12/23/2005

Interfering with Private Property Rights Hurts Business

Is that a newsflash? It shouldn't be.

The Tribune today has an article about the owner of a local diner (I'm sure he would call it a restaurant) and his problems with the new smoking ban. He is complaining that Cascade County is not enforcing the ban fairly and, therefore, some businesses are getting away with smoking which therefore hurts his business because he "has played by the rules."

First of all, I do not believe this is a county problem, I believe this is a law problem. The goody goodies presume to tell the rest of us what we can or cannot do on our property. Oh, and by the way, our property taxes will be used to fund the enforcement of the dictatorial pronouncement. Are all of the smoking ban supporters willing to pay another $100.00 a year to hire flunkies to run around and write tickets? I'll believe it when I see the checks being written.

Part of the problem is with the law and rules themselves. What does it mean to say that "smoke from the bar does not infiltrate into the areas where smoking is prohibited?" Do they have smoke-o-meters? I just imagine this Monty Python-esque scene where a health inspector is standing in a local restaurant saying "it's smoky in here." To which the proprietor responds "It is not. There's no smoke in here anywhere. It does not infiltrate my restaurant."

And did you know that "[e]nforcement of the smoking ban will play out differently across Montana...[because] counties establish their own protocols for enforcing the law"? I didn't either. I thought the law was statewide. Why should it be different in one county or another? Because it's difficult to enforce? Isn't this pretty much what we already had, with each locality choosing their own rules?

A local "environmental scientist"with the Health Department, Darrell Furan, was quoted extensively for the piece. You have to feel for this guy. Here he is, going along, when suddenly his telephone is deluged with the whiney little complaints of the smoking Nazis. "I saw someone smoking at the Prospector. Go stop them!"

According to Furan, enforcement of this law is "not a gigantically high priority right now." I couldn't agree more.

People buy or lease (which is really just a purchase of the temporal rights) land. It's theirs. The rest of us should not be in the business of constantly trying to tell them what to do on or with that land. Period. Mark my words: It ain't gonna work.

3 comments:

david said...

DAMN RIGHT. I am already nauseated by this law -- as a smoker, and as a citizen. I'm still wondering if there is any way to somehow do something about it...

SallyT said...

MPOV: this type of law is back-door taking of property. The more folks accept laws like the anti-smoking ban, based on suspect science & hailed as public health concern, the easier to increase regulation/control of businesses.

Notice the Trib didn't see this law as controversial until someone started complaining about uneven enforcement? Notice it doesn't occur to anyone involved that this kind of aggravation is the real intent of these stupid laws--not public health?

Anonymous said...

The man has a point.

Good luck getting ANY State Agency to enforce ANYTHING.

There is a reason that some State Departments have a turnover rate of 35%. Some divisions within those departments have an even higher turnover and positions go unfilled for months.