In the past when there was less regulation, society relied on people doing "the right thing". It was sort of a catch all, where if it didn't seem right then it probably wasn't. However, as more and more people gamed the system, the solution appeared to be to enact legislation to govern peoples' actions. The paradox of regulation is that in attempting to regulate any aspect of society then anything that was missed by regulation must be OK. So more regulation is enacted to close the loopholes, making it more complicated, more ponderous and more people looking for loopholes. Think tax legislation and Future of Financial reform.
Here is a list of some important documents:
Pythagorean theorem: 24 words
Lord's prayer: 66 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
Ten Commandments: 179 words
Gettysburg address: 286 words
US Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: 7,818 words
EU regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.
Message to politicians: Drowning, not waving.