Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Hammer Syndrome

As the old adage goes. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. And as I see it, that seems to be the root of some of the problems today. We have a whole crop of lawmakers at the city, state and national level that seem to think that since their job is to propose, draft and enact laws, that is their solution to any problem that crops up. For example, I give you the Chicago baggie crisis. The Chicago Times article mysteriously disappeared, so all I have is the laughter over the rest of the web.

I can just see the logic train on this one. OMG! We have a drug problem. I know this because I found all these little baggies on my stroll through the park today. Well, by golly, we're gonna have to DO SOMETHING. Well, let's just make a law banning those Eeevil baggies. There, now don't we all just feel better?

Because, all the other laws that make illegal drug sales, possesion, and use exactly that, illegal aren't good enough.

Sometimes DOING SOMETHING isn't necessarily the correct action. Because, in cases like this we end up attacking a symptom, and not the root problem. I'm no expert, but banning baggies seems to me to be a long way from solving the drug problem. It would make sense to me to prosecute and imprison the drug trafficers and stop mollycoddling them. If you're solution to a problem is by making something only preipherally related illegal, you're not doing anything about the problem. This is happening all over the place. Guns happen to be used in some crimes, so let's make guns illegal. We just have to look to England or Washington D.C. to see how effective that was.

So, we have a group of people with the idea that a hammer is their only tool and a problem perceived as important crops up. And, bingo, we have the situation we're in today. Politicians running around spewing out statutes left and right with no regard to whether or not they are effective to the problem or even appropriate.

Maybe we need to realize that not everything is a nail.

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