There ought NOT to be a law

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

By Basim Mansour

As a kid growing up, I remember touch football games, wire ball, waffle ball, and hose ball played in the streets; nobody was ever hit by a car. I recall riding on the handlebars of my buddy’s bicycle; never fell off. I hopped a couple of moving trains and snuck in the side doors of cinemas (only caught once). And all the while, I drank a ton of soda and ate too much candy; my dentist loved me.

At an early age, I learned actions have consequences. That life can be dangerous. That there are good decisions and bad ones. And that playing cops and robbers with flashlights in an auto salvage yard at night can leave lifelong scars.

Email newsletter signup

The point is I was able to make choices for myself and learn personal responsibility. Mom and Dad knew I was no saint, but they also knew their little scofflaw had a pretty good head on his shoulders and trusted I’d improve with experience. And I believe their parental guidance and discipline as I scuffed my knees helped me become the person I am today.

Now I have my own kids. And my wife and I choose to raise our children with norms, standards and guidance we believe best for them. Not Uncle Sam. And certainly not a nanny state propelled-by the self-righteous, eagerly supported by lawyers!

We’re a country of laws. I’m happy for that, but I know a good law when I see one. Seat belts? Good law. Removing soda machines from schools? Nonsense. No smoking in restaurants? Good idea. Plastering cigarette packs with gruesome pictures? Overreaching. Forcing McDonald’s to remove toys from their Happy Meals? Dumb. Actually posting signs in a playground forbidding children to run? The dumbest thing since pet rocks!

I’m a Constitutional type guy. I like that that glorious document is largely defined by individual liberties. It’s not a roadmap for the enactment of laws, rules and regulations designed to entangle “We the people.”

There are too many laws already; some 900 more were passed by the Virginia Assembly just last year alone! Can citizens actually be expected to know what all these laws are? Of course not.

We can and we must simplify laws. I believe true freedom requires a less litigious society. So here’s my suggestion to get us started: For every law made at the local, state or national level, let’s agree to remove one law (or at the very least, sunset it. One in, one out.)

I’m presently reading Philip K. Howard’s “Life Without Lawyers: Restoring Responsibility in America.” He opines America is choking on laws and we’re doing it to ourselves; that once a law is in place in the United States, it’s almost impossible to undo it. I agree; our Founders never intended democracy to be a one-way street, ‘making’ laws but (almost) never ‘unmaking’ them.

We need to ‘unmake’ laws that have over-stayed their welcome. And we need to be deliberate with new covenants ensuring they respect individual freedoms over intrusive governmental intervention. Civic pride and engagement should be our goal, not acquiescence to a law-laden nanny state’s “we know better than you” mentality.

The Mercatus Center at GMU has just released its Annual Freedom in the 50 States index. Its findings suggest America’s individual freedoms are on the run. Check it out at It’s worth your consideration.

Basim Mansour is president of Michael and Son Services, founded in 1976. Visit his website at