More than a few people have asked the question “Why can’t Congress simplify the laws, rather than making them more complex?” Similar questions are asked about federal regulations all the time as well.
They’re good questions, but they unfortunately also have fairly simple answers. The first is that, in a political system that allows “popular” input, laws can be changed, or tweaked, to benefit those with enough political or financial power to influence the lawmakers. Such tweaks add complexity.
The second reason is that the United States is overflowing with attorneys, and almost every law ever passed is challenged in some way or fashion, either to get benefits under it, to avoid being covered by it, or to widen the coverage. While not all those challenges require changes in the laws, a great number do. In turn, those changes spark additional legal challenges, which in turn often spawn more legislation…and more litigation… and possibly more legislation…
The quick answer to this is to keep the laws “simple.” And, it’s true, “simple” laws don’t offer as much opportunity for legal challenges. But, unhappily, if laws are too “simple,” they can also turn out to be horribly unfair in many cases. So, politicians, never wanting to seem unfair, try to craft laws that are more “fair.” More fair is also more complex, and often the provisions that are meant to make things fair are then challenged by one group or another claiming that the law should or should not apply to them, whichever is to their advantage, and sometimes on the grounds that the application of the law is inequitable.
And when you have a large and complex economy, based on complex technology, with global implications, the legal structure becomes equally complex, and more often than not, the idea of fairness becomes twisted into something that is anything but fair.