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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 17, 2014 / 19 Sivan, 5774

Bizarre, outdated laws must go

By Jeff Jacoby




JewishWorldReview.com | The great state of Minnesota, you’ll be glad to learn, is no longer interested in the size and color of your bug deflector. The legislature in St. Paul recently scrapped the 1953 law regulating that automotive accessory, one of almost 1,200 antiquated or bizarre laws that Governor Mark Dayton recommended repealing as part of a major legislative “unsession.” Among other changes: Minnesotans have been liberated from the ban on possessing more than two hen pheasants, the penalty for distributing berries in the wrong-sized container is history, and it is now legal to coast with your car’s gears in neutral.

“We got rid of all the silly laws,” one state official told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. That was probably overstating things, given the more than 46,000 laws that Minnesota lawmakers have enacted over the years. Still, the pruning of 1,200 pieces of deadwood is no small achievement.

Politicians are always under pressure to respond to the crisis or controversy of the moment — by passing a statute, imposing a mandate, authorizing a subsidy, setting up an agency. When the issue fades, the laws and regulations remain, long after public attention has moved on.

Over time, some laws become harmless curiosities, like the Massachusetts law doubling the penalty for anyone who picks mayflowers “secretly in the nighttime.” But others — such as the Bay State’s Blue Laws, which still make it illegal to conduct “any manner of labor, business, or work” on Sunday, apart from specified exemptions — continue to affect public policy long after the circumstances giving rise to them have changed.

In the real world, things don’t last forever. The carton of milk in your refrigerator has an expiration date. So does the credit card in your wallet. Cars need periodic tune-ups. Medical prescriptions have to be reauthorized.

Government should operate on the same assumption. Every law should expire automatically after a fixed period of time — say, 12 or 15 years — unless lawmakers expressly vote to reauthorize it. Likewise every legislatively created agency and program. Members of Congress and state legislatures should be required to revisit their handiwork on a regular basis, reviewing it for relevance, efficacy, and soundness, and allowing measures that have outlived their usefulness to lapse.



“The presumption should be that laws are experimental solutions to social problems we want to eliminate,” says political scientist Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J. If the solutions are working and continue to be needed, a legislature is always free to extend them. But if the experiments fail — the “solutions” didn’t solve — “a sunset provision helps forestall the problem of vested interests, in and out of government, building up to protect [laws] despite their failure or irrelevance.”

Mandatory sunset clauses aren’t a new idea; American reformers going back to the founders have championed the idea. So numerous and ingrained are the impediments to good government, wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1789, that it should be clear “to every practical man that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.” Congress has sometimes included sunset provisions in federal laws. The post-Watergate independent-counsel statute expired in 1999. The federal assault weapons ban, enacted in 1994 with a 10-year lifespan, lapsed on schedule in 2004. Even when expiration dates are just moved back, as with provisions of the Patriot Act or the Bush-era tax cuts, they at least force lawmakers to debate whether an existing law should be continued.

But ad hoc sunsetting won’t change the underlying assumption that government enactments are forever. It’s this assumption, and the political culture it drives, that makes it so hard to overhaul regulatory codes or streamline government programs.

The key to reform is to flip the assumption that a law once passed lives on in perpetuity. Regrettably, “unsessions” like Dayton’s are all too rare; no such thing has occurred in Massachusetts in recent memory. There have been occasional efforts in Congress to tackle the problem: In the late 1970s, for example, Senator Ed Muskie of Maine sponsored a bill that would have sunset most federal programs after 10 years. Though it had bipartisan supporters ranging from Barry Goldwater to Ted Kennedy, the bill never became law.

It’s time to try again, and not just in Congress. “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth,” Ronald Reagan once observed. If laws came with expiration dates, that would change. And lawmakers wouldn’t have to go to such lengths to repeal goofily obsolete laws about bug-deflectors and hen pheasants.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist.

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