Laws That Should Be Enacted, According to Public Opinion
Oct 08, 2021
There Oughta Be a Law…
If you had the power to make a law, any law, what would it be? A law against working on weekends? Would you ban bell-bottom jeans once and for all? This campaign surveyed over 1,000 respondents from across the U.S. about which laws they think should or shouldn’t exist, and also gave them a chance to submit their own light-hearted law proposals.
Questions of law in our study were, for the most part, light-hearted and playful, though more serious topics and deeper issues of justice surfaced throughout. For example, what can we learn about workplace dynamics and mental health concerns by comparing what people think of four-day workweeks? What do these laws say about the broader state of American society, or of the wants and needs of Americans today?
We divided our survey questions into four main categories — the workplace, dating and relationships, pet peeves, and creating a new law. We surveyed people of all ages, from Gen Z all the way up to the baby boomers. Below is a breakdown of some of our key results and surprising findings.
Workplace Laws That Should Be Enacted
Many Americans spend a large percentage of their time at work, whether that’s remote or in-person. But should there be laws defining how much we work or when we work, or laws related to workplace etiquette?
According to our data, 75% of Americans surveyed are in favor of a four-day workweek becoming law. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 80% of millennials are in favor of this legal step, which fits right in with trends of increased prioritization of work-life balance, mental health awareness, and experimenting with new ways to work. By comparison, 71% of baby boomers do not want a four-day workweek to become law.
These disparate groups further solidified their opposition when it came to working on weekends. While 54% of Americans surveyed want a law against working on weekends (a close call by most standards), 85% of baby boomers and 52% of Gen X-ers don’t want a law against working on the weekend. Even still, only 55% of Gen Z survey participants were in favor of a law against working on the weekend.
With mixed results like this, we learn two things. First, older generations have, on the surface, more traditional views of work, with younger generations naturally more accustomed to hybrid work and school environments owing, especially, to the increased presence of technologies that make work more efficient. Second, we learn that not every generation’s definition of law will be exactly the same — not wanting a law doesn’t tell us, truly, whether someone is against an idea or just reserves law-making for more black-and-white issues.
Dating & Relationship Laws That Should Be Enacted
The dating world is fraught with ambiguities, unspoken rules, and common courtesies. We surveyed people across generations to see how their views compared when it comes to things like PDA, ghosting, and using an ex’s streaming services.
When it comes to ghosting, which is the act of completely cutting off communication with a partner without warning, one in four survey respondents think there should be a law against this cold-hearted au revoir. That said, 70% of Gen Z participants want to be able to ghost without breaking the law. While the statistics lean in favor of ghosting, just because someone thinks it shouldn’t be illegal doesn’t mean they consider it a kind or worthwhile behavior.
For public displays of affection, 66% of Americans don’t think it should be illegal. Interestingly, the generation with the strongest opposition to making PDA illegal is the baby boomers, with 57% saying it shouldn’t be illegal, compared to only 38% for Gen Z-ers.
For this part of the study, we looked at nine pet peeves there ought to be a law against according to public opinion. It was a close call for the blue ribbon, with 86% of survey respondents saying there ought to be a law against paying for school transcripts, and 85% saying there ought to be a law against not picking up your dog’s poop in public.
Other pet peeves relate especially to social decorum and public spaces. For example, 59% of respondents are against letting pregnant women or elderly folks stand on public transportation. And then 50% of people think there should be a law against talking on speakerphone in public, for a nice even split down the middle.
Less popular but still noteworthy, 24% of respondents think low-rise jeans should be illegal, 22% are anti gym selfies, and 19% are against using android phones. Shocking to consider, it’s statistically possible that there’s someone out there walking around in low-rise jeans talking on their android on speakerphone in public while forgetting to pick up their dog’s poop. Let’s just hope that person leaves a seat for the elderly gentleman on their bus ride home.
Americans Submit Their Own Laws That Should Be Enacted
America’s laws stretch back for centuries; for the last part of our survey, we asked Americans what law they would create if given the opportunity. Many speak to workplace etiquette and manners, as well as to a few things which go beyond simple common courtesy.
Of the numerous submitted entries, some of the most popular things there ought to be a law against include reply all emails, meetings that could be emails, verbal abuse of customer service associates, slow left-lane drivers, dog breeding for profit, and robocalling. (Good luck explaining that last one to the founding fathers!)
Many of these laws make perfect sense, though we were surprised to see the people rule against going to work in “business casual” attire. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed everyone’s view of the workplace so thoroughly after all.
One thing that repeatedly stands out in our study, across generations, is the blend between amusing, light-hearted laws and those that point to more serious needs and issues in America. Laws against mansplaining, catcalling, mean social media comments, paying for school transcripts, and even laws against the overuse of the word “like” all indicate a gap in America’s social fabric and legal system.
There is a strong desire for moral goodness and positive change, to shift away from old and out-of-date systems of inequality, oppression, and also style (goodbye bell-bottom jeans!). Not all of these things need literally to become laws, and baby boomers had their fair share of disagreements with the younger crowd on some issues, though looking at the survey results gives a strong signal of how we can improve collectively, how America has evolved, and what makes us tick.
Our survey speaks to the positive, and often humorous traits of Americans (such as wishing there was a law against chewing with your mouth open). People’s core personal values point to a desire for equality, fairness, consideration, and goodwill. What law would you like to see enacted next?
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