Lessons: The Rule of Tools The Rule of Tools   rev. 12.26.2009

You know the old saying, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything in the world looks like a nail"?

Well, it occurred to me recently that that same rule can explain why we have so many laws....

Why? Really very simple: take note that most everyone in today's US and State government Senates and Houses of Representatives... is a lawyer !


Some years ago, Sears Automotive was getting in big trouble in California. Laws were being introduced to prevent companies like them from scamming customers by recommending unnecessary work for customers' cars.

I wrote a letter to the San Jose Mercury News, suggesting that the reason for the problem was probably that Sears' Automotive Service managers were probably being rewarded for efforts to increase sales. All you really needed to do was change their reward system to reward them for customer satisfaction !

About a week later, the president of Sears announced that Sears was aware of the problem and was changing the managers' compensation plans to reward them, based not so much on sales, but more on customer satisfaction.

Several laws were soon withdrawn from consideration by the Legislature in Sacramento, California, and the problem went away.


When a lawyer in a state legislative body is presented with a problem, their solution is to pass a law to eliminate the problem.

Unfortunately, Falk's Twelfth Law immediately comes into play, and the game is lost.

First rev. 12.28.2002