Sometimes the government oversteps the boundaries of what most people would consider to be reasonable, usually when a small but vocal minority get upset about a specific issue. While many of these regulations are laughable, they have often had real impact on real individuals and families. The great writer Neil Gaiman once said the following in his blog, “The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don’t. This is how the Law is made.” Case in point, 25 Stupid Government Regulations That Will Make You Shake Your Head.
West Virginia has laws that prohibit sleeping on trains. (What?) There's another law that states if a train passes within one mile of a town/neighborhood/community/hobo camp consisting of more than 100 people, it must build a station and stop there regularly. Sounds nice, but what if you want to run a fast route direct shipping train that happens to run through parts of WV? Oh well.
In US National Forests, if you say something to someone that makes them hit you, you, the person hit are at fault. Not the hitter. Domestic Abuse claims among campers must be fun to sort out.
Philadelphia decided a few years ago to crack down on businesses operating without a license. Like bloggers. A $300 license, which was only $289 more than the woman had made from her blog in the last two years. Theoretically business tax pays for the roads, etc, that allow a business to operate. However, the internet is maintained and run by private entities, so there's not a justification for a business tax on an internet based business such as a blog, other than "Give us money because we can make laws saying give us money."
Possibly the most well known stupid government regulation - you can't buy or sell raw milk. Raw milk is milk straight from the animal; it hasn't been pasteurized (or quick cooked). Yes, there's a small risk associated, but considering the amount of recalls in processed food for bacteria, raw milk's risk is negligible. That doesn't stop the government from raiding Amish farms at 5 am to tackle that....dangerous milk issue. This can result in fines, arrests, or you know, the government seizing the farm. SWAT like police raids on dairy farms; this is your tax dollars at work.
This isn't a regulation that's held, thankfully, but NYC tried to ban big gulps because you know, people are fat and eat too much sugar. While that's true, a lot of people are fat and do consume too much sugar, the government regulating your sugar intake isn't going to fix that. Fat people are aware that they're fat. This was just pointless regulation where some people thought that they knew better and they should be allowed to force their idea of better on everyone, using the government. If you're not free to make bad choices (provided you aren't directly harming anyone else), you aren't really free.
The US isn’t the only place with crazy regulations. Take a look at 25 Strange Things Banned By Governments Around The World.
Photos: 23. Turkey Ham (fair use via wikimedia commons), 22. Joao Lavinha via flickr, 20. mercurywoodrose via wikimedia commons, 17. Ildar Sagdejev via wikimedia commons, 1. Myke2020 via wikimedia commons