25 May 2011

"Do Something!" laws that can't even do that.

Reason: Hit & Run | Jacob Sullum | Be Thankful You Can Still Buy That Jumbo Bottle of Tylenol

But I guess I should consider myself lucky that I can still, in the Land of the Free, waltz into a Walmart or Costco anytime I feel like it and load up on as much acetaminophen or aspirin as I want. That is not true of Brits with headaches, as Stephen J. Dubner recently explained at the Freakonomics blog. A 1998 law aimed at preventing suicides limits sales to 32 tablets per transaction in pharmacies and 16 in other retail outlets.
This is the sort of law that really grinds my gears. Forget about libertarianism. This is a stupid law if you're the sort of person that believes that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.

Let's just say that the State needs to protect people from their own suicidal feelings by limiting sales of certain drugs. That's the goal. Why, oh why why why! would you place different limits on the number of tylenol someone could buy in a drug store than they can elsewhere?

If more than 16 tablets are dangerous, why make them legal at pharmacies?* If >16 tablets aren't dangerous, why make them illegal at groceries?

(* And frankly, it is dangerous, though no more so than dozens of other compounds you can buy without restriction like drain cleaner.)

This not only fails to stop the potential suicide who is too lazy or inept to go to more than one store, it fails to stop the person who refuses to shop at a pharmacy.

Even assuming that the liberty to buy acetaminophen is too hot for our hands and too cold for our spines, this law doesn't even succeed in protecting us from ourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment