Let’s Simplify Legal Jargon – Lunch w/ TED

Congress “reforms” healthcare with a bill so large that our national leaders haven’t read it. These days, the laws are complex and not written in plain English. This means that most people cannot engage them. Alan Siegel wants to change that.

This week’s TED talk is very short. However, it couldn’t be more timely.

The recent healthcare bill and the now overturned is an excellent example of a law whose complicated language has confused people. In a rather infamous remark, Nancy Pelosi declared that the Congress needed to pass the bill in order to see what was in it. Why? Because it was a huge bill full of references to pre-existing laws that made no sense to anyone who tried to make their way through it. There would literally be a discovery process for people on the receiving end of the new law (and it’s corresponding taxes)! If the bill was shorter and written in plain English, people might be surprised to find out that taxation begins immediately but most benefits do not kick in until 2014 – for example.

I believe that Siegel is on to something. If laws were more accessible – if people knew what they were getting themselves into – then political activism would be on the rise. As it stands, most people are content with vague notions of “common good” and “equal opportunities” and allow themselves to be won over by the side that can appeal to this sentimentality the best. However, sentimentality cannot hold a candle to one’s pocket book. If costs, mandates, and opportunity losses were made clear, people would likely be less inclined to vote for the healthcare bill.

What do you think? If the laws were written in plain English, would you read them?

I’m open to being wrong on this one. After all, the 17 page Arizona law was written in plain English and the President’s top advisers didn’t even read the thing before slandering it. Perhaps simplicity will not overcome our bigger problem: apathy.’

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Dustin R. Steeve

Dustin Steeve is a blogger and web enthusiast. Dustin's passion is to see his generation of Christians rise up as thought leaders, doing remarkable, good work Christianly. Dustin is interested in the rise of web media and increasingly prominent use of computer technology as a tool to aid people. Dustin worked for three years as the director of GodblogCon and is an adviser for the Christian Web Conference. Dustin graduated summa cum laude and received his B.A. in History from Biola University where he also graduated from Torrey Honors Institute. Dustin has completed some post-graduate work at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was appointed to the Dean's List and received a certificate of completion from the Summer Institute for General Management.