If I received a dime every time somebody said, “There ought to be a law,” I would be sitting on my mega yacht in some tropical location drinking expensive booze and watching the world lose its collective shit from my overpriced satellite Internet connection. But I don’t so it’s an entirely worthless phrase. I know somebody is out there right now saying that phrase in the sincere hope some political body will pass some law in a futile attempt to fix some perceived problem and it pisses me off. Why? Because legislation doesn’t accomplish anything other than wasting time and resources that could be put towards far better things.
Let’s consider what a law is. Unlike physics, where the term refers to an immutable rule, a law in regards to American politics is nothing more than words that have been written and voted on by a body of politicians. That’s it. And that’s the problem.
Laws are usually written and passed in response to a perceived problem. But that very fact creates a major problem in of itself. People believe laws fix problems but in reality they do nothing of the sort. Words written on paper are impotent. That goes double for words that have been voted on. Even after a law is passed the perceived problem still exists. The only difference is a large number of people no longer believe the problem exists.
Laws create a false sense of security. Consider the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It was passed in 1984 when people first started realizing how important computer security is. The bill criminalized unauthorized access to protected systems. After the passage was everybody able to sleep soundly? Did unauthorized access to protected systems suddenly stop? No. Computers considered protected systems still had to be secured. The only difference between the time before the law was passed and after was that a bunch of politicians received paychecks and benefits for writing, debating, and ultimately passing the CFAA. Besides that it was business as usual and everybody had to continue implementing, maintaining, and improving security strategies.
And therein lies the problem. Laws are worthless. They don’t actually solve anything. People still have to operate under the assumption somebody will break the law. Assault is illegal but people still need to have a means of defending themselves because somebody may assault them. Theft is illegal but people still need to secure their property because somebody may try to steal it. Hacking into a bank computer is illegal but information technology employees still have to secure computers at every bank because somebody may try to hack into them.
When there’s a problem don’t say, “There ought to be a law.” Say, “We need to solve this problem.” Those two phrases have entirely different meanings. The first means a problem exists, needs to be solved, and involves politicians not solving it. The second means a problem exists, needs to be solved, and implores individuals to act directly towards solving it. Don’t write to some politician asking them to solve a problem with legislation. Roll up your sleeves and start working to actually solve the problem. Doing the former still requires you to do the latter but wastes resources, especially time, by involving middleman who don’t actually do anything.