One of the methods historians use to discover the social or other problems of past eras is to examine the laws that were proposed at a particular time. So for example, if Charlemagne promulgated a law prohibiting knights from killing rich widows and taking their land, we can infer that there was a whole lotta widow-killing going on back then.

Future historians will find this proposal for a new Michigan law to be revealing about problems existing in this state, from MichiganVotes.org:

2009 Senate Bill 1015 (Promote "urban agriculture" )

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  • Introduced by Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Muskegon, on Dec. 10, 2009, to revise the 2003 law that created local "land bank" authorities empowered to assemble and dispose of abandoned tax reverted property, so as to include "promote urban agriculture" among the things they are supposed to accomplish (along with "revitalize the economy, promote economic growth, and foster development"). Promoting "urban agriculture" that involves raising "livestock, poultry or other animals for profit" would be prohibited, however. [Comments on this legislation

A discerning future historian may conclude that, if they were breaking up the concrete and planting corn, the state appears to have gone backwards in the six years since the original law in its stated intentions of "revitalizing the economy, promoting economic growth, and fostering development."

He or she will seek causes, and may turn to the economic historian for guidance. The latter is extremely unlikely to conclude that the economic sclerosis was due to too few taxes, regulations or government "economic development" schemes, and will point to the dominance of legions of politically powerful special interests who defended and sought ever more of these with every sordid instrument of influence and manipulation imaginable.

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