A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, June 03, 2005

Nanny Statism

First, a definition:
The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or "unintended." Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it. [From the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics]
Now, here's the application, relative to Appleton, Wisconsin's recent banning of smoking:
On April 5, voters in Appleton approved a workplace smoking ban due to take effect July 1. The ban, the most stringent in Wisconsin, will prohibit people from lighting up in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, along with other indoor public locations, such as Laundromats and hallways of apartment complexes.
The unanticipated effect?
Two convention groups planning future events have decided that Appleton is no longer the place for their meetings because of the upcoming workplace smoking ban.
So, the city banned a legal activity because it's unhealthy and citizens apparently aren't capable of deciding to go to non-smoking venues on their own. They need to be protected for their own good. Even more amazing, is that this was a referendum-- the citizens apparently agree that they are too stupid to make informed decisions and need to be protected for their own good. Lucky them, they now get to pay more in taxes and risk losing businesses because they are too stupid to make informed decisions for themselves.

In other nanny state news, I saw a piece on a local newscast talking about Brookline, Massachusett's ban on spanking. It's a non-binding, hah!, resolution, but still... should the government be telling parents what is, and isn't, acceptable in the disciplining of their children? I'm certainly not supporting child abuse, and I don't spank my kids as a decision Jennifer and I reached collectively, but I don't automatically assume that spanking is inappropriate. As with any other coercive measure, it's how you apply the method, not the method itself, that bears scrutiny.

As a minor bias note-- the report had clips from three residents, all in favor of the ban. There were no clips from anyone who opposed the ban on spanking-- despite the fact that the resolution passed by a relatively close 89-80 vote. Probably those that voted against were too busy thumping their bibles and sharpening their pitchforks to talk to the tv people.

Favorite quote: "Well, I was spanked as a child and it wasn't any fun at all." Ummm... DUH!That's why it's a punishment! It's not supposed to be fun. Though there are folks out there that do enjoy that-- which raises the question, were this a binding resolution, double-hah!, would grown adults with... different sensibilities be prohibited from doing what they do?


Even though I am a non-smoker, I am completely against smoking bans. Minneapolis banned smoking in all bars and restaurants. While I don't mind no smoking in restaurants, I don't see the big deal when 3/4ths of all restaurant space already comprised the non-smoking sesction. And the bars thing just floors me. How can you legislate the splitting of vices like that? Why is smoking bad, but drinking is fine? I can't wait for someone to say that second-hand smoke in bars kills more people than drunk drivers leaving bars. MADD will have a lot of fun with those people.
At least the people of Appleton got to slice their own throat instead of having it done by the county. In St. Paul, the mayor vetoed a smoking ban, only to have the county pass one that is in effect for their town. Now, I have to try to figure out who in the county I have to get voted out of office.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?