Humor: "Truth in Packaging;" what bill titles should say…


“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.

– George Bernard Shaw

Modern day consumerism has given us the concept of truth in packaging, or more formally, “Fair Packaging and Labeling,” which went into effect in 1966, compliments of our elected betters in Congress.  The intent was to prevent the public from being misled by “unfair and deceptive” packaging and labeling methods for consumer products.

On its face, this is a great idea. It would be an even better one if elected officials and their support staffs applied it to their own “packaging and labeling methods,” which in our estimation have been exempted from such common sense requirements.  This should come as no surprise, since our self-identified public servants routinely excuse themselves from the constraints imposed on the rest of us.

Our subject today is the titling of proposed and enacted laws, and how this often bizarre packaging and labeling unfairly and deceptively characterizes the actual contents of the law.

At the federal level, calling Obama Care “The Affordable Care Act” is probably the most egregious current example of this practice.  Add Speaker Pelosi’s decree that “we’ll have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” and you have legislative deception at its highest level of achievement.

I’ve had far more experience with the practice at the state level.  So I’m going to translate and paraphrase titles I’ve seen on legislative documents (LDs) taken up by the Maine House and Senate.  Some of those I list will seem redundant, but that only makes a larger point, if you stop and think about it.

Read ‘em and weep (for all of us), and pass ‘em on to your friends:

  • An Act to Add Yet Another Law to the Hundreds Already on The Books Addressing the Same Subject, Because Passing Laws is Easy, but Enforcing Laws is Hard and Requires Real Leadership
  • An Act to Compromise the Privacy Rights of The Innocent While Strengthening the Privacy Rights of The Guilty
  • An Act Clearly Misnamed to Escape Public Notice
  • An Act to Eliminate the Consequences of Personal Irresponsibility
  • An Act to Encourage Unemployment as a Desirable Lifestyle Choice
  • An Act to Encourage Multi-Generational Dependency as a Viable Lifestyle Choice
  • An Act to Make Sponsors and Co-sponsors Look Good
  • An Act to Make Constituents Feel Better
  • An Act to Pander to the Passions of the Moment
  • An Act Whose Title Has Nothing to Do With Its Provisions
  • An Act That is Totally Unnecessary, Foolish, and Oversteps the Legitimate Bounds of Government
  • An Act Intended to Guarantee that Public Service Unions Skip Work and Help On Our Campaigns
  • An Act Pandering to Special Interests
  • An Act to Prevent Parental Choice in Their Children’s Education
  • An Act to Protect the Monopoly of Government Run Schools
  • An Act to Get the Damn Lobbyists Off My Back
  • An Act to Make a Name For Myself
  • An Act to Bolster My Ambitions for Higher Office
  • An Act That Does the Exact Opposite of What Its Title Says
  • An Act That Will Make Me Look Good in My “I Love Me/Look What I Did!” Legislative Newsletter
  • An Act to Expand the Cradle to Grave Nanny State
  • An Act to Designate More Winners and Losers in Yet Another Way
  • An Act to Ensure the Steady Destruction of Maine’s Economic Engine
  • An Act to Ensure Maine Leads the Nation in High Utility Rates
  • An Act to Designate the Moonbat as the State Bird
  • An Act to Make the Other Party Look Bad
  • An Act to Drum Up Media Coverage
  • An Act to Delude the Public Into Thinking We Care About Them
  • An Act to Preserve Maine’s Quality of Place by Discouraging Young Families and Businesses from Moving Here
  • An Act to Establish Mortuaries as Maine’s Leading Growth Industry
  • An Act to Spread the Wealth Around
  • An Act to Increase Takers and Decrease Makers
  • An Act to Exploit a Tragedy
  • An Act to Make Sure a Good Crisis Doesn’t Go to Waste
  • An Act to Preserve, Protect, and Defend Sloppy Election Practices
  • An Act to Encourage Attorney Full Employment
  • An Act to Create Another Law Because Enforcing Existing Laws Doesn’t Generate Publicity
  • An Act About Something Serious that Will Not Get the Attention It Deserves
  • An Act Punishing Law Abiders While Favoring Law Breakers
  • An Act to Increase the Advantage of Criminals Over Law Abiding Citizens

Go ahead and call me cynical for the foregoing, because it surely applies.  My cynicism though, such as it may be, is intended to make you chortle.  The real cynicism here is that of the politicians who prize opaque, unfair, and deceptive labeling of proposed bills.

Their form of cynicism is anything but a laughing matter.

Which reminds us to pass along one more example:

  • An Act You’ll Never Ever See;  Summary: this bill requires that all legislative documents be labeled with clarity, accurately reflecting the law’s provisions.

Pem Schaeffer is a retired Business Development Leader who spent his career in defense related high technology.  He blogs at  Contact him at  Or buy his lunch at the next MHPC monthly affair in Portland.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here