Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Indy Bar Owners: You've Been Had" OR "How the Government Tricks You Into Supporting Something You Hate"

'When it comes to controversial legislative issues that have no chance of ever passing in their fully intended form, it's not uncommon for legislators to pit those that oppose them against each other.  This most commonly happens through what I call "the baby step game."

What is the baby step game?  Simple.  Our laws are currently at step A.  The legislators have determined that we should be at step D.  Unfortunately for our legislators, though, they know there is no way that their constituents would ever support a jump straight from A to D.  So, they break it down into pieces.  Instead of going from A to D, they go from A to B, then wait a little bit and go from B to C.  Finally, they make the step from C to D.

Each step seems a little less harsh, and thus is less likely to receive the level of criticism that would cause the legislators to reconsider it.  It's a trick that our government uses against us very, very regularly.

The worst part of this government trickery is that, by breaking it down into stages, our legislators are sometimes able to turn the very people that were originally all on the same side against each other.  By doing so, they turn what were originally their enemies into their supporters.  And our legislators are so successful at doing this that most times the sides that have been turned into unwilling supporters have no idea it's happening to them.

The most recent example of this is with the smoking bans.  The advocates of smoking bans wanted an all-encompassing ban from day one.  The legislators pushing for a ban, though, knew that there was absolutely no chance of moving from no ban on public smoking to a full ban on it.  So, they started by focusing on restaurants.

When they first went to ban smoking in restaurants, they knew it would be a battle. It was just restaurants, though, not bars.  Just the place that the kids could go.  It was a fight, but a fight "for the kids."  Slowly, they gained the support that they needed to pass the ban.  Restaurants, bars, cigar bars, private clubs and more all were against the ban.  It was spun as a compromise, though, and eventually they were able to get it passed.

After passing the restaurant smoking ban, it felt like it was all over for a while.  Restaurants complained that they were unfairly focused on and were losing smokers' business to bars and private clubs.

After a few years, the angst of restaurants started to take hold.  Suddenly, the fully acceptable compromise that only restaurants would be impacted became obsolete.  Now, the attack turned to bars as well.  No longer was protecting the kids the focus, though.  Now, the attention was turned to protecting the employees.  Now it was important to ban smoking in bars, too.

So, the legislators fought again.  This time, they fought to ban smoking in bars.  Eventually, they again reached a compromise.  This time that compromise meant that bars would now also be prevented from allowing smoking in their businesses.  That compromise, of course, eventually passed and was signed into law.

That compromise that was signed into law prevents Indianapolis bars from allowing smoking in their establishments.  Cigar bars, hookah bars, tobacco shops, and private organizations, though, are still continued to allow smoking.  For now.

The first steps towards the next expansion of the smoking ban are already in motion.  Since the passing of Indy's latest smoking ban, several bar owners in town are now calling for a comprehensive smoking ban.  They are, justifiably, worried about losing business to low cost private organizations that may be near their businesses.  Organizations that, in many cases, are just a glorified bar.  Organizations that now allow smoking while the traditional Mom & Pop bar can't.

While I see where the bar owners are coming from (they're just trying to protect their business), I worry about what this means for the future.  You see, the Indy bar owners are now just playing into the legislators' hands.  They WANT the bar owners to complain and, in lieu of being able to allow smoking themselves, will fight for no smoking for anybody.  It is the first step to the next step.

Trust me, Indy bar owners, the legislators are listening.  And at each step along the way, they will meet less resistance.  It may be very soon, considering Indy's recent history, before the next step is introduced.  Like each step along the way, it will be unlikely to meet with success at its first stop.  Within a couple or three tries, though, the ban of smoking in private establishments will definitely pass.

Following that will be the cigar bars and hookah bars.  Maybe even the tobacco shops.  Again, it will take two or three tries, but it will pass.

After that, we'll see a push against smoking in cars or our homes.  It probably seems silly now, and it will seem silly when it's first introduced.  Within a few tries, though, it will pass.  Our yards may follow.  And cigarettes as a whole, the original goal, will be banned within most of your lifetimes.

Indy bar owners:  I understand your angst and your anger right now.  I hope you'll understand, though, that you are playing right into their plan.  Your desire for the next step to take place will only make it one step closer to the next step after that.

You have been turned into a pawn for the anti-smoking crowd.  Exactly as they planned just from the beginning.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the legislative creep syndrome that softens the shock & awe 'all or nothing' intention. But really, this style underlies most legislation as factors of public outcry, updated scientific information, loopholes in the system, and yes, public polls, etc. that cry for a need for adjustment. There was a time when smoking was so prevalent in restaurants, the public complained even when sitting in the non-smoking section, because obviously smoke drifted everywhere, despite the failed attempt for the restaurants to 'compromise'. The 'complaints' from the public generated more legislative restrictions and amplified through health organizations.
    Take any issue, the property tax outcry in 2008, the Castle doctrine in 2012, the praying in Jesus name at the Statehouse,and you can find incremental factors as legislative creep. It isn't all bad all the time unless our representatives are manipulated by lobbyists who betray the will of the people. Frankly, the baby steps can either advance freedom or erode freedom. The public can be easily misled by either.