Thank You for Not Thinking

Here’s some snark from the gang at the Weekly Standard for this, the second day in which Virginia is a slightly less free place to do business:

Last February, the assembly passed a smoking ban, thereby depriving business owners of the right to make decisions about how to run the businesses they own, and depriving patrons of a choice between smoking and non-smoking establishments.

Good thing, too, because the market place, responding to customer predilections as it’s wont to do, had just about licked the “problem” the legislature sought to solve:

By February, when the legislature finally passed the ban after years of lobbying by anti-smoking advocates, about 66 percent of restaurants had already gone smoke-free in response to customer demand. A week ago, that proportion was about 75 percent.

So, the smoke had already been nearly eliminated—the ostensible reason for the law— but the legislature saved us from the potentially horrifying consequences of leaving in place the freedom to run an establishment with a smoking section. To be fair, I have heard that second-hand freedom can be very dangerous for state legislatures.

The article goes on to recount Arizona’s current fight against live fish pedicures. No, that was not a non-sequiter. Some enterprising soul came up with this in response to–get this–increased regulations on the use of razors in nail salons.

Only in America could someone come up with such an idea and the government see fit to get involved.

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  1. December 2, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I don’t remember any Republicans facing primary challenges due to their vote on the smoking ban.

    And I speak as a non-smoker who doesn’t really think the ban is necessary.

    • December 2, 2009 at 9:14 pm

      I’m willing to admit that I was wrong on the ramifications of the vote. I think a large part of it has to do with the fact that Republicans were just too damn excited to go to the trouble of primarying anyone over what was largely an ancillary issue to many. To say nothing of the fact that I think that this is actually an issue that would divide the base (hardcore libertarians/fiscos vs. good government and the Christian right)

      My continued whining has more to do with the principle of the policy than any political results.

      • December 2, 2009 at 10:36 pm

        My discomfort with/opposition to the ban is a holdover from my more libertarian period of the late ’90s when government seemed to be barely involved in a booming (read: bubble) economy and everyone seemed content to leave each other alone.

        Ah, to party like it’s 1999.

        At this point I think if smokers aren’t willing to organize and push back a bit against the ban, it’s just a fait accompli and we should move on to debating the next expansion of the nanny state: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

      • December 2, 2009 at 10:46 pm

        Is it just me or does every young politico go through said phase? I didn’t realize it was as widespread on the left as on the right till I heard about Waldo’s evolution and now yours.

        Oh, if I had a dollar for every CR who told me they were “really more of a libertarian” then told me how they supported closed borders or a smoking ban or something of that ilk….

      • December 2, 2009 at 11:54 pm

        Every young person is a libertarian for a while, or at least every young male. I don’t think I’ve ever met a 16-year-old guy who wants to write more rules for people to submit to.

        Whoops, sorry Craig, forgot I was talking to a UVA guy. More rules to which people must submit.

        My breaking point with more traditional libertarianism came when I decided that my liberties are best safeguarded by preventing any entity from accumulating enough power to take my liberties away. Power, therefore, must be diffused and decentralized.

        Since power is both economic and political, however, a belief that economic power must be decentralized in order to safeguard liberty is enough to make me a heretic in nearly any libertarian circle. So I walk around calling myself a “progressive” which I can mostly define as I want.

        I also think orthodox libertarianism suffers from human nature. If people are generally good, then laws and regulations are largely unnecessary. But if people are out to scam me and businesses are cutting corners on safety and/or quality and bribes/sweetheart deals are “part of the cost of doing business,” then I want laws and regulations to protect myself. After all, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

        In short, I have similar apprehensions about economic consolidation as I do about centralized government. After all, if my taxes go up I can vote bums out of office. But if all the gas stations in an area are owned by one company and the price of gas goes up to $4, I really don’t have a lot of options. Or imagine if power companies were unregulated in Virginia; would I be able to do anything but protest loudly yet impotently if my electric rate were to go up 25%? 50%? 100%? Do I really have a choice?

        My political liberties are best safeguarded by federalism, separation of powers and a multi-party system. My economic liberties are best safeguarded by preventing consolidation and enforcing quality and safety standards. If I’m not a libertarian, it’s because of a bad definition.

  2. 'Rick Gray
    December 4, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I very much agree with Adam on this. For me, there is no appreciable difference between the dangers of concentrated power in the hands of the government and concentrated power in the hands of a corporation (which, in the final analysis, is a privileged entity created by an act of the government).

    I am, however, inclined to support time-limited interventions into private decisions. It might be well to compel restaurant owners and patrons to try non-smoking on for size. People are reluctant to change, even for the best of reasons. But could we not, say, ban smoking for five years – and then go back to free choice? I suspect the effect would be permanent, but at least the government would no longer be a part of it.

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