Government Nanny-ism Marches On
There they go again. No sooner do I post an article pointing out government duplicity on alcohol than Health Canada decides to attack cigarette smokers. I’m not a smoker and not in favour of it, but there is a lot wrong with what this Liberal government is up to next. I realise it’s only a government discussion paper. Bureaucrats can spend entire careers doing nothing with them. But when governments put ideas on paper they have a nasty way of creeping into law. Health Canada is proposing to raise the “legal” age of smoking to 21 and outlaw smoking in more places than people can think to hide in.
Tobacco is an addictive substance that, when smoked, injects the body with innumerable harmful chemicals. Given this knowledge, millions of people have nonetheless decided to take up the habit. Millions never do and some smokers do manage to quit. Others smoke till they die; an eventuality they hasten by their habit. Of course governments concerned with public welfare discourage the activity in the only way they know how: they tax the crap out of them.
One thing they don’t do is outlaw them which is not surprising given the examples of Prohibition and The [Failed] War on Drugs. On the contrary revenue-starved politicians gouged Canadian smokers for over $8.3 billion in 2015-16 alone. The federal government orders legal manufacturers of cigarettes to mangle their labelling with pictures of diseased individuals. Not satisfied with that provinces order retailers to hide these abominations behind plastic screens. Citizens are warned that unless they “look” 25 or older they will be carded by hapless store owners. Contrast this with Marxist nut-jobs on various city councils who want to create “sanctuary cities”. Sneak into Canada and get on welfare if you must, but don’t buy cigarettes! We have laws about that sort of thing you know.
Four days after the original article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, Deputy Editor Tyler Dawson wrote a column ridiculing most of the measures. He pointed to statistics indicating smoking in Canada has declined from 50% of adults to 13% since 1965. Youth smoking is even lower at 9.7%. What would otherwise indicate we’re on the right track instead becomes a phony ‘crisis’ requiring more intervention in adult lives. Dawson relates that there are in fact two groups where intervention could help: aboriginals on reserve and people with mental health issues. Here’s a policy suggestion: go bug them and leave the grown-ups in peace!
Government Giveth and Taketh Away
Governments monopolise the sales of cigarettes, alcohol and gambling and collect tens of billions in revenue. They pretend to care what these activities might do, to some people, by throttling the choices of all citizens. I understand the impulse to monitor and restrict for the seeming protection of the vulnerable, but it never stops there. Bureaucrats are well practiced in the art of crisis inflation. Using any worst-case scenario as a baseline, policies are ratcheted up to bestow perfect protection on helpless taxpayers. Since the attentions of Nanny State always fail someone, their hard luck is used to compel more interventions.
Pity the case of John Marando. Mr. Marando was happily playing slots at Ontario’s Mohawk Racetrack and casino recently when a machine paid off over $10,000. Problem was Mr. Marando had thrown himself on the tender mercies of Nanny State seventeen years ago. Disturbed by his losses at the time, he signed a “self-exclusion” declaration with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. This useless piece of paper suggested that OLG would prohibit Marando from gambling at its facilities. Fast forward to 2016 when Marando’s lucky night came to a crashing halt. OLG denied the 82-year-old pensioner his winnings and escorted him from the casino as if he were a criminal.
The government thought they were “protecting” Mr. Marando from his personal choices in 1999. Somehow, their protections did not prevent him from entering a casino and playing slots. They did however kick in when he won, and suddenly his personal choices were the business of Nanny State. Mr. Marando said: ” They didn’t mind taking my money all those years.” Helpfully, OLG officials pointed out that Marando can still buy lottery tickets. Huh?
It’s no surprise to grown-ups, (well conservatives anyway), that people do stupid things. Tobacco is harmful. Gambling can be disruptive to families. Alcohol can be abused. People who need help should have it available to them. Private companies aren’t going to step up, but there’s still charities. If not them, then fine, waste some of the revenue from vices on helping the vulnerable. Unfortunately, we have arrived at a time in history where self-serving bureaucrats have convinced far too many people that only the government can help…even as it hurts.
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