Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year, New Laws

Welcome to 2010! We're heading into Year 5 of good times here at TPS.

Anyhow, CNN gives an overview of new laws for the new year here, and I've seen a surprising number of TV and print stories concerning this same topic, maybe I wasn't quite in tune to the matter last year at this time. (Hi Dave!)

Perhaps I'm getting more cynical as the months go by, but I'm increasingly frustrated by the passive nature of laws like this. Yes, they're ridiculous, but passive foolishness seems even worse. San Francisco banned plastic shopping bags a little while back-- wouldn't it better just to ban trash? Doesn't that get at the issue a little more directly? One of the new laws in the CNN bit was to ban texting while driving-- why not ban car accidents?

The point being: If we're going to have foolish laws, wouldn't it be better to have clear, direct foolish laws? After all, if you feel that banning texting while driving will actually stop people from texting while driving, then banning car accidents would eliminate those too! You wouldn't even need seat belts! Or car insurance! Or car seats! Oh, the welfare increases!

Is passive lawmaking a way for politicians to dodge the issue of the credibility of the law? I mean, if you're in favor of banning texting while driving, then you are of the opinion that car accidents are bad; wouldn't you necessarily be in favor of banning car accidents as well?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't help feeling you're missing the point. There are two important aspects to laws like this:

a) symbolic value (go ahead, shoot me, but I feel that may be worth it at times)

b) ex post blame attribution (if you cause an accident while texting your insurance might refuse to pay up and similar effects)

I find neither of these particularly ridiculous. Of course I am largely inspired by a central European of a state doing much more than keeping its citizens happy, and rules like these are hardly an outcropping of a conservative's dream world, but that doesn't mean it's plain stupid.

elron said...

How about a law banning stupid blog posts?

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