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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

O'Reilly: When did everything get so complicated?

Running through a field.

Running through a field. Credit: iStock

"A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." -- Groucho Marx

I have a general rule of thumb as a jaded New Yorker. If a person approaches me on the street with a complicated tale, I assume it's a scam and I walk away.

That may not always be the case, but at age 50, and after handing out cash at one point to every Moony, Hare Krishna and I-just-missed-the-last-bus-and-I-have-to-get-to-the-rehab-by-5 pm-or-I'll-lose-my-sister's-apartment-to-the-landlord-who-has-it-out-for-us con man, I'm willing to risk being rude.

The same theory applies to other parts of life, too, I've found. The more complicated the story, the more likely it is to be a trick or a lie. Take the back of a credit card contract. What it says in about a thousand words, in my view anyway, is, no matter what I do, I'm going to end up paying 28 percent interest. I'd prefer a hand to pop from the paper and slap me across the face. That, at least, would be concise -- and it would spare my eyes the torture of trying to read size four italicized font.

I watched a two-hour YouTube lecture on Common Core on Thursday night. The alarm bells went off in the first minute. The more I heard, the deeper the pit grew in my stomach. Common Core has the fingerprints of 100 different agendas, in my reading, none of them involving my children.

Obamacare took me a full year to understand. And what I finally concluded is that it is incomprehensible. There are more than 11 million words in the Obamacare regulations . . . so far. The entire U.S. Constitution, including its 27 Amendments, runs just over 7,500.

No one even knows how many federal laws and regulations there are today. An effort was made in 1982 to track criminal laws alone. The best guesstimate at the time was 23,000 pages worth. The number of regulations in federal code are now estimated to be between 10,000 and 300,000, according to a 2011 Wall Street Journal story.

I am forced to pay attention to the state budget being debated in Albany right now. I'd sooner pull my thumbnails out, but it's important to my business. And still, I find it impossible to stay focused for any length of time on it. As a citizen, the process screams "con job!" to me. When there's that much fine print, it's never a good thing. I've genuinely come to the point where I feel safer when Congress and the State Legislature are out of session.

I'm going to finish up my taxes this weekend -- and then stare at a blade of grass or a gray rock or something.

William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant who is working on the Rob Astorino campaign for governor.