27 October 2009
Good Law Should be Understood and Enforceable by Government
It used to be often remarked that good law must be readily understood by the People. Perhaps an understated further principle of good law is that it should be readily understood and be practically enforced by the government. There are other principles of good law, but most of those are covered by our Constitution, so we can summarize them by simply saying Constitutional Law.
At many levels today we have problems with the law being understood by government. At the very most basic level, it cannot be said that Congress understands the bills it votes on to become law. First, our Congressmen do not read the bills before they vote on them. When they do read the bills, they do not understand their implications and effects upon The People in most cases. In many cases, they rely on government agencies or the courts to give the vague laws meaning. Finally, many enforcement agencies do not understand the laws either.
The Monday, 26 October 2009 Washington Times has an editorial with an enlightening illustration of how little the government understands the laws or is able to apply them. In particular, it deals with the tax credit for first time homebuyers of 2008 and 2009. This case illustrates problems that tax filers had as well, but more egregiously it shows how well the IRS understands the law.
It has been found that the IRS gave the tax credit to 580 taxpayers younger than 18 who could not sign the contracts legally to buy a home. Some were as young as 4 years old. The IRS granted $4 million of such tax credits.
The IRS paid out $139 million to almost 20,000 returns to people who had not bought a house, but said they planned to do so in the future. Then there was the $480 million in tax credits given to those who have previously owned homes as indicated on prior returns by prior mortgage interest deductions, prior deductions for closing points or the residential energy credit.
Because the tax credit was increased from 2008 to 2009 from $7500 to $8000, many people declared only for the $7500 amount in 2009 and lost $500 because the IRS did not want to correct their returns.
This is just one overly complex tax law among many. Then there are those hopelessly complex laws on pricing in the market. There are the many overly complex regulations and accounting practices. All intrusive government means government which deluges citizens and bureaucrats both with too many and too complex laws for them to understand or apply.