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photos by Lara Shipley

Ulysses Bound

August 16th, 2002 · No Comments

From the Village Voice‘s “Mad on the Street” page:

What do you think of the mayor’s anti-smoking plan? I’d actually be all for it, which is odd since I am a smoker myself. I think it might make me smoke less. The increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes hasn’t stopped me from smoking. I just have friends who come up to visit from Florida bring cartons for me. Down there they cost $25 apiece. Here, it’s closer to $55.

Imposing a massive tax on Manhattan’s smokers just wasn’t enough, Mikey, because guys like this are too ingenious — he just goes out of state. No, to cure this poor fellow’s akrasia, it’ll be necessary to crack down a little harder. Of course, even though not everyone needs help smoking less, he might feel singled out if we just banned his smoking in bars. So he’s “all for” limiting the freedom of every other smoker and bar owner in the city — because otherwise Mr. Iron Will here might have to exercise some modicum of discipline in order to smoke at his desired level.

I’m reminded here of David Hume’s claim that it’s “not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the
scratching of my finger.” Seems like lots of folks have taken that to heart: if a regulation makes things marginally more convenient for me, I can ignore the burden it places on others. So– why is it libertarians who get tagged as selfish, again?

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