1. the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.
In this morning's New York Times, the Editorial Board mourns The Dying Art of Legislating, and the resignation of a number of legislators---the most notable being 58-year veteran Congressman John Dingell. Over the course of his career, Dingell sponsored and cosponsored dozens (I counted 12 dozen) of expansions of the system regulating the actions of Americans.
And what do you do with this statement:
Three senators who have long been champions of the muscular use of government to improve the country Carl Levin of Michigan, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and Tom Harkin of Iowa are heading home, worn down by the endless filibustering and partisan posturing in the Senate.
If the term "muscular use of government" doesn't send a chill down your spine, you need to have your spine examined.
Frederic Bastiat had much to say about government muscling its way into our lives. From his excellent 1850 essay The Law:
And as the gardener, to bring his trees into shape, needs hatchets, pruning hooks, saws, and shears, so the politician, to bring society into shape, needs the forces which he can only find in the laws; the law of tariffs, the law of taxation, the law of assistance, and the law of education.
The Times Editorial Board bemoans the 113th Congress's historic lack of bill-passing (oh, they would if they could). While I've never met a Congress, 113th included, that I've cared much for, whatever be the factors (temporary as I fear they be) leading to less shaping of society to the politician's liking---less pruning of our liberties---they should, in my view, be celebrated.