Monday, June 30, 2008

Dumb Laws

Before we ask the government to legislate all the details of our lives, perhaps we should ask how well it has done so far.

The answer: not very well. Check out a new blog series, Dumb Laws, from the Club for Growth.

The Club describes the blog as "a collection of truly dumb laws from across the country that we have sorted by state. For instance, Los Angeles banned the sale of bacon hot dogs. People in Pennsylvania are stirring up another Whiskey Rebellion after Allegheny County passed a beer tax. And the U.S. Senate just had a resolution this week honoring dirt. To learn about more dumb laws, go here."

In South Carolina, where the Bastiat Society is headquartered, the entry reads:

1. State law requires an individual to complete 1,500 hours of instruction to become a cosmetologist. It takes more hours of licensing to become a cosmetologist in SC than it does to become a police officer (396 hours) or carry a concealed weapon (8 hours).

2. Caskets and Stones, a retail funeral store in Greenwood, submitted their license application, paid their fee, were scheduled to go before the Board of Funeral Directors, and were told they could open. But then the Board gave them a “cease and desist” order - essentially telling them to stop selling caskets. The Board fined them $1,500 for “opening before their Board appointment.” They had to pay it before they could get their license.

3. Fortune Tellers are required to obtain a special permit in order to operate in South Carolina.

4. A proposed bill would require high school football and basketball playoff games to have replay for officials to use during these games.

5. Barbering schools are required by law to have at least ten instructional chairs -and those chairs are required by law to be upholstered and finished exactly the same way.

6. In 2003, a bill was introduced that would have required all drinking straws in South Carolina be sold in individual wrappers. The bill almost led to a fist fight on the House floor.

7. The fourth Friday in October in each year is designated by law in public schools as Frances Willard Day, and each public school is required “to prepare and render a suitable program on the day to the end that the children of the state may be taught the evils of intemperance.”

8. Circuses cannot exceed 48 hours at one place in any one year.

9. If a menu or advertisement states “frozen dessert,” it must correctly state the specific frozen dessert that is offered for sale so as not to mislead the consumer.

10. Musical instruments are not allowed to be sold on Sunday.

"Dumb law" is what happens when we rely on legislation to handle the details of a society. Legislation is a blunt instrument, effective for protecting private property rights, but more laughable than helpful when it tries to deal with the fine details of living, things like musical instruments, frozen desserts, and drinking straws.

No comments: