ON Kilter: The litmus test for laws and government

OPINION – “Would you be willing to pay politicians in Utah to do nothing but make sure that no more bills were passed?” my friend and colleague, Kate Dalley, asked on the Fox News 1450 Facebook page this week. “When do we finally reach a saturation point? It feels as though we are being regulated to death, but politicians feel as though they ‘earn’ their paycheck by passing the very same laws we complain about. What are your thoughts?”

Given an ever-increasing awareness of the presence of government in our everyday lives, it is an apropos point to ponder both nationally and locally as copious new laws open the doors for abuse – from Washington D.C. to St. George, Utah.

If you need but one example of this, consider the recent story in this publication about Washington City’s justification of a written policy in its police department mandating a ticket quota among its “Key Performance Indicators.”

You see, it’s not just politicians who make their living putting laws into effect.

But the problems associated with Kate’s question have a deeper implication on our future as a free people.

There are principle assumptions that are givens in all practice of lawmaking and they are vanishing:

• Presumption of innocence – Gone, with the recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act.

• Due Process – Gone, with the passing of new drone strike laws as well as its precursor, the NDAA.

• Privacy and civil liberties – Abdicated, by the Patriot Act, the precursor to the NDAA and drone strikes.

Do you see a pattern here?

There is, and must continue to be a litmus test for the establishment and implementation of our laws both nationally and locally.

“You do not examine legislation in the light of benefits it will convey if properly administered,” President Lyndon Johnson said, “but in light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.”

Read that again and ask yourself if you trust that the immense power and responsibility the federal government grants itself – for example, in now being able to hold American citizens without charge or due process – is in line with that test?

How about its power to kill?

To cross the spectrum and bring the point local, how about the power to intimidate police officers into enforcing what are arguably, at the very least, unethical practices with regards to citations?

Or how about city and county officials who carefully craft legislation that gives biased advantage to themselves both politically and financially?

If these kinds of things are happening here, would you consider that a violation of the suggested litmus test?

I would.

I have made this observation ad nauseum to no apparent avail: It is in our hands to eradicate such violations in two ways, exposing them and holding them accountable either by way of the election process or the judiciary process.

We still have some shred of the First Amendment left and it may be our last hope because if we reach a point that the press can be more than just corporately manipulated, but summarily silenced by government, that truly will be the end of much freedom as we know it.


To Kate’s question, “when do we reach saturation?”

How about now?

On a side note:

It has been a little more than a month since my last ON Kilter column.

It was an intentional time off the keyboard for the old opinionator, much needed and refreshing.

Thank you to everyone who wrote and inquired as to my well-being.

Writing for a small community has its own qualities, one of which is being known a little more intimately by that community than I would say in, perhaps, Los Angeles. Hence, I sign off each column with my “See you out there” to gesture that I appreciate you, respect you, and in no small capacity see my work as a responsibility to you.

Thank you.

See you out there?

Related posts

Perspectives: Keeping peace, keeping tabs, burdening officers

Washington City police subject to monthly point system; quota?

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Curtis February 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    The litmus test needs to be broadened
    Don’t just consider the harm and problems of laws improperly administered but also those administered as intended; e.g., NDAA and Patriot Act

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