“Your freedom is likely to be someone else’s harm.”
So said one Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center, a bioethics-research organization. He was referring to proverbial Paul’s poor health decisions, such as eating too much and smoking, having a deleterious affect on both Peter’s lungs and wallet
One of the rarely spoken-of secondary effects of the government’s new involvement with virtually everybody’s health care, through Obamacare, is that the government now has a vested interest in all of the health decisions we make in our private lives. The government is in our kitchens, and if we take a sandwich or a cigarette into the bedroom, there the government will be with its prying eyes.
If everybody is healthy, then government healthcare will cost less. Of course, if the government were not involved with so many people’s health, save those few truly poor, it wouldn’t need to nose in on what’s on my dinner plate. Once again we see the ineptitude of the federal government and its one-size-fits-all solutions: they create more problems than they profess to aim to solve.
But is there something to the argument over public-smoking laws? Some independent studies show second-hand smoke is not constant or concentrated enough to be harmful, while other (usually government-funded) studies show that second-hand smoke can be just as dangerous as direct smoking.
Let’s go with the belief that second-hand smoke is very dangerous. I used to be a full supporter of public-smoking bans for this very reason. But only recently did I change my mind when I realized the following:
Life is risky. Freedom is risky. By stepping out into the public world, I open myself up to all the risks involved. If I’m out with my kid (as yet non-existent) and someone is wearing a profane shirt or shouting vulgarities, I knew before stepping out that people like that exist in public, and I knew there was the possibility that by taking my kid out in public, I might expose him to some of life’s uglier aspects.
If I decide to go out when the sidewalks are icy and I slip and break my wrist, did I not choose to take that risk by stepping out onto the ice? Maybe it was black ice and it looked like water. So? Was I unaware that black ice exists and that it could very well be on the path I’m walking in public in the dead of winter?
I choose where I walk. It is my choice whether I walk near a public smoker. There is nothing coercing me to walk through a smoker’s exhalations. And I say this as someone to whose senses cigarette smoke is very irritating.
A story at The Associated Press on Saturday, written by the AP’s “medical writer,” reads,
“From an economist’s perspective, there would be less reason to grouse about unhealthy behaviors by smokers…if they agreed to pay the financial price for their choices. That’s the rationale for a provision in the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]…that starting next year allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.”
Ah, the joys of Obamacare. Straighten up, obey the state, or be punished.