Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Are our laws truly effective?

By
From page A9 | January 05, 2014 |

With the new year comes the annual flurry of new laws.

For 2014, California has somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 laws taking effect. Sadly, most laws that are released unto the population are done with little fanfare. Most of us will only discover these laws when we see a line item on a purchase receipt detailing a new fee or charge, or an unwelcome citation from a state agency.

If a new law is so awesomely beneficial to our community, shouldn’t the proponents and enforcers proactively communicate it to all stakeholders (i.e. citizens)? One assumes that lawmakers are not hoping that people violate all these new laws; thus laws should be easily understandable and accessible by the average citizen.

When passing a new law, at a minimum, it should cover three major points:

  • The problem it is meant to solve or alleviate.
  • What you, the citizen, will be required to do.
  • What the consequences are for not complying with the law.

Ideally, these three points should take up no more than one page, instead of reams of paper.

I would request a fourth aspect of law generation: metrics that measure the effectiveness of the law.

Laws are programs that are implemented to achieve goals for our society (safety, environmental, health, etc). A project manager in the private sector would have metrics and milestones to benchmark against when determining the progress and success of a program. Unfortunately for our wallets, the only metric commonly used to measure the success of a law is the amount of revenue generated.

When these laws are passed, they are done with lofty goals and guarantees. Things will be safer, better or easier when a certain law is passed. Are these claims ever verified? If someone sold you a system that was guaranteed to improve the energy efficiency of your house, yet you never saw a penny of savings, you inevitably would want to back out of that system; the scant return was not worth the investment.

For instance, 2014 brought about a handful of new laws pertaining to firearms. The usual philosophy – “These laws will make it harder for bad guys to get their hands on weapons” – is repeated as justification for these laws. If so, let us review crime statistics a year down the road to verify that the number of “bad guys doing bad things with firearms” has dropped. If not, then it may be time to reconsider these laws.

Some would point out that we cannot directly correlate the rise or fall of crime to one specific law. Yet, when laws are passed, the supporting rhetoric darn near guarantees the success of the law. One will never hear a politician try to sell the electorate on a law with a sheepish, “We want to restrict your right to (fill in the blank) because it might possibly have the potential to maybe make things slightly better,” speech. Thus, if lawmakers promise (and takes credit for) potential benefits a new law will provide, then they need to accept accountability when the law fails to meet those promises.

If a law is passed with stated goals, and those goals are not met, then it is time to consider repealing said law. To not demand accountability reviews of our laws (and lawmakers) only fuels the belief of some: “If a policy fails, it is because there aren’t enough policies.” These believers then pass more resource-gobbling restrictions.

If we are being asked (correction, “told” … few people ever “ask”) to give up liberty or property for the sake of improving the common good, then we the people should demand progress checks on the effectiveness of those sacrifices.

Brian Thiemer is chairman of the Solano County Libertarian Party. He can be reached at lpsolanocounty@gmail.com.

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Discussion | 19 comments

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  • Don't Return Incumbent PoliticiansJanuary 05, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Well thought out and presented. But the merry band of thieves in Sacramento and Washington can't be bothered with the reality Mr. Thiemer proposes. Gun control is a prime example of the folly lawmakers engage in. There are more than 10,000 (that's ten thousand) laws pertaining to gun control on the books throughout the country right now but are they being enforced? Very loosely, if at all. But the lawmakers' way of solving the problem is to strut before the public, puff out their chests, and pass a few thousand more laws. We are in a nation being run by morons.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterJanuary 05, 2014 - 8:07 am

    Brian Thiemer for office!! any office!!! He's got the right understanding of the roll of the people and the proper roll of the government.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LinLooJanuary 05, 2014 - 7:14 pm

    @The Mister: ROLE --- ROLE! EGADS learn how to spell or proofread, people!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • If only that were really possible...January 05, 2014 - 7:20 pm

    To Proofread People

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Matt DeMartileJanuary 05, 2014 - 8:29 pm

    @linloo...How dus is feal too nitpik sum won 4 incurect speling, onlee two bee corectd yurself?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Matt DeMartileJanuary 05, 2014 - 8:32 pm

    Uups, it wus incurekt punk uashion. Knot speleeng. Come with something other than "you spelled that wrong."

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterJanuary 05, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    Matt, I don't know where my mind was... probably over at Jelly Donut!! (There are some other words that I'm pretty sure on the spelling, but they don't seem to post here!)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Matt DeMartileJanuary 05, 2014 - 11:55 pm

    Glad to know they have jelly donuts in your neck of the woods Mister..you are surely missed around these parts.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 05, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Mr. Thiemer, we disagree on DUI and efforts to reduce the numbers associated with that crime. You cannot successfully create ANY law when you choose for whatever reason not to enforce them. That is what municipalities are up against and financial problems drive that premise. The amount of revenue generated would be a more accurate barometer, but you cannot realistically measure crime reports when so few are made. The bottom line is finding the funds to provide proper enforcement.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterJanuary 05, 2014 - 10:30 am

    CD, you are suggesting that we finance and staff a police force capable of enforcing the millions of laws that are on the books against all of the (non-politically connected) citizens? Yes, that's a good way to run a society.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 05, 2014 - 10:46 am

    This Mister, I am saying that if we enforce the laws we have a better society.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterJanuary 05, 2014 - 11:32 am

    ... if we enforce ALL the laws we'll have a better society. Perhaps if we start from the elites and work down from there. But that's not the way it works... stick it to the poor and ignorant to fill up all those private prisons for cheap prison labor. When we see Eric Holder doing a stretch behind bars, then we can start talking about a better society.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterJanuary 05, 2014 - 11:32 am

    ... if we enforce ALL the laws we'll have a better society. Perhaps if we start from the elites and work down from there. But that's not the way it works... stick it to the poor and ign0rant to fill up all those private prisons for cheap prison labor. When we see Eric Holder doing a stretch behind bars, then we can start talking about a better society.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 05, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    C'mon The Mister, you're being ridiculous. Your ongoing diatribe has zero to do with real everyday life here in America. Holder has nothing to do with this discussion. And besides, he's done nothing that would require him going to jail. Your scandals and agitprop (I stole that from FDC) nonsense notwithstanding.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B. ThiemerJanuary 05, 2014 - 11:47 am

    CD- the "if we only had more money" line has been used as an excuse for failed initiatives for decades. When laws are marketed and passed, no mention of "this law will only be effective if we get $x to enforce it." .. instead, most laws are passed based on the name and 'good intentions'. If the people fall into the 'we just need more resources' line, we are letting our public servants off the hook for delivering promises in an efficient manner.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 05, 2014 - 12:04 pm

    Mr. Thiemer, you drive around here? Do you understand that our law enforcement has been let "off the hook" for years? And oh yeah, they aint deliverin!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B. ThiemerJanuary 05, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    CD- is that a result of the people not contributing enough to the 'effort', or a result of our public servants not effectively managing the resources we already provide to them?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 05, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    Mr. Thiemer, it is human nature to abuse certain situations when presented in our favor. Ignoring them gives that behavior relevance and it goes downhill from there. I don't know how PD manages their resources because the Chief keeps telling us they have none. But I do know what they're NOT doing.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Matt DeMartileJanuary 05, 2014 - 3:37 pm

    I would imagine that Eric Holder knew a great deal about op 'fast and furious' and chose to let it play out. Once he was questioned, that human nature part of him took over and he lied about his involvement. To the late Brian Terry's family, I'm quite certain Mr. Holder isn't high on their praise list.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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