Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Got a problem? Pass a law! :P

Pet peeve of mine: People who seem to believe that the best way to address any problem is by passing a law.

Example: In the area of Green Bay, with escalating gas prices, there has recently been a problem with people pumping gas and then driving off without paying for it. At roughly $4/gallon, even small cars are typically paying more than $30 for a fill up, so this is not an insignificant problem.

When someone steals gas, the gas station owner calls the cops, who track down the thief. With the ubiquity of cameras these days, I can't imagine it's all that difficult to figure out who the thief is [footnote]. The problem is that, once caught, the thief offers to pay for the gas, and, now that he's got his money, the gas station owner declines to prosecute.

The police are understandably irritated by this, as it basically puts them in the position of acting as collection agents for the gas stations. The proposed remedy is to require gas stations to collect payment before turning on the pump. Article here.

It's a dumb idea. Here's a better one: If the cops go through the trouble of chasing down the thief and the gas station owner then declines to prosecute, how about the police politely explain that they don't have infinite resources to be chasing these people down all the time, so if the gas station owner isn't willing to press charges, the police aren't going to bother the next time someone swipes some gas from that station?

That would solve this problem real fast, and, most importantly, it would have no impact whatsoever on law abiding citizens, unlike the "must pay in advance" idea.

Seriously, I fail to understand why it isn't just done that way already.

Generally, I am strongly opposed to "solutions" to problems that affect people who weren't part of the problem in the first place. Sure, sometimes it's unavoidable, but not in this case.


Footnote: Actually, cameras are so ubiquitous now that it makes me wonder how anyone can be so stupid as to think they can get away with anything.


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