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Legislative Issues


Introduction

In our Declaration of Independence, our forefathers stated that we wanted “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, which they deemed to be among our unalienable rights. Unfortunately, there is no person, group or government that can truly guaranty us these rights. All we can do is to create the best environment for protecting these rights from people who might try to take them away from us. The way that we do this is by creating the appropriate laws to tell people what would be considered right and wrong actions, and then by trying our best to enforce these laws. Legislative issues are those that deal with the creation and passage of these laws.

The primary purpose of the laws of any government is to protect its citizens. These laws are created and passed by various government legislative bodies such as town, city and county councils, state legislatures and the national congress. They are intended to protect people from being harmed by such things as thieves, con-artists, embezzlers, rapists, murderers, unscrupulous business practices and foreign invaders. In general, we need laws to protect the lives, health, property and freedom of all our country’s citizens. Without these laws and their enforcement, we would have a state of anarchy where everyone would be left to their own devices to try to defend their own lives and property.

In order for a government to do its job of protecting its citizens, it needs money to fund itself, its enforcement agencies and the military. Therefore, each level of government must have a set of tax laws that specify how they plan to raise this money. Usually, they will collect it through some combination of taxes, levies, fees and fines. Of course, deciding who will pay and how much they will pay is a complicated balancing act. A government needs to bring in enough money to operate while not overburdening its citizens. Of course, determining how much money a government needs in order to operate effectively is dependent on both how much protection its citizens want and how much they are willing to pay for that protection.

History

Our legislative systems and laws have evolved greatly over the course of human history. At one time, people lived in small tribal groups where they greatly depended on each other. At first, there were few if any formal rules governing what the tribal members could or could not do. Over time, our ancestors learned that when people did certain things, it harmed members of their group. This led them to establish some rules about what they should and should not do and some punishments for the people who did not follow these rules. These first rules were probably quite simple, such as do not steal or do not commit murder. Punishments were probably just as simple, such as loss of food or property, or banishment from the tribe.

Since the tribal elders were usually the most experienced and knowledgeable about the world and how things worked, they usually served as the tribal and religious leaders, and as judges and juries. Their jobs were to protect the tribe from the elements, predators and each other, and to ensure that everyone did their fair share of the work and got their fair share of the food. To do this, they established the rules that became the laws that governed the actions of tribal members, determined if someone broke one of these laws and handed out any appropriate punishment.

Over time, with the help of advancements in agriculture, business and trade, tribal groups were able to grow bigger and to become towns, cities, states and nations. With the continued growth of civilization, the interactions between people, business and government continued to become more complex and harder to control. Leaders needed to create new laws and to update existing laws to handle all the new complexities of life and to lay down new forms of punishment to match the new and updated laws. They also needed new groups and new ways to enforce the laws.

Eventually, the increasing number and complexity of the laws and the growing wealth of the middle class and unrest of the poor forced many government changes. Citizens gained a bigger say in the running of their governments and the creation of their laws. Separate legislative and judicial branches of government were established in order to better protect people’s rights. People started to specialize in legal matters by taking on different roles such as legislator, lawyer and judge. The legislators, who are supposed to represent the people, took on the job of creating and passing the laws.

Obeying the Law

There are some people who feel that they can just ignore certain laws. In some cases, they may believe that some of our laws are unjust, are overly burdensome or simply wrong. In addition, some people may believe that even some good laws simply do not apply to them. If these people are allowed to break these laws, then other people may decide to break the laws that they do not believe in. If we allowed this to get out of hand, laws would become meaningless, anarchy would take over, and society would crumble.

Today, there are many laws that are routinely broken. Some of these laws may need to be made fairer, eliminated or even strengthened, but we need to obey them as they stand until they can be fixed. Individuals should not have the right to decide what laws they will or will not obey. A society must decide what its laws are and everyone who wants to be part of that society must obey its laws.

No Harm to Others

Some laws exist because one group of people decided that we should not be allowed to do certain things, even if that act would, at worst, only hurt the person doing it. For instance, gambling and prostitution are activities that do not necessarily harm society, unless they are allowed to get out of hand. These crimes may be considered victimless crimes, because, in theory, the only people they really hurt are the people who voluntarily participate in the activity.

For instance, a little gambling should not be problem as long as people stick to what they can afford to lose, but gamblers can become a burden on society when they lose their life saves or go deep into debt. In addition, prostitution should not be a problem as long as it is between healthy consenting adults, but it can be a big social problem when minors are involved or the activity leads to the spread of disease. In these and other similar cases, the laws need to be changed to allow the activity, but to control for the aspects of the activity that might actually harm others.

Some people will claim that they know that certain things are wrong and that they are hurt by the fact that people are engaged in these activities. For instance, there are a number of currently illegal and legal activities that I believe people should not do. Of course, there are other people that believe these activities are alright or even good. The test for real harm should be whether or not there are any observable harmful effects resulting from an activity when we did not know the activity happened.

In the case of a burglary, the person who was burglarized would likely know and be harmed, because of the damage and missing items. In addition, even when we do not know about it, we can be harmed by it. We would be harmed by higher insurance rates needed to cover the losses and by the higher taxes needed to pay for more police protection. On the other hand, it is quite possible for legal and well managed prostitution to go on without any harm to us. It is even possible that it might benefit some people, even when they did not know about it. For instance, a person’s friend or coworker might be in a better mood after a visit to a prostitute and in turn treat him or her better.

Other Changes

In general, the rights of citizens in many countries like the United States are better protected by their laws today than in the past, but there are still a lot of improvements that need to be made. For instance, many of our laws suffer from being complex, hard to understand, vague, or out of date. In addition, many of our laws overly infringe on some of our rights, while at the same time, they do not encourage enough personal responsibility, which would better protect our society and the people who do take appropriate responsibility for their lives.

Our goal must be to bring our laws into the twenty-first century. To do this, we need to take into account all the political, technological and global changes that have occurred and the realities of our modern world. We also need to give people more personal freedom and responsibility by allowing them to make more decisions as to how they want to live their own lives. In addition, we need to update our tax laws so that the taxes people pay will more closely reflect the benefits they receive.

Legislative Content

In the following subsections, I will try to explain what laws I believe our legislative system needs to create or to update in order to protect our citizens better.

Next Section

Rights and Responsibilities - Balance our Rights and Responsibilities so that we have more freedom and protection.

Last Updated:
Sunday, November 26, 2017
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