There's an old proverb that applies here: to a man with nothing but a hammer everything looks like a nail. Lawmakers are always happy to indulge, even when the public really doesn't want them to. As early as 1834, a profligate Congress drew this rebuke from William Leggett in the New York Evening Post:
"One of the great practical evils of our system arises from a superabundance of legislation. ... Putting the acts of Congress and those of the State legislature together, they amount to some thousands annually. Is it possible that the good people of the United States require to be hampered and pestered by such a multiplicity of fetters as this: or that they cannot be kept in order without being manacled every year by new laws and regulations? Every superfluous law is a wanton and unnecessary innovation of the [people's] freedom of action... [yet our] legislative bodies have been regularly and systematically employed in frittering away, under a thousand pretenses, the whole fabric of the reserved rights of the people."Good thing our great-grandparents put a stop to that. Imagine what our country would look like if Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly still enacted "some thousands of new laws annually."
Oh wait - they still do that.
The most overlooked consequence of nearly all legislation today is, embarrassingly, its primary purpose. Generally speaking, a new law means a new crime. It is precisely for this reason that unnecessary laws are so destructive to freedom and economic growth. Whether a law's purpose is to ban a substance, levy a tax, create a license, or impose a reporting requirement, it has invented a new crime where none existed before. This is not to say that laws are bad, only that unnecessary laws are bad.
I'd like to suggest that legislators aren't elected to make laws. Their responsibility is to see that only good and necessary laws are made. If no new laws are needed, then their responsibility is to prevent bad laws from being made (obstructionism, if you please). If bad laws have already been made, then their responsibility is to undo them.
Is there any doubt that this last is the situation we find ourselves in today? Almost everyone, regardless of their political opinions, thinks that we have bad laws on the books. But when the political class is confronted with the problems caused by their collective OCD, they don't undo anything, they just do more of it. It's time for that to change. The American voters took the legislative hammer away from a significant number of politicians on November 2nd; now we need to keep the pressure on those replacing them to start pulling nails instead of driving more. And instead of cringing in fear when others label us "the party of no," why don't we remind them that a "no" to the Nanny State is a "yes" to freedom, not just for Republicans, but for all Americans?