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Yes, Stupid Laws Can Kill People

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David Harsanyi writes: After news of the baffling decision by the New York grand jury not to indict a police officer in the killing of Eric Garner, I sent out a (slightly) hyperbolic tweet that wondered why Americans would want to entrust their free speech and health care to an institution that will kill you over failure to pay a cigarette tax.

Since then, I’ve seen numerous tweets discounting this argument as preposterous. It’s something akin to blaming jaywalking for the death of Michael Brown, we’re told. Rand Paul touched on the issue in an interview on msnbc yesterday and was, predictably, ridiculed for it by smokes-1024x717-385x270liberals – because mentioning the circumstances of a violent act is preposterous, apparently.

Though it certainly isn’t close to being the most important lesson of this inexplicable case, it’s not something that should be dismissed so flippantly.

Garner wasn’t targeted for death because he was avoiding taxes, but nonetheless, prohibitive cigarette taxes unnecessarily create situations that make events like this possible.

We frame violent acts and unintended consequences in this way all the time. When we discuss how illegal immigrant women can be the helpless victims of domestic violence, we also blame unreasonable laws for creating the situation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysis: Bad Managers Ruined Obamacare

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Politicians can’t talk their way out of a technological mess

Glenn Harlan Reynolds  writes: The Obamacare rollout remains a debacle, but now enough time has passed that smart people are beginning to dissect what went wrong. So far, the best take I’ve seen comes from Internet pioneer Clay Shirky, who notes that the politicians weren’t listening to the people doing the actual work.

I was talking about this to my Administrative Law class not long ago. I had told them that there are few real secrets in D.C. because everyone sleeps with everyone else. A student then asked why both the administration and the GOP seemed to have been blindsided by the Obamacare website problems. “I guess nobody was sleeping with the techies,” was my response.

Shirky leaves out sex as an explanation — always a mistake where Washington is concerned — but he does focus on communication, and on the problems with having big tech programs run by people who don’t actually understand the technology.

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Time to Stop the Special Perks of Politics

Time to Stop the Special Perks of Politics

If there’s anything that’s fundamentally un-American, it’s the burgeoning system of politicians bestowing on themselves special privileges that are largely unavailable to the public — that is, the people who elect them and pay their salaries.

As Glenn Reynolds pointed out in USA Today, special laws around the country give some states’ politicians special gun rights, legal immunity and a variety of other perks.  It’s a disgusting practice that needs to stop.  It’s impossible for our elected representatives to “represent” us properly if they are living a life that’s insulated from many of the onerous laws or regulations they inflict on the rest of us — or, more generally, if they’re a special “protected class.”

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