Thursday, April 28, 2005

Present Day Puritanism

Jay Tea at Wizbang is peeved about over-regulation:
[T]his morning's Boston Globe has the Bay State's latest effort to curtail smoking. This time, disguising their efforts as a "safety" move, they want to require all cigarettes sold in Massachusetts to be "fire-safe." These cigarettes are designed to go out if they are not constantly being drawn upon. And while it will increase the cost of those cigarettes, hey, it's only the smokers who will have to pay the cost.
Jay's right. Part of the problem is that, when it comes to government regulation, the left's got attention deficit disorder. Ronald Reagan cogently summarized lefty bureaucrats:
Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
Moreover, both parties were so wowed by cigarette settlement revenues their tax increase was "the most regressive in history. Its greatest impact would be on people with low incomes, racial minorities and those with little education, because higher percentages of these groups are smokers."

Still, the larger problem is post-modern, multi-culti deconstructionism. As an example, movie bad guys once could be identified by black hats and, often, hints of a homosexual persona--"not that there's anything wrong with that." More recently, that signal's played by a cigarette--most notoriously in the 1997 film The Devil's Advocate where "smoking is a continuous metaphor for evil." More seriously, as NRO's John O'Sullivan recently observed, leftist loathing of what once were private vices are "the latest sign of the impending divorce between multiculturalism and . . . cultural liberalism." According to O'Sullivan, today's over-regulators merely swap one intolerance for another:
Britain is generally freer and more relaxed, especially for prosperous and self-reliant middle-class people (though the new liberal morality imposes its own stern prohibitions on them — on smoking, ethnic jokes, fast food, and, er, "judgmentalism").
Like Jay, I'm not a smoker. But each new nanny-state ban is an additional enticement to start--if only to rebel.

4 comments:

MaxedOutMama said...

I look at it as the new Puritan Left. It's just that I have trouble figuring out where and how they draw the lines:

Sex with pretty randomly chosen multiple partners? Satisfying a basic need of human nature and a fundamental civil right!

Sex with multiple partners while ingesting illegal drugs? Requires a health education campaign to remind people not to share needles, overdue or indulge in unsafe sexual practices.

Putting on 20 extra pounds, smoking, or eating greasy food? A terrible failure of self-control that costs us all and requires the government to intervene for the public welfare with taxation!

Carl said...

Yes the new lines are odd. Still, I thought they favored toppling nearly every line. Why are the tolerant so intolerant?

Dingo said...

Ok, last comment of the day than I will stop pestering you...

"Moreover, both parties were so wowed by cigarette settlement revenues their tax increase was "the most regressive in history. Its greatest impact would be on people with low incomes, racial minorities and those with little education, because higher percentages of these groups are smokers."

Yes, but if it discourages poorer people from starting to smoke, or it causes people to stop smoking, then it saves us money since the tax payer would be picking up the costs of their smoking related medical expenses.

And to pre-empt any argument that the tax money brought in over the lifetime of a smoker pays for these costs, completely untrue. the average tax brought in for a pack a day habit for 30 years is $16,500. The average cost of one myocardial infarction (heart attack) $52,000. The cost of smoking raises the insurance premiums of the average non-smoker by 22% (at least in 1997 when I was working for CIGNA). The average smoker takes 5 more sick days per year (thus costing business). Yes, it is an individual choice, but an individual choice that has a significant societal drag with no discernable benefit.

Dingo said...

of course, I will also point out my own hypocrisy since blogging has cost me god knows how many productive work hours.