"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Out of control government

This letter was printed in early November in the Madisonville Messenger

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.” – Thomas Jefferson

I’m writing this letter for the benefit of Dorothy Putty and those like her who seem to have missed the whole point in reference to the smoking ban in Hopkins County. My opposition to the smoking ban has never been about smoking itself or the arguments about second hand smoke, but about over reaching out of control government, specifically the actions of our board of health.

I am and have always been a NON-smoker and if Ms. Putty had actually read my letter about my children she would know this. I grew up with a smoking father and I probably have a slight allergy to smoke. I think smoking is a stinky habit and I don’t enjoy eating with smoke in my face any more than the next person, but I don’t think we need more government regulation of the private business owner. Instead, I choose to trust the American free enterprise system and the profit motive of the merchant. I know he or she wants me to have a good experience in their establishment so they can extract some of my money and hopefully I’ll come back and bring some friends too. If I have a negative experience that cannot be resolved I simply take my hard earned money and walk. If the business owner suffers enough loss, they’ll change their behavior or go out of business. That’s the free market at work.

Now as far as the soda pop illustration in my last letter, it was certainly not a comparison between smoking and soda. It was satire. I was demonstrating the absurd by being absurd. I find it absolutely absurd that in the United States of America, we would allow an unelected group of people to make law and I was speculating about how far reaching that action could be. I opened that particular letter with a totally fictitious quote from Robin the Boy Wonder; now one would think that should have been a pretty good clue of what was in store further in the letter. Maybe Ms. Putty also thinks Robin really said “these Health Department goons really believe they have the right to make law” since she obviously doesn’t get it. The point of everything I’ve written about the smoking ban was and has been about ever expanding government control. In this case, our board of health, an unelected body, is operating outside the constitution.

Ms. Putty says we need to “put up our crazy arguments”, but I don’t think it’s crazy to argue for our liberty. I think America needs a good healthy common sense debate about the role of government in our lives. I can argue all day long for freedom’s sake, it is only ink I’m spilling, some men and women have spilled their blood. How can I in good conscience remain silent when some seem so willing to throw away our freedom over an issue of convenience? It’s just smoke. If you are uncomfortable then say something to the manager/owner, move to another table or take your money and leave but don’t trade something that people died to obtain. Stop asking the government to solve every problem for you. When you do you surrender your power.

Putty continues with “just have enough common decency to consider other people.” Is it common decency to trample on private citizens property rights? Have you considered the impact of this smoking ban on private business owners? Or is that a price you’re willing to pay to serve your convenience? Is it common decency for the Board of Health, a body that has no accountability to voters, to enact law which does not reflect the will of the people?

Finally, if my arguments are as Ms. Putty says, “along the lines of ignorance”, I consider it a privilege to be counted with men such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and our other founding fathers who believed in a loose limited government also. I'll walk in their shadow any day, and if that’s ignorance, so be it.

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