Creative Destruction

May 10, 2006

Stupid laws

Filed under: Politics — bazzer @ 8:58 am

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?



  1. Unless Silver is against having blocks of bars (like we have in Chicago), he does not really have a point. If the residents wanted the bars closed, they could petition to pass a sound ordinance and have the bars moved. If the intoxicated customers posed a huge problem, extra police patrol could handle it. But as far as I have seen, most people who live near a slew of bars either deal with it or do not mind.

    This sounds more like the current trend of enforcing “morality” in the guise of public safety.

    Comment by toysoldier — May 10, 2006 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  2. This sounds more like the current trend of enforcing “morality” in the guise of public safety.

    Actually, I think it’s more of a trend of “look at me, I’m striking a pose, aren’t I so moral?” than anything idealogical.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — May 11, 2006 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  3. If the population of an area wants to elect a hardline official to crack down on crime, pollution, and spending, they must understand that these individuals generally do not bother with respecting other people’s rights.

    At issue is the right to assemble and the right to trade as limited by the bill of rights. 20 years ago, municipalities tried to stop porn shops from opening, the passed laws, but they eventually were found unconstitutional. Then the same officials tried to change zoning to force the porn shops out of their nice little neighborhood. Once again, the public policy expection was found to be unconstitutional. The fact is that zoning in urban centers in a free enterprise culture is quite restricted.

    Does not stop municipalities headed by hard line guys from enacting these laws. Even the law where bars cannot allow smokers is at best unconstitutional. Goods who are sold legally for which taxes are levied, cannot be prohibited without a constitutional amendment like the prohibition.

    Comment by Vilon — May 11, 2006 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

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