Sunday, February 12, 2006

Chicken Little was at least partially right

Smoking bans of some degree certainly seem to be the rage all over Indiana. Delaware County is currently considering a pretty restrictive ban of it's own. When the Muncie Star-Press claimed in its February 12th editorial, “The sky won’t fall when smoking stops”, the paper was correct. If the Delaware County commissioners pass a county wide workplace smoking ban, the sky won’t fall, the world won’t come to an end, and for the most part, most of our lives will continue without requiring too much adjustment. For those of us who don’t smoke or own a business, it won’t require any adjustment at all.

The sky didn’t fall when it became a law that motorists must wear seat belts when driving their cars, and it won’t fall when they pass a law that we have to wear them when we are driving a truck. The sky doesn’t fall when you pull up to one of those seat-belt checkpoints, and it probably wouldn’t fall if the police were to inquire about your destination and purpose for going there.

It probably wouldn't fall if a law was passed that required newspapers to obtain approval of stories that were critical of public officials before they were printed.

Like so many other things we have come to accept as long as it promotes for the “general welfare and greater good”, the sky didn’t fall when the Supreme Court ruled that the government could seize your property for any reason it deemed necessary. Of course, whether or not the sky fell on that one might depend upon whether or not it was your property that was being seized.

The sky didn’t fall when the government started taking 1% of our income and property to redistribute as it saw fit, and it didn’t fall when that amount was increased to 10%, or 20%, or 30% or even when it reached its current level of nearly 50%. It may not fall if our ‘contributions’ climb even higher, as long as we are convinced our resources are being used to promote the “general welfare and greater good”.

This smoking ban, like all smoking bans, is not the end of the world. But, if the Star-Press is correct in its assertion that restaurants that have self-imposed bans in place are seeing an increase in business and profits, a government enforced ban is unnecessary. And if other businesses find more profit in increased productivity and lower health care costs, we will see voluntary smoking bans in these businesses as well. That’s the way business works.

No, the sky won’t fall if Delaware County passes this smoking ban. And it won’t fall if they pass another seat-belt law, and it won’t fall if they adopt another income tax, or another sales tax, or another food and beverage tax.

It’s not going to fall all at once, but it is going to sag just a little more.


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