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New Jersey's Tesla ban makes sense compared to these silly laws


Much to Telsa’s (TSLA) chagrin it remains illegal to sell cars anywhere in New Jersey other than in traditional dealerships. For existing auto retail operations which huge footprints, on-site service and other amenities, that’s great news, but consumers hoping to step into the future are going to be forced to look elsewhere.

If that seems silly you better brace yourself. The ban on upstart methods for selling automobiles isn’t even the silliest law in New Jersey, let alone the most bizarre, business-stifling code in the U.S. In the attached video Yahoo’s Phil Pearlman joins Breakout to discuss 5 of the weirdest anti-business state and local laws across the United States.

It’s illegal to pump your own gas anywhere in New Jersey or Oregon

The best guess as to why probably relates to full employment for gas station attendants and concerns over Zoolander-esque “gas fights” between male models.

In Bergen County, New Jersey it’s illegal to buy clothes, furniture or electronics on Sunday

Bergen County is just one of multiple places around the country with restrictions on commercial activities taking place on Sunday. While well-meaning and no doubt welcome in some more quant regions of the country, in the densely populated, generally affluent county of Bergen it’s hard to justify shutting down retailers 14% of the week, particularly with New York merchant right across the river.

There are no billboards allowed in Maine, Vermont, Alaska or Hawaii

This one is actually somewhat logical. As Pearlman points out, billboards are a nuisance for economies driven by tourist money. Whatever the benefits of increasing ad dollars in metropolitan areas like Anchorage or Honolulu may likely pale in comparison to the impact of limiting views for greeting tourists.

In Wyoming any public building costing more than $100,000 to build must devote 1% of its budget to art

While certainly well intended this law raises more questions than it answers. Putting up shoddier buildings with murals rather defeats the purpose. Also making matters more complicated is the subjective nature of art itself. One man’s masterpiece is another man’s eyesore.

On that front the work of University of Wyoming artist in residence Neltjie speaks for itself:

Tennessee bars the sharing of Netflix (NFLX) passwords

Finally there’s Tennessee’s so-called “Netflix Law” which makes it illegal to log in to Netflix or any other membership based website using a friend’s password. You can have that friend’s permission and in written form but The Man can still arrest you for violating this code.

Tennessee’s motivation may be based on the fact that Nashville is the home of country music. The hope may have been that such a restriction would limit piracy of music, thus maximizing licensing rights for artists.

Suffice it to say the horse left the barn long ago on that front as it has for so many of these legacy restrictions. The cost of enforcing Tennessee’s Netflix Law greatly exceeds any income it may derive from becoming the preferred home of artists or tech companies looking for password protection from the consumers themselves.

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