THE INCURABLE INCOMPETENCE of Our Political Masters

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FLAMMENWERFER
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THE INCURABLE INCOMPETENCE of Our Political Masters

"There have been a number of projects that attempted to count the total number of federal criminal laws. They usually give up. The federal criminal code is just too complex, too convoluted, and too weighted down with duplications, overlapping laws, and other complications to come to a definite number. But by most estimates, there are at least 4,000 separate criminal laws at the federal level, with another 10,000 to 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. Just this year 400 new federal laws took effect, as did 29,000 new state laws. The civil libertarian and defense attorney Harvey Silverglate has argued that most Americans now unknowingly now commit about three felonies per day."

"But you, citizen, are expected to know and comply with all of these laws. That isn't possible, of course. It would probably take you most of the year to understand them all, at which point you'd have the next year's batch of new laws to learn. You'd probably also need to hire a team of attorneys to help you translate the laws into terms you can understand. After the McCain-Feingold legislation passed in 2003, for example, both parties held weekly, three-hour classes just to educate members of Congress on how to comply with the bill they had just passed. This is a bill they wrote that applied to themselves, and they still had to bring in high-paid lawyers explain to them how not to break it."

The full article at AMG Source

pmconusa
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Joined: 04/20/2000 - 12:01am
You've exposed the secret for

You've exposed the secret for the full employment of lawyers. You'll wish you did it anonomously because you have now made a gazillion enemies.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Even when attempted the

Even when attempted the results are at best questionable. Maine in 1976 under took the revision of its' criminal code ! This was done to remove old statues and revamp criminal offenses etc..
In Maines' case we did away with alot of old status crimes such vagrancy and things like offenses ," danger of falling into ill repute and incorrigibility ", nice little things used to get juveniles off the streets
etc.. This was when indefinate sentences were done away with , serving 0 days to 3 years for most felonies and parole . These were replaced w/ increased sentences and probation.
The net result was w/ in a 4 years a dramatic increase in prison populations no reduction in crime that are still being dealt w/ today and expenditure of huge sums of tax dollars.

We rarely remove a law or rule instead replacing them w/ supposed improvements minus any thought of consequences of chnage or removal!

FLAMMENWERFER
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Joined: 03/27/2005 - 1:01am
It may be relevant that the

It may be relevant that the United States has 71% of the lawyers in the known Galaxy, but the larger point is that enacting laws is the undeniable mission of our legislatures. They do a lousy job of it while haring after social, cultural and economic projects. And as the legislation---legitimate, constitutional, unconstitutional, and idiotic alike---pile up their power of oversight dwindles in relation to the job. They have neither the time nor competence, as Libby implies, to effectively deal with their oversight duties.

attic owl
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Joined: 04/12/2000 - 12:01am
Compliance with the laws is

Compliance with the laws is inversely proportional to the number, changes, and complexity of the laws! It is an epistemological FACT. And, yet, politicians churn out ever more. It is sad!

Everyone, including every Maine Legislator, must read the piece that Flammenwerfer refers us to.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
I would add inclination to do

I would add inclination to do so to that Flam..

Stephen Carmichael
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I read the article and It's a

I read the article and It's a staggering thought, that so many Felony offences hang loosely in the breeze like autumn leaves before a downpour, ready to clog the drainage grates and flood the streets.

FLAMMENWERFER
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Bruce Libby gives us a

Bruce Libby gives us a necessary addition. Oversight, amendment and correction of existing legislation does not interest our masters very much. Unless the public is in an uproar, or the media is featuring a problem, or some well-organized special interest group has targeted it, there are few political rewards to be had from oversight activity.

FLAMMENWERFER
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Philip K. Howard, a lawyer,

Philip K. Howard, a lawyer, advises leaders of both parties on legal and regulatory reform. He wrote the introduction to Al Gore’s Common Sense Government [ever heard of it?].
QUOTE:
“The Executive Branch operates in a dense jungle of accumulated law. The president can't approve a new power line or wind farm without a decade or so of environmental review. The president can't even appoint a committee to clean out the legal jungle without complying with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which is so laden with conditions on membership and public process that a meaningful recommendation is almost impossible.”
This article available online at:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/reform-is-not-enough...

FLAMMENWERFER
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On January 9, the National

On January 9, the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson. pointed out that "the existing tax code inflicts significant, even unconscionable, burden on taxpayers, and Congress could alleviate much of that burden by vastly simplifying the tax code."

Her Report summarizes the benefits of simplification:: “A simpler, more transparent tax code will substantially reduce the estimated 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion that taxpayers (individuals and businesses) spend on return preparation; reduce the likelihood that sophisticated taxpayers can exploit arcane provisions to avoid paying their fair share of tax; enable taxpayers to understand how their tax liabilities are computed and prepare their own returns; improve taxpayer morale and tax compliance – and perhaps even the level of connection that taxpayers feel with the government; and enable the IRS to administer the tax system more effectively and better meet taxpayer needs.”

We can expect no effective action. It’s been known for decades that the IRS code is a nightmare of dysfunctional complexity. Yet Congress undermines every attempt at simplification by further legislation. The tax code now contains almost four million words and a new provision is added almost daily

Most recently, Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has introduced a bill that would give individuals a federal tax credit for surrendering their semiautomatic weapons. The “Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act” would amend the Internal Revenue Code to “allow a credit against tax for surrendering to authorities certain assault weapons.”

I have a more extended treatment of the NTA report over on the MaineWire.com

pmconusa
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When one reads the

When one reads the constitutions of the United States and the State of Maine you will note that it gives the Congress and the Legislature specific charters and no more. That charter is the police power to make and enforce laws for the defense of the people for their lives, their liberties and their property. The introduction of words such as "for the general welfare" in the case of the U.S. Constitution and "the benefit of the people of Maine" in our state constitution are mere tautologies that legislators have used to expand government beyond that intended by the framers of these constitutions.

Just as you cannot put the toothpast back in the tube, reversing the consequences of political actions beyond what was intended will not be reversed until the entire system is changed. As Madison opined, " if all men were angels there would be no need for government" but if men are to govern men then necessary safeguards must be in place.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Isn't there a bromide that

Isn't there a bromide that goes something like this:

"There are only two places where government can work - in heaven, where it isn't needed, and in hell, where they already have it."

Mainelion
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Keep dreaming if you think

Keep dreaming if you think the drones who govern will ever simplify the tax code. The major portion of the power they wield is the power to grant favors and to punish enemies with the tax code. They would sooner starve to death than give that up.

Melvin Udall
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I agree completely. Until

I agree completely. Until power comes from the barrel of a gun, it comes from money and the distribution thereof.

And the tax code and related regulations are the most effective way of doing that.

FLAMMENWERFER
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Three Felonies a Day: How the

Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, Harvey A. Silverglate.

“... reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior. The volume of federal crimes in recent decades has increased well beyond the statute books and into the morass of the Code of Federal Regulations, handing federal prosecutors an additional trove of vague and exceedingly complex and technical prohibitions to stick on their hapless targets. The dangers spelled out in Three Felonies a Day do not apply solely to “white collar criminals,” state and local politicians, and professionals. No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch, and nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional democracy hangs in the balance.”

FLAMMENWERFER
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From Atlas Shrugged:

From Atlas Shrugged:

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Stephen Carmichael
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They say ignorance is bliss.

They say ignorance is bliss.

Every time I read something enlightening, particularly some of the articles the Professor bring to the forefront, cretin dilemmas are made apparent. For instance, I had to take a polygraph test to become a Corrections Professional, pass an extensive background check, and prove that I was a law abiding citizen capable of not being blackmailed into making unlawful decisions based on past actions. However, after a look at this article, anyone pure in thought, would immediately declare to a polygraph examiner, when asked if they have ever committed a felony offence, that they where indeed a repeat offender by all estimates. This would cause the investigator to be filled with shock and impulsive accusatory thinking, when in fact the subject of the examination would be telling the truth.

The Law Enforcement Community has no since of humor in such matters; they are of a mind set of accusing people of crimes and in most cases seek to prove them innocent after they have been accused of being guilty of something. At least this is what most seasoned investigators will say. I don’t think they would respond well to someone making the truthful statement that they may indeed be a felon. There is a cretin comity to be found here, but it’s a depressing comity.

FLAMMENWERFER
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Another problem which would

Another problem which would concern competent legislators, if we had any.---even if the problem of legislative proliferation there’s the problem of application.

Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, University of Tennessee College of Law, January 20, 2013
Abstract:
“Though extensive due process protections apply to the investigation of crimes, and to criminal trials, perhaps the most important part of the criminal process -- the decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what -- is almost entirely discretionary. Given the plethora of criminal laws and regulations in today's society, this due process gap allows prosecutors to charge almost anyone they take a deep interest in. This Essay discusses the problem in the context of recent prosecutorial controversies involving the cases of Aaron Swartz and David Gregory, and offers some suggested remedies, along with a call for further discussion.”

The title refers to the dictum that a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich if he chose to do so.

Reaganite
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Joined: 06/21/2008 - 4:05pm
The president can't approve a

The president can't approve a new power line or wind farm without a decade or so of environmental review.

That quote illustrates another side of the "too many laws" coin. The Executive branch is engaged in activities which it is not empowered to undertake by the Constitution. Approving power lines or wind farms? In which Article is that power enumerated? Environmental reviews? I don't think so.

There's a lot of bloat to be excised in all three branches.

attic owl
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Here is a question that is

Here is a question that is difficult to answer but is necessary for legislators to consider. Is there an optimum number of laws and rules for a well run state? Without an answer to this question we will be much more likely to get in the situation this thread is concerned with. There is a diminishing return on compliance the greater the number of laws. The more laws there are the more expensive it is for enforcement. The more laws the more that well intended citizens are at risk. The greater the number of laws the old bromide “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” has less legitimacy because of the great practical difficulty of knowing them. Ask any lawyer if he or she knows all the laws, federal and state. What do you think the answer would be? Would a well run state have 100 laws and rules, 1000, 50,000, 10,000,000, or even more? Legislators think they should make ever more laws to put on the heap we already have. I don’t think they will stop unless we can answer the important question, above.

It was recently announced that the Maine Fishing laws have been revised . This fact ought to tell fishermen that they’d better be very careful to keep track of the changes, because they could be apprehended by a warden for doing something that they previously thought was legal. Publishing the new many page Maine fishing laws is expensive too. Constant tinkering with the laws is not helpful, but comes from a desire to control citizens as much as possible.

Dale Tudor
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Attic Owl, I think God

Attic Owl, I think God handled your question with The Ten Commandments. We've been mucking them up and adding to them without positive result ever since. God keeps it simple. We should, also.

Mackenzie Andersen
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in ObamaTax alone Comrade

in ObamaTax alone Comrade Obama and his gang have all the regulations they need to arrest anyone. It is futile to try to figure out if one is in compliance with the mountains of regulations because even if one had a year or two to devote to finding out what is in ObamaTax- or a small fortune to hire someone else to do it, by the time one is finished a whole new mountain of regulations will have grown,

Maybe a smart computer programer will figure out how to put it all in a data base with infinite ways to sort it all out and make a small fortune in the process But if our computer programer wants to keep the fortune he created, and more important to prevent it from being used to finance such a government, best to move to another country and just market the data base to the poor oppressed Americans.

charlie neville
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Joined: 10/17/2005 - 6:31am
I intentionally ran a stop

I intentionally ran a stop sign today, a 4 way that's visible for a couple of hundred yards in all directions. I'll do it again tomorrow if the coast is clear.

charlie

Stephen Carmichael
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Not a felony Charlie, not an

Not a felony Charlie, not an offence the Federal Prosecutor would be interested in. But, don't complain when you get caught by a local blue pin.

Ugenetoo
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Or hit !

Or hit !

FLAMMENWERFER
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In 2006 Len Burman, a

In 2006 Len Burman, a director at the Brookings Institution, told the House Ways and Means Committee that “The AMT violates virtually every principle of tax policy. It is not fair: it penalizes married couples [and] includes nasty bracket creep”

On January 9, 2012 the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) delivered her annual report to Congress, including legislative recommendations for mitigating taxpayer problems. Here’s the summary of her assessment of the Alternative Minimum Tax:
As our Annual Report went to press on December 31, it appeared an agreement has been reached to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). For taxpayers and the IRS, that is good news.
However, even if a permanent patch is enacted, the AMT is still extremely burdensome for taxpayers, and will continue to affect many middle and upper-middle income taxpayers, who presumably were not its intended target. At the same time, the AMT does not affect many wealthy taxpayers, who still manage to pay no income tax. One projection estimated that about 7,000 millionaires reportedly paid no income tax in 2011.
Taxpayers spent about 18 million hours for the 2000 tax year (the most recent year for which we found data) completing and filling out AMT tax forms and determining whether they owed the tax. The AMT requires millions of taxpayers to essentially compute their tax liabilities twice – once under the regular tax rules and once again under the AMT rules – and then pay the higher of the two tax amounts.
The National Taxpayer Advocate reiterates her longstanding recommendation that the individual AMT be repealed.
The AMT does not achieve its original purpose. Many middle and upper-middle class taxpayers pay the AMT, while most wealthy taxpayers do not, and thousands of millionaires pay no income tax at all. At the same time, the AMT adds significant complexity to tax computations, requiring millions of taxpayers essentially to compute their tax liabilities twice – once under the regular tax rules and again under the AMT rules – and then to pay the higher of the two tax amounts.

Now, seven years after Burman’s testimony, the AMT is still with us.

pmconusa
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Joined: 04/20/2000 - 12:01am
Flamenwerfer: You have

Flamenwerfer: You have mistitled this thread. Our politicians are not incompetent. Who but the smartest of us could design and maintain a system that perpetuates themselves in power to legiitimately steal from some and give to others. As of the last election they now have enough to maintain the system and if they don't get too greedy can keep this going for a very long time.

FLAMMENWERFER
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PMCONUSA, Self-interest is

PMCONUSA, Self-interest is one of the elements of politics always. In fact, opposition to an ever-expanding government also involves appeals to self-interest. But it's not enough to explain the problems posed by the Left.. Liberalism is also a system of ideas (although it has grown so incoherent and contradictory in my life-time that it can hardly be called a "system" any longer). It's always a delusion to believe that we can end sin by assassinating the devil. The threat posed by the eternal lust for power was recognized by the nation's founders. The never deluded themselves that identifying the bad guys would secure our freedom.

pmconusa
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They may have recognized it

They may have recognized it but did little to thwart the lefts ability to sieze it. Me thinks there was a Mole in the group that found a way to sucker them into leaving loop holes.

taxfoe
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Joined: 03/22/2000 - 1:01am
Ms. Andersen wishes: "Maybe a

Ms. Andersen wishes:

"Maybe a smart computer programer will figure out how to put it all in a data base . . "

Ask and ye shall receive: INDICTMENT ENGINE

Video is 29 minutes and worth it but, if pressed for time, pick it up at about 18:55.

The long and short of it is this: Any time you see federal legislation that you believe to be offensive to the Constitution, you're probably right. An offense to the Constitution is usually the result of a crime and, in all likelyhood, beyond whatever it might be at the federal level, it's also a state crime. The interviewee claims to have developed Al Gore ithms that will search federal legislation and reveal state criminal code violations and goes on to say that, were we to pursue a few of these 'lawmakers' in state courts, we'd probably win. It isn't like we'd need to go after everyone, just make a few examples, strip them of their wealth, lock them up and let market forces take over from there. Go on the offensive.

He offers Tom DeLay as a successful, state prosecution and 'legalized' insider trading as ripe fruit for picking.

It concludes with a very warm tribute to Obama, in particular.

Guest didn't wiki.

Website

taxfoe
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Joined: 03/22/2000 - 1:01am
19 legislative objectives of

19 legislative objectives of America Again!

As outlined in my previous post, we 'put a spear to the back' of our legislators by kicking a little ass and then use that influence to push through legislation we want them to act on. Simple enough . . almost like it was designed simple. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to claim that I could quickly produce at least 10 AMG threads in support of each of the 19 issues. I still have a little more research to do but, with that kind of alignment, I'm leaning toward dispensing $49.

(More later from Fort Lauderdale, partly cloudy, 74)

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