Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Topless lawmaking

Will Starbucks go nude next?

Will Starbucks go nude next?

Apprised of the existence of a “topless coffee shop” in Maine by Tyler Cowen, Matt Yglesias comments on how “the lack of regulatory barriers to topless non-alcoholic venues could have important implications for the business model.” Yes, and the implications extend beyond  things like creating other topless coffee shops. I see Yglesias’ point and all (which extends to bars, strip clubs, and other seedy establishments), but it seems like there are more fundamental logical-legislative issues at play here. Namely, Cowen’s confusion at how Mainers came to have to vote in a town meeting whether or not to explicitly prohibit topless coffee shops:

Wait a minute. Topless coffee shops are allowed? Unless otherwise specified?

I ask because a topless coffee shop opened in Vassalboro, Maine, and the only way to prevent copycat businesses — say, a topless auto shop or a topless supermarket — is to pass an ordinance to ban nudity at town businesses. Is this true in all municipalities? Nudity allowed until specified otherwise? Who knew?

The implications seem rather straightforward to me.  Rather than, say, go through each business, or practice, or policy one by one to determine what is or is not acceptable/legal, it would behoove lawmakers to draw bright lines (which the courts can subsequently shift). For example, no offensive and demeaning public policies that objectify women in order to sell a product.

(image from flickr user d’n’c under a Creative Commons license)

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March 16, 2009 - Posted by | Economics, Uncategorized | ,

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