Monday, December 3, 2007

More Conversation On Huckabee And A Smoking Ban

My last post drew a comment that was insistent about the illegitimacy of a national smoking ban of any sort. After my response became somewhat expensive, I decided to post it. Here is the comment, followed by my response:


No matter how we dress it, endorsing a national ban on smoking is still the nanny state interfering with [some] business' ability to operate.

For non-smokers, a smoking ban may seem like a reasonable restriction on liberty. However, others also think Christmas traditions should be banned... and smoking bans in private homes (maybe eventually christmas celebrations too?) aren't far behind.

I am a non-smoker who supports Huckabee, but I think it's foolish for us to try to disguise his bigger government leanings as "having the government do good". The soul of conservatism is the recognition that while the government can do good, it rarely does so better than the free market and liberty for people of conscience.


You're absolutely correct: the federal government not only constitutionally shouldn't, it practically CAN'T do a better job than a free-market approach. I’m a lifelong conservative and a constitutionalist.

But, I don't see at all that Huckabee has "bigger government leanings.” He is very explicit that the federal government doesn't need more money, but just needs to control the way it spends it. He has signed the “no new taxes” pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. And he’s very cognizant of the enumerated federal powers and the appropriate realm of state and popular powers, as per the 10th Amendment. And, he favors an overhaul of the tax system to return control over expenditures back to individuals and their localities; put the thousands of bribing federal lobbyist into another line of work. The critics are eithe4r misinformed or disingenuous. The percentage of tax burden actually declined over Huckabbe’s ten years as governor, unlike in Massachusetts under whom it increased over his four years. And of course, Romney has been a most vociferous critic. But as a competitor, it’s understandable for Romney: not so much among many others, who are disingenuous with another agenda or have just failed to do their homework.

As I said, public places that are open only to those 21 and over are exempted in the Arkansas law, as are places with 3 or fewer employees. I argued (futilely, mind you) with a web site of constitutionalists with a guru blogger. It was like trying to fight off a swarm of bees.

I conceded what is patently obvious: that there is no constitutional license for federal intervention into private commerce. But, I also pointed to what is equally obvious: that, constitutionally or not, Congress has for many decades imposed libraries of unconstitutional law, such that most people can no longer distinguish that fact. So that focus on complaining about it at any single point is something like standing up to one's neck in a swimming pool and grousing about a light shower. This acknowledgment of facts, only got me accused of self-contradiction: conceding what was unconstitutional while defending it, anyway.

But what I said was that in the course of this unconstitutional freer-wheeling, the federal government has taken on a huge liability in present and future medical expenses. With respect to that liability, constitutionality is irrelevant. So, what? It is a liability, nevertheless. As I said in a previous discussion, if a spouse wrongly runs up a huge credit card debt, can we ignore the debt because it was accrued wrongly? Try it and see what happens.

As a quite stark example of of our unconstitutional disposition, and my reverence of The Constitution: can you not say that the entire enterprise of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (Social Security, ever-expanding Medicare, and Medicaid) are unconstitutional intrusions into the private realm? To me, it’s rather a trick to try to get around that one. But, perhaps only a percent or two of Americans, and fewer politicians, are prepared to even entertain such a question.

But, my question to you is: if we acknowledge that the imposition of the Social Security system was unconstitutional in addition to being foolish (not entirely coincidental), can we therefore default on the commitments that have been made to pay benefits” I hope you are like even most all of those who concede that the system must be modified, who say that The United States CAN NOT unilaterally default on the commitments that it has made to those who are vested in the system and want to retain their promised benefits.

In similar fashion, those medical liabilities are an inevitable fact. And the discouragement of unhealthy and disease-inviting behavior on the front end is bare fiscal prudence. Huckabee points to smoking as just one formerly widespread behavior, that social disapprobation has modified in our lifetimes. I was so resentful of government presumption that I resisted another such government action: what business is it of government’s to require at pain of penalty that I wear a seatbelt in my own car?! None I thought, and still do. But, marriage cured me of that. My new wife would not allow the car to move before everyone was buckled in. Today, I don’t even think about it, and most people seem not to. But at 50, I’m more keenly aware that we are all safer with our seat belts fastened, than I was in my 20’s. I can still let it bother me that the law has the gall to presume upon my personal conduct. I’m enough of a libertarian to feel I have a right to be a fool. But, the seat belt etiquette probably has preserved many live fools.


Fidelis said...

Hello Mr. Perrault, I've never before left a comment on your blog, nor to I plan to do so again in the future - however I felt obligated to speak of my unease when it comes to former governor Huckabee. My dispute will only truly make sense if I put it in context however, so before you continue reading this comment please familiarize your self with this anecdote Huckabee likes to tell:

Ok, so now that we're on the same page, my problem stems from the message I feel he is espousing with this story. In this case he is clearly stating that veterans EARNED our rights and freedoms that we would not otherwise have, rather than that veterans PROTECTED our rights and freedoms that are, as President Jefferson put it, inalienable. This is a highly disturbing doctrine that I could never support with a vote. One can love America and be pro-choice or pro-life, just as one can love America and be Christian or Muslim; I do not however, believe that one can love America and believe that our freedoms are owed to any man. My respect for the veterans of this nation is of the utmost intensity, but Huckabee's belief that I owe them my freedoms goes too far.

Larry Perrault said...

Well Fidelis, you may not look back here. But, you could have just said, "the teacher and the school desks story..." I've heard them all, probably more than once or twice.

Yours is a strained and nitpicky distinction. Huckabee knows well that our rights are inalienable. As soldiers have protected them, they are earned in the sense that the nation would have been lost without their work.

I'm sorry: that just looks like mining for a grievance. :-)

ThinkAware said...

Sat., DEC. 15 is NATIONAL Windshields 4 Huckabee DAY!

Spread the word and find out more at:

Stephen R. Maloney said...

I still think the explosive charges against Mike are still to come. Too many of Mike's supporters are ardently anti-Catholic (even though I imagine Rev. Rude's mouth has been stapled shut). The bigger problem is Dr. Laurence White, Larry's favorite minister, who compares the United States as similar to Nazi Germany. Mike allowed this libellous demagogue to print a special column on his main web site. These issues will come back to hurt the candidacy of Mike Huckabee. He should have completely disassociated himself from White, rather than allowoing the man to print his libellous comments. In Iowa in 1980, Pat Robertson finished a strong-second to Bob Dole (Geo. Bush finished third). There is an old saying about Iowa that whoever wins the primary there is the type of man who couldn't win Iowa's vote in the general. Whoever wins the FL primary will be the Reupblican nominee. Then, perhaps the far-right of the evangelical wing can nominate their own candidate. I'd suggest Dr. Laurence White. Candidates strongly favored by Republican evangicals will probably never again win the presidency. Right now, it's down to Giuliani, Huckabee, and McCain. Stick a fork in Romney.

Larry Perrault said...

For those of you who well-remember the days of vinyl records, Mr. Maloney has a similar weakness: Once the media has developed a deep scratch, the damage and the consequent noise is fairly ineradicable. You will hear it for the rest of your life. Laurence White is 1) a less than marginal presence in Mike Huckabee's campaign. Yet Maloney cannot disabuse himself of the notion that White is a big liability for Huckabee's campaign. And 2) Laurence White is a good and smart man, whom I know and Maloney does not. Maloney has a disability of sophomoric reviewers of rhetoric in that he cannot distinguish the logical course of an analogy from a comparison of the two subjects. He has been apprised of Dr. White's character and of his own exegetical error, and 99% of the people who have visited Huckabee's web site in the surge of the past two months, never have heard of Laurence White.

But, no matter: the scratch has been carved in Maloney's brain. Anti-Catholicism is of no issue and consequence in Huckabee's campaign, either. His CAMPAIGN MANAGER IS A CATHOLIC! Maloney also compulsively inclines to do what has been called something like conversing out of his rear-mounted orafice.

Like the proverbial stopped clock, though, he may be right about the Florida winner getting the nomination: I wonder if he's been watching the poling trends and current standing, there. It is similar to polls, everywhere. Maloney will no doubt discount Rasmussen's national daily tracking polls, which have shown Huckabee passing Giuliani into 1st in the past two days. He has also passed Rudy in South Carolina and is a A CLOSING 2ND IN FLORIDA.

But, we may have to try rousing Maloney from a coma a few days after Huckabee has left Rudy teetering on his heels after the Florida primary. I'm not confident in counting Romney out until he has lost Iowa, been sorely challenged or beaten in New Hampshire, and buried in South Carolina. I can't imagine how he reconstitutes a serious campaign, then. There aren't enough delegates in Utah and Arizona.

Maybe we can arrange for Laurence White to speak at the convention. :-)

BSR said...

Hi Larry...saw you comment on the MHP2008 blog...yes, we saw long agot that Mike Huckabee had what it takes to be president. We launched MHP2008 in Feb. 2005, just a few weeks before he ended his last term as Governor of Arkansas, hoping to play at least some role in convincing him to run for President.

Larry Perrault said...


I've watched politics for over 40 years. Huckabee plainly offers what is needed to communicate to the American people. He has had to and will have to reach around the biting and howling of all the conventional political figures, even after he is elected: so far, so good.

snowbird said...

The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed threat of "second-hand" smoke.

Indeed, the bans are symptoms of a far more grievous threat, a cancer that has been spreading for decades and is the only real hazard involved – the cancer of unlimited government power.

The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom menace, as a study published recently in the British Medical Journal indicates. The issue is: if it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction? Should anti-tobacco activists satisfy themselves with educating people about the potential danger and allowing them to make their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force people to make the "right" decision?

Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," they have actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, – whose customers are free to go elsewhere.

All decisions involve risks; some have harmful consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the neighbours. But the individual must be free to make these decisions.
Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are a minority, practising a habit considered annoying and unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

Smoke from tobacco is a statistically insignificant health risk.

Thomas Laprade
480 Rupert St.
Thunder Bay, Ont.