Stupid Laws and Policies
When it comes to stupid laws and policies, there is no end to them. It makes me wonder how we can dream up such silly things and introduce them with a straight face.
The amazing thing is that more than one person had to agree on the silly laws as they were writing them. They had to get discussed in committee, then voted to go to the House or Senate for a discussion and vote.
Where are the voices of reason, intelligence, common sense and fairness in all of this?
If there is one thing I have come to understand, it's this: common sense isn't common at all.
I am often reminded of what libertarian minded Thomas Paine wrote in his introductory paragraph to his famous pamphlet, Common Sense. He said: "...time makes more converts than reason." And, he most certainly was right.
So, it seems that we've been busy for quite some time making stupid laws and silly policies, and convincing others that we really need them and that they make sense. It's not exactly a resume builder for a legislator, is it?
The problem is simply that our silly laws and ridiculous proposals come from people that aren't serious about the business of self-government. They engage in compromise - that's compromise of their integrity and of course, our liberty.
They're also quite confused about what is public policy and what ought to be private matters. It's this confusion that has our friends and neighhbors (who are part of self government) minding the business of private citizens by creating stupid laws instead of sticking to the limited business affairs of a truly limited government.
These makers of weird laws also suffer from "committee syndrome" where the decisions of a group are almost always worse than that of individuals. Hence, Libertarians believe that you make the best decisions in your life, not the government.
Let's look at some of the stupid laws and policies that have been proposed, and are on the books and in practice. I'll bet we all get a smile from what some of the chuckle heads in government have been proposing and voting into law.
The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law really has little to do with campaign finance reform. It mainly has to do with stifling free speech, and giving incumbents an advantage.
Concealed firearms carry permit requirements are a way of regulating our right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. We don't pay a fee and get licensed for our other enumerated rights, well, not yet anyway. Learn about how concealed weapons permit is unnecessary, and constitutes an infringement on our enumerated civil rights.
Hate crime legislation makes special categories of people, and that's not "equal protection" no matter how you slice it. I despise the idea of hate crime laws.
Abuse of Power
The Social Security Administration put new rules into effect in 1993 and 2002 that cause those that opt out of Medicare to automatically lose their social security benefits. If you choose not to participate in Medicare, then you are denied social security too! What's more, these rules were put into effect without the required public comment process, so they were established illegally. There is a lawsuit ongoing that challenges these rules that are just like laws - more stupid laws. Read about people declined social security benefits here.
A city law was proposed recently that created a $750 fine and 6 months in jail for having your pet unrestrained and off of your property. I suppose Frisbee in the park must now be done on a leash.
Rent control is one of the more famous of the stupid laws. It violates the rights of private property owners. How about we pass a law called "government control"?
Here in Cheyenne they ban smoking in public places and the law specifically includes private clubs. Is this newspeak according to George Orwell, or just plain doublespeak? Regardless, a smoking ban is one of the stupid laws that violate private property rights.
I got to speak at a Wyoming House Committee hearing on a ban on smoking in public places. You might find some of the details of the hearing to be of interest.
Some of the other presenters at the committee hearing offered that the effects of secondhand smoke are exaggerated and sometimes outright lies.
Have you ever heard of banning sod and types of grass? Well, I have, and it's another case of stupid laws and rules issued by government types that don't appreciate freedom and free enterprise. The outcome of the original sod ban initiative was a set of water restrictions, but it still represents more silly thinking on the part of government types that don't recognize the simple law of supply and demand in a market economy.
Protecting us from Terrible Things
State organizations that issue prestige license plates are known for having a list of letter and number combinations that are forbidden. So how can you get vanity license plates that read: "SHAT" when the government so carefully protects us from such terrible things? Simply go to a government agency that has lots of books of forbidden combinations of letters, but doesn't have a dictionary.
Open alcohol container laws are an attempt to keep people from drinking while driving. So, why not ban that instead of making us all put the recycling center bottles and cans in the trunk?
There are state laws that prohibit bumper stickers from having offensive content. Who's to say what is offensive? What happened to free speech. Let's ban the words Clinton, Bush, Obama, McCain, Kerry, Feinstein, Schumer, Obama and Kennedy from our bumpers because I find those words offensive.
New York has a ban on serving food in a restaurant made with trans fats yet they don't have a ban on selling cigarettes with tar and nicotine. I suppose it's okay as long as you're not eating the cigarettes.
It seems that every few years, the permissible blood alcohol content gets lowered. It catches more people, but not more drunks. Soon we'll be unable to legally operate a motor vehicle after having used mouthwash.
The latest in stupid laws for 2009 takes the form of bills and ordinances that address distracted driving. Here, we are trying to ban a list of activities that people shouldn't be doing while driving. Things like text messaging, using a cell phone and having a drink. Our focus should be on how the vehicle is operated, not the potential causes of inability to safely operate a vehicle - that list would be quite lengthy.
What were They Thinking?
Generally all the gun control measures are an attempt by law to influence the behavior of the lawless. All the while, they make unarmed victims out of the law-abiding. Instead of gun control, let's focus on criminal control.
Not too long ago, a group in Wyoming was trying to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to offer a sheep herder a job. They could seek other employment, but no one could offer them other employment. Isn't this meddling with free will and free enterprise?
When I look at all these stupid laws, silly laws and weird laws, I begin to wonder if we really have what it takes for self-government.
Our stupid laws are really only a reflection of the ignorance, arrogance and lack of fair-minded people we have voted into office. We're more concerned with what is popular instead of what is right. We're also afraid to be free and let others be free.
If we sit back and say nothing to those in office, then we get what we deserve - more stupid laws that infringe upon our individual liberty. I'm a Libertarian, so I stand up and speak up for common sense, reasonableness and fairness, something that many of our laws lack.
Done with Stupid Laws, take me Home