A Bad Law Made For Good Reasons

Garage sale

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An American dollar says on it, “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” Well, not so fast. KLFY News in Louisiana is reporting:

House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don’t even know about it.

“We’re gonna lose a lot of business,” says Danny Guidry, who owns the Pioneer Trading Post in Lafayette. He deals in buying and selling unique second hand items.

The purpose of the law is to make tracking those who steal things and sell them easier to track. However, the law of unintended consequences is at work. The law includes Goodwill, garage sales, flea markets, and second-hand stores such as the Pioneer Trading Post. Pawn shops, which have been forced to keep records of their clients for years, are still allowed to accept cash.

The intention of the law is good, but I don’t understand why Goodwill stores or garage sales would be included. Goodwill does not pay people to donate things, so even if they receive stolen goods (which is highly unlikely) the only trace mechanism they would have would be to track those who bought the goods, which would be irrelevant. Garage sales are also an unlikely target. Again, if the goods are stolen, it would be the seller, not the buyer that would be the culprit, so why trace the buyer?

I understand the problem, I am simply not convinced that this is the way to solve it.



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