Thursday, May 31, 2007

Government Regulation Is Government Doing Its (Our) Job

One of the leading conservative talkers in Milwaukee today was blasting the proposed, statewide smoking ban moving to a state legislative vote.

The talker was objecting that the proposed ban would include taverns. He called it a violation of consumers' right to choose.

But government has instituted numerous public health rules and laws, all of which violate some freedom of personal choice, in favor of the public good.

You can't burn leaves and brush in many jurisdictions: imagine how much dirtier our air would be (today is the fourth consecutive day of a dirty air warning for much of southern Wisconsin) if public burning were still permitted.

You can't let your dog run loose on Bradford Beach: dogs poop in the water and sometimes attack strange people, or other animals, so your freedom to walk your dog is circumscribed by government.

You can't drive 60 m.p.h. on a residential street. You can't empty your septic tank in a trout stream. You can't throw your old asbestos roofing in your garbage cans.

You can't shout "fire" in a theater.

We have plenty of rules and laws designed to maintain public safety, and, since the industrial revolution, the health of workers and bystanders.

That's why a smoking ban in taverns and other places makes perfect sense, and arguing it on the personal freedom principle will fail.

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