Monday, June 26, 2017
“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”
― James Madison
My knowledge of history is far from complete, and while I do not know when men began employing the Method of Rule by Policy, I do know that the Romans used it. The Method fell from common use after Rome's fall, but appears to have regained popularity with the rise of the so-called "nation state".
The kings of yore were typically ill-educated and generally lacked a sense of long term, all-encompassing strategy to ensure their legacies survived the ages, despite the efforts of some to establish perpetuities. Therefore, their dynasties rarely lasted beyond a very few generations. It was not until the rise of the nation-state, which corporatized governance, that governmental "dynasties" began to stabilize over many generations with the potential to continue in what for all practical purposes is perpetuity. The Roman Church is perhaps the preeminent example of the potential for longevity of well managed corporate governance. The Third Reich is an equally good example of what happens when such governance loses its way, or comes against forces it cannot resist, despite seemingly very promising beginnings. The Soviet Union and Red China are examples of how flagrant tyrannies are able to accomplish endless horrors and maintain themselves for extended periods well beyond the span of an ordinary lifetime.
As is typical in basically all cases of political power, governance becomes corrupted in one way and degree, or another. The motives are as numerous as the stars and though we may generously assume the best of intentions, the propriety of the plots driven by such intentions is rarely very good.
The one thing that tyrants have had increasingly in common since perhaps the seventeenth century (just a rough estimate) is the use of the Method of Rule by Policy, to which James Madison refers in the opening quote.
What is the Method? It is simply this: the drafting of bills so voluminous and/or incoherently worded, that once enacted, the "state" stands at its leisure to interpret its meaning as it pleases. Rule by Policy provides tyrants end run around any more definite notions of "Law" that would otherwise limit power and hamper political designs that would otherwise rest in clear violation of such Law.
So-called "Obamacare" is one example of the Method in practice. It is both voluminous, thousands of pages in length, and in places worded in such ways as to become practicable only through the "guidance" of state interpretation, which leaves those in power with leeway far broader than would otherwise be the case. Sarbanes-Oxley is another relatively recent example, many of its specifications worded so vaguely that mere changes in policy from one moment to the next is all that is required to enable administrators and other instruments of the "state" to radically alter the practical mandates forced upon the people. In effect, the Method allows for governance by whim, which is all that policy has ever been, and can ever be.
The Method, while powerful, is not quite perfect. Courts, for example, can prove a great fly in the ointment of capricious and tyrannical fiat in governance. There is a considerable body of examples where the capriciously altered requirements of a given act have been challenged in court such that those courts have ruled the legislation void and without force of law due to vagueness. Similarly, courts have in some cases zeroed in on a single, far more specific interpretation of legislative language such that those in seats of power have become visibly displeased with the rulings due to "wrong" interpretations, as well as greatly narrowed channels of political power. This is part of the risk that tyrants run when using the Method, but overall it appears that it has been a marvelous tool for foisting the most egregiously and dangerously violative idiocies on people. On the whole, the Method has yielded benefits grossly outpacing the comparatively few and meaningless losses.
Therefore, one should keep his eyes focused for such bills, knowing what they are when encountered. Nothing good can come of such legislation and every effort should be made to thwart all efforts to enact them. Be neither fooled nor intimidated by the seemingly esoteric language found in virtually all legislation. Learn to read the jargon of political nonsense and chicanery, and know without any doubt whatsoever that any time you encounter bills longer than a few pages or written in language most PhDs are unable to decipher, you have on hand an example of the Method of Rule by Policy, without a doubt an instrument whose enforcement will result in nothing good for everyone, save perhaps a select few.
If you are one not to believe in the conspiratorial nature of the legislative process, then consider that the only alternative is that those who draft such legislation are at best incompetents lacking the most basic qualifications for such work, and who merit nothing better than immediate impeachment for their gross and flailing ineptitude in such matters.
Be certain of one thing: men of good character and proper ability draft legislation that the average man can read in a short time and walk away with a strong and unambiguous understanding of what has been written. So long as you hold on to that fundamental truth, you will almost always be able to tell when you are being sold a bill of goods by "government".
Until next time, please accept my best wishes.