Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

"Town hall meeting" format on the smoking ban: Saturday, June 23 at 11.

   "I thought the town-hall thing only was for political candidates who were confident enough about their message and/or the audience before they were to appear?"

   Saturday, June 23, at 11 a.m. will be a new format for The Show. This will not be the format we have for every week, but special for this week. If anyone is interested in the smoking ban wrought by the City-County Council and Mayor Ballard, she or he should attend—or watch on the internet.

   Every day, as adults, we make choices that bear possible risks to ourselves and others. If a person skis—water or snow—there is the risk of injury for simple amusement. If a person rides a bicycle there is risk.

   So-called second-hand smoke carries risks to others, however. The matter is settled—or so says The Indianapolis Star. The members of the editorial board of that paper, apparently, have not read the critiques of the studies that purport to establish harm to non-smokers from second-hand smoke. The matter is far from "settled" that second-hand smoke harms anyone.

   A couple of points I would make here. First, people who do not smoke may choose not to enter a bar—and bars are the primary places, the last vestiges of smoking at issue here—and therefore may pass on exposure to that environment. On the other hand, I have no choice when I walk outside and inhale the pollutants from automobiles, buses, and factories.

   Second, how do we balance liberty against money? If we employ a cost-benefit analysis, liberty usually will lose. Freedom is expensive. One person takes joy in cheeseburgers. Everyone else’s health insurance rates go up. Someone straps on a couple of skis or a snow board and heads down the slope and—bang!—hits a tree. Everyone’s health insurance rates go up.

   I will announce tomorrow the place from which The Show will be webcast on Saturday. Stay tuned.

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