5 Laws Everyone Would Hate (That the World Needs Anyway)
You people need help. Whether you want to admit it or not, sometimes, a higher authority needs to swoop in and tell you how to live your life. That's why laws exist. We aren't always happy about them, but life requires rules and regulations, lest everything devolve into chaos and anarchy.
Even with all of the laws we currently have on the books, there are still some areas of life that could use a little more regulation and oversight than they're getting right now. We talk about a few of them on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
No Reclining Seats on Airplanes (Coach Only)
Have you heard about the Knee Defender? It's a $20 gadget that airline passengers can clip on to their seat tray. When in place, it prevents the person in front of you from reclining in their seat. The device became famous when it caused a disagreement between two travelers on a flight from Newark to Denver. Things got so unruly the plane was forced to land in Chicago so the rowdy patrons could be ejected and dealt with appropriately.
Now, guess what happened when that story broke? Right, traffic to the Knee Defender website was such that it overwhelmed the servers and knocked the site offline for a while. Also, they sold a shit ton of Knee Defenders.
It's the size of a key! A huge, unwieldy, thick gray plastic key!
Think about what that means. People all around this country, perhaps around the world, read a story about an incendiary device capable of sparking flight-diverting battles in the sky and, without hesitation, decided to pick up a war machine of their very own.
Conflict is coming to the skies, and if you ask me, it's long overdue, because here's the thing -- you're a goddamn monster if you recline in your seat on an airplane. In my perfect version of the world, seats that recline would be banned on most flights. Is that extra 15 degrees of recline really helping you sleep? Probably not. Meanwhile, the person behind you has a few inches of personal space taken away in an environment where inches can determine whether you carry your belongings on the flight with you or if they get put on the wrong plane and rerouted to New Jersey.
Coming soon to an episode of Doctor Who near you!
Space is everything on an airplane, and reclining your seat means there is less of it available for the person behind you. The Knee Defender wouldn't exist if this shit wasn't a problem, and now that it does exist, we should only expect the problem to get worse.
I say we avoid it altogether and just make it a hard rule that seats on airplanes don't recline. Well, I should clarify, I'm only referring to people flying coach. Like any other law, this one obviously wouldn't apply to rich people who can afford to fly around in those extra-roomy numbers like in the movie Inception.
Spread out all you want if you have that much room. As for everyone else, sorry, not being "buy an airline" rich means life gets to be just a little less awesome for you. Specifically, sit the fuck up when you're flying coach. Everyone is uncomfortable, who granted you special permission to be that to a lesser degree than the rest of us? Are you the Mayor of Airplane City? No, you're just another aggravated traveler who doesn't need additional shit from the people around you. Stop being that additional shit for everyone else.
For too long, the airlines have given travelers who lack any semblance of a conscience free rein to get comfortable at the expense of others. As proven by the existence of the Knee Defender, this battle for personal space is fast approaching its boiling point, and it's the responsibility of the various airlines around the world to make sure that doesn't happen. Taking the ability to recline away from everyone in coach would fix the problem immediately, no matter how much the complete and total assholes who insist on reclining their seats might hate it.
Concert and Sporting Event Tickets Cannot Be Resold
Did you have big plans to attend a concert or sporting event that have since fallen through? Would you like to recoup some of your losses by reselling your tickets on the "secondary" market at a site like StubHub? Personally, I don't think you should be allowed to.
The reason is simple -- that shit is getting way out of hand. It was one thing when companies like Ticketmaster just sold tickets and left the black market price gouging to those sketchy scalpers who stand outside every concert or those early pioneers who resold tickets on eBay. That was fine, because at least we knew exactly who was fucking us (everybody) and what form the fucking would take.
If you were dealing with Ticketmaster, it was the fees. Printing tickets is hard, how ever would they accomplish such a task without $64 in additional service charges?
More like Ticketbastards.
On the other hand, if you were dealing with a reseller, you could totally avoid those fees, you'd just pay hundreds of dollars more for the ticket and, potentially, be informed that it's a fake when you finally try to gain access to the venue.
It's not like that anymore, though. Now, "legitimate" ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and Live Nation buddy right the fuck up with unsavory reseller sites right off the bat. Now, when trying to buy tickets at face value, it's not unusual to find yourself being redirected to a "partner site" where tickets are resold at huge profit margins when what you're looking for isn't available. The show doesn't even have to be sold out. An entire class-action lawsuit sprung up in response to this practice after Ticketmaster redirected thousands of Bruce Springsteen fans to a site called Ticketsnow.com without giving them any warning.
Bruce was bummed too.
That's especially problematic for an act like Springsteen, who tends to sell out huge swaths of arena space minutes after his shows go on sale. So, on that day, if you searched for the tickets you wanted and they weren't available, you were redirected to Tickets Now, where you could either buy those tickets at an insane markup or go "get back in line" to see what cheaper tickets might still be available at Ticketmaster. Of course, by that time, the answer will be "none."
So what's the solution? Easy, treat event tickets like airline tickets. If you want to buy them solely to resell them for profit, well, you can't. That's already illegal in some places with event tickets, definitely not a thing you can do with plane tickets. So, that's part one. No more ticket reselling. Ever.
Don't worry, the StubHub ticket tree will still live on in your nightmares.
Relax, I know what you're going to say. You bought tickets to see Katy Perry, and now your grandmother died so you can't go. First, yes you can. Katy Perry is amazing and grandma never really loved you if she has a problem with you skipping her mope-fest to check out the sweet sounds of "Teenage Dream" performed live.
If you insist on attending the funeral, what becomes of your tickets? Easy: provided you've given the venue proper notice, they must refund your ticket. They can just resell it. If it doesn't sell, they shouldn't book such shitty shows.
So, that. No reselling of concert or sporting event tickets and mandatory refunds directly from the ticket seller. Sure, the only people this law would anger are the scalpers of the world, but as long as someone's angry, that's good enough for me.
Now, let's make everyone mad.
Mandatory Driving Tests When Renewing Your License
Yep, fuck you. Learn to drive. All of you. Even me. Just joking, I don't own a car! Still, I am in traffic occasionally, and inept road technique infuriates me as much as anyone else.
So, with that in mind, I'd like to put forth a new law that requires an on-the-road driving test for anyone hoping to renew their drivers license. While it obviously wouldn't fix the problem altogether, it would go a long way toward ridding the roads of idiots who behave as if we're working with Mad Max amounts of open space on the nation's highways and interstates.
See, no matter what your stereotypes may lead you to believe to the contrary, bad drivers cannot be identified on the basis of age, ethnicity, or gender. Sure, all of those things help in the overall decision, but we need more information from everyone if we're going to finally get a handle on our road-rage-inducing behaviors in any sort of meaningful way. The information we need, specifically, is, "Can you motherfuckers still drive?"
A lot of you cannot. I know a lot of you personally, in fact, and I'm always amazed that there are adults in this world who, even after 20 years of driving, are still capable of fucking up such a simple task so routinely. Old people, young people, men, women -- it doesn't matter. There are just a lot of terrible drivers out there. So, what's the harm in making people prove they aren't one of them when it comes time to re-up at the DMV?
Yes, it would make the already nightmarish prospect of going to the DMV even more of a fiasco, but we'd adjust. Your local DMV would maybe even add a few new jobs to handle all the extra work (and to replace the employees who die in grisly traffic accidents while administering the driving tests), so that's a benefit, right?
Wait, which part is a benefit?
Or, if you don't want to take a driving test every few years, what if we just had someone watching us? I actually like that better. About a month before you're due to renew your license, the DMV dispatches a spy who will follow you around on the road for a few hours, unbeknownst to you, and then report their findings back to headquarters. If you reveal yourself to be a quality driver, you can skip the test. If you don't, no license for you until you get your shit together. Go take a driving test before you kill someone.
I trust that all sounds reasonable to everyone, so I'll just move on to the next point.
No Televised Advertising for Fast Food
Hey, when was the last time you saw a Marlboro commercial on television? Right, unless you're way older than practically everyone involved with what's happening here, you have literally never seen a televised cigarette commercial. Not until now, anyway!
In fact, the restrictions on advertising are such that tobacco companies are no longer allowed to sponsor sporting events or sell their logo on hats and apparel.
Eventually, the hope is that all cigarette advertising will just be black text on a white background. None of that matters to people smoking right now, but if your childhood doesn't involve images of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble chain-smoking Winstons ...
I didn't even know they had cigarettes back in the prehistoric days.
... you at least stand a better chance of not becoming completely enamored with the idea of smoking.
We do all of this because, as has been proven time and again, smoking cigarettes can be extremely harmful to your health. By the time we pieced that together it was too late to just pull them off the shelves entirely (or is it?), so the next best option was to scale back the advertising capabilities of tobacco companies to the point that they might as well not advertise at all.
OK, so we've established that not allowing cigarette companies to advertise is a good thing because their product is detrimental to the health of this nation. With that in mind, how about we put a ban on stuff like this, too?
That's a commercial for one of the deadliest foods known to man, and it's aimed directly at children. Please, someone, tell me how this is different? I understand that there isn't secondhand smoke involved, but beyond that, what you see above is, for all intents and purposes, a commercial about how to set your kids up for a lifetime of health problems followed by an inevitable early death at the hands of Type II diabetes.
And who needs it? If the need for a fast food meal overcomes you right now, chances are you know how to take care of it without the help of an advertising agency. We know McDonald's and their peers are out there, and we will visit them if we need to. Fast food commercials don't exist to remind adults that McDonald's is an option for dinner tonight, they exist so kids learn that it's an option.
By the time most of us reached our early double digits, we'd been inundated with years of ads and jingles and shitty plastic toys from the various fast food establishments of the world. The presence of commercials touting sugary or otherwise terrible-for-you foods was every bit as prominent as anything you actually learned in school. Or, to quote my pal Tom Reimann, "I know who Mayor McCheese is and I don't even know who the mayor of the city I live in is."
The mayor of Los Angeles? It's Don Mattingly, dummy.
We know everything we need to know about fast food. As adults living in this world right now, we have zero use for fast food advertising. It's only real sway these days is with kids who love wacky (or terrifying) mascots and meals that include toys. We talk so much about the importance of keeping unhealthy foods out of the hands of our kids, but at the same time, we have no problem with McDonald's using the cartoon stars of a major motion picture to tell our kids that this is something we're wrong about. That makes no sense to me.
Fast food is a problem that will never be fixed completely, but we could make a lot of progress on that front if we treated McDonald's and their ilk as exactly what they are -- the cigarette companies of food.
Oh, hey, speaking of that, let's talk cigarettes some more!
Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Make cigarettes illegal. Fuck it, we'll adjust. In fact, it wouldn't be a terribly difficult adjustment to make. After all, it's not the tobacco that's keeping you addicted to cigarettes, it's the nicotine. Fortunately, you can get nicotine in all sorts of ways that don't involve inhaling strychnine and formaldehyde.
That's why tobacco prohibition could actually work, or at least it could work a lot better than our past attempts at prohibition. When we outlawed alcohol back in the 1920s, it left people who wanted to drink with no other choice than to seek their fix by illegal means. Eventually, wars broke out over who could illegally sell booze where. Some of our most beloved and well-known mass murders in history took place during this time, like the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.
Are you willing to do this for a cigarette?
Is that what we should expect in the unlikely event that cigarettes are someday outlawed? Personally, I suspect it wouldn't be that way at all. Again, unlike alcohol or marijuana, outlawing tobacco doesn't hinder anyone's ability to take in nicotine, it would just force people to find a new way to enjoy it. People would have to work their way through all manner of nicotine replacement products (gum, patches, e-cigarettes, weed) before finally deciding that a pack of Newports are worth breaking the law over. Will those people exist? Sure, but there won't be a lot of them.
Now, I do admit, this is a plan that does have some inherent drawbacks. For one, smoking always looks rad in pictures.
That's the closest I've been to a church in over three decades. Surprise!
So our profile pictures will surely suffer, but that's what Photoshop is for.
See? We'll still have fun!
Also, if you work in an office but aren't a smoker, what's the point in even taking a break? So you can go hate life while sitting in a different part of the office? Might as well stay at your desk. Not so with smokers. They cherish breaks. They look forward to them. They make them count. A ban on cigarettes will be a huge bummer for anyone in that group who can't make peace with using a vaporizer, but, again, that's going to be a small minority. Also, in time they'll realize it wasn't a cigarette they wanted during those breaks after all, but rather the desire to be outside and away from work for a few minutes. You don't need cigarettes for that, just go outside and walk around.
In general, though, people would adjust. There'd still be nicotine, it just wouldn't be wrapped in tar and rat poison. After a few years, rather than cleaning up alcohol prohibition-style bloodbaths on the regular, I suspect most of us will have just forgotten that cigarettes were ever a thing we "needed."
For more from Adam, check out 5 Recent Trends That Make It Hard to Trust the Police and 5 Everyday Activities That Should Require a License.
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