Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Whether government regulators/lawmakers are fascist in nature or truly well-intentioned it really doesn't matter to me since I assume they are fascist until they prove themselves to be otherwise. However, I really have to sit back and laugh at them on days like today!! As I sat in a Brussels cafe enjoying lunch I was looking out the front window where I noticed a guy about 30 years old reading a newspaper while smoking a cigarette at a sidewalk table. Then a group of four teen-age boys walked by with the last one -- probably 15 years old -- stopping to ask the guy at the table if he could "bum" ("have a cigarette as a gift" in proper English) a cigarette. Despite the high cost of cigarettes I did not see this guy hesitate to pull a single cigarette from his carton to give to the boy AND then the guy even offered to light it for the boy!!
So regardless of increased taxes on tobacco, public smoking bans, the raising of the legal age to buy tobacco products, and multiple millions of tax dollars/euros/pounds spent to educate people not to smoke informal market exchanges such as this bumming episode happen. So what should be done to stop such human interactions? Increased foot patrols by police officers to prevent such voluntary, non-monetary transactions by checking the IDs of all people seen smoking on the street?
My "Caveman Lawyer" brain says "no" opting for a world of less laws and greater personal freedom but try to explain that to your local bureaucrat who is obligated to justify their role in this world where the bright lights and tall buildings scare me. (FOOTNOTE - all credit for the Caveman Lawyer reference go to my comedic hero Phil Hartman of Saturday Night Live fame, may he rest in peace - http://snltranscripts.jt.org/91/91gcaveman.phtml
Hey, can I bum a slice of pizza? :)