i "stole" this from another forum i visit. good read and bipartisan so i should hear to much politcal screaming from you guys [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_n_32.gif[/img]
Tigers, snowmobiles, and Sudafed: There oughta (not) be a law
By Bill Winter
Here's the best legal advice you'll get in 2005: Don't let your pet tiger drive a snowmobile across a not-quite-frozen lake and then buy three packages of Sudafed at a drugstore. If you do, you'll get into hot water. Which is defined as water that's at least 120 degrees. In Louisiana, anyway.
If that doesn't make any sense, you haven't been following news reports about all the state laws that went into effect on January 1.
That's right. Laws regulating pet tigers, snowmobiles, cold medicine, and hot water took effect on New Year's Day -- along with hundreds of other laws in 19 states. It's a tough call, but the most eye-rollingly foolish one may be Louisiana's "hot" water decree.
According to politicians, Louisiana faced an ominous threat: the hot water in some laundromats wasn't hot enough. (I'll pause while you gasp in horror.) Some folks complained that their clothes weren't getting clean.
The solution? It's obvious, isn't it? Let the free market work. If customers aren't happy with the hot water at a laundromat, they'll find a better facility. Eventually, good laundromats with satisfactorily hot water will get more business and bad ones will go bankrupt. Right?
You must not be from Louisiana. The correct answer is: pass a new law. So they did. Now, every Louisiana laundromat is required to produce 120-degree water for its washing machines. If they don't, the owner must post a sign saying, "Hot water not available." Presumably, thermometer-wielding police will enforce the law, instead of wasting their time solving murders.
New Hampshire faced a different crisis. Bored by the approximately 11 months of winter they endure each year, some state residents were driving their snowmobiles at high speed across iced-over lakes and then "skimming" across patches of open water. For those who didn't drown, this was allegedly fun.
State politicians weren't amused. So they passed a law making skimming illegal. "The new law against skimming will save lives," a Fish and Game Department employee solemnly told the Concord Monitor. Sure it will. Because lunatics who ride snowmobiles over open water in frigid weather are exactly the kind of thoughtful citizens most likely to obey such laws.
Then there's the tiger problem. In 2003, a knucklehead living in a tiny Harlem apartment was hospitalized after his pet -- a 400-pound Bengal tiger -- gnawed his arm and leg. New York politicians, eager to solve a problem that occurs, on average, once in a lifetime, passed a law making it a crime to keep wild animals as pets. To put, ahem, teeth into the law, they levied a $500 fine for the first offense.
Consider the thinking: The possibility of having limbs chewed into human tartar by a tiger's razor-sharp teeth is not enough to prevent people from keeping savage jungle cats as pets. But a $500 fine -- ah, that will do the trick.
Finally, there's cold medicine. In Illinois, it's now a crime to buy more than two packages of over-the-counter cold medication at a time. Such medicines (like Sudafed) contain pseudoephedrine, which, when combined with other chemicals and criminal intent, can produce methamphetamine.
Since previous laws designed to stamp out "meth" hadn't succeeded, politicians figured that one more regulation would do the trick. And since those other laws, which targeted drug manufacturers and dealers, had failed, legislators cleverly turned their sights on people with colds, who now risk criminal charges if they try to stock up on medicine.
All this raises an obvious question. Why do politicians pass such foolish laws? That's easy. It's what politicians do. And American politicians do it more than almost anyone else.
Consider: on New Year's Day, 88 new laws went into effect in China, according to the Financial Express newspaper. That's China, which has 1.3 billion people. The totalitarian Communist nation. Where its rulers have traditionally controlled every aspect of citizen's lives. Yet, only 88 new laws were required to keep China functioning smoothly for another year.
By contrast, politicians in North Carolina last year passed 216 new laws. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers cranked out "nearly 240 bills," according to the Associated Press. In Louisiana, the Legislature enacted a whopping 930 new laws at its regular session -- and then, realizing that the job wasn't quite done, passed 14 more at a special session. California politicians, not to be outdone, managed to pass "about 950 bills," according to the Sacramento Bee, before, presumably, collapsing from exhaustion. That's 2,350 new laws in just four states (leaving 46 other states where politicians were assuredly just as busy.)
What can be done? As a good American, my first thought was that we should pass a new law -- making it illegal for politicians to pass so many new laws. Then I reconsidered. Because if the laws regulating pet tigers, snowmobiles, cold medicine, and hot water are any indication, new laws are not the solution. New laws are the problem. Oops. Can I say that? Or is there a law against it? I better check.