Cafe 227

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Triumph of Fascism in DC

As DCist reported last week, today marks the first day of the workplace smoking ban in DC. As of today, it's illegal to smoke cigarettes restaurants. The ban will be expanded to bars and clubs on January 1, 2007. At best, it's government paternalism. At worst, it's mild fascism.

What I don't understand is why state and municipal governments throughout the country view this as an all-or-nothing proposition. Has anyone considered the market solution - that is, auctioning off a limited number of smoking licenses to bars and restaurants? Bars and restaurants win - the establishments that value the right to smoke will pony up the money to buy the licenses and pass the cost through to their patrons. The city wins - by holding an auction for the licenses, they maximize their income from the sale of the licenses. Restaurant/bar workers win - they are free to choose between working at a smoking or non-smoking establishment based on their own personal risk/reward analyses. And patrons win - those who abhor cigarette smoke (and, in turn, freedom) can choose to go to the non-smoking establishments, while those who value smoking will be willing to pay incrementally more for drinks at smoking establishments. Tell me, why wouldn't this work?

If I thought the country were ready for an Arab president, I would run.

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