Cyndi’s Two Cents
Pay attention to disclaimers
We have all heard commercials for anti-anxiety and weight-loss drugs advertised on television. They almost have you hooked until you listen to the disclaimers that end with something like, “If you develop a rash, diarrhea, constipation, high fever, severe pain in your abdomen, lose all feeling in your right arm, or harbor suicidal thoughts after taking this medicine, consult your physician immediately?” The health problem you are treating does not have such horrible symptoms as those mentioned in the disclaimers of some drug commercials.
Think about the fine print on a credit card agreement. You need a magnifying glass to see that the great interest rate – the reason you are signing up for this specific card – runs out at the end of 6 months. The contract terms and conditions or the disclosure placed in the footnotes or at the end of a manuscript are easily overlooked by the person reading them.
At least with radio and television commercials the disclaimers are read to you (albeit very rapidly in most cases) so you do not have to sift through pages of fine print to discover the additional conditions or limits.
Intentionally obscured details or conditions may have little to no relevancy in one person’s life but could be life-altering for another. The most impactful “fine print” in my view, is hidden within legislation passed by state lawmakers and our United States Congress.
When it comes to acts/bills/laws/regulations, I have learned “fine print” is a given. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022 by a vote of 222 to 210 with support from both parties. There were 250 amendments to this bill. Over the course of 3 days of debate, lawmakers approved 220 of them. The bill is nearly 3,000 pages long.
According to the website govtrack.us, since World War II, Congress has typically enacted 4-6 million words of new law in each two-year Congress. The difference today is that there are fewer bills containing more words.
Bills enacted in the 1950’s averaged less than 2 ½ pages. Bills enacted in the current 117th Congress average twenty-nine pages. One might assume those wordier bills are more substantive. Sadly, the substance that adds more pages is quite often an additional provision that has little or nothing to do with the original intent of the bill. Additional provisions that lawmakers do not always know exist within the original bill.
The 2022 United States elections are just 7 months away. Elections will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested.
You have plenty of time to do your homework; to “read the fine print” and determine if there should be disclaimers attached to those who are competing for your vote.