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Friday, 28 December 2012

An Unproductive Congress?

A headline in the Huffington Post caught my eye today. It proclaimed that the latest Congress could be set to be the "most unproductive" since the 1940s. I'll confess that I consider most legislative assemblies to be totally "unproductive" so my reaction when I read the headline was - "so what's new?"

It may actually do the US (and I suspect if the UK could achieve a similar situation) a lot of good to have a legislature that can't agree on anything and so doesn't pass any new legislation for its term of office. Certainly in the UK, we have suffered from far too much new legislation over the last 20-odd years. Almost 80% of the current Statute Book has passed in the last 16 years, and most of that has not "improved" our lives at all, rather the contrary. The problem is, of course, that the parasites  MPs/Congressmen/Representatives that infest sit in most legislatures have to justify their existence somehow and, since they actually generate no income, create no jobs, and live off everyone else's earnings (like the civil servants who actually run the country) the only way they can make their mark is to "pass another little law."

No, even after reading the Huff Post article, which does actually highlight the problem of the Congress refusing to "raise the debt ceiling" and increase taxes. This will impact on the Federal Government's ability to pay teachers, civil servants, medics and the military. It will cripple the Obama Care package and it will impact on jobs across the board, but it will, on the plus side, prevent the passage of a lot of nuisance legislation which would probably impact almost as heavily on the economy.

I always find it interesting that our legislators - in every country - never seem to make the connection between the latest "little law" and the run of unintended consequences it has for everyone else.

Maybe an "unproductive Congress" will prove to be a good thing in the long run ...

1 comment:

  1. My support of the Monk's view is best described by referring to the Rt Hon Tony Bliar and his metro-centric view of the world.

    Cycling upon a public footpath has always been a common law offence, that is to say, there was no specific law against it, but if one could prove that a cyclist impeded lawful pedestrians, then they could be charges with the crime. Bliar, however, because of problems in London, made cycling upon a pavement a statute offence, thus ensuring that no crime had to be proven in terms of an action or inaction that caused harm, all that would be required would be a locus a bicycle and the accused guilty.

    This meant that my 5 minute cycle to work every day along a busy trunk route, just leaving town where not only was the speed limit inappropriate, but totally ignored and a constant stream of heavy lorries of the largest and international variety, became a criminal endeavour, every day, every time, even when on 95% of the occasions not one single pedestrian was using the path...

    I also recall “Two-Jags” passing primary legislation in 1993 to regain powers in the 1947 Fire Services Act that were repealed by the 1959 Act, powers that would have been illegal to use as fire services are the responsibility of local authorities, not the government in the UK.

    Don't even get me started on the poor drafting of legislation relating to “age of consent”; what was legal for two males to do in private was recommended for a mandatory custodial sentence between man and wife or partner, with a maximum of life. That was catered for when the 21 year-old age was reduced to 18 by removing the single word “male”, however, any 16 or 17 year-old married couple would have to hold back. Unless they were in Scotland where such an offence never existed.

    But Scots legislation is not perfect, supermarkets up and down the land all through the late 70s and eall of the 80s up to the mid 90s had to barricade the drink section on Sundays... there had never been a specific law against trading on a Sunday as there was in England & Wales (Shops Act 1950.) however, there was a ban on off-sales of alcohol. (Licensing, Scotland Act 1976.)

    Ah! Yes, the Shops Act, 1950... So, having realised the idiocy of being able to purchase “Playboy” or “The News of the World” on a Sunday but not being able to buy a bible or a prayer-book, they chose to do something about it for our “multicultural” world... get rid? Oh No! Heaven forfend, just let small shops open but restrict big ones. Bang, Easter weekend comes, garden centres go bust because all their spring trade comes at Easter... and they tend to have rather large sales areas.

    I recall that Marks and Spencer were heavily castigated for bending said rules in the run-up to Christmas... It would not occur to our legislature that both Messrs Mark an Spark were Jewish.

    Harrods doesn't close for Friday prayers, we either have a modern world or we have a medieval one, we cannot pretend to have both, however, we can legislate for it. Unison and others will call for “workers rights” while workers clamour for the extra overtime for Sunday or Bank Holidays, just as Firemen did, I worked every Christmas as a fireman, so that those with kids could be with their families and I could guarantee New Year as a holiday. Later, when I had a child of my own, I still worked every damn Xmas because there is only one Station Officer and the HQ station oic was ultima inter pares. Typical...

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