Sep 11, 2009

There ought to be a law

There ought to be a law

I’m sure at some point in time you’ve said the phrase “there ought to be a law.” Could be about anything, but sometimes you get so angry with something that you just blurt it out. I’m sure that after TIME published their diatribe against agriculture a few weeks ago, many in agriculture thought there ought to be a law about disguising opinions or fiction as news. But on the other hand, we do like freedom of the press.

I remember many years ago when Oprah Winfrey shot her mouth off on national television about the safety of hamburger just after a large recall of ground beef due to E. coli contamination. CEO of Cactus Feeders, Paul Engler, promptly took her to court based on a Texas law that says people can be held liable for making disparaging claims against perishable food items. He didn’t win his case, but he sure brought some facts to light about food safety and the beef industry. I don’t think Oprah Winfrey has shot her mouth off in a similar way since then.

She probably lets her guests do it for her.

One good thing about the past few weeks is that we have had a rest from lawmakers and their “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” method of lawmaking. But the summer break is over, so get ready to pull what’s left of your hair out with more debates on crazy laws.

A couple weeks ago I received an interesting e- mail from our friends at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They were looking for things to legislate in regard to animal rights issues. They were holding a contest called, you guessed it, “There Ought to be a Law.” They were wanting to hear from the membership on items they could make law.

Their press release said: “Have you ever thought ‘there ought to be a law’ to protect animals? Well, now is your chance to make your idea reality! I’d like to invite you to participate in the Humane Society Legislative Fund’s ‘There Ought to Be a Law’ contest to help protect animals.”

According to the HSUS release, a blue-ribbon panel of experts will select the winning idea based on its merit and viability for passage into a new federal law. They plan to announce the winner at an HSUS “House Party” on Oct. 25.

If this doesn’t give you a sense of where our political and justice systems are headed, I don’t know what will. This sure doesn’t give you the sense that these folks take legislation seriously rather than just a simple game they can play. This is really getting the cart ahead of the horse in terms of lawmaking, and should lend credence to the old idea that if you want to make a new law, you have to take an old one off the books first. A law usually is a way to resolve a problem facing society, not the result of a contest.

HSUS is asking folks to host “lets make a law” parties, with the first 10 people to register their parties receiving a host party kit to help make the event a success. This is starting to sound like someone let the orangutans out of their cages and let them come up with this idea.

The HSUS party plan also tells us a bit more about special interest groups and their quest for survival. I have contended for some time that many groups start for a single cause. Then when the paychecks and the perks get pretty good, they need to start manufacturing new justifications for survival.

Kind of like a lawyer manufacturing work. As a matter of fact, this is probably what this contest is, a way for some lawyer to keep his lobbying job.

If HSUS has to keep their legislative staff busy with this type of project, perhaps it’s time for them to go. Their use to society is gone.

One law I would like to see would require organizations that are registered as 501(c)3 non-profits, like HSUS, (which are banned from lobbying, but do it anyway through a political arm or other entity), be required to pay taxes. Perhaps the attorney general ought to be looking into this rather than hanging CIA agents out to dry.

I’d also like to propose a new law to make it a requirement that everyone mind their own business.

Unless they are directly connected to that business, they’d have no say in how it is run. For example, HSUS could go back to the business of minding their dog and cat shelters. Just think how peaceful things could be if folks would simply mind their own business. — PETE CROW