The good, the bad and the unnecessary

Looks like 2010 is finally here. Not only is it a new decade, it came with a number of new restrictions, laws and regulations…40,697 new laws at last count.

Looks like 2010 is finally here. Not only is it a new decade, it came with a number of new restrictions, laws and regulations…40,697 new laws at last count.

Not that we don’t have enough of them—let’s create 66,000 more and we will all be safe. In fact, let’s just give up our rights and lock everyone up for our own good and eat only what the Food and Drug Administration approves. Soon we won’t even be able to make the choice between paper and plastic bags. That would all mean a big thanks to our state legislatures. Or not.

According to CNN News, “Legislatures in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico met in 2009, leading to the enactment of 40,697 laws, many of which take effect Jan. 1.” Among these laws, there are some rather peculiar ones worth mentioning.

A Californian measure that limits the use of trans fat in restaurant cooking. Enacted in 2008, it requires restaurants to use oils, margarines and shortenings that have less than half a gram of trans fat per serving. A similar provision will apply to baked goods in 2011. This is good, right? Why the baked goods come later is kind of weird. Maybe in Oregon they should start putting calories next to Starbucks drinks too. New York does, why don’t we?

First-time college freshmen and transfer students in Texas must be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis before moving in on campus. Not that this is bad—in fact, it’s really good because who wants meningitis? What is strange is why Texan colleges only list only that disease.

In Louisiana, novelty lighters that appeal to children—including lighters that look like toys or make sounds—are no longer be allowed. The law does not apply, however, to lighters made before Jan. 1, 1980. A similar bill in Oregon banned novelty lighters too this past summer, though the Oregonian bill is a worthless piece of legislation. H.R. 2050 prohibits the introduction, or delivery for introduction via interstate commerce, of novelty lighters, with an exception for lighters that are “considered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to be an antique or an item with significant artistic value.”

In other words, if a famous artist made a Hello Kitty lighter, you can buy it, but not the ones at the Plaid Pantry. The exceptions on these bills, and any bills for that matter, is like the fine print on all the TV advertisements that try to persuade you to give them your gold for cash. Ridiculous.

Next, under California SB 492, registered gang members face steeper fines and up to one year in jail if they hang around schools within 72 hours of being warned to leave.

What bothers me the most is the fact that the laws our states make are always written after something bad happens. It is never to prevent something, and always to prevent something from happening again. And is 72 hours of being warned to leave even enough? I would think they should not be there in the first place, but three days later is OK to come back. The fact a gang member can hang around a school at all, unless warned, is my primary concern.

And lastly, the tanning bed ban. When I went to the gym the other day in hopes to go tanning, 24 Hour Fitness told me I can’t because apparently, they no longer want to support “cancer.” Excessively tanning before you are 35 is bad, yes, but banning it completely is just as bad. I understand the idea behind the ban if people in Hawaii who get sunshine every day go tanning for no reason, but in Portland, where it is like the storm from The Day After Tomorrow eight months out of the year, getting ultraviolet rays significantly improves the seasonal depression.

America is so weird sometimes. We make laws to protect ourselves and then we complain about them. We make more laws every year and when we break them, we claim it’s not our fault. We think certain things are OK but others are wrong. And for the same reasons why we hate our country, we love it just as much. Where else in the world can you buy Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade that supports breast cancer? Yeah, drink alcohol because liver cancer is better than breast cancer. Hands down.