Laws that backfired spectacularly?

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the Volstead Act was supposed to cut down on alcohol drinking (for lots of reasons), but in the end it led to more demand for alcohol to drink, associated criminality, and eventually to its repeal and the end of prohibition.

ArmDoc

Window tax. The wealthy landlords simply bricked up half their windows and forced the poor people renting the space to live in the dark.

truckvsute

Whereas not really a law but rather a policy, Maos war on sparrows and rodents remains one of the most horrific failures in human history

Woody_S

The US current failed war on drugs. Treating drug abuse as a criminal issue instead of a social issue has exasperated the problem since drug users that want to stop they are deterred because they risk incarceration and run-ins with law enforcement. It’s the same problems as with prohibition of alcohol.

RyanNerd

The Raines Law from 1896, devised by the out of touch puritans of Upstate New York in attempt to stamp out the Irish and German Catholic saloon culture of New York City. Instead of destroying the saloons it turned the bars into cheap hotels which became brothels. There was a loophole that allowed hotels to continue to serve alcohol untaxed, this loophole also included “social clubs” that served dinner. So saloon keepers started adding hotel rooms in their attic spaces and serving awful meals to stay open. The loophole was originally meant to allow upper class social clubs to go unaffected, however, it backfired in that inadvertently funded prostitution as well as those cheap rooms attracted working girls.

CupOfHemlock