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Stupid laws

So I guess New York has some stupid law that won't grant a permit for bars within 500 feet of one another. You can be forgiven for not knowing this law even existed, since waivers are handed out routinely. Waivers are, in fact, more the rule than the exception.

And Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is pissed off about it! He says the state has granted far, far too many exceptions, and that it's high time to crack down and get tough and start enforcing the law.

A law that's almost never enforced should indeed raise a red flag, but I still question Silver's response. Maybe the law was sidestepped so frequently because it's dumb and arbitrary? Perhaps the most sensible course of action would be to repeal it altogether?

Silver tries to justify the ban on "quality of life" concerns:

"People have a right to a good night's sleep free of excessive and overt disturbances," he said. "They have a right to neighborhoods that are not being continuously scarred by vandalism, mischief and obscenity, and they have a right to walk down their neighborhood streets without being accosted every few feet by someone who is out of control."

All right, fine. But the problem is that the law doesn't prevent bars within 500 feet of residential neighborhoods. It prevents bars within 500 feet of... another bar. If anything, it seems the law would have the effect of spreading bars further and further into new neighborhoods, and actually increasing their impact on residential communities.

So what's your point, Shel? Because I really don't get it. It seems that more and more, our nation's laws are becoming bizarrely disconnected from the actual problem they're purportedly trying to solve. Am I the only one who's noticed this trend?


The question is whether lawmakers are so stupid they can't see the disconnect and the unintended consequences of these laws, or whether they are just blowing smoke hoping for votes from stupid people. I think it is some of both.

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