Gnomicon 156

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  156
Friday 12 October 2012

Read gnomica 1-150 here!

151     152     153     154     155

Some senators have had to admit that
they did not actually read the law
before voting for its passage.
The New York Times [Floyd Whaley] (Thursday 4 October 2012 p. A6)

No, this statement is not about Obamacare (aka ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’)  — even if it is true with respect to it.  No, this one is about a new internet law involving libel in the Philippines (“Internet Law in Philippines Takes Effect, Raising Fears”) and could, as noted, as well have been about Public Law 111-148 (the formal designation of Obamacare).  The latter runs to 906 pages (down from its 2,400 in a pdf-file).  Who has read this megalithic prolixity … and all its pointers and notes and references?

Apparently, at least one person – who is not too happy about the legislation on constitutional grounds (a not uncommon plaint, as it turns out – but, as you will recall, in late June it was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court)!

Now, given how very busy our elected solons are in Washington passing laws and doing the people’s work and such, I for one seriously doubt that every single senator  and every single congressperson (or even their staffs) read the entire document and thought deeply about its import before voting on it.  Passing legislation much shorter than this one without having read the entirety of the thing is after all not an unknown phenomenon in this country … as, it appears, it is also in the Philippines – and, I would imagine, another country or two around the globe.

When it was proposed that members of our congress be required to read what they vote on, senate majority leader Harry Reid (D–Nev), for example, was absolutely outraged at the “notion that senators must read bills before they vote to make them into laws”.  As the great man, ludicrously oblivious to the unfathomable irony of his ire, helpfully continued to point out, “(w)e have a staff that reads these bills for us. There is no need for us to slog through the lengthy and convoluted language of some of these behemoths.”  As proof, he noted that, even though none of them had “had time to read more than a tiny fraction of this 2700-page monster before we passed it two years ago,” the Supreme Court, in now upholding the legislation, “confirmed that we did a fine job.”

Is this actually for real – “slog through the lengthy and convoluted language of some of these behemoths” and “this 2700-page monster” and “we did a fine job”?

High heaven help us all!

Well, if I may, I do have at least one question.  For example, if none of them had “had time to read more than a tiny fraction of this 2700-page monster,” who wrote this 2700-page monster?

I’ll take a wild and wooly guess:  armies of staff – not of the lawmakers, of course, but of the armies of lobbyist and corporate (hospitals, insurance companies, implant manufacturers, drug companies, trial lawyers, …) influence peddlers now collecting on their ‘campaign contributions’ over the years to our hard-working representatives.  If, as I suspect (but do not know!), such is the case, this “2700-page monster” with its “lengthy and convoluted language” comes out smelling to me more than anything like a full-employment bill for the American trial bar piggy-backed on legislation whose ostensible purpose is supposed to be something like universal medical insurance.

Paint me very, very cynical!

P.S.  Given the huge eruption of opposition to that Philippines law, On 9 October the High Court in the Philippines decided to put things on hold for a reconsideration.

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