A very large portion of the laws that our officials enact run contrary to simple economics, which is to say, they are out of touch with the reality of how people operate.
Take the “war on drugs” for example. We’ve identified a problem (people mess up their lives by abusing chemicals) and then think that the solution lies in government (make those chemicals illegal).
How’s that war on drugs working out? Not too well. I could cite statistics about violations of civil liberties that come during the drug war, the number of people killed due to drug violence (by contrast, hardware store owners don’t kill each other in a desire to maintain their turf), or the fact that prices for illegal drugs have in some cases plummeted (meaning that it’s easier, not more difficult, to get the nasty stuff).
Instead, I’ll refer you to an essay from The Atlantic about how the war on drugs has affected people whose only offense has been to suffer from a sinus infection.
The war on drugs is like many government programs: it doesn’t succeed even on its own terms; it costs a lot of money; its failures lead not to a reconsideration of the wisdom of doing the same thing, but a redoubling of effort; it harms innocent people who just want to live responsible lives; and it’s a failure to recognize that some problems are best addressed outside of government.