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4Feb/110

The Crisis of Law in 21st Century America

Two federal judges have ruled against the healthcare bill - and two others have upheld it as necessary and proper. Before long, this issue is likely to find its way before the Supreme Court.

But what authority and legitimacy does that Supreme Court have left when one of its members uses to ignorance as a defense against his own illegal actions? And aside from the financial and tax problems, there are even investigations of improper actions that might construe a more direct conflict of interest. If Scalia and Thomas have come accustomed to enjoying the perks of ruling in favor of certain interests, the state of our legal system is bleak indeed.

Unfortunately, the problem with the law is a lot bigger than a few conservatives justices can demonstrate on their own.

Pundits and politicians have been making a big deal about two big problems facing America: healthcare, and the environmental risks & costs created by global warming and all of the other consequences tied to burning carbon-based fuels. In the last year of two, some significant legislation has passed with the intent to fix these issues.

But the new laws and reforms seem too expensive or complicated to actually enforce.

It was reported yesterday that General Electric had just received a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding those environmental laws. The initial reports weren't quite right though - GE won't actually own the power plant. They are going to sell the turbines and steam generators so this still leaves a question about conflicting interests. Of course, GE is one of the top recipients of government spending, one of the top news broadcasting companies (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC), a major outsourcer, and one of the country's biggest polluters - so how did their CEO end up on Obama's job creation board again? The same way they sell turbines and steam generators that would otherwise violate federal environmental rules.

For a more direct example of selective law enforcement, healthcare provides us a great insight. While most employers and individuals will be required to provide a certain minimum of coverage. Unless you've got a waiver too...

Because as it stands, more than 700 such healthcare waivers have been issued for such politically invested organizations as the Institutional Brotherhood of Electrical Workers & Trade Unions, Teamsters, McDonald's, and a whole bunch of others.

So if you're big enough to buy political favors, or "too big to fail" in general, the law simply doesn't apply.

Is it too complicated? Is it too expensive to actually follow the law of the land? Or is it really just a way for politicians to pay back the money that makes their careers?

Of those options, I'm not sure it even matters... because in the land of infinite laws, everything is permitted while nothing is allowed...

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