Growth of Government
Growth of Government
Have you ever read the book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly? It’s a children’s book that came out a few years ago, based on a nursery rhyme. In case you haven’t, here is the basic plot line of the book. *Spoiler Alert* There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. Concerned about her well being, we “don’t know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she’ll die”. Seems a little extreme, but that’s how it goes. Rather than let nature take its course, the old lady decides to remedy the problem by swallowing a spider to catch the fly. Having caused another problem, she then swallows a bird to catch the spider. This continues to escalate until finally
There was an old lady who swallowed a cow,
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow;
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a horse…;
…She’s dead, of course
Such a wholesome message for children, yet my toddler loves the book. Rather than letting things sort themselves out, the old lady continuously makes things more and more difficult until finally the “solution” to her problem becomes overbearing. While this may be a children’s book, this also gives a great perspective to how government operates.
At the turn of the last century, Missouri first got into the marriage business. The state of Missouri swallowed a fly. By doing so, we now have an entire chapter in Missouri statute. This chapter covers a definition of marriage, declares who can and can not be married, sets up licensing requirements, how those licenses will be recorded, who can officiate, who shall give a certificate and to whom, penalties for unlawful marriage, penalties for marriage without a license, penalties for not keeping records, fees for the recording of a license, names of children born before marriage, obtaining new certificates of marriage, obtaining certificates when records have been destroyed, fees for obtaining destroyed records, marriage and property, marriage and debt, femme sole, and guardian ad litem appointments. Legislators probably never dreamed that a little piece of paper a hundred years ago would now be the voluminous text known as Chapter 451 in RSMO. If you decide you are done being married, then refer to Chapter 452 for even more, and good luck.
On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment made the production, transportation, and sale of alcohol illegal in the United States. Again, America swallowed a fly. As we know, the results from that decision were so unpopular that it was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment on December 5, 1933. That should have been a lesson for the country, the states, and the citizens, stay away from alcohol laws! However, Missouri had not learned it’s lesson. Today, you can see the results of trying to solve a little problem in Chapter 311 of RSMO. This chapter of Missouri statutes now contains 50,680 words and 166 sections. Starting with the title of the law and ending with the selling of alcoholic beverages purchased through mobile apps at concerts, shows, and sporting events. In comparison, Chapter 451 only contains 5,234 words and 29 sections; but that’s just marriage, a a solemn agreement, it’s not as important as the bubbly.
Each time government gets involved in any issue, it is guaranteed to grow. As it relates to marriage and alcohol, the original legislators most likely had good intentions. However, as times change and problems arise, more action is needed to correct the original actions. Soon, you end up with more law than you can possibly read, understand, or remain compliant with; and more is needed to correct the next problem. Soon, government tries swallowing the spider, the bird, the cat, the dog, and eventually the horse. Remember the last line as a great warning; “There was an old lady who swallowed a horse; She’s dead, of course. What the citizens soon find is the death of our liberties as government continues to solve the problems they themselves created and have no business legislating to begin with. So, if you ever find yourself swallowing a fly, and afraid you’ll die; try a Diet Coke, it at least tastes better than a spider and might prevent your untimely death from a horse swallowing disaster.