A citizens’ commission in Oregon thinks there is a need for rules against drunken legislating. In a story titled Resolved: Legislating goes better sober, MSNBC tells us that this commission would like to protect Oregon voters from the drinking habits of those they elect to their legislature.
I kid you not, drunken legislating. They suggest rules should be enacted against conducting the business of the state of Oregon while intoxicated, and to provide possible penalties.
Now I am not advocating the benefits of legislating while drunk, though after reading some of the stuff these guys put out, one might suspect it was written while drunk, or at least that it would be easier to read while under the influence of something or other. But I do think we have a problem here. We are progressively shifting more and more responsibility off of the voters. First we had term limits. I thought they were a bad idea when they first became law, and I think they continue to be a bad idea today. We had term limits already, and we still have them: Elections. But somehow we assume that the voters can’t really choose the right candidate (a view with which I have some sympathy), and that providing a bunch of laws to make it safer for stupid voters will somehow help.
The drunken legislator or staff aid is not threatening anyone’s life unless he gets behind the wheel of a car. Well, he could be threatening somebody’s life by passing stupid legislation, but who believes that we’re safe from that even with allegedly sober legislators. Unless he goes out and gets behind the wheel of a car, the proper people to hold him accountable are the voters. And the proper people to let the voters know about such behavior are those in the media.
All we do with increasing numbers of laws about these things is take responsibility away from the voters. We have here a republic. The foundation of that is the will of the people. If the people are stupid we’re stuck with it. Adding detailed regulations won’t really help.