Signing your name to a document or form seems like a regular event for most of us. We sign virtually any form of identification or license we own, driver's licenses, pilot's licenses, voter's identification, credit cards, auto registrations and many others. If we enter into contracts to borrow money or finance the purchase of a home, a car, a boat, or rent property, a signature is required. It signifies the obligation on the part of the signer that he or she will comply with the rules and obligations of the contract or license, and is a verification of identity. You can't cash a check or use a credit card without having some sort of signed identity verification. This is accepted by most of us without hesitation due to the obligations of the associated contracts and responsibilities.
Artists and performers also identify themselves to insure association and credit with the product they create. You will rarely find a piece of art that is unsigned, particularly in modern times. There is great value in taking credit, both for artistic credit and monetary remuneration. Painters, authors, sculptors, song writers and composers all sign or take credit for their creations.
Why is it that the identities of politicians or their staff members, or the special interest attorneys that "write" laws and regulations are often not associated and apparently do not seek to be associated with the work they create? How is it that voluminous bills and regulations come out of the various state houses and particularly the Federal Government, that no one is taking the credit, or blame as it may be, for their creation? Why isn't each section of these behemoths annotated with the names of the authors involved? If the law making and regulatory process is deemed by the lawmakers to need all of the control that these bills create, shouldn't the creators be getting the credit due for their foresight and diligence to impose these requirements on the rest of society?
The process of bill writing is no doubt challenging and likely a difficult and unrewarding job, but it is not the kind of job that puts anyone in harm's way. And yet the creators of this work often choose to remain anonymous, why is that? The Founding Fathers declared independence from a formidable foreign power and set the 13 colonies on the path to creating the first truly free Nation, no small undertaking. The last line of the Declaration of Independence states: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor," below that, the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence by signing their names, literally put their lives on the line for what they believed. Benjamin Franklin's statement, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately" accurately portrayed the significance of the moment and the severity of the crime they were committing en masse.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution were remarkable men and few of us could hope to measure up to the standard they set in creating a Nation. I do not think, however, it is asking too much to have the writers of bills and regulations emulate the Founder's behavior and take responsibility for the content of the documents that become the law of the land that we the people are obligated to follow. Honorable men should do no less than to stand up for their beliefs and their responsibilities. If the instigators of changes to our laws see fit to impose obligations on the populace for what they deem as the necessities of public behavior and responsibility, then we should expect no less than accountability of authorship on their part in the creation of those obligations.
The bills that come out of the Congress and the Senate have lists of sponsors attached to the bottom of them indicating support for the content of the bill. However, there is a difference between supporting a bill and creating its content. In addition to sponsorship, every section of legislation should have the name of the creator or creators attached to it. When bills are modified in ways to make them acceptable to both houses, those modifications should also indicate who made the modifications. The people have a right to know who is creating the various pieces of legislation that they are subjected to, and be able to question the individuals responsible. At present legislators may say they support particular bills, but when confronted by the people can claim that they do not personally agree with controversial portions. Credit of authorship would allow not only the people to know the identity of the true author; it would discourage creation of legislation that no one presently will take responsibility for writing.
Let's demand accountability of our elected representatives to prevent the anonymous creation of bills and regulations. Let's hold the writers of the documents that we have to live by to the same standard that we are expected to observe when we are required to sign the documents in our daily lives, or provide identification when using a credit card or a check to buy our groceries.