Our government is said to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Is this really true anymore? Let’s look at a bill that has recently passed into law: the Stimulus Package.
A few things will jump out at you when you look at The Stimulus. First, it’s never-ending. This thing is hundreds of pages long. And we already know that most of Congress didn’t read it. How could they? Seriously. In the time allotted to these people there is no way to read this bill. Second, the bill is hardly understandable because it’s all legalese. You will want to be in a padded room reading this thing. Just look at the description of the bill from the first page: Making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.(Emphasis mine) Those last 4 words are the ultimate CYA.
If you want to go nuts, have at it and read the bill. This is not unique to the Stimulus. The Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 is a similar legalese mess, just more of it. Over 1,000 pages. Now, to be fair, there are many more bills that are vastly shorter. Many bills regarding things like agriculture or forestry are under a page. And to be even more fair, these are big topics: the Stimulus and health care reform.
What about big legislation throughout history? What about, say, the Social Security Act of 1935? The Missouri Compromise? The Voting Rights Act of 1965? The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act? The Pacific Railway Act? These are big topics. These are all major pieces of legislation in American history. Social Security is a mega program, there are miles and miles of highways, and voting rights are a major turning point. All of these bills are not only reader friendly, for the most part, they can be read in one sitting. Read them for yourself, here.
Many members of Congress are making a big deal out of how difficult or unneccessary it is to read the bills these days. These are bills that are heavy duty. The Stimulus is billions of dollars. Hundreds of billions. Health care is not only about freedom, but it is a gigantic chunk of the American economy. And these people can’t read the bill? May I suggest you make the bill easier to read? Seemed to work for Congresses of the past.
This is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Craft bills that can be read “by the people.” If the bill needs to be that large, maybe that’s a warning signal that indicates the ability of government to skillfully enact the legislation. Come on, if you can’t even read it, how do you expect to govern it?
UPDATE: Rereading this, I realized that it’s “legalese” and not “legalize.” Sorry.