess in which direction our country (the U.S.A.) is going in?
I have to wonder how many laws I unwittingly break every day. It could be none. It could be dozens. Or it could even be hundreds, or even more. The problem, as I see it, is that we try to micromanage human behavior. We come up with rules for everything, because we don’t know how to trust people to see to their own affairs. It’s in our nature to propose a new rule every time we solve a problem. By this time in our history, we have solved an innumerable number of problems. Hence, our excessive number of laws. We should be willing to say, okay, we’ve solved the problem for now, let’s move on. And we’ll leave future problems to the human judgment of those the problem affects. Rules can sometimes be a crutch; and sometimes they should be ignored for the greater good.
I had a thought once that legal precedence was part of this problem. I seem to recall that legal precedence (recording the decisions of courts and relying on those decisions to help make future decisions) started around the 1920’s or so (not really sure of the date), right when Darwinism came into the picture. Evolution was the hot new thing; so, everything had to be treated as an evolving thingamajig. This included, naturally, the law. Anyway, relying on precedence as we have for the last hundred years or so, has suited us well. But now we are running into a new problem: the number of legal decisions we have made has reached an overwhelming number (actually, I’m just saying that. I really don’t know if it’s true, although it probably is, and most assuredly will be eventually). Anyway, to continue, I had the thought that maybe we should do away with legal precedence. Let every legal decision be erased after it is made and enforced. A jury of twelve adults should be able to make a sufficiently wise decision to resolve legal battles.
Or, maybe, there is some other solution, but I don’t see it.