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Cigarette Taxes

I’m against cigarette taxes. It’s foolishness. The money was supposed to fund things like “saving the children”, but that’s not where the money goes. Even if it did, its a stupid idea to tie something like health care for kids to smoking. If enough people quit, where will the money come from?

As it is, with the money going right into the general fund, every government would be screwed if enough people quit. The state of Maine collected 150 million dollars from cigarettes in 2008. If everyone quit, do you suppose spending would be cut? No of course not, taxes would go up someplace else.

With sin taxes funding every state in the country and everyone clambering to raise them all of the time, whats being created is a huge chunk of revenue that eventually won’t be there. Like I said, you can bet your ass that spending is not going to be cut, taxes on everyone else are going to be raised.

So go ahead, tax the smokers for a behavior that doesn’t really affect you. Tax them into oblivion. You just wait until it goes too far and the money isn’t there.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2011/03/19 at 22:11

    If no one smoked, then I presume the savings would come from the lack of cancer costs.

  2. 2011/03/19 at 23:16

    I doubt the state of Maine spent 150 million on lung cancer care in 2008. Human costs don’t affect the budget very much. If the state truly cared about people (and wanted to meddle even more) they would out law them, alcohol too, but its all about the money.

  3. 2011/03/20 at 00:00

    Cancer costs 228 billion dollars a year. That’s about $68 billion that goes toward cancer caused by cigarettes (presuming all cancer treatments cost the same – which they don’t, but I doubt lung cancer is cheaper than, say, most skin cancers). I don’t know what that means in Maine by the numbers, but it is certainly expensive.

    http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerBasics/economic-impact-of-cancer

  4. 2011/03/20 at 02:16

    Costs who? Not the government and by extension not the tax payer.

    If I choose not to spend any money on anything, that’s a similar economic “cost” to what you are talking about. The government wouldn’t suddenly have 228 billion dollars in extra tax revenue if all cancers were wiped out tomorrow. Besides, that number is for all cancer, does smoking cause a lot of toe cancer or eye ball cancer? Mouth, throat and lung sure.

    Lung cancer appears to cost about 5 billion per year. If you break that up over the low-ball population of 300 million people in the US that’s less than 17 dollars a person. For Maine as a whole at around 1.5 million people you are only talking 24 million dollars. Again, that’s not 24 million dollars in the state coffers if every one stopped getting lung cancer. Maine seems to be over taxing cigarettes by a great deal if the goal is to offset “economic costs”.

  5. 2011/03/20 at 03:02

    My link breaks it all down, direct and indirect.

    Whether it’s insurance companies, the government, or – and we all know this is who it really costs – people who pay higher premiums because of smokers/being smokers, someone is paying. Cancer is not free. Let me say it again. Cancer is not free.

  6. 2011/03/20 at 07:47

    No one ever said cancer was free. But it doesn’t have a simple cost of bazillions of dollars to everyone else. Smokers all pay higher rates because of higher risk. You bought insurance when you went to Kilimanjaro because you had increased risk. I really don’t see any difference except one of scale.

    Guess what? Regardless of what you folks on the left would like to think, what happens to other peoples money is not any of your business.

  7. 2011/03/20 at 08:04

    I think so-called “sin taxes” are one reasonable way of dealing with probematic behaviors. I think a better example is the personal automobile. There are 40,000 people killed in the US alone each year as a result of car driving incidents. There is an inestimable cost associated with the pollution that comes along with so many autos. The elderly, the poor, children, the sick (those with asthma, emphysema, etc) are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of the personal auto.

    The problem is, what to do about it? We live in a nation that values freedom and so, it is counter to our values to just say, “No, you can’t drive cars.”

    And so, one way of dealing with it is to try to tax the behavior enough that some of the vast expenses incurred by driving are paid for by these sin taxes. Same with smoking. The ideal is that we WANT the behavior to decrease because it will have a net savings to society in dollars and in human costs.

    Now, having said that, I think the best way of using sin taxes is to have the money generated being earmarked for paying for the costs of the negative behavior. As the negative behavior decreases (IF it decreases), the need for the tax money decreases.

    Seems like an entirely reasonable way of dealing with behaviors that cost society.

  8. 2011/03/20 at 08:06

    Nate…

    Regardless of what you folks on the left would like to think, what happens to other peoples money is not any of your business.

    If they are spending that money in ways that don’t affect me, no, it is absolutely not any of my business. BUT, when they spend that money in ways that increase urban sprawl, that increase costs of gov’t, that increase illness to others besides them, that increase the death rate of innocent bystanders, that decrease the safety of those around them, etc, etc, etc, THEN it IS my business.

    Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

  9. 2011/03/20 at 11:26

    The proper way to deal with things in a free society is to come up with a more effective, cheaper or safer replacement. A good example is a product called “blue whale smokeless”. The FDA banned it. What was it? A product made from tea leaves with nicotine added. There were really no downsides to the product if you used chewing tobacco. Nicotine of course isn’t the issue with tobacco, its the carcinogens besides it, nicotine itself has some beneficial qualities.

    Dan, guess what? It’s true that a persons right to swing ends at your nose. But who are you to say what ‘neighborhood effects’ are bad and which are good. Who are you to determine that a tax should be levied on miles driven or on cigarettes because you disapprove? Smoking is now banned in a lot of public places where you couldn’t get away from it. To me that means a persons smoking is no longer of much concern to you or I. They pay higher insurance rates, they take the risk, they get the reward. There is no place for government to regulate the morality of behaviors other simply find distasteful.

    If you want to levy sin taxes on all damaging behavior, than we need to be taxing small farms. They produce more greenhouse gases per pound of product and also can’t afford the same environmental precautions that giant factory farms can. How about a tax for that sin of inefficiency? Perhaps it’s just none of our business.

  10. 2011/03/20 at 11:31

    Ease up worrying about what others do and get yourself one of these bad boys: https://congressshallmakenolaw.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/gummy-bear/

  11. 2011/03/20 at 14:53

    But who are you to say what ‘neighborhood effects’ are bad and which are good.

    I’d say those which CAUSE HARM are bad. If an asthmatic is stuck inside due to pollution, then that is a measurable, easily discerned harm. If urban sprawl has driven up drive times, that comes at a cost and thus, a harm. If general funds are paying for roads, that is coming at a cost to others besides motorists. (I am using the motorist situation because I’m more aware of it, but I think the ideal fits for any behavior that causes harm to others.

    By the way, when you quote “neighborhood effects,” what are you referencing? I didn’t use that term.

    There is no place for government to regulate the morality of behaviors other simply find distasteful.

    I agree, which is why supports of gay marriage bans have no moral/reasonable leg to stand on. But I’m not speaking of just behavior that I find distasteful. I’m speaking quite specifically of those behaviors that cause harm to others.

  12. 2011/03/20 at 15:28

    Harm is a relative term. What you see as harm others may not. Even if others share your view of what is harmful, that harm maybe a reasonable cost in their eyes. It’s the exact same thing as government entanglement in marriage, they just shouldn’t be.

    “Neighborhood effects” is exactly what you said, you just used different words. It’s an economic term that refers to a lot of things but mostly the hidden costs of things, a coal plant produces electricity and sells it but the ash builds up on peoples homes causing more cost that isn’t reflected in the price of the product being created. It applies to other scenarios too, but you get the idea. F. A. Hayek used the term, I’m not sure if he coined it or not.

  13. 2011/03/20 at 20:42

    Nate…

    Harm is a relative term. What you see as harm others may not. Even if others share your view of what is harmful, that harm maybe a reasonable cost in their eyes.

    And yet, I’m relatively sure you do not wish to abolish “harm” as a measure for when we should and shouldn’t create laws, are you? If someone steals another person’s car or bicycle, it causes them financial harm, at least, according to “some.” But since harm is relative, shall we do away with laws that prohibit theft?

    Someone scamming an elderly person, in the process, taking thousands of their meager dollars, is causing harm, according to some. But since harm is relative, shall we do away with laws prohibiting fraud?

    I imagine you get my point: We already acknowledge gov’t has a role in limiting harm caused to others. Where are you drawing the line that gov’t has no right to prevent or discourage harm?

    The difference between out and out murder and causing people to get sick by having millions of cars pouring toxins into the air is that one is a deliberate act by one person deliberately impacting another. The other is a consequence of mass behaviors. But each is equally dangerous, in their own right.

    There are ~16,000 murders in the US each year, but ~40,000 car deaths. Which has a greater cost?

    I say that our gov’t has an obligation to regulate behavior that may cause harm.

    Is there a ticklish job in figuring out how much harm is too much and how to regulate it without infringing on freedoms? Yes, absolutely. But regulate we must. We’d be foolish to not do so, and we’d be infringing upon rights we value as a nation.

    I’m sure if you had a toxic plant move next door to you, you’d appreciate a little regulation yourself. And if you wouldn’t, your neighbors sure would.

    Unimpeded “freedom” that causes harm to others would lead to a hellish existence that would (will) cost more freedom than it could provide.

  14. 2011/03/20 at 20:47

    Thank you for the education on neighborhood effects.

    wikipedia appears to have something else in mind. Ah, I found a reference to it under “externalities” at wiki.

    I’ll read up on it more…

  15. 2011/03/20 at 21:55

    I’m not going to continue debating how much government should try and remove risk from peoples lives. Stealing someone bicycle and incurring a increased insurance cost because the company also insures smokers are not even close to the same thing. You don’t have to buy insurance. That’s just one example, it akin to giving your bike away to as opposed to having it stolen. The same goes for loss of labor through early death.

    I’m opposed to government meddling in peoples personal choices, be it marriage, smoking or doing cocaine. I don’t think its any of my business how others choose to live their lives. Government has created this little world where by subsidizing nearly everything, everyone starts to have in interest in other peoples business. It’s wrong and needs to be corrected.

    Yes ‘externalities’ are the same thing, I couldn’t think of the word earlier.

  16. 2011/03/20 at 22:14

    This is what I’m getting at (from the Externalities entry at wiki…)

    In these cases in a competitive market, prices do not reflect the full costs or benefits of producing or consuming a product or service, producers and consumers may either not bear all of the costs or not reap all of the benefits of the economic activity, and too much or too little of the good will be produced or consumed in terms of overall costs and benefits to society.

    For example, manufacturing that causes air pollution imposes costs on the whole society, while fire-proofing a home improves the fire safety of neighbors. If there exist external costs such as pollution, the good will be overproduced by a competitive market, as the producer does not take into account the external costs when producing the good.

    I’m in favor of regulations that help account for hidden costs – costs that get passed on in harmful pollution, loss of property, loss of life, etc, to others. I think this is reasonable and justified. If you want to make the case that it isn’t reasonable or justified, you have a long way to go. Just declaring it “wrong,” will not suffice for most people, I suspect. It won’t for me.

    After all, “wrong” is a subjective term…

  17. 2011/03/20 at 23:11

    How many links down the chain need to be regulated? Is it endless? How much does the cost of everything need to increase to account for the full cost of every action? How many technologies like electric vehicles, solar and wind power need to be pushed out before they are cost effective?

    How much freedom are you willing to give up to account for every adverse effect? Freedom of speech is the most dangerous right we have in this country. Would you give that up because of the costs? How much regulation of speech would you favor to account for the hidden costs?

    How much power are you willing to cede to the government to regulate your actions? At what point do we start calling it tyranny? There is an extremely fine line between regulation and tyranny, so fine no one can really say where it is. When the government regulates pay? When it sets production? When it starts regulating what you eat, or how much you eat? How far you can drive? What you can drive?

    Tell me where regulation ends and tyranny begins, in the name of “protection”.

  18. 2011/03/20 at 23:14

    Regulation has hidden cost too you know. Arguably more severe than what they seek to regulate from time to time.

  19. 2011/03/21 at 06:19

    How much freedom are you willing to give up to account for every adverse effect?

    We are already giving up freedoms. My freedom to walk to work without having to breathe in toxins is already taken from me. The freedom of my children to bicycle safely in my city is severely limited. The freedom of the poor to NOT to have to live in polluted environments has been removed.

    To pretend that ONE way leads to a loss of freedom but the OTHER way does not is rather an immature way to look at it (not to say you are – I’m saying anyone on my side who does not acknowledge a loss of freedom would be mistaken, just as much as anyone from your side would be).

    Freedom of speech is the most dangerous right we have in this country. Would you give that up because of the costs?

    Here, I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re speaking of. How have I advocated taking away freedom of speech? I’ve advocated having responsible regulations on behaviors that result in loss of liberty, loss of life, loss of safety. Speech, so far as I can tell, does not take away anyone’s rights (with, I guess, the exception of those who might hold rallies/discussions in an effort to remove rights based upon gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., but that’s not what I’m speaking of).

  20. 2011/03/21 at 06:25

    How much power are you willing to cede to the government to regulate your actions? At what point do we start calling it tyranny?

    I’m willing and DESIRING that the People would say to a company that would pollute the groundwater, “You can’t do that.” Are you willing to cede to enterprise your right to clean water? At what point does “free market” become tyranny?

    Don’t be melodramatic. I’m speaking of behavior that has measurably harmful effects. The right of the coal company to blow up a mountaintop ends at the People’s right to clean water and intact mountains. Do I support the freedom of a coal company to dig for coal? Yes. Do I support the People’s freedom to regulate that behavior if and when it becomes toxic, dangerous or at a loss to the People? Yes! It would be ridiculous not to do so.

    To give up our right to do so IS to give up freedom.

    You seem to be presenting this as if on ONE side (your side) there is the fight for liberty at all costs and on the OTHER side (mine) there is the attempt to promote tyranny. As already noted, BOTH sides involve a loss of liberty.

    Telling a motorist that he has to drive 25 mph in a residential zone is taking away “liberty” – the freedom to drive as fast as he wants – but we’d be stupid NOT to regulate that behavior.

    The thing is, we have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We DON’T have a right to take that away from others. THAT’s the difference I’m speaking of.

  21. 2011/03/21 at 06:29

    There is an extremely fine line between regulation and tyranny, so fine no one can really say where it is. When the government regulates pay? When it sets production? When it starts regulating what you eat, or how much you eat? How far you can drive? What you can drive?

    You’re making this too hard: We have a right, as a People, to protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. As a result, we have a right and obligation to either criminalize or regulate behavior that takes away these.

    We already limit what you can drive: You can’t drive a tank. You can’t drive a street rocket.

    Tell me where regulation ends and tyranny begins, in the name of “protection”.

    The limit is, that which causes harm to others. When we allow people to take away the rights of others to life, liberty, etc in order to give OTHERS the right to make money, drive as fast as they want, blow up whatever they want, pollute, etc, tyranny begins.

  22. 2011/03/21 at 08:31

    All that you’ve made clear to me is that as long as the intentions are good than you think regulation is fine and doesn’t constitute tyranny.

    Frankly that’s all I need to know.

  23. 2011/03/21 at 09:57

    Do you honestly think regulation = tyranny? Are you truly opposed to any and all regulation?

  24. 2011/03/21 at 10:14

    I do think there is such a thing as reasonable regulation. I don’t think it is reasonable to regulate individuals behavior simply because it affects others in some small way many links down the chain. I think that is on the border of tyranny, yes.

  25. 2011/03/21 at 10:25

    Okay, so we AGREE on the concept: Reasonable regulation.

    We AGREE on the concept: There can be too much/unreasonable regulation (ie, “just because it affects others in some small way…”).

    We are agreed, then, in theory. It’s just a matter of details and what is reasonably called harm and what regulations are reasonable to implement in order to prevent that harm, right? If so, I’d suggest that saying things like, “you’ve made clear to me is that as long as the intentions are good than you think regulation is fine and doesn’t constitute tyranny,” since we BOTH think that regulation is fine and does not constitute tyranny.

    Fair enough?

  26. 2011/03/21 at 10:36

    You quoted exactly what I said and I still find nothing wrong with it. You do seem to think that as long as there are good intentions that the regulation is okay. Furthermore that it isn’t tyrannical. I disagree with that. Simply because the intentions are good doesn’t mean that the government or any one else actually has business regulating _______.

  27. 2011/03/21 at 10:40

    I don’t really think that the government should be in the business of regulating everything potentially harmful into oblivion either.

  28. 2011/03/21 at 12:43

    You do seem to think that as long as there are good intentions that the regulation is okay.

    I don’t know where you are getting “good intentions,” it’s nothing I have ever said. Rather, I’ve been speaking about specific harm caused. IF having a city full of cars causes a portion of the population (the elderly, the sick, asthmatics, children…) to not be able to go outside some days, THEN that is a measurable harm. There are no “good intentions” being spoken of.

    I’m saying IF there is measurable harm, THEN the PEOPLE can rightly decide that regulating/taxing/otherwise dealing with the problem is a legitimate role of THE PEOPLE to engage in.

    IF a company has a waste by-product that they dispose of by washing it into the nearest stream and IF that waste is toxic, fouling the groundwater, THEN that is measurable harm and THE PEOPLE have a right to regulate/criminalize/tax it to decrease or get rid of it altogether.

    There has been no mention of mere “good intentions” on my part, that is something you brought up, not me. I’m speaking of measurable harm. I’m sorry if I have not been clear enough.

    Clear enough, now?

    As to something that is “POTENTIALLY” harmful, it would probably depend upon the situation. Someone riding a bicycle is POTENTIALLY harmful, if they ride it full tilt down a busy sidewalk, for instance. In fact, riding a bicycle full speed down a busy sidewalk is LIKELY harmful and a city can regulate/criminalize that and I’m fine with it.

    Someone riding a bike in a rational way down a city street or bike path, is also potentially harmful, but it’s not LIKELY harmful. No need to regulate that any further.

    If a company has a waste product that they THINK will be safe to dump out into the local stream, that is potentially harmful. It may not be, depending upon how little waste there is and what the waste consists of, but if the factory doesn’t know that, simply because it is potentially harmful, the people have a right to expect the company to know ahead of time.

    Do you think that, in the case of a company dumping waste into a stream, that their ignorance as to whether or not the waste is harmful ought to give them a pass, or do you agree with me that the POTENTIAL that it might be harmful is enough reason for people to demand accountability?

  29. 2011/03/21 at 13:10

    Dumping waste in a stream is not altogether the same thing as deciding to smoke a cigarette.

    I really think you understand what I meant by good intentions.

  30. 2011/03/22 at 11:31

    I was exploring settings the other day when I went to fix a grammatical error and obviously messed it up. Fixed now, thanks Michael.

  31. 2011/03/22 at 16:06

    Nate…

    I really think you understand what I meant by good intentions.

    Well, no, not really. I mean, I GET that you are suggesting I’m using “good intentions” as a measure. But I have not made that suggestion, nor do I think it. I’m using “harm” as a measure. Where there is measurable harm or reasonable risk, the people have a right and an obligation to either criminalize, regulate or tax, or otherwise deal with the risk.

    Why? Because your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

    Your right to build a factory to make stuff ends at our collective water and air.

    My right to drive a car (of course, no such right exists…) is limited by others’ right to clean air and water.

    Measurable harm is the criteria, not good intentions.

  32. 2011/03/22 at 17:26

    No one has a ‘right’ to clean air water though. At least no more than you have a right to drive or you have a right to manufacture. Certainly it would cause you harm if you couldn’t drive. Some people, if energy cost sky rocketed to pay for all the externalities, would freeze to death in winter because they couldn’t afford oil, or the high cost of wind and solar energy.

    I don’t think the solution to every adverse neighborhood effect is government regulation. I believe in the market. If we as “the people” want cleaner cars to help with the air and those products finally become cost effective than there you are. Alternately, government mandates for cleaner cars before fiscal viability is probably going to have a negative effect. People will continue to drive older dirtier cars instead of buy a more expensive new one that meets the mandated standards. Even if they are affordable if they don’t meet what consumers want, they won’t be bought and the problem doesn’t get solved. Look at the Chevy Volt! Massive tax credit and STILL no one wants them.

    Lets not forget that regulation also has its own drawbacks and externalities.

  33. 2011/03/22 at 22:53

    No one has a ‘right’ to clean air water though.

    I’d say that is debatable. We can easily live without a car. We can’t without clean water. I’d say clean water is a non-negotiable right and our laws have changed to agree with that point.

    I don’t think the solution to every adverse neighborhood effect is government regulation.

    Me, either.

    I believe in the market.

    Me, too. A reasonably regulated market.

    But a no rules totally free market? No, I don’t trust human nature in the market any more than I trust it in gov’t. Given no regulation or rules, people WILL cheat, cut corners, pollute and do what they had to to get as rich as possible. It would be naive to believe otherwise.

    Markets need rules just as communities need rules. Markets with no rules would be no safer and no more rational than streets with no speed limits.

    Further, I believe the market works relatively well as long as people are paying something close to actual costs for their products. If a reasonable and responsible manufacturer can make a widget for $10 each, but an irresponsible manufacturer could produce that widget for only $1 by dumping his waste into the stream, then that manufacturer is not paying actual costs and the market is corrupted.

    Markets need regulation. We can debate on the amount and approach, but can we agree that SOME regulation is needed?

  34. 2011/03/22 at 22:58

    Certainly it would cause you harm if you couldn’t drive.

    ? How so?

    I don’t drive much at all, and I am healthier for it. Far from being harmed.

    Now, if everyone ELSE is driving, then it becomes less healthy for me to not drive, as there is more pollution and increased risk of being injured by a reckless driver. Further, the resulting sprawl comes at a cost to me, as everything is spread out more, our streams and air are more polluted, the city is building more roads, parking lots, paving more and more, decreasing the over all health of the city.

    But these real and potential harms to non-motorists are not non-motorist-generated, but motorist-generated. I don’t think you could make a case that not being able to drive causes harm. It does LIMIT you, but limits can be a good thing.

  35. 2011/03/22 at 23:07

    Perhaps it wouldn’t cause you harm, but it would cause me harm. I’m starting a business, a driving school to be precise, we should be up and running in May. Not driving would certainly harm me, as well as a lot of the people that live in rural parts of the country and have no choice but to drive.

  36. 2011/03/22 at 23:19

    We have survived for thousands of years without cars. In the next century or less, we’ll survive again without cars. Having our options limited to what’s sustainable and reasonable is not “harm.”

    If a person had inherited $100,000 and quit their job, to live on that money for a year or so, they might also say, “You know, my NOT having $100,000 in my account is harming me,” but what he means is, “I don’t want to live without that luxury.”

    Isn’t that a fair assessment?

  37. 2011/03/22 at 23:30

    No it isn’t a fair assessment. We lived without a lot of things for thousands of years. The loss of our current level of mobility would certainly be harmful.

  38. 2011/03/23 at 06:19

    Define, “harmful.”

  39. 2011/03/23 at 10:26

    I’m using your definition.

  40. 2011/03/23 at 11:12

    I don’t see that I’ve provided a definition.

  41. 2011/03/23 at 20:21

    Taken as whole you have. At least in my reading. Nothing I would want to quote though as it would take up a huge amount of space. Read all of your comments and it gives a pretty good impression of what you define as harm.

  42. 2011/03/23 at 21:00

    I define harm as Merriam Webster does:

    physical or mental damage

    With the emphasis on physical (which could include fiscal) damage.

    The person who pours toxins into a stream is causing physical (or potential physical) harm to people and the ecosystem on which people depend. Thus, we the people have a reasonable expectation of criminalizing or regulating such behavior.

    Your “right” to drive as much as you want does not outweigh the right of the people to have clean air and water, as well as safe streets. So, the “harm” that would come from implementing protections against the initial harm is something we can live with, IF we’re concerned about justice and American ideals, seems to me.

    If I were extreme, I’d advocate criminalizing cars or factories. But I’m not extreme. I think we can allow these harmful activities, GIVEN some regulation and encouragement to not be overly dependent upon them.

    I have a couple of questions:

    Do you think that an economy that has some industries that don’t pay something approaching real costs is a healthy one? Do you think the guy who can sell widgets more cheaply by dumping his toxins is a Smart Businessman who should be free to do so or an Unethical Charlatan who should be regulated?

  43. 2011/03/23 at 21:20

    I think it should be left to the consumer to decide, not a bureaucrat.

    Have I not said before that the effectiveness of government actions don’t concern me? I dislike the use of government as a source of solutions and regulation. I think concentrated power is bad power and if not abused now, certainly increases the likelihood of abuse later. Centralized power corrupts easier, more frequently and to a greater extent that any other kind, especially the kind of power that consumers hold which I can’t find an example of getting out of hand.

    Government regulation creates a precedent for the scope of its power, any governmental body that sets it own limits on power (and apparently has no limits if you take the liberal reading of the commerce clause seriously) is dangerous.

  44. 2011/03/23 at 21:21

    And what makes these rights to ill defined ‘clean’ air and water holier than anyone’s right to move about freely?

  45. 2011/03/24 at 11:30

    Wow. Amazing.

    I asked…

    Do you think the guy who can sell widgets more cheaply by dumping his toxins is a Smart Businessman who should be free to do so or an Unethical Charlatan who should be regulated?

    And you responded…

    I think it should be left to the consumer to decide, not a bureaucrat.

    Have I not said before that the effectiveness of government actions don’t concern me? I dislike the use of government as a source of solutions and regulation.

    So, now I’m trying to see how far towards anarchy you lean. In case of dumping toxic waste, you favor letting consumers decide what to do about that dumper. So, what if, instead of dumping waste into a stream and damaging others that way, the “sinner” was pouring poison on a school playground. THEN would you favor regulation?

    I guess my point is, SURELY you agree that Gov’t has a role in protecting us from harmful behavior? You’re not wanting to de-criminalize murder (ie, “let the consumers decide if they want to support a killer or not…”), I’m quite sure, so you agree on having SOME gov’t. I just don’t get where you draw the line, if not harm.

    Is it your position that, as long as the person in question is not deliberately setting out to hurt anyone but only make a living, then the consumers should decide and no criminal consequences should be applied or regulation implemented, even if harm is done? That would seem to be a pretty far out-there position, and I can’t believe that you actually hold it, so where DO you draw the line?

  46. 2011/03/24 at 11:32

    what makes these rights to ill defined ‘clean’ air and water holier than anyone’s right to move about freely?

    For the simple reason that we HAVE to have clean air and water to survive. We don’t have to have a car in order to survive. There is a world of difference between the REAL need for clean air and water and the wish to have a car, don’t you think?

  47. 2011/03/24 at 13:26

    Malicious intent. That’s where I draw the line. I’m not against industries self-regulating, perhaps with Congressionally chartered non-profits. The same way I’d like health care to be dealt with. You assumed I was against regulation, no, I’m against government impositions of what often times turn out to be political, rather than ecological or personal safety related regulations.

    I have to have mobility in order to work and get food and shelter. You propose limiting my ability to be mobile is less important than other peoples right to breath and drink water. I fail it see that as being reality.

  48. 2011/03/24 at 13:42

    Malicious intent. That’s where I draw the line.

    So, if a company is blasting off mountain tops in order to reach coal, and they accidentally cause a massive boulder to crash through someone’s house, you don’t think they should be held accountable?

    If someone is driving 50 mph in a 25 mph school zone and run down a child, but their reasons for speeding were good and noble (running someone to the hospital, say, or simply to get to work), you don’t think they should be held accountable?

    In our nation, we are held accountable for our actions regardless of intent. This is a good thing and I’m glad that we do this. It’s only asking for adult responsibility from our fellow citizens, from one another.

  49. 2011/03/24 at 13:44

    I have to have mobility in order to work and get food and shelter.

    No one is proposing taking away your mobility (the ability to move) or your ability to work and get food and shelter. I’m just pointing out that cars are not absolutely necessary in order to do this, unlike clean air and water. Cars are an additional luxury and privilege, not a right. Clean air and water are essentials, cars are non-essentials.

    Given that, reasonable regulation to protect essentials (air and water) EVEN IF it makes obtaining non-essentials more difficult, ought to hold priority for obvious reasons, seems to me.

  50. 2011/03/24 at 14:04

    You are mixing things that affect people 10 links down the chain with actions immediately followed by boulders crashing through living rooms.

    Would the government regulate how many horses we can have when your imagined tyrant says we can only drive 50 miles per week? They produce methane, so I assume you would need them regulated as well. By limiting vehicles my right to mobility is severely restricted, as well as getting food and in some cases water as well. I can only have one horse now, how many cows can I have? Are my hamburgers limited? Milk? Will cows and horses need to have methane scrubbing tailpipes installed in your regulated utopia?

    What government office would get to define what is essential and what isn’t? Are they going to ration everything to regulate how much CO2 and methane are produced as by products from the things we consume?

    Sounds wonderful Dan.

  51. 2011/03/24 at 14:11

    And actually, intent does matter in this countries legal system. Mens Rea, “guilty mind”, is an essential part of due process.

  52. 2011/03/24 at 14:14

    You are mixing things that affect people 10 links down the chain with actions immediately followed by boulders crashing through living rooms.

    What I’m trying to do is establish where you draw the line, which apparently is NOT merely at malicious intent (rightfully so) but would include the accidental boulder through someone’s house, right?

    I have not specified anything thus far, other than I believe harm is rightfully regulated/criminalized, regardless of intent. I was seeing where we had common ground be trying to establish some ground rules. My ground rule is Harm (regardless of intent), as a starting point. It appears you agree.

  53. 2011/03/24 at 14:15

    actually, intent does matter in this countries legal system.

    True. My point, though, was that a LACK of malicious intent does not make one legally blameless. Agreed?

  54. 2011/03/24 at 14:27

    I simply don’t agree that the governments role is to dictate that such a huge separation in affinity between alleged cause and future harm should be regulated.

    Assume I build a house and 50 years later part of it falls down because of my construction abilities and the current owner gets hurt, am I legally to blame?

    I’m interested in these animal tailpipes too when you get to it.

  55. 2011/03/24 at 14:39

    You’re exaggerating the case to a point of absurdity. No one is speaking of holding people responsible for unforeseen, unforesee-able incidents. I’m speaking of behaviors that cause direct, measurable harm.

    So, in THAT scenario: If someone builds a house (per standard building procedures that are generally regulated) and sells it 50 years later and it then falls down, there was no foresee-able reason to hold that person accountable.

    HOWEVER, if someone builds a house – and they CUT CORNERS, using substandard building materials/procedures – and then the house falls down, YES, they are held accountable because it was foreseeable. We have standards for a reason.

    I’m speaking of REASONABLE regulations to prevent PREDICTABLE harm.

    Now, will we all agree on WHERE “reasonable” standards lie? Sure. We can all agree that adding battery acid or fecal matter to our water supply is not a good thing – no one wants to consume battery acid or fecal matter. It IS reasonable to demand that people don’t put battery acid or fecal matter in someone’s drinking, fishing, swimming water. Reasonable people can agree on that, I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with the concept.

    Now, does that mean that if ONE drop of battery acid or fecal matter winds up in a WHOLE river that is a water supply, that someone has broken the regulation? No, it’s not an absurd regulation, but it IS a regulation. Somewhere between one drop in a river and 100 gallons down someone’s well, we have to reach agreement on a limit.

    Fair enough?

    And WHO will decide that limit? Will the factory say, “you know, I think ten gallons of battery acid in our neighbor’s well is reasonable, therefore, THAT will be the regulation…”? OR, will we appoint some neutral party to decide that, based on evidence and science?

    I think reasonable people can agree that we DON’T want random “everyone deciding for themselves what’s reasonable” sorts of regulation. We need SOME standard, even if it is imperfect (and, of course, it WILL be imperfect). And it seems reasonable to me that this entity would be a body composed by WE, the People, not some industry apologist.

    Isn’t there room for some agreement here?

  56. 2011/03/24 at 14:41

    I said…

    will we all agree on WHERE “reasonable” standards lie? Sure.

    And I meant to say, “No, we won’t be able to come to perfect agreement on where “reasonable” lies, but we MUST set some standards…”

  57. 2011/03/24 at 14:49

    I’m interested in these animal tailpipes too when you get to it.

    I hold no expertise, nor have I read any experts, on how much harm could/would be done if we converted over to 100% animal transportation. Since that isn’t happening, isn’t likely TO happen, I don’t know that I need to hold any expertise on it.

    BUT, the principle for ANY behavior will come down to “reasonable expectation of harm.” If, in the next century, fossil fuels become sufficiently limited to make them no longer useful/affordable for transportation uses (as is likely) and someone proposes SOLUTION X to our transportation needs, we can apply this principle to SOLUTION X, whatever that solution is.

    IF SOLUTION X outputs 100 pounds of toxin per year per person and that solution involves EVERYONE (nearly everyone) using that solution, resulting in 1 billion users outputting 100 pounds of toxin each year, we can reasonably say, “Is that much toxin something that causes harm? Harm to whom? What amount of harm? Is it ‘too much’ harm?” and, depending upon the answers to those questions, we can reasonably create policy, based upon evidence and likelihood of harm.

    Part of the problem with our personal auto solution is that we DID rely too much upon the good will of consumers and just plain laissez faire, what will be will be approach and it had many unanticipated costs. I’m in favor of more rational, evidence-based policies, no matter how flawed they may be, over blind hope that it will all work out for the best. That approach seems rather pollyanna-ish to me, and ultimately, unwise.

  58. 2011/03/24 at 16:02

    Can we end this? I’m tired of talking about it.

    You think that the only things we have ‘right’ to is clean air and water and that few other commodities would cause us any harm if taken away or regulated so much that their use becomes prohibitively expensive.

    I would prefer that industries regulated themselves, perhaps with organizations charted by, but not run by, the government.

    We are just going round and round and wasting another precious commodity, bandwidth.

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