David Strom

One of the most persistent and wrongheaded notions held by many in the political and intellectual class is that nothing happens without someone planning and legislating it into existence.

This is a pervasive belief especially among liberals, but almost anyone who spends enough time around politicians succumbs to this fallacy. And from this misconception springs all sorts of stupidity and misery as the ruling class tries to engineer society and the universe into a state of perfection and bliss.

Want examples? Here in Minnesota the liberals took over the Legislature in last year’s landslide elections. And along with the billions of dollars in tax and spending increases they have come up with some spectacularly stupid but illuminating legislation.

My particular favorite is the proposed tax credit to plant a tree. The state will give you $100 to plant a tree. I am not making this up.

Minnesota’s State Legislature is going to reverse global climate change this way, and just plain make people better too! By paying people $100 to plant a tree. Really. Anyone want to guess the dollar cost per ton of carbon taken out of the atmosphere?

Of course the biggest problem with such a proposal is that somebody was stupid and arrogant enough to think of it in the first place. I guess it is pointless to tell you that literally billions of trees spring up spontaneously every year, or that any homeowner with a lawn and an oak tree is probably spending a not inconsiderable amount of effort pulling out all the spontaneously sprouting trees.

Trees don’t need lawmakers to grow. They do just fine on their own, and to the extent that we have a tree deficit, it has more to do with where they grow and what kind of trees we want, not how many might be growing.

The urge to tweak society and our environment is apparently too compelling to restrain, no matter how silly the results.

Here are some other gems:

There is the law to require seat belts in shopping carts; unfortunately, here in Minnesota we have yet to ban drinking and driving shopping carts!

Then there are the proposed grants to get friends and families together to read to children.

Another bill helps define how interior designers apply theories of human behavior and aesthetics.

Yet another proposal would give a judge the right to declare a price “unconscionable” during market disruptions, imposing fines on retailers charging the wrong price.

A bill has even been proposed to provide workers’ compensation for hurt feelings, sans any physical injury at all.

David Strom

David Strom is the President of the Minnesota Free Market Institute. He hosts a weekly radio show on AM-1280 "The Patriot" in Minneapolis-St. Paul, available on podcast at Townhall.com.

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