How They Steal Your Rights

Over at StogieGuys.com, I wrote the following column about how nanny-staters chip away at our rights.

It’s the perfect example getting the camels nose under the tent. In other words, they set the precedent for taking away our rights, then, before you know it, they expand a seeming narrow violation of our freedom and use it to take away an entire area of our liberties.

Here’s the entire article:

Make no mistake, the well-funded, well-connected professional activists who oppose tobacco are far from sensible people looking to place so-called “reasonable restrictions” on tobacco. The truth is, almost all are deceitful opportunists who won’t stop until tobacco is taxed or regulated out of existence (or at least pushed completely into an underground black market).

These anti-tobacco zealots are too smart to ever admit their ultimate goal in public, even though occasionally they let their secret slip. Instead, they twist science to deceptively present themselves as reflective, thoughtful advocates who just happen to continuously find “problems” in need of “solutions,” which always amount to more tobacco taxes, more regulations, and more expansive smoking bans.

Recently, these incremental steps towards tobacco prohibition have often been presented as closing loopholes, leveling the playing field, or combating problems seemingly unrelated to smoking. It seems the anti-tobacco crowd has taken to heart the lesson of the boiling frog, which goes something like this: If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you place the frog into a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death.

I suspect they realize that if they are forthright about their ultimate goal of prohibition, they know they would lose credibility and could even unleash a backlash, as those whose freedom of choice they seek to limit would rally to defend their right to enjoy tobacco. However, if the steps towards total prohibition are small enough, like the frog, we won’t act until it is too late.

Three examples show how the tobacco banners present more regulation, taxation, and smoking bans as merely fixes to “loopholes” or “problems” in existing laws:

Congress Takes on Mail-Order Tobacco Sales

This week, Congress is debating a ban on mail-order cigarette sales. It seems that many states are losing revenue as consumers seek to avoid punitive cigarette taxes. Instead of buying a pack of cigarettes for $10 in New York City, they are ordering them through the mail for less than half the price.

Never mind that it’s the excessively high taxes that are forcing people to look for less expensive ways to get tobacco. The anti-smokers say the solution isn’t to re-examine the taxes that created this pseudo-black market, but to create more restrictions and make the postal service, and companies like Fed-Ex, police the contents of every package shipped over state lines. At least so far, the regulation only affects cigarettes, but that’s just another “loophole” waiting to be closed.

Anti-Smokers Say Nebraska Smoking Ban ‘Unfair’

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, after a battle to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars, a deal was eventually struck that would ban smoking everywhere except cigar bars where cigars and pipes would be allowed, but not cigarettes. But the anti-tobacco zealots at the American Cancer Society thought even that most limited exemption was a problem, and they even found novel way to suggest that it was unconstitutional.

According to their tortured reasoning, the ban was an unfair benefit to cigar bars. It seems after banning smoking in all these restaurants and bars, they suddenly claimed to be concerned with the competitive disadvantage that the ban’s victims were put in. Naturally, the “solution” they were seeking—which fortunately wasrejected by the Nebraska Attorney General—was to extend the ban to include cigar bars.

San Francisco Pushes Butt Tax

As reported by the New York Times yesterday, San Francisco’s mayor is pushing a tax increase on cigarettes. (No word yet on any effect on cigars.) His reasoning? Smokers, who have been forced out of bars by city and state smoking bans, were creating litter by leaving their cigarettes in the street.

Citing the cost of cleaning up the cigarette butts, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to increase the cigarette tax. Obviously, the idea of allowing smoking back into bars where staff can clean up butts and provide smokers with ashtrays isn’t being considered. Instead, the “solution” is to raise taxes further.

In all three situations, the “problems” were created when freedoms were limited by policies advocated by the anti-tobacco crowd. Yet somehow the solutions are always more anti-free choice policies.

It has become quite clear that we smokers are becoming the frog, standing idly by as our freedom to smoke is stolen from us one degree at a time. My fear is if we don’t start fighting back soon, it will be too late and our freedoms will have evaporated completely.

10 Responses to “How They Steal Your Rights”

  1. Andreas Guibeb Says:

    One does not have to agree or even like Ron Paul to admire his consistent and persistent defence of individual liberties and the right to be the sole judge for what is and is not good for oneself. However, the natural egoistic tendency of people, companies and states which periodically occassions considerable collective damage as evidenced by the Hitler’s, the Stalin’s, the Pol Pot’s of this world as well as the Global Financial and Environmental crisis shows that those individual liberties need to be tempered and balanced off against collective interest. The room for debate is about whom we should entrust to be the referees and to what extend tempering with ones individual liberties are permissable. In that debate Ron Paul’s views are as legitimate and enriching as those opposed to them.

  2. Dave Saunders Says:

    I’ve found that many people do not understand where rights derive from in the first place. Especially among the younger generation I find the perception that the government assigns rights to us. It’s a throw back to pre-colonial times!

    Thank you for your efforts to raise awareness about these critically-important issues.

  3. ianharper Says:

    tax, when will they stop? it cant go on forever. is it really about control of the money? if the government has most of it then they can spend it on what they feel is right. now if we have it we might let it go outside the country. i like the right to first be reasonable for myself and second to spend my money on what i want.

  4. dave Says:

    yeah, don’t get me started on California. I used to live in Marin as an underpaid web engineer. I tried to ride my bicycle over the golden gate bridge around 9pm to see a friend’s concert in the city but didn’t realize they close a gate across the pedestrian walkways at 8 or something (I imagine to stop people from jumping).

    what it really means is that if you don’t have a car you are not a citizen in this area because bus service doesn’t run during those hours and you have no ability to leave Marin over either bridge (richmond or ggate).

    as far as I’m concerned, if somebody wants to off themselves with drugs, alcohol, tobacco or even the golden gate bridge (as long as their body doesn’t fall on a small watercraft or other vessel crossing through) then they should be free to do so.

    thank you Ron Paul for being one of the few real rights champions in our state/federal government. we have conceded so many liberties in the past 10-15 (or more, I’m sure) years; we cannot allow this to happen anymore.

  5. MoxKirby Says:

    @Dave Well said, it’s time to get our rights back. Anyone not frightened by the rapid pace that rights are being stripped away is either uninformed, or trying to take away more of your rights.

  6. nat014 Says:

    Banning smoking the dream for some but as you surly demonstrate it it is taking away our right to choose. Having designated areas could satisfy everyone but instead it is an ongoing debate. From a government point sure they are health issues but also money issues. Raising taxes means more money, a total ban means no money … difficult choice. Showing respect to all would be a smart step and protect our freedom to chooser. Thanks for raising the issue and providing some great examples.

  7. Walker Says:

    Check out Tennessee - they just had the “warrentless searches” of cars stopped as unconstitutional.

    So now - Tennessee is putting through a law of “warrentless searches of all properties” - on the pretext if they think there are animals there - they can come on your property and search to see if you are in compliance - “if they think” is subjective and opens the definite abuse of power for officials. It is Tennessee’s way of letting law enforcement walk onto your property and into your home whenever they want to to search.

    One more way for the government to come walking on your property without a warrent to see what they can confiscate and then auction off for the police department’s profit.

    A person will not have the right to privacy - with “warrentless searches”. A person should be able to go to their home, lock the door, and be able to relax without the fear of strangers stamping through their property “to see if everything is ‘legal’” Plus they can go stamping through forcing entry if no one is home with their “warrentless searches”.

    The majority of the population of Tennessee is not aware of this search without a warrent as they are sneaking this “warrentless search of all properties” in as a breeder tax bill.

    Way to go Tennessee government officials and Gov. Bredesen (who assures that he will sign the bill when it hits his desk)!!

  8. BRunner Says:

    I am a non-smoker and have terrible allergies to second-hand smoke. Before smoking was banned in restaurants, I could not go and enjoy a meal out. Even designated areas did not work because smoke does not stay on one side of a line drawn in the air. Where I live, even some bars are smoke-free and allow me to sit with my friends and listen to live music. I am grateful. If smokers walked around with bubbles over the heads that never allowed the smoke to escape then I would say go where ever you want. That being said, I think everyone has a right to kill themselves slowly by smoking, if they so wish. Just don’t exhale into my breathing air. Designated establishements that allow smoking is fine with me. I just won’t go there. We all need choices. One item remains however, should non-smokers have to pay for a smoker’s health care? If we all have choices then we all must face the consequences of making those choices and not expect others to pay the price for us.

  9. fire838 Says:

    I am a non-smoker who hates to be around tobacco smoke when I go out to eat. You know what I do, I frequent restaurants that have voluntary no smoking policies in place. That’s right, there are dozens of eating establishments that are close to my house, but I CHOOSE to go to the ones that represent my personal preferences. What a novel idea, the government not interfering in a business owners right to run their business the way they choose, and a customer rewarding the business owner who freely chooses to implement policies that satisfy their personal preferences.

  10. Leticia Says:

    This ban on smoking seems to me to be illegal. If a bar proprietor leases his place from an owner who is not concerned about smoking in the establishment, then this law limits the owner’s rights to his property. and the proprietor and all the prospective customers. This owner has lost his right to use the air inside his property as he wishes. The proprietor loses his rights. Who ever heard of a pub that doesn’t allow smoking? HOW dare they ban something that is not illegal. What right do they have? Prohibition didn’t work why should this? The anti-smoking group really does just want to take away another liberty.

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