The Urge to Legislate Lives Loudly Within Politicians - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Urge to Legislate Lives Loudly Within Politicians
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President Joe Biden speaks about signing executive order supporting the “right” to abortion, July 8, 2022 (ABC7/YouTube)

Death, taxes, and the urge to legislate are three of the few constants in our world. Whenever a major societal event is hoarding headlines, there tends to follow a loud call for Congress to respond with a bill. Over the summer, calls from both politicians and voters for stricter gun laws dominated discussions following active shooter events. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden urged Congress to change the rules of the filibuster and codify abortion protections. Now, most recently, following the collapse of the cryptocurrency platform FTX, there has been a bipartisan declaration that crypto regulation is urgently needed.

The urge to legislate in immediate response to controversial events frequently results in hasty, unsound, and sometimes even opportunistic governmental action that is unlikely to do the good for which we might hope.

The gun-control measures advocated for in the summer would have infringed upon Second Amendment rights without making citizens any safer. Biden called for reinstating an assault-weapons ban, despite no evidence that such bans decrease gun crime or mass shootings. And after the Uvalde school shooting, congressional Democrats attempted to ban large-capacity magazines and raise the age that an individual could buy a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21. These measures would have been futile, as shooters can always, as we have seen, use multiple magazines, and most school shooters are already younger than 18.

The more moderate, bipartisan law that was ultimately passed received broad support from Americans, but it is widely recognized that the new measures are unlikely to meaningfully curb gun violence.

Impetuous, knee-jerk demands for Congress to “do something” in response to times of scandal, confusion, and high emotion often produce poorly thought-out legislation fraught with unintended consequences.

Then, after Roe was overturned, Biden called upon Congress to codify abortion protections and argued there “should be … an exception” to the filibuster in any attempts to do so. Making an “exception” to the rules of the filibuster would open the doors to indefinite abuse by both parties. Politicians would readily find reasons to make “exceptions” for their favored legislative projects, greatly weakening an important check on the desires of impassioned, momentary majorities. Furthermore, Biden’s ultimate goal to codify Roe is likely illegal, as the Constitution gives Congress no such power.

The hasty calls for crypto regulation in the wake of FTX’s collapse have been no better than the responses to other recent major events. The downfall of FTX is not a story of inadequate regulation but is instead a story of deception, fraud, and theft — misconduct for which laws already exist. In its lawsuit against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Bankman-Fried took customer funds to make political donations, purchase real estate, engage in risky investments, and provide aid to his hedge fund, Alameda Research. In addition to facing lawsuits from regulatory bodies, Bankman-Fried was charged by the Department of Justice in an eight-count indictment for his financial crimes. (READ MORE: Let Crypto Implode)

The crypto bill introduced in response by Sen. Elizabeth Warren does nothing to target such crimes and, instead, attacks financial privacy and freedom. Among other things, Warren’s bill attempts to end privacy protections offered by private crypto wallets by classifying them as money-service businesses and imposing certain disclosure requirements. The bill also seeks to “prohibit[] financial institutions from … handling, using, or transacting business with digital assets that have” enhanced privacy features. We would never accept these intrusions of privacy or restrictions for cash transactions, but crypto is being painted as some inherent evil to justify snooping on citizens. As Nicholas Anthony at the Cato Institute writes, “[T]his bill adds nothing to the conversation” about FTX but “merely uses the dust from the company’s collapse as a cover for increasing financial surveillance.”

Impetuous, knee-jerk demands for Congress to “do something” in response to times of scandal, confusion, and high emotion often produce poorly thought-out legislation fraught with unintended consequences. It also welcomes legislation, such as the crypto bill put forth by Warren, that is downright opportunistic and directly threatens our individual liberties.

The urge to legislate in response to major events is strong within our politicians. Encouraging or failing to oppose this impulse of our elected leaders welcomes poor legislation and infringements upon our freedoms.

Benjamin Ayanian is a contributor for Young Voices, a PR firm and talent agency for young, pro-liberty commentators. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Star Tribune, Yahoo! News, and more. His Twitter is @BenjaminAyanian.

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