Government is a toddler with a hammer, and the hammer is the power to regulate. When the toddler discovers an obstacle to his will he hammers it. Sometimes the hammer is the right tool for the job, but everything gets hammered because that's the only tool the toddler has. The hammer is a powerful tool that can be applied delicately to solve a certain kind of problem, but when it is swung with too much force (and enthusiasm!) in the wrong circumstance the wielder is likely to make things worse rather than better.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's proposal to further regulate pseudoephedrine is a perfect illustration of why we citizens should take away our government's hammer if it isn't used modestly.

If Gov. Jay Nixon has his way, Missourians suffering from allergies or a cold who prefer Sudafed, Claritin-D or any other medicines containing pseudoephedrine will need a prescription from their doctor before picking up their preferred drug from the corner pharmacy.

The attempt is part of a law enforcement-pushed effort to crack down on the sale of the illegal drug methamphetamine, which is made using pseudoephedrine. Already in Missouri, several cities — including Eureka, Washington and Farmington — and Jefferson County have passed similar laws. Missouri would be just the third state to pass such a law.

"This deadly drug cannot be allowed to fester in Missouri," Nixon said. "We have already enacted several measures to fight meth, but it's time to take this significant next step."

As Brian Noggle points out, existing regulations haven't worked.

It would seem a truism that someone doing something illegal will do illegal things, so making more illegal things won't stop people who do illegal things. Limiting the purchases hasn't stopped drug producers from making meth. Wait a minute, this just in: Making it illegal for people to get Vicodin or OxyContin without a prescription has not prevented people who do illegal things from doing illegal things. Drug abusers still get drugs illegally.

Watch the efficacy of the continual ratcheting to fight meth. Making you, the citizen, register your purchase hasn't stopped illegal production. Making you produce a prescription won't stop illegal production. Because Sudafed doesn't have the second amendment protection that guns have, politicians and legislators can do to helpful drugs what they would do to guns if they could. No matter what punitive measures they enact to protect you, those measures will only hinder and hurt you. Those who do illegal things will do illegal things except now with things they get illegally, but you can't get at all.

The hammer has already failed to solve the meth problem, so why should we let our politicians keep swinging away? Meth-makers seem able to dodge the blows, but us law-abiding citizens keep getting hit.

Note: this doesn't mean I think I have a better solution. Maybe there isn't a solution! Some problems just can't be solved. Tough! (Although I suspect there are several politically incorrect social solutions to the meth problem that our government is simply unwilling to use. For whatever reason, the regulatory hammer was the only tool in the government's box that survived the politically correct purge.)

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