Subject: Pretending to be Experts

 

 

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h


July was a busy month in Congress, as the honorable servants of the people rushed to get bills passed before their five-week vacation. Through August 1, the Senate passed 39 bills totaling 2,022 pages, while the House passed 92 bills and 2,267 pages. Fairly "impressive," considering that the Senate was in session for 20 days and the House for just 15 during the month.

Many of these bills were brief, and were concerned with veterans affairs, federal buildings, and other topics most of us agree are necessary and proper. But Congress also went beyond the Constitution's limits and passed bills seeking to regulate our lives and manage the economy. Congress passed bills relating to:


* health care
* tobacco
* the safety of children's products
* human rights in
Burma
* home foreclosures
* higher education
* drugs for animals
* boating emissions and safety
* railroad safety
* digital television
* aviation
* highway and bridge inspections
* third-world diseases
* water usage
* alleged pay discrimination
* handicapped accessibility on buses
* sharks
* maritime pollution
* pensions
* municipal building codes
* fish stocks
* regional development
* training for state and local prosecutors

(A list of bills, including descriptions and number of pages, can be found below my signature in the blog version of this Dispatch.)

Where do members of Congress find the time to learn about all these issues? Where do they find the time to read all these bills? Simply put, they don't. As we wrote in Thurday's Dispatch, "there is no way that any finite human can know enough to have worthy opinions on more than a few subjects. Yet the politicians pretend they're Supermen and Superwomen who know enough to make vast decisions on a wide range of issues, and to force everyone else to abide by their supposed wisdom."

We also wrote that, in contrast, the market "takes advantage of the decentralized knowledge of hundreds of millions of people. No one knows everything, or even very much about most things, but most people know many things about small but important areas of life. It is this decentralized knowledge that drives the world."

Should Congress spend money on something it knows very little about? Should it pass laws regulating industries it doesn't understand? When they do so, they attract lobbyists looking for breaks and handouts, while the rest of us must comply with the laws and pay the taxes.

We at DownsizeDC.org can't force members of Congress to become experts on everything. That would be impossible even if it was desirable. But we can at least force Congress to read the bills before they are passed, by forcing them to introduce and pass the Read the Bills Act.

If bills had to be read before a quorum in Congress, Congress wouldn't have time to pass as many bills as they do now. Priorities would have to be established. But they still would have plenty of time to read and pass every necessary bill authorized by Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. They'd have time to exercise legitimate federal powers such as national defense. They'd even have time to become well-informed on the issues related to their powers. But they wouldn't have time to meddle in every sector of the economy, our private lives, and foreign nations. Members of Congress are not, and can not be, experts on everything. The Read the Bills Act prevents them from even pretending to be.

Please tell Congress to pass the Read the Bills Act. In your personal message, tell them you know they didn't read the 2000+ pages of bills they passed last month. Tell them that if they are uninformed on an issue and haven't read the bill, they shouldn't pass it. You can send your message here.

Also, please consider making a contribution to further our work. You can do so here.

Thank-you for being part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

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