No Dogs Allowed, but Sex Is Okay

What’s an externality? My friends tell me that in the Vondelpark, a delightful reserve in central Amsterdam, it is illegal to let your dog off a leash. But it’s perfectly legal to have sex in the park, so long as it is not in view of a children’s playground. The argument is that the dog may make a mess that imposes costs on the unwary walker, while the couple imposes no costs on other park users.

I wonder which of these two actions would be more likely to be outlawed in the U.S. Implicitly, how do attitudes toward negative externalities, as expressed in city ordinances, differ between the U.S. and the Netherlands-or among other Western countries?


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  1. HotStuff says:

    Plus the view/action is far better than watching a dog poop…

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  2. Tzimiskes says:

    Makes sense to me. Why are Europeans so much more sensible than Americans?

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  3. hal says:

    Yeah, I’ll bet you wonder….so I’ve just joined in your conspiracy to create the longest running threads on the blog by juxtaposing politics. morals, and superstition. Let the games continue.

    p.s. I think Amsterdam fears mental illness and cruelty to dogs by allowing them to see humans fornicating. They think we’re their parents, for cryin’ OL.

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  4. Nina says:

    Both actions would be outlawed in the US, maybe equally.
    The couple having sex may impose no ‘costs’, but a child may walk by just the same and catch them mid-tryst. Sounds kind of inappropriate to me…

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  5. Nina says:

    (sorry, typo: the couple having sex MAY impose no costs)

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  6. gnowxela says:

    I personally would consider one of these a positive externality (a public good?).

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  7. malthus says:

    Amerika is a Christianist country that believes, deep down, that anything fun must be immoral. Sex tops the list, then come dancing, movies, drugs, partying and drinking. Working, working out and jogging are very moral, because there is no fun in them.

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  8. BSK says:

    Um, are you serious? The sex in public is already outlawed. You can’t even go naked in public, or semi-naked, or kiss (if you’re gay) without someone giving you problems. America has social issues that have nothing to do with externalities and instead only deal in perceptions instead of realities. There was a case not long back where a guy was arrested for being naked IN HIS OWN HOME while a woman walked by with her son. She felt as if she somehow WAS put upon and the man was arrested.

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