Randy Grau gave what I considered to be a great speech recently at the Oklahoma County Republican convention. His proposal to amend the state constitution would make it impossible for the Oklahoma state legislature to write new laws in even numbered years, without three fourths of the legislature agreeing to an emergency issue vote. The proposal would be geared towards clearing time to do a complete audit of every state agency’s budget every other year, top to bottom, justifying every dollar spent. I love this idea!
In odd numbered years, they could get back to the policy issues, spending limited time on budget issues. This would also serve the purpose of limiting the number of new laws being passed in the state of Oklahoma, meaning that threats to individual liberties would be limited to odd numbered years. I love this too.
I do think, however, that it falls short of solving the real issue, which, as in every state in the union, is the fact that there are far too many regulations, restrictions, criminal codifications, and just in general too damn many laws on the books right now! Too many. Several writers have even proposed the average American business man will commit six felonies, without their knowledge, before breakfast. Sad, but true.
So, what are we to do about it? I have a proposal. Right now, the “conservatives” (supposedly fans of limited government, right?) are in charge here in our great state, and in our nation (with the exception of the Whitehouse) so, why not take this chance to radically reduce the size and scope of both federal and state government by reducing the number of laws on the books? That’s right, legislators can serve more than one purpose and I am suggesting that they take the next two years to not propose ANY new legislation, but spend their time targeting laws that need to be repealed.
Let’s call it the “Great Repeal” and here is our part: as activists, we are constantly suggesting bills to oppose or support to our reps. Stop it. For the next two years, let’s change tactics. Let’s revisit everything that we hate in our legislation. That tax bill you wanted defeated? Repeal it! That mandatory sentencing law that has been a bane in your state? Cut it out! That business regulation that has made it more difficult for small businesses to get started in your state? Remove it! Just as we would ask our reps to spend their time repealing laws, let’s spend ours suggesting laws that need repeal. Instead of putting new issues on their plate, let’s strongly suggest they revisit some old mistakes!
Think about it! There are as many as 40,000 new laws enacted on the federal level each year (this was the case in 2012), and we could conceivably get rid of as many old laws as we could create new laws, so we could repeal 40,000 laws a year! But, that would not be the net effect! No, since we would not be proposing new laws, we would be reducing legislation by 80,000 laws in a year, by stopping new laws and repealing an equivalent number of laws. That’s a grand total of 160,000 laws in two years! Can you imagine?
Now, I recognize that this is not likely to play out in these simple terms. But, what if we could get the number of new laws reduced by half? Or 25% or even 10%? Then, spend the time saved repealing old laws. Even at 10% this would be a reduction of 8,000 laws in a given year! Over the course of a decade, we could reduce the regulatory burden on US citizens by 80,000 laws! Instead of giving them more power each year, we incrementally begin to take it back!
I know most of you are laughing, but what if? What if we could even “balance the scales” so that for every new law passed, one old law was being repealed? I know that this is a fantasy. I realize it is never going to happen. But, I know this. What goes up, can come down. So, the next time you feel that a law pinches, rather than proposing a new law to counteract the old one, how about fighting for repeal of the burdensome regulation?
We cannot hope to maintain this pace of adding new laws, and still maintain anything resembling personal liberty. Mr. Grau, our hats are off to you, sir, it is a great step in the right direction, now, let’s join him and make some changes that will result in us becoming freer incrementally, rather than the trend we have been on, of giving up more and more of our liberties with each passing session.