The Problem          Cause of the Problem


The process by which laws are currently designed, amended, enacted, and repealed by governments is termed the traditional method of lawmaking. The traditional method is a relatively simple process.  It begins when someone comes up with an idea for a law (or an amendment to an existing law) of government.  The idea is transcribed into a written petition ("bill") which is then presented to a legislative assembly.  After being evaluated by the legislature and, often, modified through debate and compromise, the final version of the bill is voted upon by the legislature.  If the legislature approves the bill it is added to the government’s body of enforceable laws.  The next bill is presented to the legislature and the lawmaking process is then repeated.  The traditional method operates as a Feed-Forward Control System* whose output is new laws as depicted in the Figure.


Traditional Lawmaking. The traditional method of lawmaking is a simple feed forward control system whose output is a continuously growing body of laws.  Note that this process can produce laws indefinitely without reference to the needs of the public.

Although governments around the world annually create millions of laws, serious societal problems remain unchecked.  In other words, as a means for enabling governments to satisfy their public-service obligations by means of laws, the traditional method of lawmaking is a failure.  To determine the cause of this failure, an investigation of the structure and dynamics of the traditional method was performed (see reference text, Schrunk, D.G., "The End of Chaos: Quality Laws and the Ascendancy of Democracy, QL Press, 2006).   That investigation disclosed that, as a process for solving problems by means of laws, the traditional method has the following serious flaws and omissions:

  • It does not require a law to include a definition of the societal problem that the law addresses
  • It does not assign priorities to problems for solution
  • It does not require laws to have a statement of purpose in terms of a measurable outcome
  • It does not require law designers to have design expertise
  • It does not require the creation of a model for each law-design
  • It does not require a full accounting of the costs of laws
  • It does not require a full accounting of the risks and side effects of laws
  • It tolerates design defects and "intentional vagueness" in laws
  • It tolerates the inclusion of "pork barrel" and other non-relevant special interest provisions in laws
  • It does not require law designers to have knowledge of the subject matter; it is based upon opinions, or ideology, not knowledge
  • It does not require a citation of references and data bases used in the design process
  • It does not require a competent and thorough quality assurance (QA) program that periodically evaluates the outcome of laws, or a regular mechanism for the repeal of laws that have been found to be less than useful to the citizenry
  • It incorporates no regular, competent mechanism for improvement of the performance of laws

These defects of the traditional method, of its deficiency in knowledge, expertise, ethics, and quality, render it to be completely unacceptable as a problem solving process.  In fact, it is not a problem solving process; its purpose is not to solve problems but to make laws.  [The simple explanation for the poor performance of laws is that governments attempt to solve problems with a process (traditional lawmaking) that does not have problem solution as its purpose].

The traditional method of lawmaking has remained basically unchanged since antiquity and the need for reform is long overdue.  Fortunately, a proven pathway of reform is available.  All that is needed is to expand science to encompass laws and the lawmaking process through the implementation of a new science of laws.  The promise of the science of laws is that its ability to satisfy the purpose of democracy will come to match the same patterns of success that typify all other sciences.

*see glossary

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