simplicity & policy Friday, 12. November 2010
This one might be rant-y. Sorry in advance.
I've been thinking a lot about numbers, laws and policy lately. At last, I've dug up some:
- Policymakers expect citizens to know the law and uphold the law as soon as it's published.
- Any book beyond 50000 words is considered a novel.
- The average american reads three books per year. A quick google search did not reveal any usable numbers for my esteemed home country.
Also, austrian legal texts. just
wc -w, nothing fancy.
- agbg (civil code): 73661 words
- stgb (criminal law): 48681 words
- stpo (criminal procedure): 73905 words
Just to read these three an average person would take a year. To understand them? No idea, I didn't check for legalese. To understand agencies' internal enforcement policies? Hardly possible.
There is this story claiming Maria Theresa — one of Austria's better known 17th century rulers — required policy changes to be read to a buta ember (hungarian for "dumb person"; a person with average education), and for policies to be rejected if that person did not grasp them.
For ages, we've been building and enhancing laws. Hell, the Austrian civil code was first announced in 1811.
Maybe now it's time to reduce and simplify them.
Also on this:
- Simplifying Paperwork would solve Foreclosure Mess
- Alan Siegel: let's simplify Jargon is actually so great, I'll just embed it here.