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Asinine laws show government at work, but for whom - citizens or lobbyists?

By Traci Ray
On April 21, 2010

We've all heard of some pretty asinine American laws – like the ones that used to be on the books legislating Jim Crow, interracial marriage and even spitting on the sidewalk.

 

But check out a modern one: In Texas, a criminal must give his or her victim 24 hours' notice and explain the nature if the crime to be committed, either orally or in writing. Failing to do so may earn you an additional criminal charge, at least in the state of Texas.

 

It sounds pretty unbelievable, right? Could anybody ever seriously think that would be an effective law? Even better, is this the best elected representatives can do? First of all, what's the point? Since this law obviously won't combat crime, it is intuitive that the aim is just to tack on additional prison time to those who are convicted.

 

Why not try to start initiatives to combat violence? Or create programs that may deter people would otherwise become criminals in the future?

 

How about another one, this time in Florida and Georgia, where many St. Petersburg and Atlanta, respectively, have laws banning "aggressive" panhandling. While nobody likes to be hassled for his or her hard-earned money, a law is definitely not needed to try to deter begging.

 

First, who's going to patrol the streets looking for aggressive panhandlers? Do you have to waste money hiring additional officers? Or do you allocate the duty among officers who already have enough, more important things to worry about and look out for on their beat?

 

Second, is this law really a deterrent? While it may deter many, it certainly won't deter all.

 

Instead of worrying about outlawing panhandling, why don't we look for – my, what a concept – solutions? Address the really problem – the issues that cause people to resort to begging, like drug problems, mental illness, lack of education and lack of job opportunities. Try to create more opportunities for job development in your area. Try to create programs to help these people develop better job skills. Stop putting addicts in jail for small amounts and get them into meaningful rehab.

 

With so many issues in society today, it would laughable if it weren't so sad that we pay American politicians are paid to come up with these "brilliant" ideas. I guess it's a lot easier than trying to pass laws to make sure everyone has a meal, especially when food establishment throw out tons of good food every day. Or to pass laws to make us less dependant on fuel, but what am I saying? Why should that occur when so many politicians have connections to oil companies and lobbyists are growing stronger every day in the U.S.?

Politicians are supposed to protect us. Have our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, many are only interested in lining their pockets. As a result, they pass laws that benefit the "pocket liners" at the cost, ultimately, of their constituents. The time that should be spent fulfilling campaign promises and listening to constituents' concerns is instead spent making frivolous and/or unnecessary laws.

 

We do not live in a utopia. Earth is not a perfect world. We created government as a way to keep order. We assume we are electing the best possible person to be our voice to the people in power.

 

Somewhere along the line, as American government has progressed, the value and importance of meaningful and sincere governance has gotten lost. That's why the newest generation of adults must be aware of what's going on in the political process and participate. President Obama cannot do it alone.


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