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Hoffman: Idahoans can stand up for private property rights

Hoffman: Idahoans can stand up for private property rights

Wayne Hoffman
June 21, 2009
Wayne Hoffman
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June 21, 2009

Right now, odds are, someone in Idaho is living a precariously hedonistic life, and government really needs to step in and save this oaf before he, like, dies or something.

Let's call him Kirk. According to the Centers for Disease Control's Idaho statistics, there's a 63 percent chance that Kirk is overweight; a 78 percent chance that he hasn't had five servings of fruits and vegetables today; a 44 percent chance that he hasn't exercised. And as Kirk gets up there in age, government should be worried because the CDC knows that there's a 46 percent chance our dietary hoodlum probably hasn't gotten that colonoscopy either. There could be a polyp farm growing in him, and we'd never know.

Interestingly, according to the CDC, there's only a 19 percent chance that Kirk smokes. But supporters of Idaho smoking bans say that if Kirk smokes in a public place, there's a chance that someone nearby will inhale his errant fumes. And because smoking is bad for people, clearly, as that great philosopher, Mr. Spock, might say, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," and smoking should be banned.

The opponents of smoking will also suggest that Mr. Spock's utilitarian doctrine of decency means that Kirk should wear his seat belt. It's not Kirk that Spock is worried about; it's the bill that Spock might be left with when Kirk goes careening through the windshield of his 1965 Corvette Stingray convertible.

Kirk is uninsured.

Additionally, Kirk eats too much. Obesity is like driving without your seat belt. Death can be instantaneous if you're thrown from a speeding car. A diet of computer-replicated cheeseburgers also kills, though more slowly. Should the government outlaw outrageous dinner portions? Demand equal time for carrots and broccoli alongside Kirk's serving of fried chicken? Detain him on the street and forcibly colonoscopize him?

Earlier this month, supporters of an anti-smoking ordinance cajoled the Eagle City Council into outlawing smoking on private property under the claim that the action will save lives - that the private property rights we cherish are secondary to everything else, and, in some cases, totally unimportant. The council is supposed to take a final vote this week, after which the anti-smoking crowd will take their health crusade on the road to other Idaho towns.

If Idahoans decide that private property rights don't matter because of the slim possibility that wafting cigarette smoke might make someone ill, we can't be serious about protecting other rights that are sacred under the Constitution and unique to a free country such as ours. We can't be serious when we tell the police they have no right under the Constitution to enter our homes without permission, even if they're on an ambitious quest to stop drug trafficking, gang violence, murder and terrorism. We can't seriously object when the government takes over banks or the automobile industry in an effort to save us from a sour economy. We can't complain when the government tells us we have to buy health insurance, even if we decide we don't want it.

The rights we enjoy slip away when an interest group comes along and convinces the government that we'll be better, safer or live longer if we pass just one more law. Decisions that should be made by free people are now being made by bureaucrats.

So eat your vegetables. Exercise. Get a colonoscopy. And await further instructions. Your government will let you know what to do next.

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