So far, the English pub remains a smoker’s paradise. Far from being an argument for government regulation to fix an externality, it’s evidence that the smokers value their freedom to smoke more than the staff and non-smokers value a smoke-free environment. Many of the people who grumble about smoky pubs wouldn’t go to smoke-free pubs either, or smoke-free pubs would already exist.
If non-smokers really felt strongly about second-hand smoke, these smoke-free pubs would attract flocks of high-paying non-smokers and staff would queue to work there even at lower wages. In practice, the ”smoke-free” gap in the market has so far been filled by places such as Starbucks.
The smoking ban is usually phrased as a ban on smoking in ”enclosed public spaces”. Of course, a restaurant or pub is not a public space: it’s a private space in which the public gather. (If you think a restaurant is a public space, try bringing a picnic along to one.) The irony of the legislation is that it forces smokers into what genuinely are public spaces - the pavements outside restaurants and office buildings - and produces a small externality where previously none existed.
Those who argue that smoking should be restricted because of the costs to the National Health Service are on even thinner ice. If I offered to pay for your private medical insurance out of the goodness of my heart, you would be unimpressed, and rightly so, if I then turned round and claimed that your smoking was now costing me money and so I had the right to hide your cigarettes. Similarly, the UK’s decision to fund healthcare from tax revenues does not thereby give the government the right to restrict our freedom to take personal risks.
In any case, this is a dangerous argument. We all have to die in the end, and a sudden smoking-related heart attack is a cheap way to go compared with 30 years of state pension or round-the-clock nursing care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. If smoking turned out to be a money-saver for the government, would that really justify a cigarette subsidy? Economic arguments can be double-edged; sometimes they are best not wielded.
And in America, there is suddenly a growing hissy fit on the part of the "progressive" left regarding their inability to compete in the radio talk show market, thus prompting them to demand equality of outcome--a sort of "affirmative action" for the oppressed free speech of leftists. As Jeff Goldstein notes, the left requires a legislative "fix" to stifle market driven free speech.
Considering their "pro-choice" rhetoric, you have to admire the chutzpah of their "screw your choice" behavior, which is consistent in that it reveals in dramatic fashion--for anyone who cares to think about it anyway--the totalitarian dreams of the political left.
It also give new clarity to one of the issues that I have talked about on this blog repeatedly, and that is the complete betrayal by the political left here and in Britain of the values and freedoms upon which both countries are founded.
Psychologically, they have managed to deceive themselves into thinking that whatever they do is for the "good" of the country. Take a peek at the comment thread in the Think Progress link above, and think tyranny--which is their idea of "progress" it seems.
Of course, they couch their tyranny in intellectual terms ("It's the PUBLIC airwaves, f***head", one brilliant commenter responded to another who happened to object to the idea of closing down talk shows on the right that enjoy a large market share of listeners).
When it comes right down to it, they are all about, and have always been about, power and control over others.
No one should be surprised at their totalitarian fantasies. Just observe their "patriotic" behavior when it comes to their country fighting a war against the barbaric evil of Islamofascism. They have made common cause with the neo-Marxist fascists of the 21st century; just as they did with the original Marxist fascists of the 20th. Their current machinations to ensure defeat are--from their POV--selfless and courageous actions in order to "protect" this country from what they have always perceived as the "true" evil--anyone who stands in the way of their totalitarian dreams.
John Kerry, their most recent Presidential candidate believed that the "true evil" during the Vietnam War was America and the U.S. Military--not the communist North Vietnamese; Teddy Kennedy believed that the "true" evil during the Cold War was Ronald Reagan --not the USSR.
We all know who today's Democrats believe is the "true" evil in the world today.
Their current crop of Presidential candidates are practically tripping over each other to see which one of them can sell out the values of this country faster (and sadly, when it comes to standing up for the free market and free speech, most of the Republican candidates aren't much better).
Today's political left represents the historical confluence of socialism, communism, and fascism. All three ideologies are nothing more than the utopian fantasies of the basic totalitarian mindset.
It is this same mindset, rooted in collectivist hubris and moral relativism, that forms the basis for almost all leftist thought today; and, it is also the basis for the rise of Islamofascism over the last half century.
The alliance between historical remants of those failed 20th century ideologies--responsible between them for more human misery and death than ever before known in history--and the Islamic fanatics (who represent the 21st century totalitarian mindset) becomes more evident every day. Neither will stop until their particular brand of secular or religious "sharia" is imposed on everyone.
Their mutual goal and progressive utopian dream is simple: they desire to control the human mind.
The tyranny that each group desires to impose is not viable in a world where human thought is free; that is why they focus on stifling free speech and controlling choice. Then they cover-up their true motivations by assiduously working to make you believe they do it for your own good! Aren't they sooooo compassionate and concerned? You betcha.
Laughably, they also argue that their policies are "pro-choice" and that they are the true champions of "free speech."
It is just your choices and your speech that must be controlled, after all!
The psychological contortions they go through in order to rationalize their little progressive fantasies is actually quite remarkable. You will be unable to find better examples of psychological projection, delusion, and denial in any psychology textbook.