Freedom To Versus Freedom From?

ashtrayI live in the socialist state of New York. We have some of the worst taxes, fees, licenses, registrations, rules, regulations, and surcharges in the entire nation (if not THE worst). Granted, when compared with many other countries none of us here have anything to complain about. But right now I’m talking about inside the States.

New York gets new laws faster than we can enforce the old ones. Lawmakers come up with these grandiose ideas that sound good for votes, but most people don’t realize that they are making citizens pay for these laws they impose on us. When they say no cellphones while driving… how much do you think those lawmakers actually drive themselves around (as opposed to being chauffeured)? Probably not as much as you or I. Seatbelts? I need them to require me to wear a seatbelt? Where do we draw the line? You can’t legislate good and safe behavior. Idiots will find new forms of idiocy despite the laws. The litigious and political tyranny drives this downward spiral, but I digress.

The real point is… this past week I was faced with a personal conundrum. In NY you can’t smoke inside any public or commercial building except by extraordinary exception (more laws). But I found myself in Nevada walking in airports, casinos, hotels, restaurants, and train stations smelling the foul odor of cigarettes and (even worse) cigars. It’d been a while since I had the pleasure… [I'm not counting coworkers oblivious to the fact that their clandestine five-minute absence climaxes with clouds of stench following them back into the office].

What a picture some of these folks were, too. Middle-aged bleach-blonde in a dirty tank top with a beer in one hand, the other hand slapping buttons on a slot machine, and a cigarette dangling out of the mouth… I just knew some poor Carolina trailer park hound dog was missin’ his mama. And every non-smoker knows how this stuff gets into your clothes… I’d forgotten how rotten everything smells after walking through tobacco alley. I began to realize that my oppressive NY regime has actually provided me with clean air and that Nevada (with it’s freedoms) has not.

So then… which one is the greater freedom? Being able to smoke cigarettes in public around everyone and anyone else without the government telling you what you can do and where you can do it? Or having the government impose behavior controls that enable the breathing of cleaner, fresher air and not stinking afterward?

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