The Ever-expanding Universe of Laws

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Dennis Linthicum

The Ever-expanding Universe of Laws

 "There ought to be a law…” 

Have you every seen something silly or ridiculous and muttered to yourself, “There ought to be a law?”

You and I might say, “There ought to be a law?”  when we see something that we think is ironic, unexpected, or just plain nuts. But, most of the time we realize that people have the freedom to make their own personal choices, even if the house color that they happen to choose isn’t our own favorite color.

Fundamentally, we are each faced with living, and cooperating, in a world with thousands of choices. We must be willing to allow others the same opportunity for free and independent action, unless an individual’s freedom impinges on someone else’s freedom or their personal property.

This is probably easiest to understand in the sense of property. I’m free to purchase and drive my car under obedience to the rules of the road. These rules have been established over time to create what I call “Ordered Liberty.” It is ordered so that there is a smooth  and safe flow of traffic. I have the freedom to go where I wish, when I wish, and the only constraint is that I pay attention to others, allowing them equal freedom while all of us follow the rules.

This may sound like common-sense, and it is, but things quickly go haywire when the legislature gets a little too cocky for our own good. You see, we send men and women to Oregon’s Senate and House and we call them legislators.

As legislators, they feel their job consists of being able to legislate, i.e. to make laws. So, when they get to Salem, what do they do.

They do their jobs, they legislate… 

I think this has turned out to be detrimental to Oregon and it’s citizenry.

Why do I think that?  

Because we have so many laws and so many regulations that no one can keep track, except the bureaucrats who are payed for their rule making efforts. They also write the enforcement measures, discover the appropriate fee schedule, determine the stiffness of the fines and/or penalties they adjudicate any grievances to determine whether or not they have done their jobs correctly.

Jefferson noted this danger, even during our nation’s earliest years. He said, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for…”  He continues, describing the nature of a truly free and representative government by adding that it would be one, “in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among general bodies… as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”

Oregon’s legislature is so busy making new laws, that there isn’t time to focus on the principles of good governance or self-governance.

To date, in the 2017 session, the Legislature has introduced 1,806 measures.

Number of Bills

Just how many laws do Oregonians need to ensure that their liberty is protected?

This growth essentially represents the problem with government – that is, it has an uncanny, but natural propensity for growth. It turns out it is worse than germs growing in a lab petri-dish. It is really more akin to our ever-expanding universe.

The American astronomer, Edwin Hubble, discovered in 1929 that the distant galaxies were moving away from our Milky Way system. His observation was generalized into a universal law, known as Hubble's law, where science can measure the speed and rate of expansion of the universe by observing a redshift in light emanating from distant objects.

It appears our government is experiencing this same natural redshift tendency. It even follows Jefferson's pattern where the black-ink on our budgetary pages experiences a natural shift towards red. Jefferson described the process, where there is a consistent multiplication of public offices, increases in expenses beyond income, and the growth and entailment of a public debt. This is exactly the path set forth by the governor's budget.

Additionally, the numbers above only represent the number of acts or measures, not the number of pages within the bill. Some of these bills are short while others are several hundred pages in length. The real impact on law-abiding citizens includes not only these laws but also the administrative costs for creating and enforcing subsequent rules and regulations.

For each of these laws, the bureaucracy creates and writes the regulations and then formulates the rules regarding fines, punishments and enforcement measures. These rules and stipulations might span several thousand more details all spelled out in mind-numbing legalese.

It turns out Oregon doesn’t need any more Legislation. We need some de-Legislators who will lesson the burdens placed on Oregon's businesses, families and individuals.

Please remember –– if we do not stand up for rural Oregon and common-sense, – no one will.


Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728

Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-415, Salem, Oregon 97301