Freedom of Choice : No Nanny State

The Marlboro Man: The picture of Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, now an Iraq War vet, raised a stink among anti-smoking activists when it appeared in scores of newspapers in 2004. Photo by Luis Sinco.

It does not matter whether it’s the right trying to force religion on me or the left trying to force ‘healthiness’ on me — it is tyranny either way, and I categorically reject it.

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / July 16, 2009

Anyone who has read very many of my posts knows that I hate conservatives who want to force everyone into accepting their own particular religious and political beliefs. But some may be surprised to learn that I hate the “nanny state” liberals equally as much.

To me, freedom means having the ability to make my own choices, and allowing everyone else to do the same. As long as my choices don’t hurt someone else, then no one should be able to force me to do something different. It does not matter whether those choices are “good” for me or not.

There are liberals who want to tell us what we can’t eat such as a ban on certain cooking oils or fatty foods. They want to tell me what I can’t drink such as carbonated soft drinks. And of course, they want to keep me from using tobacco products. These people don’t care that I’m an adult, perfectly capable of making my own choices. They have already decided what is best for me and will happily codify it with a law.

This is not freedom. It does not matter whether it’s the right trying to force religion on me or the left trying to force “healthiness” on me — it is tyranny either way, and I categorically reject it. Whatever happened to letting each citizen make his or her own choices?

In a free country, you have the right to try and convince me of anything you want — until I ask you to stop. Write articles, send mail, buy advertisements and try any other non-invasive measures to change my mind if you want. But you have stepped over the line when you try to force my compliance with a law or a ban, because then you are taking my freedom of choice away. And I will not willingly give up ANY freedom!

The latest freedom-grabbing measure is aimed at the very soldiers who are fighting for our country in a war zone. A “study” commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs has decided that their own views of tobacco use should be forced on our military troops — the same troops who are supposedly fighting for our “freedom”.

They want to ban tobacco use on all military bases, and ban the sale of all tobacco products on military bases. They even want to extend this ban to military troops stationed in a war zone. Fortunately Secretary Gates has refused to do this. He cites as his excuse the high stress levels in a war zone. He should just say that soldiers who fight for freedom should have the freedom to make their own choices.

Frankly, this is a stupid thing for a country to do — especially when that country is having trouble filling its military enlistment quotas. They are telling all tobacco users that they don’t respect their freedom to choose, and really don’t want them to join the military.

I am left to wonder exactly what this “freedom” is that is so celebrated and that so many have given their lives to establish. Is it just the freedom to follow the orders of those in power? That’s not freedom — that’s tyranny wrapped in an American flag. And tyranny wrapped in an American flag is no better than any other tyranny.

How about you? Do you want the freedom to make your own choices, or are you happy to left those in power make your choices for you?

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger, an excellent Texas political blog.]

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6 Responses to Freedom of Choice : No Nanny State

  1. Clint says:

    “As long as my choices don’t hurt someone else, then no one should be able to force me to do something different. It does not matter whether those choices are “good” for me or not.”

    I think that’s a very good philosophy.

    “There are liberals who want to tell us what we can’t eat such as a ban on certain cooking oils or fatty foods. They want to tell me what I can’t drink such as carbonated soft drinks. And of course, they want to keep me from using tobacco products.”

    These things shouldn’t be banned, but I think it’s reasonable to tax cigarettes higher, for instance, because they drain health care resources.

    What’s your opinion on sin taxes?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Legislators can’t decide to tax “sin” without defining
    what constitutes a “sin” and therein lies the rub. Cigarettes are only one of a plethora of products/services which “drain healthcare resources”. E.G. sugars & fats contribute to diabetes, a major drainer of US medical resources and IVF increases chances of multiple births and premature infants at increased risk of very, very expensive congenital-to-lifelong medical conditions. Hell, tanning oil probably contributes to skin cancer. Sin is a very slippery slope excuse for targeting taxes.

  3. Mariann says:

    Call it whatever you want, there are millions of Americans who are BEGGING for the opportunity to be taxed for our "vice", cannabis use.

  4. Clint says:

    Anonymous,

    Defining the "sin" is definitely a hard part, but I think that also sounds worse than it is because of the term "sin."

    If it was something more neutral — maybe "social health tax" — then all we'd be deciding is what's negative to the public health.

    I think a reasonable definition could be constructed and agreed

  5. Mariann says:

    Clint — I dunno – a social health tax may be somewhat akin to cap-and-trade carbon "credits". Fact is that our definition of what is and is not a "drain on society" changes fairly often, and dramatically. It is only quite recently, really, that the hazards of cigarettes have been widely agreed-upon.

    And talk about your slippery slope! Are babies with congenital

  6. Anonymous says:

    I worry far less about the ‘nanny state’ than the emerging ‘DEPENDENT SOCIETY’. When the govt. has taxed the rich into oblivion, who will the govt. then depend on to provide for it’s ‘entitled DEPENDENT SOCIETY’?

    Makin’ poverty pay. America is becoming the home of the free: Free food stamps, free ‘affordable housing’, free single-payer health care, free education (for the half that actually graduate), free stimulus rebates, free government checks, free, free!

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