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Elected Servants at Work

These days we hear that the United States is a nation of laws. Pundits and politicians are fond of pointing that out. It seems to be a stock phrase. Does this statement make the speakers sound knowledgeable, intelligent, cognizant and profound?

We do elect people to sit on governing bodies to create laws and make decisions that protect us from everything imaginable. From village councils to federal bodies, our elected servants and hired bureaucrats are tasked with designing the means to assure society remains orderly.

I’ve always had a good laugh at some seemingly absurd laws. I first was amazed, as a child, to learn that in some places it was illegal, a crime, to spit. That seemed ludicrous. The good and valid reason it was enacted was because tuberculosis was rampant and lungers constantly hack up and spit out germ-filled loogies that infect others. Spitting is gross and it makes sense, in a way. I wondered how many police wandered the streets looking for anyone that was spitting or were they profiling to selectively enforce this law. And how long were people incarcerated? What was the fine? Did the judge impose mandatory treatment or were offenders shunned, banned and put on the rail out of town?

I stumbled on a couple of web sites that list unusual animal laws. I’m sure these had some responsible reason for being codified. If you are curious, these are the links:

The lists are presented as ‘crazy’ and ‘weird.’ To my way of thinking, this is primarily an example of government waste and intrusion. Yes, there was probably originally a good reason for the laws. Yes, some people do treat their pets and work animals abysmally. Yes, but it also demonstrates how we have allowed the various governmental bodies to control and define behavior and norms. That is where the problem lies.

Freedom to do most anything is constantly being eroded. The growth seems exponential. We complain. We are told this is for our own good. The nation must be made idiot-proof. We must play nicely in the sand box. We are asked, ‘how could you not want this law, policy, regulation?

If we want change that reflects our own thoughtful belief system, it’s up to us to make it happen. We can vote, run for elected office, attend meetings and speak about whatever great idea is being voted on. We can educate ourselves, our great grandparents, our grandparents, our parents, our children our grand children and our great grand children. We can write letters and follow up when we receive a nicely worded non-response of a form letter. We can contribute money to support those who have similar values, whether a special interest group or someone running for elected office on the school board, the local assembly, and so on. The opportunities for being a dynamic part of civic change are many.

It takes energy to be actively involved.

If we aren’t actively involved, then we have to hear all sorts of people telling us what ‘the silent majority’ thinks and wants. Shall we remain on the sidelines and wring our hands and rent our sackcloth or shall we get up and get busy?

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