That phrase is one of the most destructive phrases that has settled into the American mindset.
What good is it having laws if no one can keep up with all of them?
Consider this statement by James Madison:
It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood;
Now contrast that statement with the following news item
We ARE a nation of laws but when the volume of laws becomes so great that the citizenry cannot keep up with all of them, all we are doing is creating a nation of criminals and giving further justification for an ever-growing police state so that they can enforce those laws.
Thomas Jefferson resigned from Congress to return to Virginia to completely rewrite their legal code so that it would be understood and be consistent with the principles of the Constitution.
Our federal, state and local governments are in need of a similar reset.
Furthermore, all laws ought to expire after some period of time (2 years for example) and should be required to be renewed by the legislature. This would have several beneficial effects.
1. The legislators would be required to evaluate the existing laws and confirm whether they are still relevant and needed and modify them if necessary.
2. Old out-dated laws would be removed from the books providing one less item for citizens to worry about or law enforcement to have to enforce.
3. Legislators seem to feel the need to create new laws in order to feel productive resulting in unnecessary and meddling laws. If forced to focus on existing law, they would have less time to invent new things to interfere with.
Additionally, there should be some limit applied to the number of laws that can be enacted and legislators should be forced to decide between keeping existing laws or replacing them with new laws. Some accommodation should be made for the limit to gradually increase over time and perhaps for the limits to apply within categories of law but there should be limits nonetheless.
Finally, the loophole of having a law that defers to the executive to define a multitude of regulations should be closed. It is not the executive’s role to define the law (which defining regulations is tantamount to). If it’s important enough to be passed by the legislature, it’s important enough to define the parameters that apply to it.
In conclusion, I’m not an anarchist. Without the law, there is no liberty but there should only be enough law to guarantee liberty and no more.