Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Had Enough?
Interesting letter to an MP published over on DP yesterday. A solicitor writing to say how he and his lady wife had thrown in their jobs because it simply wasn't worth the candle any more. That was the first half of the letter. The second half was a long rant about the breakdown of society over the past 20 years, taxes, illiterate kids, political correctness, the nanny state, global warming, biased BBC, corrupt politicians, the EU. The smoking ban got a mention, I was glad to see.

"We are all looking at Egypt and wondering when that day will come here. I confidently predict that it will come within my son’s lifetime if things don’t change."

I suppose I've been wondering the same thing. Somebody in the comments pointed out that it had been a bloodless revolution in Egypt, and that was how it should be done. It seems to be the fashion, ever since the Czech 'velvet revolution' 20 or so years ago, to have bloodless revolutions. No more tumbrils carrying aristos to their appointments with Madame Guillotine. Revolutions aren't what they used to be.

Maybe the same thing, or something very like it, will happen here. But I don't see it happening any time soon. I think that what's more likely is that, buried under an ever-growing burden of taxes and rules and regulations, the real economy will simply be unable to support it all any more. Just like a horse can't be laden with more than a certain load without buckling under the weight. The real economy now supports a vast wedding-cake superstructure of government, employing millions of bureaucrats and pen-pushers and finger-waggers whose sole job in life is to invent and enforce thousands of unnecessary and hobbling rules and regulations. There's been a veritable torrent of new laws over the past decade, the principal effect of which has been to make life worse for everybody.

And it's becoming insupportable. The horse's knees are ready to buckle. And when they finally do fail, the tax revenues will dry up, and there'll be nothing with which to pay the army of bureaucrats and meddlers. And they'll be laid off. And with that the din of propaganda about smoking and drinking and global warming will end. The finger-pointers and do-gooders and busybodies will join the ranks of the unemployed (and most likely the ranks of the unemployable).

Trouble is, the good solicitor probably wouldn't like this new army of unemployed people "leeching off the rest of us" any more than he liked them in their previous incarnation as taxpayer-funded government busybodies. But which is better? Paying them to do nothing, or paying them a lot more to invent and enforce thousands of interfering rules and regulations? The unemployed, bless 'em, don't do anyone any harm. But government busybodies actively make life hell for everybody.

There's a good case to be made that all our current problems are the consequence of hyper-regulation. We're getting buried under laws. The smoking ban is, after all, the perfect example of a piece of unnecessary and destructive legislation.

And what does everybody hate about the EU? All the petty little rules and regulations they make, of course. They've even got their own special even-more-draconian smoking ban under preparation, which will feature show trials of prominent law-breakers.

And what about global warming? The real threat there is not that the planet will get warmer, but that there will be yet more taxes, and yet more regulations. None of which will do any good at all, of course.

These days, if you want money, the best way seems to be to discover some hitherto-unnoticed (and actually non-existent) threat - secondhand smoke, global warming, avian flu, etc, etc - and scream loudly enough about it to get government funding to set up your own dedicated bureaucracy to regulate it, all at the taxpayer's expense of course.

We're paying more and more taxes to be restricted and regulated by more and more petty bureaucrats. The simplest thing to do would be to fire the lot of them, and render them all unemployed. It will cost a lot less to keep them unemployed than it is to employ them full time to meddle full time in everyone else's lives. The blessing would be twofold. Firstly it would save taxpayers' money. And secondly it would reduce the hyper-regulation that's stifling the economy and making everybody miserable.

Fire them all, and all the problems would go away. Pubs would allow smoking once again, and our fragmented society would begin to repair itself. Global warming would be forgotten. Business and industry, freed from hobbling legislation, would flourish. The nanny state would disintegrate. And, relieved of the stress of an over-regulated life, people might even smoke less and drink less.

It's unlikely that any of the current political class will show any initiative in this respect. Politicians are, after all, the first to dip their snouts into the trough of public money. They are the very personifications of interfering busybodies.

The important first step is to start recognising mass unemployment as better than the mass employment of an army of interfering busybodies. We should stop thinking of employment as being somehow nobler or morally superior to unemployment.

Ask yourself. Which would you prefer? To pay ASH's Deborah Arnott £100,000 a year to be Britain's anti-smoking harridan-in-chief? Or to pay her £10,000 a year to just stay home and shut the fuck up? Because that's the real choice. It's one or the other (although I know a lot of people would simply like to strangle her). You can't complain about Deborah Arnott doing her job out of one side of your mouth, and then start calling her a feckless leech out of the other side the moment she joins the ranks of the unemployed.

Me, I'd prefer her to be idle, doing nothing. I wouldn't mind a bit if she didn't get out of bed until 2 pm every day. I'd even volunteer to bring her a mug of vallium at 2 pm every day to make her sleep right through.

But there's a near-universal conviction that everyone should have a 'proper' 9-to-5 job Doing Something, even if what they do causes misery and suffering for millions of other people. And, because we still think that everyone should have a proper job, pretty much the only way we can create the required employment is by using taxes to pay the wages an ever-expanding army of bureaucratic government busybodies. It is our refusal to tolerate idleness that is the fundamental reason why we are cursed with all these rules and regulations. Because making and enforcing interfering regulations is what governments do. That is the entire mission of our elected representatives in parliament: to make laws. There isn't anything else for them to do than dream up new laws which will require new armies of bureaucrats to draft and modify and adapt and enforce. And it's slowly killing us.

But if were to encourage mass unemployment, not only would we save the money paid to all those interfering government employees, and spare ourselves from their dictatorial legislation, but we would also save a great deal of energy transporting them to and from work every day, and heating their offices, and providing them with desks and computers. At a stroke, we would reduce our carbon footprint by 50% or more. How more Green can you get?

Not convinced? Still think everyone should have a job? Never mind. The dreadful Arnott will grin and snigger and start dreaming up new ways of making life even more miserable for you than it is already. After all, it's what you're paying her to do.

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Well said Anon. The more that we read from people like yourself, the more obvious it becomes that the new tyranny is upon us - disguised as Public Health.

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