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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Control freaks want to run your life. They call themselves "public servants." But whether student council president, environmental bureaucrat, or member of Congress, most believe they know how to run your life better than you do.

    I admit I was once guilty of this kind of thinking. As a young consumer reporter, I researched what doctors said was bad for us and what products might harm us. Then I demanded that the state pass rules to protect us from those things. The concept of individual freedom was not yet on my radar screen. I apologize. I was ignorant and arrogant.

    But at least I had no real power. I couldn't force consumers to avoid unhealthy things or pay for certain kinds of health care. I couldn't force any business to stop selling something. Only government can do that. Only government can use force.

    Sadly, government is filled with people just as ignorant and arrogant as I was.

    Economist Matthew Mitchell of the Mercatus Center likes to point out that governments impose regulations without acknowledging that the new rules will have unintended consequences. Bans on smoking in restaurants and bars is one of the control freaks' favorite campaigns. "A recent Cornell study," Mitchell says on my show this week, "found that in those areas where they introduced bans on smoking, you saw an increase in accidents related to alcohol. The theory is that people drive longer distances in order to find bars that either have outside seating or are outside the jurisdiction."

    I selfishly like smoking bans. I don't like breathing others' smoke. But the majority of us shouldn't force our preferences on the minority, even if they do things that are dangerous. Smokers ought to be allowed to smoke in some bars, if the bar owners allow it. But today in about half the states, no one may smoke in any bar.

    It's totalitarianism from the health police. If secondhand smoke were dangerous enough to threaten non-smokers, the control freaks would have a point, but it isn't. It barely has any detectable health effect at all. Rule-makers always want more. At first, they just asked for bans on TV's cigarette ads. Then they demanded no-smoking sections in restaurants. Then bans in airplanes, schools, workplaces, entire restaurants. Then bars, too. Now sometimes even apartments and outdoor spaces. Can't smokers have some places?

    So far, smokers just ... take it. But maybe that's changing. The town of Westminster, Massachusetts, recently held hearings on whether to ban the sale of tobacco products altogether, and 500 angry people showed up. One said, "I find smoking one of the most disgusting habits anybody could possibly do. On top of that, I find this proposal to be even more of a disgusting thing." Good for him. Mitchell warns that "we are accustomed to thinking about the federal government and federal overreach. But a lot of the most intrusive regulations happen at the local level," as in Westminster.

    In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police charged two pastors and a 90-year-old volunteer with giving food to poor people in public. Florida law declares it illegal to give away food in an outdoor location without providing public toilets. The restrictions were instated in the name of "public health and safety."

    In New Jersey, churches were forced to stop offering Thanksgiving dinners to poor people because they didn't have "properly licensed commercial kitchens."

    A court threw out a soft drink ban imposed on my city, New York, by then-mayor Bloomberg, but my new control-freak mayor, Bill de Blasio, plans to reinstate the ban.

    The rules keep coming. Another New York regulation, banning trans fats in restaurants, led to stringent bans on which foods people were allowed to donate to the hungry. I'd think the poor have bigger problems than trans fats. Their biggest problem is the same one we all have: too much government.

    John Stossel is currently a member of the Fox News Team and previously the consumer editor for "Good Morning America" and as a reporter at WCBS-TV in New York City. His first job in journalism was as a researcher for KGW-TV (NBC) in Portland, Ore.

    By John Stossel - Reason.com/Nov. 19, 2014
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. RoboCodeine7610
    WTF? Banning trans fats in restaurants? That's really a thing?

  2. lcdlover
    Hi, okay I had just tried to write a line in the little why-I-like-this-post box and it sort of folded up and slipped away mid-sentence so here it is exploded to several paragraphs. William Burroughs sometimes discussed that there were two types of people in the world*: live-and-let-live "members of the Johnson family" and control-freak "shits". This is a good description of today's...well I'd better let Bill do the talking....

    (From The Adding Machine)
    Brion Gysin, Stewart Gordon, and I were sitting in front of a little Spanish cafe in Tangier when this middle-aged Spaniard walked by, and we all gasped: 'My God, that's a harmless-looking person!' I'd noticed him around town, and spotted him as a real M.O.B.ist: which is nothing special, just minds his own business of staying alive and thinks that what other people do is other people's business.

    The old hop-smoking rod-riding underworld has a name for it: 'a member of the Johnson family.' Wouldn't rush to the law if he smelled hop in the hall, doesn't care what fags in the back room are doing, stands by his word. Good man to do business with. They are found in all walks of life. The cop who slipped me a joint in a New Orleans jail, for instance. Or when I was pushing junk in New York back in 1948, the hotel clerk who stopped me in the lobby: 'I don't know how to say this, but there is something wrong about the people who come to your room.' (Something wrong is putting it softly; ratty junkies with no socks, dressed in three boosted suits puffing out, carrying radios torn from the living car, trailing wires like entrails. 'This isn't a hock shop!' I scream. 'Get this shit out of here!' Regaining my composure I say severely, 'You are lowering the entire tone of my establishment.) 'So I just wanted to warn you to be careful and tell those people to watch what they way over the phone ... if someone else had been at the switchboard ...'

    And a hotel clerk in Tunis; I handed him some money to put in the safe. He put the money away and looked at me: 'You do not need a receipt Monsieur.' I looked at him and saw that he was a Johnson, and knew that I didn't need a receipt.

    Yes, this world would be a pretty easy and pleasant place to live in if everybody could just mind his own business and let others do the same. But a wise old black faggot said to me years ago: 'Some people are shits, darling.' I was never able to forget it.

    Mexican druggist throwing a script back at me: 'We do not serve dope fiends.' It's like Mr. Anslinger said: 'The laws must express society's disapproval of the addict.'

    Most of the trouble in this world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has ...

    *There are other ways to demarcate two kinds of persons. For example there are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't.
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