Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Absurdity of the State

From Fair Play by Steven Landsburg:

Beware of those who pontificate about “the majesty of the law.”
We live in New York State, where they’ve outlawed those little clicky things on the gas pumps – the ones you use to keep the gas flowing while you walk around to check your oil. At some moment in the past, some New York State legislators must have gathered some colleagues around him and said, “We’ve got to do something about those little clicky things,” and they all nodded sagely. That’s the majesty of the law.
 I love this. It's a bit dated. The book was published in 1997, and as far as I can tell the law is no longer on the books. But it accurately points out the silliness of the people who write our laws. We like to think that government is a deliberative process, whereby upstanding citizens who most accurately represent their constituents aggregate the preferences and interests of the public. They wisely weigh costs and benefits and skillfully craft rules that optimize how our society functions. Instead we get laws against gas pump lever locks.

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