Law writers need to take more care

17 years ago

To the editor:
Most laws passed by Congress are written in scores or hundreds of pages in length. Their verbosity is overbearing, confusing, and, in most cases, unnecessary. In addition, many laws end up having multiple loopholes allowing clever people to skirt or flaunt these laws. One of the most egregious examples of embedded loopholes was in the campaign financing reform laws that opened up more ways for campaigners to solicit funds than were in existence prior to the new laws. These loopholes were not subtle, hidden, or hard to recognize; they were quickly picked up by reporters immediately upon being made public.
   Cynics suggest that, in many cases, lawmakers, who are lawyers for the most part, create loopholes intentionally. These loopholes are favors to lobbyists who form the money lifeblood of Congress members. It is sadly admitted by some former Congress members and aides that lobbyists actually write many of the laws proposed in Congress and Congressional members rarely read the legislation they vote on. This is shameful behavior that is anathema to our democracy. It has been estimated that up to half of a Congress member’s time is spent on groveling for money to get reelected. This must change so our lawmakers have time to do what they have been elected to do.
Lawmakers need to concentrate on writing laws that are more concise, articulated in language average citizens can understand, and that are devoid of loopholes. Since Congress is replete with lawyers, these tasks should not be overly difficult. Laws are not gimmicks or favors to elites; they are guides to us all. We must demand change or our system of governance will decay from within.

Ken Petress
Presque Isle