Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to email@example.com; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
NYC joined the ongoing movement against smoking in public places last year, banning the practice in most restaurants, stadiums, and other locations. Likewise, it increase cigarette taxes considerably, a rise of over a dollar. A recent report suggests that smoking has dropping an apparently significant eleven percent, though the numbers suggest causal smokers were the ones particularly affected. I would add that smuggling is up as well.
Still, let's say the net result of such efforts are "positive" in nature, and the numbers are fairly accurate. Are they legitimate? The taxes might be, though there is a point where there is diminishing returns, and they are rather regressive in nature. The ban still is illegitimate -- personal freedom, including freedom to harm oneself in various ways, is being violated. We are not just dealing with unconsenting adults or children here. The nanny state we might become if health alone is a valid reason to limit our freedoms is apparent. Note well that drinking dropped during the Prohibition as well. And, when ordinary citizens feel like criminals, the rule of law itself is threatened.
Excessive taxation does in some cases help organized crime. Perhaps, the ways we fight organized crime can be applied in the fight against terror? An interesting thought suggested here by another conservative. The person has made his share of statements that I found offensive and/or disagreed with, but has shown he is not totally kneejerk either, and sometimes is a member of the "conservatives who see how the administration crossed the line" brigade. If this happens too much, you know the group is particularly in trouble.