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Drowning in Law: A Flood of Statutes, Rules and Regulations is Killing the American Spirit

October 13, 2010

America is overwhelmed by the amount of law governing everyday decisions and the constant threat of legal action by everyone from patients to employees

America needs less bureaucracy and government needs to start standing up to the American Bar Association and create one nation and one set of laws for all.


  • Have the SBA use contributions to start a law office in every state dedicated to representing small business.
  • There should be an organization similar to the institute of justice in every state and two in the northeast and California coasts with a team of attorneys challenging the unlawful application of legislation, regulation, policies and rules.
  • There needs to be a law office in every state dedicated to representing the taxpayer, mandating a balanced budget and no off balance sheet accounting.


  • Everyone should be held equally accountable for their actions under the law.


  • If you’re a doctor and you injure a patient, it’s a medical malpractice standard
  • If you are an employer, the standard to bypass worker compensation caps is reckless indifference
  • If you are just a regular businessman serving the public, anyone can sue you even when their injury is caused by their own stupidity
  • If you’re a government employee, you get paid representation from the Attorney General’s Office compliments of the taxpayers of the state and generally there’s some sort of qualified immunity.  The only time government workers should get immunity if when they are writing policy. If the enforcement of policy is arbitrary or outside the scope of their employment, they should be made to be held accountable by the people just like everyone else, and the taxpayer should not be funding their defense especially when the taxpayer is generally the one that has been wronged.  If this happens, you’ll see how fast government footsie favoritism will stop.
  • If you’re a judge, governor or elected official, you can basically walk on water.  In Pennsylvania there were the judges who were incarcerating kids for cash and the state wasn’t even sure they would charge them with a crime.
  • You have to be very rich in this country to afford an attorney, part of an organized group or entity i.e. union or big corporation, a member of a class that the government / taxpayer is paying an attorney for you.
  • Therefore there are only a few classes of people setting laws and being represented and that is the very rich , the very organized, those in government (or being paid off by those in government), a class where the taxpayer/government pays the legal bills for, and of course the lawyers.
  • Everyone else is getting completely screwed by this system.

Article from the daily news

Government is broken and the economy is gasping. The reason is the same: Americans no longer feel free to roll up their sleeves and make the choices needed to fix things. Governors come to office and find that 90% of the budget is pre-committed to entitlements and mandates enacted by politicians long dead. Teachers no longer have authority to maintain order in the classroom.

Legal mandates and entitlements have accumulated, like sediment in the harbor, until it is almost impossible for Americans to get anywhere without trudging through a treacherous legal swamp. Only big businesses, not small entrepreneurs, have the size (and legal staffs) to power through the legal sludge.

America will thrive only so long as Americans wake up in the morning believing they can succeed by their own efforts. Innovation, not cheap labor, is the economic engine of America. The net increase in jobs since 1980, according to research at the Kauffman Foundation, is attributed solely to newly-started businesses.

Instead, the land of opportunity is more like legal quicksand. Small business owners face legal challenges at every step. Municipalities requires multiple and often nonsensical forms to do business. Labor laws expose them to legal threats by any disgruntled employee. Mandates to provide costly employment benefits impose high hurdles to hiring new employees. Well-meaning but impossibly complex laws impose requirements to prevent consumer fraud, provide disability access, prevent hiring illegal immigrants, display warnings and notices and prevent scores of other potential evils. The tax code is incomprehensible.

(Page 2 of 3)

Doctors are conditioned by our lawsuit culture to see patients as potential plaintiffs and practice medicine wearing blinders of reimbursement bureaucracy. Every incentive is upside down – driving up health care costs to almost double that of other developed countries. The new healthcare bill does almost nothing to fix this, and instead stacks 2,700 pages of new requirements on top of the giant heap of old law.

Schools are bureaucratic viper pits. Mandates from Washington, from state capitals and from aggressive local districts transform teachers into pedagogical drones. Because of fear of lawsuits, they’re told never to put an arm around a crying child. Good teachers quit, surveys show, because they don’t feel free to do what’s right, or indeed, even to be themselves.

“Good ideas to reform government,” New York City Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith recently remarked, “are often illegal.”

America can’t move forward until it cleans out this legal swamp. The accretion of law has made democracy inert – a sludge heap of programs and entitlements swarming with special interests – while also slowly suffocating the American spirit.

Our founding fathers never imagined that democracy would become a one-way ratchet – always adding laws but never repealing them. Nor did they intend law to be a form of central planning. The Constitution sets forth our governing goals and principles in only 16 pages.

Author: Howard, a lawyer, is chair of Common Good ( and author, most recently, of “Life Without Lawyers: Restoring Responsibility in America.”

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