Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Legislation DDoS

The end of the first session of the operation of the newly elected lower house of parliament of one generic country ended with adoption of a series of stupid, inherently contradictory to the current legislation and just plain funny laws. The law on non-commercial organizations makes this guy the foreign agent, slander law can be used against the official ideology, the law on political meetings questions the legality of parliament operation itself. (Paraphrased from here, read all about it from one of the few remaining actual political scientists)

State Duma just published its next report on its activity for the month. As usual, one has to actually go and click on every month to get monthly data.

So I wrote a tiny parser to gather all the data from the Duma website. The system administrator probably hated me during the debugging... If anyone wants me to elaborate on how to write a parser and batch-process data form web-sites that do not allow for that, I can write a post on that later, ask away - comments are open.

Now we calculate the ratio of passed laws to a total amount of proposed legislation.

(click to enlarge)

The series were slightly seasonally-adjusted, but that did not really matter. What is shown is a six-month moving average with zero months  (election periods, vacations or some other reasons for there being no acts to pass) removed.

After a stable 7-year period of rejecting four out of five, we are back to the nineties, passing every second law. Would be cool to compare to other countries, does someone have the data at hand?

Now what could that bring about? Tyler Cowen once suggested "a simple theory of regulations, new and old". The idea is that the ability to enforce regulation is depletable. When the state adopts new laws, the media attention is drawn to them, and the regulators use all their resources to enforce them, while the old laws are left forgotten.

The adoption of every second clearly obsolete or plain dumb law, whether it is the intention or not, is capable of distracting from other, more pressing issues. My guess - it is a DDoS attack on society, so that with all the legislative junk going on, everyone would stop caring whether you do the actual legislative reforms in the mean time.

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