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Policy can affect behavior

Owen Canfield Modified: June 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm •  Published: December 22, 2012

Can policy really motivate behavior? Absolutely.

Look at what happened following the Connecticut schoolhouse shooting last week. President Barack Obama announced his administration would be exploring changes in gun policy, and now firearms are flying off store shelves. Consumers want to buy now instead of waiting to see how access to some weapons might change.

Every year, consumers hold off on buying a new TV or school clothing and supplies, and instead wait for Black Friday or the August sales tax holiday. Raising taxes on tobacco drives down use; conversely, smokers have streamed to tribal smokeshops that due to tax policy enjoy a price advantage over nontribal retailers. Pending new year’s increases in the capital gains tax have prompted business owners across the country to try to sell their companies.

The federal wind production tax credit, which will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress acts, has the attention of developers. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, “It appears that wind developers are pushing to complete projects in 2012 to qualify for the PTC.”

The threat of a stiff penalty for text-messaging while driving might deter this dangerous practice. Oklahoma lawmakers in 2013 should consider that before, as they’ve done in the past, simply rejecting the idea.


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