Friday, April 01, 2005

Smoking Ban versus Property Rights

Today a smoking ban started in my town. I don’t smoke much, perhaps mostly when I’m out with my friends having a drink or with a specific group of friends. Of course, that’s really beside the point. Local government making the act of smoking illegal at a bar or restaurant regardless of the wishes of the property owners strikes me as ridiculous. This clearly erodes private property rights of individuals.

Opponents say that the exhaled smoke is obnoxious and even harmful. Please show the studies… but even if we accept for the moment that exhaled tobacco smoke is harmful, would that not be reason enough to vote with your feet (or more accurately your pocketbook) and refuse to patronize an establishment that allows smoking? A friend of mine is strongly opposed to smoking… but even she understands that she can opt not to spend her time and money at a place where she finds the atmosphere a little unsuitable.

Getting a governmental body to ban something that might be annoying looks like overkill… and oversensitivity. What a bunch of whiney-woos.

Now, I’ve told you that so I can tell you this. A colleague at work and I chatted about the ban today. I said that I hope it will get overturned sometime in the next ten years. He responded that it is bound to, “since Minneapolis is so liberal”.

This guy is great. I really like him. However, he’s very left-leaning. He chairs a diversity group in our company. He claims to hate G.W. and claims that G.W. hates homosexuals. He turns his nose up at the mention of “The Passion of the Christ” (and I don’t think it is because of Gibson’s film style). That is fine (I suppose), but he clearly doesn’t understand conservative political philosophy. (Why should he? It makes a great boogie man for him.)

This is a private property issue… liberals want to say it’s about the health standards of employees who work at bars and restaurants where smoking is common. Well, the product is legal and the act of using it is legal. If banning tobacco isn’t Nanny-Statism I don’t know what is.

Had the local Republicans stuck to their conservative guns we would not have this ridiculous ban. Another liberal friend of mine is in agreement with me… he was hanging on the hope that the Republicans would do what they often do. A-ha, we were not so lucky… those RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) wanted to play nice-nice with the public and not get called nasty names.

The whole concept of letting the property owners do what they want could have solved this problem… and possibly bumped up wages for waitresses and waiters. “What are you talking about, Badda-Blogger?” I hear you ask. My theory is as follows:

You live in Urbanopolis. The two main bars in the city take a stand on the smoking issue. Let’s call them The Coffin Nail and The Fresh Air Bar… go ahead and guess which one voluntarily bars their patrons from smoking. The Coffin Nail has a good chunk of customers who smoke. It even sells cigars. The Fresh Air Bar knows there are plenty of customers who just want a place to get a drink without so much smoke. Both sets of customers are happy. What about the waiters? We constantly hear Nanny-Staters fretting over the poor waiters who are forced to suck in the death-smoke from rude smokers… it’s a hazardous work environment! (Whatever.) Well, the waiters who worry about their health will want to work at The Fresh Air Bar. Waiters that don’t care will work at The Coffin Nail. If enough waiters don’t like working at a smoking bar, The Coffin Nail might try to persuade waiters to work for them by offering more money. A-ha, the market at work!

You’re welcome!


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