A long time ago, in what seems like a different life BC (Before Children), I was what people these days tend to call a table-top gamer. I played a fairly complex little role-playing game (RPG) called Rolemaster with a bunch of friends from college, running around in imaginary worlds and killing imaginary dragons. Generally, fun was had by all.
Of course, it was more fun if your character was, shall we say, mondo. Fortunately for us, we had a gentleman named Don that we played with. Don had a head for rules, and knew all the ins and outs of the Rolemaster system and all the various house rules we played with. As a result, if you wanted advice on how to develop your character, Don was The Man. He could tell you exactly how to make your fighter, wizard, healer or what-have-you the absolute pinnacle of their chosen profession.
In gaming circles, Don was what is referred to as a min-max player: minimum effort, maximum rewards. He wouldn't break the rules of the game... but. If there was a loophole or an unexpected benefit from combining a couple of different rules, then he knew about it and was ready to take advantage of it when the opportunity presented itself.
You can find folks like this involved with any system, game or otherwise, that's at least moderately complex. Complexity allows for these, shall we say, unexpected synergies between rules to develop. A few years ago, in the MMORPG World of Warcraft, there was a particularly lovely unexpected synergy that allowed a single player - a mage with the right selection of skills - to kill, by themselves, monsters in the game that were designed to be a challenge for a team of 10 or 25 players working together.
This history of gaming - board, card, RPG, and online - is filled with these sort of examples. Take a moderately complex set of rules, turn a person with a certain mind set towards them, and pretty soon, they'll show you some really amazing things you can do. Without breaking the rules, mind you... just using them in creative ways.
Which is why I say that Congress needs a CEO.
Not a Chief Executive Officer, thank you - we already got one of them, you see? But Congress has the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that exists to score legislation and, supposedly, tell us all how much it will cost if it's implemented as written. There's a lot of problems with teh way the CBO is supposed to do this, but let's just ignore that for the moment. The CBO itself is a pretty good idea, except that it really doesn't go quite far enough.
You see, the current set of laws in the US is about three orders of magnitude beyond "moderately complex". The tax code, Sarbanes-Oxley, Obamacare... hoog. It's a positive labyrinth of regulation.
Which is why I think we should have a Congressional Exploitation Office.
Staff the CEO with people like my friend Don, please. Folks like Radley Balko and others who have seen the ways that laws get bent, twisted, and abused into new and interesting shapes that bear no resemblance to their purported original purpose. Folks who can go away with a bill for a few days, and come back and tell you all the wonderfully creative ways they've managed to come up with that would allow someone to - absolutely legally, mind you - use your "Save The Kittens And Puppies Act" to justify government-sponsored nationalized kitten-killing competitions on network TV.
Why? Because those people are out there already. Where do you think patent trolls come from? California ADA lawsuit mills? Homeland Security using the DMCA to crack down on "terrorist" counterfeiters?
When a politician tells me, "Why, no one would ever use this legislation that way!", I'd really, really, really like to be able to look at someone from the CEO and have them tell me, "He's lying through his teeth. We found at least six different ways to break this thing, and that was before tiffin. And we take tiffin pretty early in these parts, pardner."
All a pipe dream, of course. The existence of gaping loopholes and unexpected synergies in the current US legal code are, I fear, considered a feature instead of a bug. Still... it would be nice to see those bugs exposed with some basic QA before we, the people, have to start dealing with all the 0-day exploits that Congress seems to like to give us.