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Feel Good Laws are Dumb

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 1
1/10/2014


By Taylor Ramsey

Well, it is the beginning of 2014 and we saw many articles and television pieces reviewing 2013 in the news. I reviewed what I have written on these pages and expressed in other forms over the past year or so too. My complaints regarding our elected officials seem to have a common theme. They have to do with making decisions and laws based on the “heart” or what I call “feel good” legislation. They are well intentioned but, in my opinion, they do not think them through which results in very bad laws and actions for all of us. Here are a few examples.

Many cities, including Long Beach came up with the Gun Buy-Back program to remove guns and rifles from the community. Their goal is to reduce the number of guns out there and hopefully decrease the amount of illegal use of guns by some of our citizens. In a past column I asked one question. Did any bad guys drop by to sell guns to the City of Long Beach? I doubt it very much and the city of Long Beach has less money in the checkbook. The program felt good though.

You ever wonder about the car-pool lanes on our freeways in California? How many of the vehicles in those lanes are actually filled with people who are commuting with strangers or friends who would have taken their own car if not for the car pool lane? The original idea sure felt good, but the percentage of real car-poolers is small compared to the number of people who use the lane knowing full well they and their passengers, such as a family or friends, were taking only one car in the first place. How about this idea? We can create a new lane and gain about 20 percent more capacity on most of our freeways very inexpensively by removing the car pool signs and re-striping the pavement.

Back to the Affordable Care Act. Does it make sense that Obama Care depends on our youngest adults, who usually earn the least amount of money early in their careers, to buy insurance at higher rates to support the older and more wealthy among us? Just ask a young guy and he will say this is another part of the ACA that is not fair and quite simply is dumber than dirt. At least the president and those who voted for it can feel good about helping us.

The plastic bag ban in our local stores makes no sense to me. When this law was passed I wondered why they chose one item, such as plastic bags, and neglected other stuff that creates even more trash? If this were a solid idea and law, then our elected officials have no choice but to eliminate all products that end up in our streets and water. Maybe City Hall should mandate that we use our own silverware, plates, glasses, and cloth napkins when we frequent a fast food establishment. Why not? Debris from fast food restaurants overwhelms our neighborhoods and enters our coastal waters. Additionally, has anyone provided the numbers regarding our footprint on the environment between creating plastic bags versus cloth bags? There are slobs out there no matter what the law says and trash in our community continues, but hey, it sure felt good to ban something.

I wrote about E-Cigarettes in the past and this still amazes me. The City of Lakewood has passed a law that treats E-Cigarettes much like cigarettes. Original non-smoking bans were based on smoke interfering with those who do not wish to breathe second-hand smoke and to address our health for us. The fact is: E-cigarettes have nothing to do with tobacco. E-Cigs have no tobacco, provide a good alternative to stopping smoking cigarettes and create only water vapor as a by-product, yet, our astute city leaders have determined that E-Cigs should be treated much the same as tobacco products. Being irrational must feel good.

There are two Los Angeles County Supervisors who are asking the board to consider placing the cross symbol back on the county seal. What is astounding is that they must make the request in the first place. Back in 2004 the ACLU was able to scare the Board of Supervisors into removing the cross. They said there must be a separation of church and state. Well, the board decided the ACLU was correct and removed the cross from the seal. They completely ignored the fact that the county seal depicts our history and our history definitely includes the San Gabriel Mission and the cross on top of the mission. It felt good to make a few people happy and disregard history.

That is about all I have room for in this column, but there are many more feel good laws out there. How about the non-bullet train? Why stop at $10 an hour in 2016 for a minimum wage, no matter your skills, when $30 an hour sounds much better? There are many more laws that felt good to enact and I bet you can provide your own examples. Hint, they are not thought all the way through, usually feel good and in the long run do more harm than good.
Check out this quote by Indian author, Ritu Chatourey. “No matter how smart you are, the matters of the heart will always make you dumb.”

taylor@longbeachcomber.com