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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5469

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is another, obvious flaw in the libertarian argument on tobacco apart from the cost of treatment. Children in the household, and employees of smokers, don't really have the liberty to avoid second hand smoke.

Isn't it amazing how libertarians always come up with solutions--like on gay marriage and contraception--that protect their liberty but impinge on other people's?
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techno900



Joined: 28 Mar 2001
Posts: 1518

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I would prefer that no one smoked, and the tobacco farmers moved on to other crops, but my issue is with government control. While some edicts from big brother are good, I get concerned about government going too far in order to look after those that don't have sense enough to not sleep on train tracks or smoke three packs a day.

It's all about individual responsibility and rights. Look around the world and see what some countries have done to control their people. When mandating drink sizes start to be controlled by government, it bothers me, but at least for the short term, one judge is operating with some common sense.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14464

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have felt for many decades that the first fistfight I ever get dragged into will be over some F-head's smoke in my face. It's nauseating, it burns my eyes, it gives me the only headaches I ever get, it's very harmful to my health, and it stinks as badly as warm $#!+ both real time and until I and my clothes are washed. I often smell cigarette smoke from a car 100 yards ahead of me on the highway. Cigar smoke is even worse; I can't comprehend the self-serving insensitivity of these idiots who light up on the upwind side of a beautiful windy launch site, stinking up a whole park being enjoyed by a hundred people.

Other people's smoking costs each non-smoker hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars in health care costs. Their litter, haze, and stench violate others' space everywhere you turn. I could list a couple of dozen often imaginative, sometimes quite blunt, solutions I've seen to those problems, including threading rubber bands through a boss's cigarettes, pulling on an arctic parka and opening office and classroom windows to 30-kt blasts of 20-below-zero Fahrenheit wind to persuade smokers to leave or put it out, calling the military police on an Army colonel who thought himself above the law, calling city police to force restaurants to provide smoke-free dining, "Big Russ" and "Even Bigger Phil" flat-out forcing a trucker to put out his cigar in a restaurant, and much more. I don't like nanny states, but I still just chuckle and quietly consent when the government uses its powers to discourage that and many other harmful or foul behaviors. I cheered when the government outlawed smoking in its buildings 45 years ago, and anything it can do to keep that stupid, foul, disgusting, deadly, expensive, abusive, obnoxious, noxious, debilitating, dangerous, rotten plague out of public space, and its followers out of hospitals and graves, is OK by me.

Sorry if I seem to be holding back about my feelings; I don't want to offend any smokers.

Now, about this research showing that sitting most of the day, even if we also wave sail and bust our butts in the gym, is as deadly as smoking. That's a bummer.
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DanWeiss



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 1968
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

techno900 wrote:
Actually, I would prefer that no one smoked, and the tobacco farmers moved on to other crops, but my issue is with government control. While some edicts from big brother are good, I get concerned about government going too far in order to look after those that don't have sense enough to not sleep on train tracks or smoke three packs a day.

It's all about individual responsibility and rights. Look around the world and see what some countries have done to control their people. When mandating drink sizes start to be controlled by government, it bothers me, but at least for the short term, one judge is operating with some common sense.


There's more too it than that, Techno900. Let's put aside the tag lines like big brother for a moment and address your examples in the order you presented that you state underpin your concerns about government overreaching your comfort zone.

I'm not sure why you brought up regulation about people asleep on train tracks, but I might hazard a guess that even the most cynical reason is that trains must run on time to earn money. Stopping to see if the body as a corpse or asleep wastes time. Private RR co's had no independent means to deal with people on tracks on an ad hoc basis, so they lobbied to get some gov't authority to make it illegal and thus create a prophylactic against sleeping wanderers. A more practical reason is shared with limited access highways and the need to provide a safe environment for transportation. As humorous as it may seem, why does that sort of regulation bother you?

As for ciggies, most laws deal exclusively with two areas: notice and second-hand smoke in public or semi-public places. Notice relates to FDA requirements of printed warnings, marketing and sales restrictions. Second-hand smoke addresses the public health risk that is said to be even greater per unit of smoke than that experienced by the actual smoker. Both deal with safety and the public interest in reducing death, illness, damage and cost of smoking.

As for drink sizes, it seems ridiculous but not from the perspective of one who sees city kids growing obese before their 14th birthday due to the combination of a lack of exercise opportunity and the prevalence of high-calorie buckets of soda pop. The law doesn't prohibit high consumption but makes it more expensive I'd suppose and more of a pain in the ass. It was intended to create a disincentive rather than a ban on drinking 36 oz. of Mt. Dew. The power to do so likely derives from the "police power" of local government to establish health and welfare standards in their licensing of food vendors. I totally agree it may appear like a lot of trouble and expense for everyone, but that might be the intended method to achieve real change in people's behavior and reducing the health care costs that would otherwise be attributed to more obesity -especially in a city with a recognized population in poverty.

The problem with the popular sense of liberalism in the US seems to be the unwitting adoption of Ayn Rand's concept of liberalism, at least in one aspect. That is, all values can be discovered by observing the world around us with an objective eye. She and many American Libertarians accept this massive assumption blindly. Objectivity may serve as an ideal goal when seeking and answer to a question but modern philosophy and science both agree that no effort to learn can be objective if for the very effort to ask the "right" questions skews the field of possible answers. We might get closer to objectivity by seeking our own suppositions, however we only get closer and never reach our goal.

Without recognizing it, many people who call themselves libertarian in political philosophy hold views like what they claim. For example, Rand observed that wealth brought evidence of creative beauty, security in home and education and better health and a longer life span and then concluded that the wealthy were people of higher character. I realize my summary fails to capture all her thoughts on this, but Rand's false and invalid conclusion is now employed by some politicians as a supposition to underpin certain legislation.

It dumbs down political discourse on very sensitive topics like abortion rights where feelings about death, "murder" and God stand in the place of true objectivity which is the effect of one law or another. It creates assumptions about the unemployed and the poor and creates social policy running distinctly agains these people.

One person's common sense really is another person's bias.

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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5469

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The libertarian argument against regulation or taxation of cigarettes and soda is the result of not thinking things through. Cigarettes kill one in 3 of those who use them--more by heart disease than lung cancer. The cost of health care associated with cigarette-caused disease was estimated at over $100 billion a year in 2009. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1889469,00.html

The smoking rate is now down to about 20%, so with the national population at over 300,000,000, that makes abouit 60 million smokers. For them to pay their own way, that would be about $2,000/year per smoker. Cigarette taxes don't begin to cover that, so the population at large pays.

Of course, North Carolina senator Jesse Helms asssured that it was difficult or impossible to regulate tobacco, and that we subsidized tobacco farming--to the tune of $1.3 billion just between 1995 and 2011. http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=tobacco

You can do the research on sugar yourself--we subsidize production of corn-based sugar, and it has an immense health cost.

I am not a fan of banning products, like sodas, that don't hurt others. I am, however, a fiscal conservative who favors capturing the cost of externalities, like health costs, in the cost of a product.
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techno900



Joined: 28 Mar 2001
Posts: 1518

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is my point that unobvious?

If people choose to sleep on train tracks, smoke, drink big gulps, drive without seatbelts, bike without helmets, etc., it's their choice. I don't want government telling me how to live my life.

While I will concede that some behaviors may/do generate additional costs to society, I will not totally buy in until those making the "100 billion a year" claims also factor in the costs for the extended life span medical costs for those that don't partake of the bad behaviors. If a smoker dies at age 60 from lung cancer, would that cost more than if he didn't smoke and died of heart disease at age 80, plus whatever illnesses or medical issues he may have encountered during those additional 20 years? Give me the WHOLE story and will be more willing to listen.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 2034

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Techno...I am aware of a couple studies. One, in the US indicated lifetime costs for smokers is higher. The other, in Europe somewhere, indicated that healthy folks cost more than either smokers or the obese.

A friend of mine was a CDC physician. We joke about this all the time! I will ask him if he knows of a recent study. One thing to consider, is that we are advancing the level of treatment for type II diabetes and respiratory conditions that result from unhealthy activities, so we may be increasing the lifespan of these folks.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5469

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is it about libertarians and facts? Techno's latest whine is:

Quote:
I will not totally buy in until those making the "100 billion a year" claims also factor in the costs for the extended life span medical costs for those that don't partake of the bad behaviors. If a smoker dies at age 60 from lung cancer, would that cost more than if he didn't smoke and died of heart disease at age 80, plus whatever illnesses or medical issues he may have encountered during those additional 20 years? Give me the WHOLE story and will be more willing to listen.


Techno--your point isn't unobvious--it is just wrong. Everyone dies, and if you were paying attention to the debate on the health care bill, instead of just repeating talk show attacks on Obama, you might have noticed that there is a huge cost associated with dying. Particularly from chronic and preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and the cancers associated with smoking. The annual costs of examinations, drug prescriptions, and so forth, for those without a chronic disease, are peanuts. I don't remember the exact number, it was something on the order of 90% of health care costs are in the last few months.

Tobacco is the only product that is not banned that, when used as directed, kills one out of three users. The next most toxic material where people have calculated the health risk, benzene in autos before we required oxygenates, has a cancer risk of abouit 350 in 500,000. That's right, less than 0.1% risk of cancer, as compared to about 20%. Smoking kills more people through heart disease, and is associated with other cancerns in addition to lung cancer. Both my parents smoked, my dad died of lung cancer, and my mom died of colon cancer. Smoking took years off their lives and added dramatically to the cost of their dying.

The 100 billion cost was an estimate for the additional costs associated with smoking. We still have a large bill in this country for obesity, but dying of a smoking related disease is much more expensive than most of the other ways. There is the cost of chemotherapy, surgeries, palliative care, and so forth. The diseases associated with smoking and obesity account for a huge annual health bill. The cost of health care for smokers amounts to something on the order of $5/day. Cigarettes are not taxed at anything near that rate--so I guess you can add cigarette smokers to Mitt's list of takers.

The reason I highlighted North Carolina and tobacco was the storied career of Jesse Helms, who fought to retain segregation and to protect subsidies for tobacco farmers--while fathering a child ouit of wedlock with a black maid. North Carolina is one of those red states full of, as Mitt Romney called them, takers. It has received more back from the Federal government than it has paid in over the past twenty years. California is, of course, a net donor--accounting for far more than the relatively modest surplus that North Carolina has among the southern red states. Y'all must be so proud of Jesse. Preserving the southern way of life, including subsidies for farmers to grow a product that kills people.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 2034

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

techno900 wrote:
Is my point that unobvious?

If people choose to sleep on train tracks, smoke, drink big gulps, drive without seatbelts, bike without helmets, etc., it's their choice. I don't want government telling me how to live my life.


We all will draw the line somewhere. How about cocaine? Should the use of recreational drugs fall under the same category? Shouldn't a product that is so dangerous be illegal, or at least taxed, to reduce use or pay for the damages? Shouldn't this be the responsibility of the government?

Your example of driving without seatbelts or biking without helmets gets to me. As a motorist, my unintentional mistake, could make ME responsible for far greater injuries sustained by someone I ran into because they were practicing their freedoms. Where is the justice in that?

This goes back to fossil fuels too. Is it O.K. for us to utilize cheaper energy when it causes significant health problems for some?
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 2827

PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

coboardhead wrote:
This goes back to fossil fuels too. Is it O.K. for us to utilize cheaper energy when it causes significant health problems for some?

As it relates to oil and gas, absolutely...........because the benefits hugely outweigh the detriments. The quality of life for billions across the planet has improved beyond measure because of cheap oil and gas based energy and it's by-products. Heating, cooling, transportation, plastics, asphalt, lubrication, fertilizers and on and on.....not to mention large scale employment and huge taxes. Give me a viable alternative, with similar benefits and less negative impact, and I may be more impressed by this myopic view of carbon based energy spouted by so many on this forum as they plan their next windsurfing outing in a gas guzzling SUV filled with petroleum based windsurfing products.
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