September 27, 2005

Anti-Sin Laws Harming American Communities?

Todd Zywicki has this interesting observation on the consequences of anti-drinking laws, and laws banning smoking in public places. Laws against social ills can, perhaps unexpectedly, break down the social interations that many feel are central to maintaining communities.

Posted by armand at September 27, 2005 10:36 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Culture


I'm a little confused as to why you would link this story when it offers no evidence for this explanation (and it's pronounced addiction, not sin, that is a health ill rather than purely social (lung cancer, drunk driving deaths, you may have heard of them?)).

Posted by: Morris at September 28, 2005 08:01 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps b/c I wasn't talking about drunk driving deaths.

The post I linked to - which I accurately described as an observation, not a study, so you shouldn't have expected hard science in it - dealt with social phenomena. The relationship I was interested in was anti-sin laws (and call 'em what you want, but if you look at the legislative history of a lot of these things the arguments made in a lot of jurisdictions over them have everything to do with the Bible and much less to do with public health - drive over to a city council meeting in Minden if you doubt that) cutting down on the social interations that help maintain "healthy" functioning communities where people support each other and are civicly minded. So - that's what this post was about. Not whatever you wanted this post to be about.

As to your thoughts, these laws might have certain health benefits, but that wasn't what interested me about this post, so I felt no need to comment on that. And even if they do have health benefits, though also entail business, and quite possibly social, costs. To say nothing of the fact that they are considerable limitations on personal freedoms - something that does still matter to some Americans.

Posted by: Armand at September 28, 2005 09:11 AM | PERMALINK

An almost nonsequitur on sin laws. From another blog, a commenter reported that in Texas, the Sunday blue law of "no seeling" liquor was accompanied by other restrictions, including, "no selling maxi pads." Maxi pads? Because if you think about pads, you think about women's reproduction, which makes you want to fuck like crazed weasels, and we can't have that on Sunday? Oh the glory.

Posted by: binky at September 28, 2005 09:37 AM | PERMALINK

i'm no fan of sin taxes and laws, largely because they are arbitrarily imposed. for example, i pay prohibitive taxes on my cigarettes in large part because of the perceived burden smokers in the aggregate impose on the public health system, but recently pennsylvania eliminated its motorcycle helmet requirement, effectively adding a new public health burden (as poor cyclists are made vegetables) but not imposing on those who opt to ride without a helmet any special tax (because, you know, that would be an unconstitutional impingement on their right to catch bugs in their teeth).

ditto alcohol, and with obesity on the rise and concomitant health problems exploding in due proportion, especially among the poor, when are they going to start tacking a 30+% sin tax on a big mac? congestive heart failure and related diseases are more of a burden on public coffers than lung cancer, i'd bet my bottom dollar; at least lung cancer sufferers tend not to stick around for long, while people with obesity related diabetes live decades after diagnosis. (indeed, i'm inclined to ask, given the radically improved efficiency of a vegetarian diet and its consequent reduction in damage to the environment, why not charge people a premium for eating meat generally on the theory that it compensates worldwide damage to ecosystems? please don't pick a fight with this particular comment; i'm joking.)

all of that aside, however, and bearing in mind that i haven't read the zwycki post (i find him fatuous and unrigorous most of the time), i instinctively disagree. by forcing me to smoke outside in designated areas in my professional and sometimes in my recreational lives, i have met many people i would not otherwise have met had i been free to smoke at my desk.

plus i smoke less, which isn't a bad thing.

Posted by: joshua at September 28, 2005 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I live at 57285 Commonwealth in Seattle. Been up here before?

Posted by: Mike Flacklestein at August 4, 2006 12:09 AM | PERMALINK
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