Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sacramento’s High-Output Law Factory

The New Year’s Day front-page headline in the San Francisco Chronicle read, “1st Day of Year Brings Hundreds of New Laws.” The exact number of new California laws taking effect on that day was 898. Unfortunately, there is nothing unusual about 2017. The corresponding number for last year was 807; in 2015 there were 930 new laws.

Every year hundreds of new laws are passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature and dutifully signed into law by the Democrat governor. The lawmakers will soon get to work dreaming up hundreds of additional laws.

Why so many laws? Lawmakers pass laws because that’s what lawmakers do, especially in California. The state Senators and Assembly-persons have the ability to pass laws (needed or not) so they do. From their leftist perspective, the more laws, the better. If they were capable of passing 10,000 laws a year they probably would. They are essentially law hoarders. Sacramento, more than anything else, is a law factory. Liberals fervently believe that the road to paradise is paved with legislation.

It’s doubtful that any of the legislators who passed the almost 900 laws could tell you what even a hundred of them were. The laws are on the books but most of them will never be known about or enforced. That simply isn’t possible.

The lawmakers almost never kill any of their previous creations. Nor are they ever curious as to whether or not the laws achieved their goals and purposes. “Evidence? We ain’t got no stinking evidence!”

The following is a representative sample of their latest offerings:

Schools in the state are now banned from using “Redskins” as a mascot, which lawmakers said is “racially derogatory” to American Indians. (In anticipation of the new law Calaveras High School conducted an on-line poll to choose a new mascot for the school. The vote was to change the mascot to nothing.) California businesses have until March 1 to make all of their “single-user” public restrooms accessible to all genders, instead of one for women and one for men. Public and private health plans are required to cover a year’s supply of birth control, instead of requiring refills every 30 or 90 days. The lawmakers took pity on women being burdened by refilling prescriptions at unreasonable intervals. Smokers are prohibited from smoking within 250 feet of a youth sports event.
In the politicians’ eyes the citizenry is composed of perpetual Peter Pan-like children. Not to worry, however: the politicians are there to protect them. California politicians’ inflated sense of self-importance is beyond imagining.

The proliferation of laws is analogous to inflating a currency. The rampant growth of laws reduces the value and respect for laws in general as well as making effective enforcement impossible.

As the result of a November ballot initiative, California now has a statewide ban on plastic bags, such as it is. There are so many exceptions and intricacies to the law that it really isn’t a ban at all, sort of a ban in name only. The “ban” applies only to plastic bags at the check-out stand, and even that has exceptions. Plastic bags are still permitted in the produce and meat sections of stores.

If you don’t have your own reusable bag when you check out, you are charged ten cents for each paper, “biodegradable” bag. However, low-income Californians are protected from the bag fee because shoppers paying for their groceries with food stamps get their paper bags free of charge. (Because of the stigma associated with the term “food stamps,” the California version is officially called “Cal Fresh.”) Stores are allowed to keep the revenue generated by the dime penalty.

Is the ten-cent penalty sufficient to have any measurable impact? Probably not, and that’s typical of many of the asinine new laws as well as the thousands already on the books. It is as though a subconscious objective of the lawmakers is simply to annoy people. Maybe the laws are a kind of revenge on the citizenry for being so dense and uncooperative with the politicians’ grand schemes.

Ultimately Californians will have so many laws that they will no longer need to make their own decisions. California will have achieved law nirvana. Provided life in California doesn’t grind to a halt, it will be perfect.

In the meantime, for the rest of the country California is worth watching because it’s such a clear object lesson of what happens when Democrats have unconstrained political power. California is what happens when Democrat dreams come true. Obamacare resulted from a similar set of circumstances.


Sacramento’s High-Output Law Factory January 10, 2017

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at rossecon@gmail.com.

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