How to remove laws in Brazil
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If Alice came to Brazil she would get very mad at our laws. A directive that stops people from carrying chickens on a hanger pole is just one among a million laws that spoil the life of Brazilians; too many regulations in cities, states and the federal level always get in the way of enforcing justice. No one can really grasp all these laws: They deal with everything, from the color of potato chips to human rights. Things forbidden under one law are allowed under another. This bureaucratic culture was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese colonizers, and came to provide the staple income for lawyers, judges, officers, and, alas, paper-pushers. The scholar Gilberto Freire wrote about this.
Waiting for delayed justice, citizens just have to wait and pay, while judges bore themselves to death dealing with thick files, some of them as heavy as a cow, full of certificates, testimonies, requests, copies. All because too many antiquated laws have to be followed, leaving people and companies stuck in an endless struggle. Computerization only made things worse, as printers churned out even more papers.
Any couple wanting to adopt a child, for instance, has to follow the nitty-gritty of dozens of regulations about their life, childhood, school, habits, money and job, all supported by evidence. Before adoption, lawyers have to provide a few hundred pieces of stamped information. Brazilian couples wait up to four years; foreigners, up to six.
Ice cream shops have to record sanitary information about strawberry, milk, lemon, chocolate, ice, cockroaches, mice, sink, hair caps, floor cleaning, air filters, fire extinguishers. You want an ISO9000 certification ? That´s another list of 25 forms.
Anyone wanting to replace an old tree in front a house has to submit seventeen forms, certificates, photos, payments, notes; after three months, you get permission. To buy a new tree-plant, you have to fill out three more forms.
An inheritance decision can take forty years in courts, but to transfer a million Reais to the Cayman Islands, you need just three forms and fifteen minutes. In tempore.
Brazil needs to cut the excessive number of laws, but how? Either behave like the Queen of Hearts, who dished out sentences before reading the files, and had the accused beheaded. Or force legislators, councillors, representatives, senators, to approve a new law only if at least two old ones are abolished. It would quickly cut the number of laws. Nobody can guarantee that the new laws will be better than the old ones - a bonus that depends on politics- but at least justice would be easier and quicker.
But, would the Mad Hatter see the paradox of creating a new law to get rid of existing ones?