A trend so ill it should be too expensive

From the Underwire blog, also:

A Trend So Ill It Should Be Illegal. Oh Wait – It Is.

It’s a trying time for baggy pants: over the past two weeks, Atlanta, Dallas, Shreveport, and other pro-mom-jeans cities pushed for laws banning boxer-baring via pants-sagging. Officials offered numerous reasons for legislating tighter belts, all of them priceless in their banality.

Shreveport Councilwoman Joyce Bowman said that she was “…tired (of) looking at behinds,” while Atlanta police officer R.E. Williams claimed that, “the lower the pants are, the lower the self-esteem.” Fellow Atlantan and sponsor of that city’s anti-sagging ordinance, Councilman C.T. Martin, said the style was an “epidemic.” Martin also made clear that he doesn’t “want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go.”

Charges of racial profiling and discrimination surfaced in the zoot suit debates, as they have recently in regards to pants-sagging. CNN notes: “A similar proposal in Stratford, Connecticut, was soundly rejected this week after critics argued it would be unconstitutional and unfairly target minorities.” Some of the proponents acknowledge human rights dilemmas themselves. As Atlanta Councilman C.T. Martin admitted, “We know there are First Amendment issues…”

There is also an interesting point to the hypocrisy (oh, Wired? It’s not bloody irony: it’s hypocrisy. Get a dictionary) of the debate standing next to this country’s mad love affair with cheer-leaders.

Me? I’m an economist: I will take market solutions over command and control, whenever possible. I say the city council should (i) institute a fine, or (ii) issuing permits attached to the wearing of trousers so low that one simply looks like a fucking idiot to everyone around them (not to mention causing us properly-pant-ed people to wonder how on earth one expects us to think they’re tough when they’re forced to waddle along, holding their pants up with one hand. Even if they were carrying a gun in the other hand, we couldn’t seriously find such people threatening).

So that’s my solution: the solution of basic economic principles. Individuals want both to look ridiculous and flout authority (especially hypocritical authority). Conflating the two never shall solve this problem. Use prices to separate the issues. Ensure that anybody dressing like this does so only because they really want to (i.e. willing to pay $200 for the permit to do so).

Bear in mind, though, those racial profiling/human rights dilemmas won’t go away, and you’ll probably have to start arresting people for wearing their pants low without a permit (which is my ultimate goal, I confess).

Your other option, of course, is to restructure American culture such that people see no glory in looking like a prison inmate – how about us all trying to look like we’re educated, and in fact living in the richest country on Earth? Just a thought.


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