Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who Could Possibly Know?

Today I received a note from Jim Wallis at SojoMail.  In case you don’t know Wallis, he is someone who –very mistakenly and perhaps even a little perversely – thinks that Christianity demands socialism.  So I was not surprised to see that he is aghast to see so many people opposed to the current proposals for ‘health care reform.’  He is angry at all the ‘misinformation’ put forth by those who oppose the current proposal.  Wallis says:

A friend of mine recently traveled across several states in the U.S. visiting friends on summer vacation. He told me that, everywhere he went, people asked him to read e-mails they’d received. These e-mails had no author and no citations to support the misleading statements about health-care reform they contained – including the false claim that, if health-care reform passed, it would force families to see doctors and receive care dictated by a government panel. This is not true.

These egregious and false accusations are being created for only one purpose: to manipulate and instill fear in American citizens.

Does Jim mean emails that refer to unnamed friends who refer to unnamed people who claim to have read undocumented e-mails?  We will let that one slide for the moment.

At the moment, the only completed bill in congress is in the House.  You can try to read it if you care to do so by using this link:

I was surprised that a 1018 page document could load so quickly.  It is rather interesting in many respects.

The table of contents is seven and a half pages long.  Then comes the section where terms are defined.  This requires seven more pages.  Then the actual bill begins.  It is convoluted, as you are constantly referred forward and backward to various sections and sub-sections as you move through the bill.

In short, even a person of above-average intelligence would have trouble understanding what you would need to do to comply with this bill should it become law.  If there are false claims being made about this bill, Jim Wallis should not be surprised.  It was written in a way guaranteed to make it not understandable.

This has become standard procedure.  Members of Congress now admit that they do not read or understand the bills for which they vote.  So neither those who pass the laws, nor those who are required to live under them understand those laws.

Those convoluted bills that become ‘law’ that no one understands are interpreted and administered by bureaucracies.  What this means in the end is that we no longer live in a society ordered by law.  We live in a regime controlled by hoards of departments, cabinets, commissions, panels, etc.

It sounds very much like the society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984.

It sounds like one of the complaints against the king in the Declaration of Independence, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

People cannot be expected to comply with laws that even the representatives who pass them can’t understand.  Americans are right to be completely terrified of “American’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.”  We are always well-advised not to sign a contract we have not read.  In the same way, we are well-advised to oppose any new law that we cannot clearly understand.

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