ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of October 4, 1999
STATISTS’ HATED DEMONS
In medieval England, the state was pledged to protect the citizenry from certain demons: witches. There was an infallible test for whether someone was a witch. Here’s how it worked. The person accused of being a witch was bound, hand and foot, rendering him incapable of moving his arms or feet, then placed inside of a cloth bag which was tied shut. Then he was thrown into a stream of water. If he floated, it proved he had magical powers and was a witch. If he sank and drowned, it proved he was innocent and not a witch.
Today, statists have a similar standard of "justice," but with a twisted difference: the innocent are punished for the wrongdoings of statists. Certain groups are demonized by statists and set up as the fall guy, the patsy, for the egregious acts committed by statists. Statists, who bill themselves as haters of hate, fan the flames of hatred for the users of certain products. For the moment, those who are on the top of the hate list of statists are those who use the following products: cigarettes, guns and drugs. These individuals are the modern-day equivalent of witches. These are the demons statists wish to eradicate—and in their drive to do so, they are eradicating freedom, which is their ultimate demon.
Consider the recently announced lawsuit by the federal government against the tobacco companies. Offering justification for the lawsuit, Janet Reno declared: "…American taxpayers should not have to bear the responsibility for the staggering costs," (of the health problems supposedly related to smoking). For once, Reno has it right, but not in the sense in which she intended.
Now, who is really to blame for taxpayers being forced to pay for these "staggering costs?" Who forced taxpayers to foot this bill? Smokers? Nope. Tobacco companies? Nope. The correct answer? Statists—all those statist politicians, over the past few decades, who voted for the enactment of legislation that required the state to pay for someone else’s medical care. Statists are the ones who have racked up these huge bills for health care and forced you and your neighbors to pay for them. Now, they have the gall to blame those who never used force: cigarette manufacturers and smokers.
Since smokers are a despised minority—and statists, self-proclaimed defenders of minorities, encourage and promote this hatred—the non-smoking majority seems not to care about the principles involved in their persecution. Well, if this happens to be your attitude, you had better take a look at the principles at stake. Once statists have taken care of smokers, they will soon set their sights on you.
What are the principles at stake in statists’ attack against tobacco?
First, one’s health is an individual problem, not a national problem. It is your responsibility to take care of your own health, not the state—and certainly not your neighbors who have no choice about the choices you make in your own life that might be detrimental to your health. If an individual makes some bad choices that undercut his health, then he should pay for it, not you. All of this means: the state should not be in the business of paying for anyone’s medical bills.
Second, if the federal lawsuit against tobacco companies is successful, it will bring vast, new powers to the executive branch of the federal government. These powers will eventually be brought to bear against other statist demons, especially guns. This lawsuit is an attempt to bypass Congress and bring us a form of taxation without representation. It is an attempt to effectively impose a tax increase on smokers, without the action of Congress, which has the sole constitutional authority to raise taxes, with the signature of the president. All of this means: the state should not have the authority to loot, via a lawsuit, an entire industry and effectively impose taxes without congressional action.
Certain cities are now emulating the trial lawyers in their successful suits against tobacco by various states: they are suing gun manufacturers. Among other things, they are attempting to make it illegal for gun manufacturers to advertise that having a gun in your home makes your home safer. If the cities are successful, the federal government will likely follow up with a lawsuit of their own against gun manufacturers, especially if they are successful in their current suit against tobacco. The attacks against tobacco are merely the prelude, the establishment of a pattern of attack and of a precedent that will be used against other demons. It is the creation of a new weapon that will be used by statists to further destroy freedom.
"What is past is prologue," wrote Shakespeare. And this is surely true, unless the precedents established in the past are repudiated. If they are not overturned, then the past is prologue—a foreshadowing of future events that will unfold out of prior precedents established. What has happened, and is occurring, with tobacco is a preview of what is in store for guns, as well as a host of other products statist will demonize in the future.
For those who think in principles, there is only one response to statists: "Butt out! Get the hell out of my life, leave me alone, let me make my own mistakes and, if I do, I will pay for them. My life belongs to me, not to you or the state."
October 4, 1999
© Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable
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