Saturday, August 13, 2005

Finally! (part 2)

[Ed. note: The following post is in response to Glenn's comments on my previous post, but it's so long—and significant to me—I moved it from the comment section to the main page. While the initial impetus was about smoking restrictions that failed in Cave City, KS and already enacted in Dallas, NY City, California, and even Austin, TX this is only part of the issue for me.]

I agree individuals have the right to smoke in their own home and their own car. I also agree with your unspoken statement, they have the right to allow others to smoke in their home and car and this is true whether or not they personally smoke.

I also need to say after years of thought I understand civil law to be a body of rules regulating conduct between “legal entities;” a construct able to sign contracts and own property (home and car), or make commitments and take responsibility, et cetera. The ability (or society’s permission) to do these things is part of what differentiates a child from an adult.

Part of my problem with your argument is you allow freedom for some legal entities (me) while also allowing for legislation limiting the choices other legal entities (businesses) on the very same issue. As a business owner I want to ability to serve my customers in the manner I see fit. As a legal entity I see this regulation as an encroachment on my rights.

As a business I can, and probably should, market my products to a specific niche. I should be allowed to choose the niche of poker players who smoke. Now maybe the niche is too small or cannot support my overhead. Maybe it's an untapped niche that will provide my grandchildren with wealth untold. If I make the wrong choice it is my responsibility to suffer the consequences of the decision. Either way, as the head of legal entity I resent the encroachment of the legislation disallowing my customers to smoke (a legal act, mind you) within my establishment.

As an aside, I want to say a couple other things about tobacco and smoking.
  1. It is ridiculous for us to be supporting tobacco farmers with subsidies while concurrently restricting the use of their products due to safety concerns.
  2. If smoking is truly bad for individuals and needs to be controlled then I am all for classifying it as we do drugs. Make it a controlled substance and pull it from the market. (Note: Cocaine is no longer a part of the recipe for Coca-Cola.)

But let me back-up a minute, because it is my statement this issue is just one item within a larger picture, and the picture is what causes a problem for me. As the conservative movement has taken a larger part of the political discussion they are restricting my choices by pushing more limitations into my life. This is in start contrast to what I see as two of our country’s greatest traditions: (1) allowing me the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness and (2) limiting government intervention into my individual pursuit. It is my contention this is a new version of the temperance movement, a failed attempt to legislate morality.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I've overreacting, but I think this is just one example of where the argument and pressure for change from voters is having an effect, and the end result will not be a better place to live, but a worse place.

Years ago I heard Bill Gothard and someone asked him about restricting cults, back when cults where a much bigger concern than they are today. In his wisdom he stated Christians should not work to outlaw cults. In my recollection he stated diversity was important, and moreover, outlawing cults would result in restricting religious expression and potentially outlawing the very religion his audience practiced. I don't see much difference between cults and smoking. And the restriction of either one is a dangerous road for us to travel upon.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~Benjamin Franklin

Friday, August 12, 2005


The first half of this post is taken completely and without shame from BusinessPundit.

Cave City Takes a Stand?
Reason has a
post about the defeat of a smoking ban in nearby Cave City, KY (better know as the home of Mammoth Cave).
Monday's vote against a proposed smoking ban by the Cave City Council benefits both local citizens and those across the commonwealth.

Mayor Bob Hunt, who cast the tie-breaking vote, made it clear that smoking bans threaten private-property rights and the choices available to consumers.

"I voted not to pass a ban because I don't feel like government should tell private business owners who help support the city with their taxes what to do about smoking," Hunt told the Bluegrass Institute. "I respect those people who see this as strictly a health issue, but I also respect the man who has invested in his business and is trying to make a living."
Louisville is supposed to vote soon on similar ban. I don't smoke. I never have. But I don't really support it either. People ask me if I want to go to smoky places. I don't want to. So I don't go. It's as simple as that. I've left bars because they were too smoky. If I go to the local comedy club, I go to the non-smoking show (which they were smart enough to offer).

I think smoking should be banned in places I have to go (government buildings, etc.) but private businesses can make their own decisions. Then I can make mine about whether or not I patronize them.

My comments...
This post strikes at the heart of the issue, not just the issue of smoking, but the deeper issue of where our society seems to be moving. While the issue typically brought up is one of second-hand smoke, the push for this type of regulation is much stronger than just protecting people who do not wish to smoke. Rather, this type of legistlation is one of our society's more recent attempts to answer how the law should protect people from their own choices.

Tobacco is controlled substance. By this I mean adults are able to purchase this item in the same manner they can purchase and use alcohol. Or pornographic materials for that matter. All are considered harmful, and some are proven to be bad for you in certain conditions. But all of these items are legal to own and use. Restricting our use of these items in private businesses bothersome. Not bothersome in a "irritant" manner, but bothersome in a "this goes against the principals for which we strive" manner.

I want my government to protect me "from enemies foreign and domestic," but I should not be restricted from making bad choices. I am happy to grant the government ability to protect others if I am a danger to them, but this is vastly different than protecting myself from making bad decisions. Rather, I want to be allowed—encouraged even—to make choices AND then learn how to deal with the consequences.

It is only be accepting responsibility for myself that I can grow and mature. Children who desperately need a caretaker do not make a positive impact on society but mature citizens can. Let’s start to pay attention to the what will help us grow rather than stilt us into thinking we need some big parent to tell us what we can and cannot do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Poker Story

I was sitting at a poker table, playing $1-2 No Limit Hold’em. I was new to the table, only having played for 30 minutes. The action was pretty high and I had already bet away half my stack of $100 without ever seeing my cards through to the end.

When I was done to a measly $36 dollars I went all in and finally won a hand. I won a bit more over the next fifteen minutes, including one pot of $6 when everyone folded.

I played another hand, starting with J - 9 of hearts. I bet $20 and one person called. The flop came Q - 10 - 5. I checked, he checked. Fourth Street brought an A and there was no chance anyone was going to catch a flush. I bet again, $20. I checked my cards to make sure what I had. The other player called. Fifth Street hit and it was another blank (3), no good for anything. I bet big and with confidence. I push $50 in and the other player studies the board. He figures I have two pair and folds. I throw my cards out and say straight.

Of course, there was no straight. I only had four cards to it. But I thought I did, so I acted with confidence and won the pot. The table laughed and most of them figured I was stupid. Some of them thought I was bluffing. I let them think what they want, saying just enough to encourage both thoughts.

A couple hands later I’m sitting on over $170. I’m two from the button and the seat to my left has put in a $10 straddle bet. This is a bet you make before the deal. It means the minimum bet has moved from $2 to $10, and he gets the final option to call or raise before the flop. To make matters more interesting, this is the same guy I got my “straight” on and I’m pretty sure he’s steaming about my play.

I’m dealt a pair of twos and I raise from $20. Everyone folds but the guy who straddled. The flop comes Q - 2 - J, I’ve hit my set with three 2’s! It’s my read that he’s on tilt about my earlier play and he’ll probably want to run me off the pot if I show any weakness. I decide to check-raise him to get a bit more action. I check and he bets $30 dollars.

Wow, it worked! I say “Raise” and put my first $30 on the table. Hmm, how much more to put in? I say “50” and I start stacking my chips. Next thing I hear is him saying “All in.” I’m so excited my chest is thumping loud enough to hear over the TV on the wall and the people laughing at the next table. I say “Call.”

As he pushed me around early and then I bluffed on the straight he says “You got the Queen?” He went all in with just a pair of Jacks??

“Nope,” I say. “I’ve got the twos,” and then I throw them on the table. The guy who believed I was bluffing earlier starts laughing, the guy who is about to lose most of his stack is choking. He’s got a K - J, but even he isn’t all that hopeful. The next two cards are blanks. I tip the dealer, play one more hand, and ask for a rack so I can leave.

Some days are good days.