Thursday, June 07, 2007

Unintended Side Effects

Whenever a law is passed, there are unintentional side effects. Sometimes these side effects actually contradict the purpose of the law's intentions.

Take Child-Safety Caps for Prescription Drugs.

In 1972, the FDA passed a law that said all medications were required to have Child-Safety Caps. Obviously this law intended to protect children from taking medications accidentally. But after the law was passed, the incidences of children getting poisoned by medications went UP.

Why? An unintended side effect of the law was that people felt medications didn't need to be kept out of reach of children, because they had "Child Safe" caps. Caps that don't actually keep children out of the bottles. Also, some adults had a difficult time removing the caps, so they just left the bottles open.

There's a similar problem with the UIGEA. The UIGEA doesn't make it impossible or even illegal to play poker online. It just makes it more of a hassle. Those that have a problem gambling won't be stopped by a mere hassle. The only people that are stopped by the UIGEA are the casual players that just like to play some poker for fun and recreation.

Maybe that was their intent, to polarize the game so later they can point at it and say "look, only degenerates that gamble for absurd amounts of money play, so we should shut it down."

But if the intent was to stop people with gambling problems from ruining their lives, this law is nothing but one big unintended side effect.

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