Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Government by Quijote

In the past two weeks, the city government has imposed a plastic bag ban and the federal government has forbid the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics. Both measures run against long-standing common practice, legislating to the ideal rather than the real, even if both respond to legitimate concerns. The conditions that gave rise to the overuse of antibiotics, such as difficult access to medical care and the proliferation of pharmacies, are the same conditions that make such a prohibition nearly impossible to sustain.

Similarly, Mexico City's trash problem--a major component of which is the rampant use of cheap plastic bags--has long been the subject of regulations adhering to noble principles which are impossible to enact or enforce. In theory, it is prohibited to deposit trash on the street, and all waste must be sorted. In practice, the absence of a sensible collection system combined with the strength of old habits means garbage simply piles up on the corner.


Conor said...

I am very familiar with this problem. This is pretty near "the sweet spot" for political theorists. Compulsion and idealism vs. liberty and resistant reality, etc...

Jasmine said...

Querido Mike,
Estaba leyendo su entrada “ Government by Quijote.” ¿Esta bolsas de plástico todavía están prohibidas? Creo que la prohibición es loca. ¿Que piensa la gente? La prohibición de over the counter antibióticos es extraño a mí. ¿Son las personas recibiendo las medicinas que necesitan? No puedo imaginar si el gobierno de los EEUU prohíba over the counter antibióticos. Espero que no sea difícil recibirte la medicina. Tus imágenes son muy bonitas. Buena suerte y ser seguro.