Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ray Basham, D-Taylor, Knows the Legislature's Job

Mr. Basham, when having his nose rubbed in the fact that Michigan's relatively new anti-smoking law for bars and restaurants has reduced charity gaming revenues by nearly 25%, responded with this bit of wisdom:

"I would say to them, 'What are you doing to market to nonsmokers?'" said Basham, who pushed for years to get Michigan to adopt the ban. "The job of the Legislature is to protect public health, not to create a business plan for establishments that don't have a business plan."
Many bars and restaurants that have been profitable for decades are now showing similar decreases in revenues. (Oddly, they seemed to have successful business plans for all those years.)

Sadly, other people have been affected too. Employees at many of these establishments have seen their hours cut back as a result of the shortfall.

As it turns out, this is not Mr. Basham's fault either. He might say to them, What are you doing to make some money? Maybe you should get a second job or go find some cans for deposit money. After all, it is the job of the legislature to protect your health even though you chose specifically to work in an establishment that caters to smokers, and it is not our job to create a survival plan for employees that don't have a survival plan. Unless, of course, you need some food stamps...

Just so you know, it is neither Mr. Basham's fault nor that of his political brethren that nearly a million Michiganders have lost their jobs in the past ten years, that hundreds of companies have closed up shop or fled the state, that the unemployment rate here has rivaled the nation's highest for most of the last decade, and that whole industries are struggling for lack of a nurturing business climate.

After all, it is the job of the legislature to pursue the greater good for Michigan society, not to create a survival plan for businesses that have difficulty adapting to all the horse crap legislation that fascist morons seem to pass out of Lansing these days with the quivering speed of Chris Matthews' leg at an Obama speaking engagement.

With people like Ray Basham in charge it is a shock that anyone in Michigan still has a job. But if they didn't, it wouldn't be his fault.

6 comments:

Communications guru said...

He’s 100 percent correct. You might want to take a gander at the Michigan Constitution; it’s pretty clear when you read Article IV Section 51, and you will agree with him; especially after the World Health Organization released a study that says secondhand smoke kills more than 600,000 people every year.
http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7020644748?WHO:%20Secondhand%20Smoke%20Kills%20600,000%20Yearly#ixzz16aXmakRd

That just reinforces what the U.S. Surgeon General said more than 20 years ago.

But it amazes me how the workplace smoking ban can be blamed for a drop in business when we have just come out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Talk about a convenient scapegoat. The results from the states that have had the ban for years say it does not hurt business. But I would like someone to tell me how just 20 percent of the population can have such an economic impact .I know when I quit smoking I had an extra $2,000 a year to spend.

You are correct employees have been affected, and that is because they are not in danger of dying because of being on the job anymore. As for your claim about hours being cut back, it’s not because of the smoking ban.

I’m baffled by your claim that “…you chose specifically to work in an establishment that caters to smokers.” Where would that be? Bars don’t cater to smokers. If they did, they would never survive to begin with. In this economy, I know many people who will take a job where they can get it. It’s just sad they had to put their health at risk to do it, but not anymore; thanks to the workplace smoking ban.

I do agree with you when you say, it “is neither Mr. Basham's fault nor that of his political brethren that nearly a million Michiganders have lost their jobs in the past ten years, that hundreds of companies have closed up shop or fled the state, that the unemployment rate here has rivaled the nation's highest for most of the last decade.”

That would be the Bush Recession.

Rougman said...

Oh, I have a firm grasp as to the reasoning behind Mr. Basham's foray into areas best left unforayed. It is this same reasoning that led a majority of house and senate members to endorse a health care plan for Americans that will make health care more costly and less available--particularly to the elderly. It is also the same reasoning that has lead to certain jurisdictions banning salt, trans fats, particular dyes and preservatives, junk food vending machines, fried foods, the removal of toys in happy meals, helmet laws, etc., etc. We even have state-sponsored nannies making the same arguments in order to prohibit restaurants from serving obese people entrees that might further punish their midriffs. Not all of this has happened in Michigan, yet, but it is inevitable if unchecked anal retentive power brokers see legal private enterprises as their public playground.

The workplace smoking ban can easily be blamed for the drop in business when you consider that the ban, and the loss of business, occurred while in the depths of the recession (or the jobless recovery) whichever term you prefer. All else remained constant. It is the only variable within the context of the business losses. I get my information personally from people who work in the business, both smokers and non-smokers. Their observations back up basic economic theory. That does not a convenient scapegoat make. Many people show up to the bar like they always did, but now they do not linger, for when the nicotiine fit hits they leave for more understanding climes. Of course, a few former patrons don't show up at all.

I believe it is an interesting claim that states with this ban in place for years have shown no drop in business. You prove my point. If the Bush recession (as you call it, but a debate we can have another time) had such an astounding impact on Michigan...like you claim, why did it have no impact on the bars in other states where these bans have been in place for years? You seem to suggest that Michigan lives in its own economic vacuum. Indeed, what I would suggest is that the bans had a similar impact in these other areas when the bans came into effect.

As far as 20 percent of the population having such an economic impact, that would be implausible if you believe as you do--that bars (in particular) do not cater to smokers. However, with bars actually catering to smokers, as they do and as you deny, that 20 percent has a huge impact. Also, congratulations on your extra $2,000 a year. I hope you donated it wisely to the candidates of your choice.

Employees who go to work in bars have always known that they will be inhaling smoke toxins. I am not a smoker and, unlike you, I was never, shall we say, as unconcerned with my health in my youth as you were. Despite this, I was still able to navigate my career in such a way that I've remained lung clean for all these years. Remarkably I did this on my own without Mr. Basham's benevolent hand protecting me.

I'm very familiar with your pointed arguments and I do appreciate your comment. I've seen your comments on other websites and I've always found your arguments to be well thought out and well presented. I'm afraid on this topic (and most others) that we will simply have to agree to disagree.

Communications guru said...

I don’t know what you have a firm grasp on, but it’s not health care insurance reform or the workplace smoking ban.

Something than kills 600,000 innocent people a year needs to be addressed and it is being addressed.

Although it’s a separate issue, there is not an ounce of truth to your talking points about the health insurance reform law.

I’m not aware of a ban on banning “salt, trans fats, particular dyes and preservatives, junk food vending machines, fried foods,” but at one time they put cocaine in cola. If continued research uncovers the harmful effects of substances, I don’t think banning that substance should be out of the question.

Yes, “workplace smoking ban can easily be blamed for the drop in business,” but it’s not the reason. That’s why it’s a scapegoat. The fact remains there is not a shred of evidence or a reliable study that proves a smoking ban hurts business. I’m still waiting for you to tell me how 20 percent of the population can have such an economic effect. Even if it did, the positive health effects are more important.

Not only is it “interesting” that states with this ban in place for years have shown no drop in business, it’s a fact.

Bars do not cater to smokers; they cater to drinkers and eaters. I’m still waiting for you to tell me how 20 percent of the population can have such an economic effect. No, I spent my extra $2,000 a year in the local economy; I give my time to the candidates of my choice. But that 20 percent who still smoke are spending that $2,000 on smokes; not food or alcohol.

“Employees who go to work in bars have always known that they will be inhaling smoke toxins?” That is a ridiculous claim. People should not have to choose a paycheck over their health. Laws to protect people in the workplace have come a long way, and gone are the days my grandfather once told me about going to work at the paper mill and not knowing if you would come home at all or come home with all of your body parts.

Good for you, I was a smoker. The dangers weren’t a clear cut then, and not only that, there is nothing more addictive than nicotine. But that’s irreverent. This is not about smoking; it’s about the 80 percent who are concerned with their health.

If you want to bash Sen. Basham that’s fine. But you need to remember that 70 percent of the 148 lawmakers voted for the bipartisan ban, and 70 percent of Michigan residents support it.

Thank you for the kind words about my arguments. I notice you posted this at “Right” Michigan, too. I would comment there, but they do no appreciate good arguments and have banned me.

Rougman said...

Hey, as long as you play nice you can always comment here!

I like me a good argument.

Rougman said...

Sorry but I have not had a lot of time to invest in this debate and I think you deserve considerate reciprocity.

I think I have a pretty good grasp on what the impacts of both of these legislative tools, one state and one national, are going to be.

Lets be honest here. We both have gathered much of what the Health Care Reform bill is designed to do, but neither of us has seen the totality of what it will accomplish because it has not been in place long enough.

However, we already do know that a number of large employers have received waivers from the federal government allowing them to get out of the system so that they won't dump their employees onto the feds while creating a huge negative public relations circus.

We also know that at least two entities who were heavily invested in lobbying for the passage of this bill (the SEIU and AARP) have had to address their memberships as to why their benefits were being cut. (The SEIU backtracked because of the public relations blunder of honesty.)

Therefore, call me premature if you want to, but don't tell me my talking points are untrue. I'd prefer we debate in a congenial tone with a tad of self deprecation at least once in a while. (Easy to do for a guy who grew up Mennonite among all those damn Baptists!)

You mean a reliable study like the one conducted by the WHO and published in Lancet? I tell you what, you don't poke fun at my biased research (such as the Michigan State Lottery) and I won't poke fun at yours. Seriously, much of my personal research is based on my heading to local bars and asking. It is their observation that people leave after the first drink, and it is their observation that fewer smokers stick around to enjoy their new, smokeless atmosphere. The Michigan Sate Lottery comparison shows charity revenues are down 25% year over year. You might be right though, there is not one shred of proof that the only significant change in the tavern business environment has anything to do with the therefore unexplained change in tavern business revenues. A comet?

'Not only is it “interesting” that states with this ban in place for years have shown no drop in business, it’s a fact.' Sadly, you miss the point of my irony. (And, by God, it is quality irony!)

Rougman said...

(sorry, comment too big for one post)

Why is it that Michigan should show a drop in revenues after their one-state implementation of a law that coincides with the law taking effect, while other states with such laws already in place have seen no such drop in revenues over the same time period? This is because they saw the drop at the time of the implementation of the laws in their states.

The 20 percent of the population argument only works if you insist that the same 20 percent is not catered to in bars. It is too late to go into a bar now prior to the law taking effect, but if you had you would have noted a majority of smokers among all bar patrons. I have never suggested that all bar patrons were smokers, but a sizable majority of them are. If you fail to recognize this you will not understand how smokers (the daunted 20 percent) could ever have such an impact.

Okay, my claim that potential bar employees should expect to breathe smoke is ridiculous. In fact, stiff backed people should not expect that piano moving jobs will require a heavy lifting, beekeepers will not be exposed to stings, and a plumber will not be exposed to shit. We simply need more laws.

People work on skyscrapers, fish for crab (it's pretty deadly), drive NASCAR, work in heavy traffic, and even fight wars for paychecks. Whether they should or not is not a question that you or I should be provided the power to answer.

As far as smoking goes, not that I'm one to notice such trivialities...but you are dating yourself. I'm over 50 now. But, I remember in my 6th grade class looking at pictures of dissected smokers' lungs, looking at the pictures of smokers with cigarettes hooked up to their trachs. I also remember looking at pictures of tobacco chewers who had their jaws and mouths twisted by malignancy. I missed at least once lunch period because of such pictures.

All of that said, I don't know how a smoking ban could not be, at least partially, about smoking.

For the record this is the first time I think I have bashed Mr. Basham. I have, however, bashed a number of Michigan lawmakers in the past who happen to carry the banners of both major political parties. I actually get angrier at supposedly principled Republicans who stand on quicksand foundations than I do at Democrats who expectantly vote in a way that I do not agree with.

The words about your commentary and presentation stand. You're the kind of person I think I could sit down and enjoy a beer with--as long as we didn't talk politics.

I think I'm going to let you have the last word. Just don't call me stupid!