During last night’s debate, when Herman Cain had the opportunity to ask another candidate one question, he said, “The 9-9-9 plan that I have proposed is simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral. My question is to Governor Romney. Can you name all 59 points in your 160-page plan, and does it satisfy that criteria of being simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral?”
Romney replied, “Herman, I have had the experience in my life of taking on some tough problems. And I must admit that simple answers are always very helpful, but oftentimes inadequate.” Romney then proceeded to mention various parts of his plan, including “tax policy,” “energy policy,” stopping “the regulatory creep that has occurred in Washington,” “trade policies,” “the rule of law,” “institutions that create human capital,” and the need “to have a government that does not spend more money than it takes in” — adding at the end, “Those are the seven major pillars of those 59.”
Cain replied, “So, no, it is not simple, is what you are saying?”
While each of the areas that Romney highlighted is clearly important, surely Cain has a point. We have a Constitution that’s written on four pages of parchment — and a Declaration of Independence that’s written on one. Now we have a 2,700-page health-care overhaul. That’s 675 pages for each page of the Constitution. (How about a 1-page Small Bill instead?) Meanwhile, the 6th Circuit Court’s recent ruling on Obamacare is more than twice as long as Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, or Gibbons v. Ogden.
A crucial aspect of limited government is that laws, rulings, and regulations must be clear, accessible, and — yes — of limited length. The excessive centralization and consolidation of power that the Founders knew — and Tocqueville warned — is so at odds with liberty, is both the horse and the cart in this respect: It makes the government’s actions less clear and accessible to the citizenry, and that lack of clearness and accessibility invites the further centralization and consolidation of power. A government of, by, and for the people requires a level of transparency, clarity, and simplicity that ours — despite its elegantly simple foundations — currently lacks.