The Prescient Tarkington

A Deseret News reporter recently ran a story about the tendency of governments to forget about laws on the books, and then re-legislate what has already been legislated. The motivation for the article was the kickoff of new local and national legislative sessions. But the flashpoint connection was… an AC/DC concert in 1991 during which 3 people died.

That part of the article is interesting enough, but what caught my eye was Jay Evanson’s invoking of a passage from The Turmoil in 1915:

Law-making was a pastime of the people; nothing pleased them more. Singular fermentation of their humor, they even had laws forbidding dangerous speed. More marvelous still, they had a law forbidding smoke! They forbade chimneys to smoke and they forbade cigarettes to smoke. They made laws for all things and forgot them immediately; though sometimes they would remember after a while, and hurry to make new laws that the old laws should be enforced — and then forget both new and old. Wherever enforcement threatened money or votes — or wherever it was too much to bother — it became a joke. Influence was the law.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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