It’s no secret that this decade has been one in which behavior modifiers have found great support for their schemes of eliminating personal liberty.

Health Department Commissar Exhorts the Mob

S.F. Health Czar:
"I am not in favor of anybody smoking or anybody selling tobacco."

Steve Chapman of Reason magazine looks askance at the every increasing role of the paternalistic state, in California particularly, in directing the citizens to make the "right" choices in matters that are absolutely none of the state’s business. In this piece he examines the negative consequences of unbridled social engineering beyond those that obviously occur when the state enforces proper behavior. Taking just two recent examples he exposes the foolishness of an elite that sees itself as entitled to run people’s lives and which enacts policies to that end which inflicts collateral damage on the society it is supposed to serve.

Forbidding pharmacies, as San Francisco recently did, from selling cigarettes appears on the surface to be a reasonable measure to clear up the conflicting message of an emporium devoted to health, a drug store, selling the most deadly substance on earth, tobacco. Leaving aside the fact that tobacco is no deadlier than any other innocuous pleasure, today’s drug store, even in health obsessed California, dispenses a myriad of products on which Big Health has declared war. Potato chips, sugary cookies, soft drinks and even, in some locations, alcoholic beverages are all sold in the sacrosanct drug store. Why the nonchalance about those conflicting messages? Mr. Chapman doesn’t answer, or ask, that question but cursory research into the "grass roots" groups that have agitated for removal of tobacco products from drug store shelves reveals that the pharmaceutical industry has provided the funds that create and sustain the anti-tobacco "activists." Big Drugs wants to elimante the sale of cigarettes from all stores so that its products, the lousy smoking cessation nostrums and pharmaceutical nicotine delivery devices, no longer have to compete with the tobacco products that, on a level playing field, always will be vastly more popular and profitable than anything the multi-national pharmaceuticals have to offer. The neighborhood pharmacy is a good place to begin.

Chapman, however, does examine the nuts and bolts of the San Francisco law, an example of classic fascism, and foretells the results of such heavy-handed interference into matters that should be outside the purview of legislators. The most obvious is that revenue will be diverted from one sort of retail business to another. Liquor stores and convenience stores are the most obvious beneficiaries of the drug store cigarette ban. Marginal neighborhoods will be less attractive for pharmacies and more appealing to liquor outlets, an outcome that even corrupt Public Health cannot be proud of.

In the case of Los Angeles, where the city council prohibited new fast food joints from opening in a particular, but very large, neighborhood, the message is clear: If you are the wrong sort of business, as defined by a governing elite, don’t invest in South Los Angeles. Such a message is hardly conducive to the efforts to transform this down-on-its-heals section of town into an economically viable neighborhood. Mr. Chapman makes short work of the nonsensical rationale espoused by the city council that imposing a moratorium on fast food restaurants will give the city time to "craft" measures to lure restaurants serving "healthy" fare to the targeted neighborhood. How punishing establishments that don’t need any "luring" will lead to a bonanza of sit-down, high quality, and high price, restaurants is, as always, unanswered by the ruling elite. Any sort of restaurant has always been welcome to try to make a go in South Los Angeles. Chapman notes that in an area with high unemployment, city policy forbidding new businesses hardly makes the case that those in charge care about the welfare of the residents. They don’t.

What the "progressive" fascists that control Los Angeles and San Francisco really want is to demonstrate just who is in charge. They forbid because they can, negative consequences be damned. A message has been sent and "health" has, yet again, been elevated to the top of a list of values that, by God, all must embrace. Chapman highlights a quote from the director of San Francisco’s Public Health that reveals the mindset of the incipient dictator, couched though it is in the soothing, pseudo nonjudgmental style of the therapeutic state : "I am not in favor of anybody smoking or anybody selling tobacco." Thus speaks a monster for, in truth, who on this planet cares what this unelected bureaucrat favors, whether its his choice of necktie or what car he prefers. His prissy disdain of smoking is irrelevant, until we give him and his ilk the power to enforce his irrational whims.



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