Liable for Compulsive Gambling?

A Pathologist is suing a drug manufacturer, and the casinos that he lost his 14 million dollar Fortune to, because the drug that he was given causes compulsive gambling. I think that not only the drug manufacturer, but the casinos could loose that lawsuit, despite the objections about “where is the justice in this” that I’ve heard.

The lawsuit has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with philosophy. In the dominant philosophy in the US right now (Kantian Altruism) it is accepted that “we are our brothers keeper” which means that the casinos have the responsibility to tell someone who is hurting himself by loosing too much “you’ve had enough now brother, time to stop”. It doesn’t matter that this introduces a whole new mess of problems for the gambling industry. Just like the can o’ worms that bars now face (and that McDonald’s et al narrowly dodged by adding ‘healthy’ items to their menus) in having to be “brother’s keeper”, the casinos have a responsibility to do likewise.

The only way this can be corrected is to change the dominant philosophy in the world today; a daunting task.

As a Capitalist/Objectivist, I’m not going to bother trying to defend the argument that the casinos should be liable; I’m just stating for the record, that based on Altruist values and reasoning, they are.

Writing without Reason?

I generally have two or three books I’m working on reading at any given time. Currently my non-fiction book of choice is Stephen Hick‘s Explaining Postmodernism. So far it’s been an excellent read for anyone wanting to understand some of the broad philosophical trends of the last few centuries. Currently I’m working through chapter 4 – “The Climate of Collectivism”. I’m marveling over the impact that someone like Rousseau seems to have had over philosophy in recent history.

Whatever else he may have said aside, anyone who writes theses about reason being the root of mankind’s unhappiness, and that we must abandon it in order to be happy, really ought to look to his own house first. As someone who has written volumes over the years, I think I can honestly say that one cannot write a sentence without applying reason, much less an entire treatise on any given subject.

I’ll give him one thing, mankind would have been much happier if he had followed his own advice. 

Why I am a Libertarian

Another historical piece from the archive. On rereading it, I remembered that I had used a little literary license in writing the piece.

The first time I heard the word ‘Libertarian’ was at the Texas State Capitol building, about ten days before the the Gulf War in ’91. During an anti-war protest there, I got to talking to Terry Liberty Parker, and he mentioned that Libertarians were against the war, unlike the Dems. I have since fallen out of friendship with Mr. Parker (and, in fact, his behavior is at the core of why I’ve become inactive in the party both times it’s happened) but I will always be in his debt for introducing me to the party.

I had said several times prior to that event, in discussions with ‘the wife’, if I was given a choice between socialism and fascism, I would choose socialism because you live longer (socialists just want your money, fascists want you to agree with them philosophically, or they shoot you. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time) but I could not understand how the Democrats (the party of Jefferson, the party that cast itself as the opposition to the Vietnam war) would be in support of a war that was not in our own interest. I was all for getting involved with a group that wanted to end the military adventurism that we’ve been involved in since the end of WWII, so I started looking for libertarian meetings and talking to libertarians when I found them.

I was already an Objectivist, I had read most of Rand by that time and found her philosophical outlook to be very much like my own, so I was already ‘in tune’ with the core of Libertarian thought. At some point I took the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” and found that I was a dead center Libertarian (These days I’m nearly 100/100 on the chart) I spent a good bit of time in the old TCLP office on Middle Fiskville Rd. talking to Bruce Baechler, and I think he was the one who made me feel most comfortable with supporting Libertarians as more than just a protest vote.

Anyway, what follows was what I posted in response to a request for “Why I am a Libertarian” articles. The ‘Republicans coming to power’ was Reagan in ’80. I thought Carter was a great president at the time. ‘The wife’ still does; don’t hold it against her, though. She hates the current Democrats.


I am a libertarian because I believe, first and foremost, in the concept of limited government. Most people, when told this will exclaim “ah, you are a Republican”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. But I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted, why the term PC was ever created and why taxes were increased, even in the face of Democrat dominated legislatures and presidents.

When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?

It took eight years of a Democrat president to convince me of the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying. You well may laugh, but to an honest man, this was shocking. I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only ‘help’ that government can give; and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.

Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom. Jefferson and those who started the ball rolling way back when understood this. They were Democrats. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the allegiances of the parties have shifted over the course of 200+ years, which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.

Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.

Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government. If there is a core libertarian belief, then that is a good portion of it; the requirement that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history. We are the Libertarian Party, and we are here to stay.


Editor’s note: June 11, 2016.  The wife of the blowjob president is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party and I support her.  It is a weird world we live in.  I still have libertarian delusions but I have medications that keep those in check.

I used this article as a template for a submission to a local newsletter. It became my About Me blog entry until it was superseded by this one.

I just took the quiz for isidewith.com and I’m apparently a Sanders supporter. Which is weird because I like Hillary Clinton better as a leader.  Proven track record as a leader.  I’m good with that. Still weird. Still liberal.

Ideally There Would Be No Idealists

So I get a response from Mr. Bylund the other day to my Blog entry, and I keep meaning to write up my own reply, and just never get around to it. I am a man of many passions (as this blog should quite readily show) I once spent an (in hindsight) inordinate amount of time on politics and political thought, but those days are quickly receding into the past. Much like the message he sent me.

Then, lo and behold, I notice he’s added comments to the blog entry itself.

Hello Mr. Bylund, I’m not ignoring you, I just think that achieving the anarchist ideal ranks somewhere behind science fiction fandom and humor (and living in the here and now) on the importance list. I establish my own values, just like I know and uphold my own rights; I don’t look to government to maintain them for me, but to abstain from violating them in the process of doing it’s legitimate work.

I read your comments through several times. This is the paragraph which I feel the need to specifically address:

To minarchists, the anarchist position is utterly utopian, perhaps even idealistic, and they conclude it would not work. Such a society could quickly degenerate into chaos and misery since there is no final arbiter in conflicts and no power to leash or control the evils unavoidably existent in society. The reasoning is that there needs to be something larger, but external to the market, setting the basic rules and enforcing them. Without the enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

The key phrase here is final arbiter. Government is legitimate, in my estimation, when it:

  1. Violates no rights in maintaining its existence.
  2. Acts only as the final arbiter in a conflict.

While I don’t know of any government that meets this criteria that is currently in existence, I believe that it is possible to attain (I would, in fact, refer to Nozick’s state as Government; because that is the word that fits the purpose being served) What I do hear from Anarchists that argue with me on the necessity of government is that they have a plan to substitute the structure that is government for another structure which does essentially the same job, but isn’t government. My counter argument will always be “a rose by any other name”; it is still government no matter what it is called.

When I point out to them that Anarchy is chaos, by definition; and that political Anarchy, to be true to its definition, would require that there is no structure (which I will always call government) in order for it to be called Anarchy,that the resultant society would be chaotic and prone to instability, which most likely would lead (and has lead in the past) to more repressive forms of government taking root, I’m told that I just don’t get it.

But I do get it. The anarchists want to use the word anarchy to serve as a figurehead for something that isn’t anarchy but will be different from the current government structure; a tactic which has and most likely will backfire again when acted upon. Which is why I bother to argue about this in the first place.

Utopian and Idealist visions have lead to some of the worst hell holes on the planet. During the time of the Russian revolution, Anarchists and Socialists were brothers in the same cause; fighting to bring change to a Russian society that, without a doubt, desperately needed it. The idealist Anarchists of the time thought that if they could just get rid of the Czar the social utopia of Communism (which is a governmentless form of society, an anarchy; at least as Marx envisioned it) would soon follow. I think history will show it turned out differently.

No, I’m not saying that Anarchists are Communists. The Wiki entry should plainly show, if nothing else, that Anarchists don’t even know what Anarchists are. Which is fitting, considering the definition of the word anarchy. Chaos is its own definition.

Every time I find myself butting heads with someone politically, I discover that the someone in question has some ‘ideal’ vision in his head concerning what should be the way things work; a Utopia for which they just won’t accept any substitutions. Unfortunately reality doesn’t consult with us concerning it’s inner workings. In an ideal world, there would be no idealists. That’s my idea of utopia. You can thank your lucky stars that I don’t believe in Utopias.

If we want structures to serve the purposes we intend for them, then we have to look at the constraints that reality places on us and design them to fit. Self-funding support bodies for essential government functions (i.e. the cost of police and fire departments being funded by the insurance companies and land owners that profit from their existence) is just one vein of thought on the subject. Government structures that don’t violate rights simply by existing in the first place.

Suffice it to say I’ve put some thought into this, and I doubt that there is much that can be said that will sway me from my opinion.

It’s called ‘Philosophy’

This was an open letter to a local Talk Show that was being guest hosted by a local State Rep. (whose opinions I generally agree with, but not that day) who kept wondering, on air, how anyone could get by without religion to shape their moral fibre; and what a shame it was that the importance of religion in American society was failing, since we are a ‘Christian nation’ after all.

[three guesses what set me off in the first place. Bet you don’t need two of them]


Dear XXXXXXX,

The word you are struggling to find is ‘philosophy’. Philosophy, even amongst the religious, is where morals come from. I say this as an Objectivist, Americans ignore the importance of establishing and maintaining a personal philosophy at their own peril.

It is the short-cutters, who turn to religion and superstition to answer their metaphysical questions, that are to blame for the degradation of the morals in our society; not a lack of ‘faith’ or ‘prayer in schools’ or whatever imagined slight the Christian Right wants to whine about today.

Contrary to popular opinion, the founders where not christians, they were Deists.

From EarlyAmerica.com:

“The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, “Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom.” Freemasons took seriously the principle that men should worship according to their own conscious. Masonry welcomed anyone from any religion or non-religion, as long as they believed in a Supreme Being. Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Hamilton, Lafayette, and many others accepted Freemasonry.”

One of the most religious men in the continental congress was John Adams, and he was a Unitarian.

This is my answer to the question you posed. I only wish I could have called in to set you right in your confusion. Religion is a curse that will betray America to ruin; and that very soon. Philosophy needs to be taught to children as a part of their school curriculum. It is every bit as important as the 3 “R’s”. (so does economics need to be taught, but that is a different subject) Only with the mental tools for judging and abiding by morals of their own, will our children be able to stop the moral decline that this country is in.

I too had to turn off the program today. One more holier than thou phone caller trying to tell me how I needed to go to church would have sent me over the edge.


These days I just point people who ask these types of questions to the study published in the Journal of Religion and Society titled Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies, that shows the impact of fervent religious belief on society as a whole is negative. Don’t know what else needs to be said on the subject.

Critiquing an artform (‘Failed’ part 2)

It’s all hot air, I’d just like to say that as a preface. The critiquing of art only has statistical relevance, as in the method used at www.rottentomatoes.com, and then only if the positive/negative is weighed properly. Which is why I don’t make top 10 lists, for example. It’s pretty pointless. My favorite top 10 anything will shift from day to day, and should be meaningless to just about anybody else.

I know what I like, and why I like it. Conversely, I know what I don’t like and why that is as well. For example, Sin City is not a good film no matter how many tickets it sold. There is no discernible theme. There is no apparent rhyme or reason for the use of color in the film (which is done in nouveau black and white for those who haven’t seen it. Can anybody explain the Ferengi in the final segments of the film? I just don’t get that bit at all) it is an excellent representation of a graphic novel whose pictures move, but it is a very poor film. Are we clear? Good.

Having made that point clear, I’d like to respond to two points brought up here:
http://www.fireflyfans.net/showblog.asp?b=2857#8598

(non-SciFi fans will be forgiven if they run screaming…)

Gedeon wrote:
So are you saying Joss will lose his thunder like David Lynche did?

I’m still a browncoat, still love the characters, but they should stop whoring the story for new fans next time around. You know, not have Simon save River thus destroying what he did in the series. Not have Jayne take River for a nice Shuttle ride… It makes the story clearer, but you and I didn’t need it.

What I was saying is that Fire Walk with Me was a failure in every way that Serenity was not; and yet it was acclaimed as a great film. I’ve never cared, one way or the other, for David Lynch’s work. I consider his version of Dune to be one of the worst adaptations of a movie from a novel that I have ever seen. They didn’t get one thing right except casting and makeup for the Harkonens. I’ll have to beg off judgment on anything else he’s done, since I haven’t seen it.

I personally think that Joss took the wise course in attempting to create a film that would not alienate the new viewer by catering to the fans of the TV show. I’ve said this before and it bears repeating:

“I’m not in charge of making the movies; I daresay that (whoever you are reading this) you don’t make films either. Since they don’t pay me to make decisions about what I want to see in a film and, in fact, pay someone else to do it, I don’t expect people in positions of authority on any particular film will care much if I have a complaint about a particular scene.”

The scenes in question make sense from a plot standpoint (even if they don’t in series continuity) and so can be forgiven, at least in my opinion (I especially love the ‘beaning’ that Jayne gets. Nice pun Joss) they do not, in fact, conflict with established facts from the series.

So, no aspersions on Joss whatsoever, kudos to Joss for getting Serenity in the air at all.

Gedeon wrote:
To me, in years to come, we will consider Serenity like trekkies consider the first Star Trek movie. It’s the right characters, but the costumes were all wrong. The other six are much better.

The worst of the ST films was the last one. That they (Paramount) have apparently given Berman and Braga (the Nemesis of Trek) the reins of the next film as well pretty much spells the complete end of the franchise for me. If Berman is given control of this film, it will be the first Star Trek film that I won’t bother to see in theatres. Nemesis was so far removed from Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Trek that I just couldn’t sit through it more than once. That and the fact that they rehash the death of Spock with the death and re-birth of Data; they inexplicably find yet another ‘brother’ for Data, while traveling on a dune buggy, the only vehicle with wheels ever seen in Trek. Need I go on?

In contrast, the first film (despite it’s meandering pacing and far too simplistic plot) clearly has a lot of Gene in it. The machine trying to become human (a la Data from Next Generation) for example. The first Star Trek film is something I cherish. It got the ball rolling again.

If that is what Serenity ends up being (the film that gets the ball rolling again) then I will look back on it just as fondly.

Children’s rights, drugs and school

From the Archive…
There was a proposal a few years back by a nearby school district to require drug testing for all children engaged in extra-curricular activities. As a free thinker and a libertarian, I had a problem with this (as you can imagine) I don’t know if the proposal was ever adopted; I do know, however, that my mind remains unchanged on the subject.

Let me frame this correctly:

I am the guardian of my children’s rights. To submit children to drug testing without probable cause violates the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments to the constitution, just on the face of it, no matter what the Supremes say.

I find it offensive that the school has decided to exclude my children from extra-curricular activity over this issue; I say this because I will not allow my child’s rights to be violated, and they will not be allowed to participate without ‘testing’.

If I feel that the evidence warrants testing, rest assured I will see that they are tested. But the state has no business getting involved in this issue. My children will not be involved in extra curricular activities if testing is required. My children will not be in school if testing is required of the entire student body.

Further, anyone who submits to a drug test for ANY REASON when not under arrest is abdicating their rights under the constitution; is admitting to guilt until proven innocent.

There comes a point where you can yield no further ground on an issue. That point has been reached. If you want to end the threat of drugs in the school REMOVE THE PROFIT, LEGALIZE THEM.

It really is that simple. Prohibition does not work, we proved that nearly a century ago…

Some one argued, at the time, “are you willing to open that can of worms [children’s rights] for the liberals?”

It’s not a can of worms, because you are mis-construing my post.

The child has no rights directly (again, in spite of what the supremes say) They are not adults, they do not comprehend actions and consequences as a general rule, and they do not think at an adult level. However, as the parent, I am charged with guarding the rights of my children. It falls to me, and to no one else, to do this.

If someone fails in their duty as parent, the child should be free to seek whatever shelter can be found; be it private charity or gov’t action. If the child can prove that he/she is able to function as an adult, then he/she is no longer a child and should have the ability to seek redress for harm done like any adult.

The child does not stay a child, they become adults. Parents who fail to realize this natural order of things (and I know a few who fall in this category) deserve whatever comes to them when the adult who was their child takes offense at the liberties taken by negligent, or even over-protective, parents.

Religion is no excuse for mistreatment of a child; there is, in fact, no excuse.

The CPS and the payments their agents get for stealing children is another story all together.

Further argument was offered:
“…as far as I read it you were stating it’s a violation of the children’s rights to be drug tested. But as you just stated the children do not have many rights by law. So you’re saying its ok for a parent to violate a child’s rights but not the government’s right [to do so]?”

The government has no rights, only individuals have rights. Some will tell you that the gov’t is an illusion like the spoon in ‘the Matrix’. But I digress.

I’m always amazed at the confusion most people exhibit when the subject of rights comes up. Amazed because the first document of a free America proclaims the existence of ‘inalienable rights’; and amazed because the concept is so clear to me.

To put it simply: Children are potential adults; if they succeed in reaching maturity, then they *are* adults. All adults have rights, they are the same rights no matter where you live (despite what the Chinese premier thinks) because they come from what makes us living, thinking individuals. Children have potential rights, and these are vested in the guardian or parent whose job it is to ensure that the child matures into a responsible adult.

A parent can violate a child’s rights. Negligence, abuse, or some other failure of guidance should be seen as a breaking of the trust that is parenthood.

In demanding drug testing, the gov’t and the school have determined that all the children are guilty until proven innocent. Any parent who yields to the pressure and allows their child to be tested in this fashion allows their children’s rights to be violated, and in so doing, abdicates their right to be called ‘parent’.

Smokin’, smokin’; I feel alright, mamma, I’m not jokin’

Another historical argument from the file. Austin passed several smoking bans. Passed and overturned and passed again. Anyway, it lead to some interesting thoughts on mine and other’s parts. This is some of it. The rest may still be in the archive over at the Liberty List and TCLPactive.


First round: Just Say NO! to Compromise


[The city of Austin proposed a smoking ordinance in 2003 that would have banned smoking in public places. It passed. They then went on to offer to sell “smoking permits” to businesses that wanted to allow smoking (pay to get a permit to do something that you should be able to do anyway, but have to pay for because the city government felt pressured to act by all the do-gooders out there, and then realized they’d created a massive cash cow that they could suck funds out of. It’s a beautiful world, isn’t it?) There was a chance that other alternatives to the original ban might be entertained alongside the permits idea, so…]

[Rock Howard proposed the following in response to the suggestion that any form of compromise would be an abandonment of our principles as libertarians (I reprint it because I agreed with it completely at the time; and in fact still do) as an example of how a compromise on a smoking ordinance would simply clarify business practices that already exist, allowing the customer to then make an informed choice]

To me an example of a workable compromise would be:

  • If they wish, an establishment can sign up on a city maintained smoking registry, but doing so is not necessary if the owner puts up a sign near the entrance(s) of the establishment detailing their smoking policy. (Minimal signage would be: “Smoking Permitted”.)
  • If they wish, an establishment can sign up on a city maintained “smoke free” registry, but doing so is not necessary if the owner puts up a sign near the entrance(s) of the establishment to the effect detailing their smoking policy. (Minimal signage would be: “No Smoking” or “Smoke Free”.)

(Knowing the city, they would probably require Spanish language too.)

This “compromise” would hopefully placate those who consider cigarette smoke as an assault on their personages. (For some people it actually is.) As far as abridging rights goes, it is simply coupling the right of the property owner to the equal and legitimate responsibility to make their smoking policy clear to prospective patrons either through signage or by the public process of signing up on a registry.

As far as the “permit” idea goes, let’s see if we can dig up actual examples where a permitting process for smoking turned into a ban. If we can do that, then that would be helpful as it might give the business owners more intestinal fortitude about defending their rights. At this point many are seeing this as a life and death issue for their businesses and that makes more susceptible to a slippery slope compromise.

[When further objections were offered, he then posted the following:]

It is possible to stay with our principle but also get involved with the current process too. If we refuse to get involved for the sake of principle, then we abandon our constituents to their fate (which likely entails a slippery slope compromise that dooms them in the future.) The only other avenue is the courts, but we have no friends or power their either.

I have seen this fight in other cities and with the current political mindset of the voters, as long as it remains a political battle, we are doomed. If we can be smart and lucky we might be able to help craft a compromise that staves off the rights-snatchers for a while and, more importantly, helps preserve the livelihoods of our core constituents for the time being. If we do, then we will have bought ourselves some time as well as additional support for the long term project of opening up the minds of the people to the larger issue (i.e., the critical importance of personal property rights.) This will take time and money and, without it, we are just kidding ourselves about our ability to win this battle.

The only reason that I used the word “compromise” in the first place is that there are only two possibilities right now: 1) no compromise happens and the current harsh Smoking Ordinance goes into effect; or 2) a compromise occurs to stave off the most harsh effects of the ordinance for some time. I do not accept that there is a third option (as much as we would all prefer it) in the near future. I suggest that to get to the preferred outcome that we all want, it makes sense to be involved in the current process as the outcome of “no compromise” will simply kill off many of the small businesses that we are supposedly trying to support.

In point of fact, if the local [LP] works against some sort of compromise, then we are, in effect, working to enact the Smoking Ordinance. Go ahead and do so if that is what you want, but in my considered opinion that approach is counterproductive in the short, medium and long run.


A Smoker wrote:
If we try to mediate a compromise in this case, we are saying that government taking away just some of our rights is ok verses taking all of them. If we need to take this to court to fight this injustice we should, it would really make a name for ourselves. We should stand up for what’s right, not for what we feel is acceptable for the moment.

What about the rights of the non-smokers to do business in a smoke-free environment? What about the (real) health issues involved in breathing smoky air? I assure you that the solid majority of Austinites are 4-square behind an outright ban based on those two arguments alone.

I don’t agree with them, but they are our audience.

A requirement to sign the exterior of your business is no different than putting ingredients on the outside of packages, or spelling out the details of a contract in advance. It’s not a compromise, it’s collaboration; an acknowledgement that there are telling arguments for those who support a ban, but that a ban is not necessary or even desirable.

IMO, signing the exterior of your business IS what is right. Some of us would prefer to do without the smoke. Thank you, Rock, for the level headed suggestion.

[The outcome of the vote on the smoking permits ? Landslide in favor of it, the council couldn’t resist that cash cow. The local LP candidates (except for the exceptional Rock Howard) opposed all compromises and sunk any chance of sidestepping what happened then, and what happened next.]

[at the suggestion of the moderator at TCLPactive, I moved the discussion to my Liberty List]


Second round: Smoke lies are 50



[Can’t find a link for the original article that this references, ACSH reformatted the site recently, and a good portion of the old articles were lost. The copy in the Archive at LL is representative of it, however]

A Smoker wrote:
Getting in your car and driving will lead to serious health consequences, to the same degree that lighting a single cigarette will lead to serious health consequences.

It has nothing to do with the number of trips. I can get in my car right now and drive, and while I stand a statistical chance of harm, the mere act of driving the car does not increase the chance in and of itself.

My wife and I were test car drivers for quite awhile. She has driven more than a million miles. She’s still breathing.

A relative of mine has smoked 3 packs of filterless cigarettes a day for 30 years. He’s had cancer twice, (thankfully not lung cancer) cancer that is statistically related to smoking, and he still insists that the smoking isn’t the problem, all the while smoking like a chimney. He may still be breathing now, the latest radiation treatments won’t start for a few more weeks. The man could have lived in good health to the age of 100 or more, without the cigarettes. I personally don’t think he’ll see 70 because of them.

There are three kinds of men.
The one that learns by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

Will Rogers, The Wisdom of Will Rogers


A Smoker wrote:
Your rights are not being transgressed when someone smokes in your presence, because you are free to leave, or not to breathe the smoke, or to wear a mask. Your rights are being transgressed when someone forces you to do something that harms you or others, or when they harm you directly.

When I am engaged in commerce, dining out for instance, I and the parties I am doing business with have entered into an informal contract. Part of that contract involves a smoke-free environment if you are doing business with me. During the process of commerce, while I’m eating for example, someone decides to engage in their particular form of self-destruction and lights a cigarette.

How am I ‘free to leave’? I daresay that the owner of the establishment would take exception to my departure before contracts are satisfied, before I paid in this example. As someone who is known to demand a smoke-free environment, why should I be ‘expected’ to leave? Since non-smoking is something that I demand up front, should not the smoker be ejected if he refuses to leave?

  • “wear a mask”. Why doesn’t the reverse apply? Since smoking carries no negative impacts, let the smokers wear a mask and not waste a single breath of their precious nicotine.
  • “not to breathe the smoke”. Not breathing as a choice. No, I don’t think so.
  • The truth is, when someone lights up in my presence, they are in fact forcing me to engage in their habits. It’s a cop-out for libertarians to say “you’re free to leave” or “it’s a (property) rights issue”, because that is just the surface. The reality is much more complex than that.


    A Smoker wrote:
    Your usage of “informal” is as a euphemism for implied. A contract not discussed and not agreed to is a contract which does not exist.

    Informal does not equal implied. The words have different meanings. Walk on a check at a restaurant and see if the restaurateur doesn’t think you have a contract. That you are expected to pay for services rendered and food consumed is an informal contract; informal because you did not agree to the contract in writing, in advance.


    A Smoker wrote:
    When people complain about an aspect of free-wheeling liberty (such as people lighting up whenever they please whenever the owner of the property they’re standing on doesn’t mind), it is my reflexive assumption that the person making the argument would turn a blind eye toward government force should it be stamping down on that aspect of liberty…

    I have the right to object to harm; and I will exercise that right vehemently.

    OTOH, do you put tags on your car, carry a drivers license, pay income taxes? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then by your definition you can apply the label to yourself, because gov’t force is used to mandate things which are infringements on our liberty.

    Austin banned smoking recently, and no, I’m not going to spend time fighting that battle now. The alternative wording (signage in lieu of a ban; I would have liked to expand it to allow air quality controls and multiple uses – essentially the status quo prior to the first smoking ordinance, with a nod toward the health issues of accumulated smoke in a confined space) that I agreed with was deemed a compromise by the local activists, and they decided to ‘stand on principle’ and go down with the ship. Well, the property rights ship sank, and smoking is banned here now, unless the business owner agrees to pay the city for the ‘privilege’ of allowing smoking. As Austin is “the liberal island in the conservative sea of Texas”, this is probably the way it’s going to be for awhile.

    The net effect is positive for me personally, since health issues are deemed too touchy-feely to be taken seriously by hard-core types. My choices were reduced to either choke on the smoke of the free-wheeling, or breath the socialist air. So my fellow libertarians (who love to talk about choice) forced me to pick the lesser of two weevils. Not a position I relish, I assure you.


    [When pressed for evidence on the subject of the harmfulness of second hand smoke, I suggested this publication http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/ets.html ]

    A Smoker wrote:
    That’s also an assertion. I don’t know what study it’s based on but I’ve enough smoking and second hand smoking studies demolished by examining their statistical methods that I don’t put any stock in them. Cato has plenty of these. The claim that 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco is an outright fabrication from the American Cancer Society, for example.

    Back to the original question, the only acceptable smoking ordinance IMO is having establishments clearly post their smoking policy at the entrance so you can make your decision before entering, as was suggested by Rock Howard previously

    Back at the beginning I endorsed Rock Howards proposal, so I think we’ve come full circle here. As another aside, The CATO Regulation article that is being alluded to was addressed in the ACSH article located here: http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.498/pub_detail.asp Needless to say that I think the scientists at ACSH are pretty sure of their numbers.


    Third round: A non-smoker clears the air on smokers’ rights



    [Can’t find a link for the original article that this references either, the site that it was on has either pulled it down or it doesn’t exist anymore. The copy in the Archive at LL is representative of it, however]

    About the only thing that the writer got right was that it’s not an issue of ‘smoker’s rights’.

    What most of the ‘average Joe’s’ who aren’t in the architecture field don’t realize is just how controlled building standards are in EVERY OTHER AREA except indoor air quality. The establishment of building codes that spell out minimum standards would go a long way toward addressing the problems of smoking vs. non-smoking; giving more choice to people in the long run rather than a strict smoking/smoke-free establishment.

    Back in the ‘good ol’ days’ the upper class spent the money to have ‘smoking rooms’, because it was ill-mannered to smoke in front of the ladies. Now we’re all slaving in a socialist paradise, chucking the niceties of proper etiquette and the class structure, dragging the unwilling along with us kicking and screaming in whichever direction the whim of the majority takes us. Soon we will all be trailer trash (what in math is referred to as a Lowest Common Denominator) and not even the trailer trash will be allowed to smoke. Ah, democracy.

    Business owners want one thing over all others: profit. I say fine; but let’s get to the real ‘cost’ and benefit of the systems that we create. restaurateur’s and Club Owner’s will not take a hard stand for property rights. It doesn’t sell food and drink; oh, they’ll cheer us on, but they’ll toe whatever line that a) causes the least trouble, and b) makes them the most cash in the system. …and the system does not take long-term health effects into account.

    So, you had business owners who were more than happy to crowd everyone together with sub-standard ventilation, breathing each others exhaust fumes, because it was cheap and the majority of the population smoked. Now the majority are non-smokers, don’t want to smell smoke, and are willing to subvert property rights (Just as it’s been done since the beginning of time) in order not to have to. Guess what? The business owners will make the just-enough-to-prove-a-point noise about it, and then roll over and comply. That’s how they ‘work the system’ to their advantage. They get to appear sympathetic to the ‘poor smoker’, but they can follow the majority and their dollars into a non-smoking paradise; best of all they get to keep their poorly ventilated, overly crowded buildings just the way they are, and look good in the process.

    Best bang for the buck that there is.

    This has been my point all along. Ya’ll can stay on the high horse of property rights, and loose; and you will loose, mark my words. If it’s a choice of defending this myth that business ownership is some kind of grandiose last stand for property, or defending my desire to breath
    cleaner air, then I’m going to breath easier. 🙂

    or…

    We could establish that the ‘system’ should take account of air quality, just as it does minimum structural standards, minimum exiting standards, minimum bathroom sizes, etc, etc, ad infinitum; call it signage, call it minimum codes, call it defending my property, my body, from the negative health effects of your bad habits; even when I’m not physically on land that I own. I don’t care what you call it, but it’s better than establishing smoking bans all over the nation, which is where we are headed right now. Then we can add Tobacco to the list of black market drugs; how about ‘smoke-easy’ establishments? Probably already exist in New York.

    Do you know what I would love to see? Smokers wearing ‘space helmets’ to smoke in. With a HEPA filtration system on the helmet, no smoke would escape to annoy the non-smokers. Can you arrest him for smoking in his own private space? Would anyone bother? That would be an argument involving the rights of the smoker, and no one else. Do you think we’d find a volunteer to test the theory? Or does even the most devout smoker balk at being cooped up in small space with too much smoke in it? If you really believe that it’s not a health hazard to smoke, then why would you not be willing to?

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”
    -Ayn Rand


    I’m sure some of you out there dismissed my ‘solution’ out of hand “Bah, more minimum standards. Just another there-oughta-be-a-law solution for problems that are none of the gov’ts business.”

    Now, if I were talking about ‘law’, then I would agree with you.

    However, that wasn’t the subject. Building codes are not laws. Yes, I know, in most places they are adopted and enforced as laws; but they start out as guidelines drawn up by groups concerned about public safety. They are ‘minimum standards’ for safe building, and are as necessary in the scheme of things as any written manual. Anyone interested in limiting their liability (and most businesses are) will attempt to follow some acceptable standard of practice; so the creation of minimum standards for building was inevitable and actually desirable.

    The problem with building codes is that they become bound up in the bureaucracy of gov’t. Wander down to the building dept. in nearly any city in the U.S., and you will see the stellar results we get from this approach. In Austin, the indecipherable rat’s maze of overlapping authorities has lead to the need to create an office – the ‘Development Assistance Center’ – just to tell the newcomers where they should start in the maze. One size fits all – and you will comply with the standards.

    Tying the codes to gov’t has several other undesirable side effects. I want to focus on one of them: The negative effects that rigid standards imposes on innovation. Many of the new technologies face impediments placed in their way by codes that were drawn up before they existed. IMHO, minimum standards for indoor air quality is one of the areas that has been affected by this; which has lead to the panic over the negative effects of second hand smoke.

    The solution to making the codes more responsive is to divorce the creation and enforcement of building codes from the gov’t altogether. Much like the independent UL (Underwriters Laboratories) creates minimum standards and tests assemblies and devices based on those standards, building codes should be based on logical, definable standards that can be tested, inspected and approved by any sufficiently educated third party. Allow the property owners and the professionals who design the facilities to decide what standards they wish to meet; and then hold them accountable for failures in design.

    …and the solution to the smoking issue in the built environment is to create a minimum standard for indoor air quality that addresses the publics concern.

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survive,
    nor the most intelligent,
    but the one most responsive to change.”

    – Charles Darwin


    There were arguments along the way that suggested something to the effect that “the average person doesn’t care about smoking, and so the smoking ban will never pass if put to a vote”. Not too long after the Round 3 discussion, a referendom on banning smoking indoors in Austin was put before the voters, and it passed by a slim majority. Essentially putting “Case Closed” on the subject of smoking here, and reversing the council’s transparent attempt to milk cash out of business owners who wanted to cater to smoking clientele.

    The battle goes on in court over the new ban, but it doesn’t look good. Personally, I don’t think the courts want to reverse a ban instituted by referendum, there is such a fear of the will of the majority these days that minority rights (those of individuals and groups comprising 10 percent of the population or less) are totally ignored when the majority deems it ‘necessary’.

    So the dust up over the ‘property rights’ of business owners comes to naught, except for those business owners who see a serious dent in their profit margin in complying with the new ordinance. Which is pretty much how I saw it shaping up in the beginning. I’m still waiting for the ‘smoke easys’ to appear. For all I know they already have.

    Immigration, take two

    An Anarchist friend of mine suggested that I wouldn’t find anything to object to in The Libertarian Immigration Conundrum by Per Bylund. However, I didn’t get into the second paragraph without doing so.

    On the one hand, it is not possible as a libertarian to support a regulated immigration policy, since government itself is never legitimate.

    Mises.org

    I don’t want to argue with anarchists, I really don’t. It’s counterproductive. I want government out of my life, they want government out of their lives, we shouldn’t have to argue about the little nit picky things like government legitimacy.

    And then one of them goes and throws a bombshell like the above. For the record, there are two kinds (at least) of libertarians. One group freely calls themselves anarchist (technically anarcho-capitalist) and takes the above view. The other (far larger) group just wants less government interference in day to day life (Less government interference = more freedom) some of us freely use the label that Robert Nozick (that Per Bylund references in his piece) coined for us, “Minarchist”; which loosely translates into “The least amount of government needed”. Mr Bylund himself must therefore be aware that his sweeping generalization is in error, but he goes on with the article anyway based on this erroneous assessment of Libertarians.

    The reason that open borders is the right way to look at immigration policy is pragmatic, not idealistic. Pragmatically, the cost to close borders is prohibitively high, just in monetary terms. The cost in lost privacy, freedom, etc. doesn’t even bear thinking about (which is why anyone that advocates closing the borders isn’t a libertarian) Realistically, we have never been able to close the borders, not even in a state of war.

    Which is why we should just let ’em in. Get whatever information the control freaks think we have to have in order to track the new immigrants (fingerprints, DNA, retinal scans, whatever) and let them get to work. I don’t have time for fantastical arguments concerning natural rights and the ownership of the commons, those sorts of things can be saved for the day that the anarchists get rid of government. I doubt that I’ll be there for that.

    Immigrants mucking up our country

    Listening to Boortz today (Yeah, I know it was a repeat, so what?) He goes raging on about closing our borders so as to deflect terrorists and preserve “our way of life”. I like to listen to the guy, but a libertarian he is not.

    The reason I’m bringing this up is that I’ve noticed a disturbingly repetitive mantra going around for the last few years concerning closing borders and (like the title says) keeping out “those immigrants mucking up our country”. From where I’m sitting, the immigrants that are “mucking up the country” are the descendents of the European immigrants (those pesky ‘white’ people) who seem bound and determined to destroy liberty in the name of security.

    I’d just like to point out that, unless you are a brown-skinned ‘native’ (what the average ‘white’ American thinks of as ‘Mexican’ but are most likely people who aren’t from Mexico at all; merely true ‘Native Americans’, those pesky ‘indians’ that white settlers have never been able to get rid of, or the native populations of America that the Spanish subjugated and abused for hundreds of years. Chicanos, Hispanics, whatever you want to call yourselves) then you are the descendant of an immigrant. You have no more right to be here than those being called ‘illegal aliens’ today because they crossed some line drawn on a map by people who have never been to the area in question.

    And “closing the border” is an impossibility. You can patrol it, and turn back the migrants, but truly closing it can’t be feasibly done. Nor do I think that it’s desirable in the long run to do the limited amount of patrolling that can be done. Why? Because migrant workers do most of the ‘work’ in the South and Midwest, and not just because they work cheap. I don’t know any immigrant (white) guys who are willing to work out in the sun all day, every day for a living; but I can’t count the number of ‘natives’ that I’ve worked with over the years who don’t even blink at doing so. If the border could be effectively closed, the resulting price spikes for construction and food production (not to mention manufacturing) would probably devastate the economy.

    So what would work? Allowing in and documenting anybody who was willing to work (one of the only things the sitting president has said that I have ever agreed with) Ending 9/10’s of the welfare programs (including corporate welfare) that act as a lure, and a crutch, for people who aren’t willing to work. Ending the empire building and military meddling around the globe that the US is engaged in. Get back to the core of what this country was about to begin with (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and stop thinking that we have the ‘right’ to demand whatever we want of the world.

    And the Terrorists? Frankly, the only terrorists that we’ve seen on our own soil were trained by terrorists that we trained in Afghanistan. We seem to be our own worst enemy, or as people more poetical than me have said “We get the best enemies money can buy”. I think we should stop buying them.

    I’m sure the mantra will go on. It’s a mindset that sells in this day and age; fear of ‘others’, fear of those ‘outside’. However, if you are going to go raging on about ‘closed borders’ and ‘true Americans’, you are going to eventually look like an idiot, because the reality of the situation won’t be corrected by that type of rhetoric. But then I think that time has come and gone when it comes to Boortz. Mighty Whitey, indeed.