Monday, April 12, 2010

The Perfect Excuse For Another Freedom Rant

One business' attempt to skirt Michigan's impending anti-smoking law.

His idea: He's converting a room currently occupied by the bar's virtual golf machine into a "tobacco specialty shop" --one of only two types of businesses exempt from the smoking ban. (The other is casinos, and as Schweifler notes, "I don't have a casino.")

His plan is to personally sell cigarettes from a little counter to customers wanting them, while the customers sit and smoke to their hearts' content, protected from the elements and not bothering the bar's residential neighbors.
I will always choose the non-smoking venue when I can. Always. I am not alone in this.

This is not, however, where it will end. Everywhere on Earth where behavior control legislation is the norm, control efforts become more restrictive. Let us take smoking as an example.

Right now the exceptions to this law in Michigan are specialty smoke shops and casinos. This is not the case in many states where even smoke shops and casinos are unable to allow smoking. In some places smoking is not only not allowed with the establishment but it is also not allowed within several feet of the front door of any establishment.

In many places smoking is not allowed in city parks or in any other public space. In other areas even third-hand smoke is becoming an issue where those charged with cleaning up the effects of second hand smoke are themselves a soon to be recognized victim collective.

Hey, I hate smoking. Only one thing torques me off more than some rude punk kid blowing smoke into my eyes, and that is a bureaucrat trying to pigeonhole my behavior into an acceptable expression--not because I like my clothes smelling like a dirty ashtray, but because I want to be able to choose whether my clothes smell like an old ashtray or not.

We Americans are nonchalantly ceding our freedoms to a growing government in small and almost unrecognizable bits and pieces. Smoking is not a very sympathetic behavior and I blame the smokers themselves as much for this as I do anyone else--really, do you have to grab an ashtray and relocate it right next to me?

But, the government's clambering over control of our personal freedoms under the guise of our own protection will never become anything but more restrictive, and our behaviors are already being closely monitored.

If American society can expect to enjoy free health care it can certainly expect to live according to the rules by which it is administered. If citizens breathe air owned by world citizens they certainly should be expected to exhale only the properly mixed cocktail of harmless gases in return. If the world's resources are finite, certainly fairness has to dictate that their usage be proportionately nourishing. If citizens enjoy a safe society they certainly should be expected to think and behave in a manner that promotes stability.

When it comes to protecting the health, safety and the environment of citizens, nothing (except nuclear weapons) is off the table. If that means be it. You will run your business as allowed. You will sell what is approved and buy only what has gone through the proper channels. You will put in those new windows, wear that helmet, and drive a high mileage car according to the speed limit. You will report that $50, display the nutritional values, build according to the code, test for lead, and use an approved burn barrel.

But even controlling our behaviors is no longer enough to guarantee the right outcome. Soon the government will not only control what you might choose to do, but the soon to be apparent effects of Obamacare will, for the first time that I am aware, make it criminal for Americans not to do something for the purpose of enjoying an heretofore unrecognized inalienable right.

"Enjoy your free health care, Sally. Here is your $2,500 fine."

Bars and restaurants are cautiously being folded into the collective. As long as it is happening to them and not the rest of us, why should we care? Let's let it strike us closer to home before we stand up for ourselves.

Oh, and light up outside.

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