Laws aren’t a guarantee for a better-functioning society, but that doesn’t stop legislators from rolling out a fresh batch of laws each January 1. Starting this year, kids in Washington state must be strapped into rear-facing car seats until 2 years old and booster seats until they reach the height of 4’ 9”. Many middle schoolers will now ride to sixth and seventh grade perched on car seats formerly reserved for preschoolers.
Oregon banned using plastic bags at the grocery store for nearly all purchases, and California prohibits discrimination against hairstyles including dreadlocks and cornrows. All new homes built in California must install solar panels, an additional cost of about $10,000.
It would be nice if additional laws kept citizens safer and helped society run better, but our overcrowded jails and prisons say otherwise. A safe, moral, well-functioning society depends on choices made at the individual level. It’s illegal to drink excessively and operate a motor vehicle, but drunk drivers kill people every year. It’s illegal to shoot, stab, or strangle another person to death, but murders still occur. If more people would make better choices, society overall would improve. But we have to take individual compliance into account, which is where wrongdoers take the crooked path.
Law enforcement officers can punish parents for not putting their diminutive twelve-year-olds in a backless booster. Regulators can halt the distribution of disposable plastic shopping bags. Home inspectors can refuse to issue permits to solar panel-less homes. But society won’t be improved, it will just be more regulated.