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Greens are smoking something alright

Greens are smoking something alright

by Jim Peron

Smoking stinks. I¹ll be the first to concede that point. In addition I¹m a passionate nonsmoker and won¹t allow smoking in my flat, business or car. And I never have. But that doesn¹t mean I have any sympathy with the premises behind the current drive to ban smoking in private restaurants, bars, clubs or offices.

The Green Party has come out in support of a ³proposed total ban on smoking in pubs, restaurants and all other work places² and they are proud of it. They should be ashamed.

This ban is not an issue of public health but an issue of private property. My business bans smoking and since it¹s my business it¹s my right to determine the rules for those who I allow on my property. The Green backed measure however, amounts to the nationalisation of vast amounts of private property rights in the name of health.

The Greens argued that such private business ³should be catering for the 75 per cent of New Zealanders who don¹t smoke.² Well I¹m one of those non smokers but I¹d rather have to battle some smoke than more Green stupidity. What is Green MP Sue Kedgley, who made the above remark, saying?

Sure 75 per cent of Kiwis don¹t smoke. (I¹m taking her word on that which I realize is risky business.) But so what?

Would she argue that gay bars should cater for the 90 per cent of New Zealanders who aren¹t gay? Would she demand that the Buddhist temples cater for the larger number of Kiwis who might be of some Christian tradition? Should vegan restaurants be forced to cater to the majority who eat meat?

I suspect Ms. Kedgley would cringe at the suggestion of such things. But then she only thinks people should be forced to adopt her life style. She wants freedom for herself and chains for everyone else. She wants Green dictates to determine what people do with their own property. In fact she¹s not really sure they be allowed to have private property at all since it interferes with her Nanny statism.

Why does it matter what percentage of Kiwis smoke? No one is forced to go into a bar or club that allows smoking. Every time I go to a restaurant I ask for no smoking seating. If they tell me they can¹t comply I tell them I don¹t have to eat there and they can kiss the profits from my business good bye. They are still free to allow smoking or not as they want in accordance with their property rights. I¹m still free to find another restaurant. But I¹ve noticed that most such restaurants do offer non smoking seating.

The Greens have no understanding of how markets work. But then why should they? They are fundamentally socialists anyhow. They believe in top down control. This the typical fatal conceit of socialists at work. But private business owners have to compete for customers. If, as Ms Kedgley wants us to believe, 75 per cent of Kiwis don¹t want smoking in these places then they could simply refuse to patronise those places. I assure you that a voluntary ban on smoking would be imposed in most of them.

One of the big differences between the market and politics is that in the market businessmen have to persuade us to buy their services. Politicians use government coercion to force us to buy their products. Businessmen who don¹t satisfy us go out of business. The Greens, on the other hand, want us to satisfy them. They want us to live the way they prefer not the way we prefer. They believe in freedom of choice provided we choose what they tell us.

Restaurants that want my business have to offer me clean air. Businesses that want top employees have to worry about making sure they are satisfied. And they usually manage to do this without interference from the venal time servers in Parliament. What is particularly irksome is how many in Parliament have literally zero experience running a business yet think that being elected gives them some Divine mandate to run every business in the country as they see fit.

Just a few weeks ago Green¹s were advocating the reform of prostitution laws and the Religious Right Maxim Institute was shrieking about how this allegedly effects third parties. They wanted state control because ³innocent² people are affected by prostitution. The Greens pretended then to support individual rights.

Now the Greens are parroting the same slogans of the Maxim crowd.

There is absolutely no reason to have Nanny stick her nose into this matter. If Kiwis want smoking to end in privately owned businesses, bars and clubs they can simply refuse to patronise them. The most likely result of allowing people to exercise property rights (for the owners) and freedom to trade elsewhere (the customers) is that all will balance out in the end.

Some places will allow smoking. Others won¹t. Just the same way we have bars for gay people and bars for straight people, vegan restaurants and steak houses. The market allows us to each exercise our own choice and usually find someone willing to serve us what we want. Political interference demands that every business act exactly the same way and offer the same products. They want the bland sameness and lack of choice that made life in every socialist society drab and unpleasant.

Of course we know the Greens aren¹t anti-smoking at all. They are just anti tobacco. They¹re quite willing to have freedom to smoke other substances. And the logic behind their support for this ³total ban² on tobacco smoke may just indicate that they¹ve been sneaking behind the Beehive for a puff or two on something else.

Jim Peron is the executive director of The Institute for Liberal Values and editor of the new book The Liberal Tide. ILV information can be found at http://www.liberalvalues.org.nz.

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