Saturday, March 24, 2007

Uncle Earl

Uncle Earl
Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall
Asheville, NC
March 23, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Milestones on the Road to Hell

Elected officials often claim to favor certain legislation out of a sense of duty, rightness or moral obligation. It is oftener the case that those officials instead favor certain legislation because it in turn promises to keep them in power enjoying the perks, privileges and enrichments that their positions of authority garner for them.

In order to ensure this outcome, elected officials must get re-elected to positions that allow them to manipulate the law. But re-election to powerful political office can be difficult for candidates who respect the Constitution and proper purpose of government; which is to protect individual rights rather than violate them. It is much easier to win re-election by simply supporting and passing legislation that pleases a majority of voters in reckless disregard of its fidelity to our founding principles of individual liberty, free markets and limited government.

Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin (D) (Montgomery, Richmond), in a recent email, has promised us her vote in favor of a ban on smoking in most private businesses legally defined as “public” – NC House Bill 259, Prohibit Smoking in Public Places. The bill is co-sponsored by local representative Susan Fisher.

The purported purpose of the bill is “to protect the health of individuals in public places and places of employment from the risks related to secondhand smoke.” The actual result of such a bill would be to violate the individual rights of private property owners who choose not to exhibit government-approved behaviors.

Representative Goodwin states that she favors this legislation because she “likes to breathe clean air.” Heaven forbid that Rep. Goodwin should also like to be a naturalist.

And she makes a further incredible and sweeping statement that she would in fact “like to ban smoking entirely.”

Setting aside the blatant totalitarian implications of this position, her immediate concern is that she does not “want to pay for someone else's Medicaid expenses for complications from asthma or emphysema, their lung transplant, or their cancer chemo because they can't afford private pay insurance and they use our Medicaid resources.” And she compares a ban on smoking to requiring seatbelts, saying that “taxpayers should not be required to pay for the results of people's poor choices.”

I agree. Taxpayers should indeed not be required to pay for the results of peoples’ poor choices. However, this is what taxpayers get when they vote for socialism. Taxpayers pay for everything that the government deems desirable to provide. The beneficiaries of this distribution of wealth are seldom those who have produced that wealth. If they were, there would be no reason to confiscate that wealth in the first place. (The moral justification for this mentality stems from a misapprehension of the “general welfare” clause in the U.S. Constitution.)

Rather, and more important, the beneficiaries are more likely to be a poll-tested voting block who can perennially catapult elected officials to office and return them to their positions of granting largess to tax-consumers at the expense of society’s producers while reaping the prestige, perquisites and rewards that redound to their own benefit as a consequence of their retention.

Rep. Goodwin rounds out her argument by stating that “When the people who suffer don't get to make the choice, as in second-hand smoke exposure, their smoke-related illnesses are tragic and needless.”

This is simply untrue. People who suffer are not deprived of their ability to choose among options in the marketplace. Both smokers and non-smokers can make the choice of where to work, dine, or congregate in other ways, of their own free wills without the cloying help of a paternalistic state. The only thing that can stand in their way is the police power of the government; which is precisely what Rep. Goodwin proposes. Rep. Goodwin would force private property owners to cater to her constituency at the expense of their own voluntary choice to cater to someone else.

Rep. Goodwin’s arrogant and condescending good intentions notwithstanding, the House Bill to ban smoking in public places is a heavy-handed and immoral violation of individual liberty. In a free society, individual property owners decide on what their smoking policy will be and allow mature, free adults to voluntarily decide on whether or not to patronize those businesses. If smoking is universally disfavored in society, then those businesses will either suffer or modify their policies.

It is the supreme mark of political cowardice to ignore the sworn duty to uphold the rights of individuals and instead pander to the shifting preferences of a voting block that can help to sustain the officeholder’s position of authority and their subsequent ability to blithely tinker with the lives and liberties of free Americans.



1. Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin (D) (Montgomery, Richmond)

2. NC House Bill 259, Prohibit Smoking in Public Places

3. Email Correspondence:

To: rhodarmerx15@...
Sent: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 8:07 AM
Subject: RE: HB 259 - Prohibiting Smoking In Public Places

I would love to ban smoking entirely. There are 170 of us in both chambers of the Legislature, however, and I am just one vote. To respond to your point, I am all for freedom of choice, but I don't want to pay for someone else's Medicaid expenses for complications from asthma or emphysema, their lung transplant, or their cancer chemo because they can't afford private pay insurance and they use our Medicaid resources. Limiting smoking is, in my mind, like requiring seatbelts -- taxpayers should not be required to pay for the results of people's poor choices. When the people who suffer don't get to make the choice, as in second-hand smoke exposure, their smoke-related illnesses are tragic and needless.

From: [mailto:rhodarmerx15@...]
Sent: Fri 3/16/2007 11:58 PM
To: Rep. Melanie Goodwin
Subject: Re: HB 259 - Prohibiting Smoking In Public Places

Then don't go into establishments that allow smoking. That's freedom of choice for the "private" business, and freedom of choice for the individual. I thought Democrats were all for freedom of "choice." Guess not!

I've never smoked, but this bill is insidious in it's governmental heavy handed nature on individual liberties. The reason the government doesn't ban smoking is because they don't want to lose the revenue off the smokers. Oh those tax dollars! How the NC State legislature "loves" this abusive tax system, and the additive nature of endless amounts of "our" tax money. Don't have enough money, just go to the poor old working guy, and pick his pocket. If you, and the other legislators really cared about second hand smoke, you would lobby to ban smoking all together.

Thanks for your response.

Kathy Rhodarmer.

To: rhodarmerx15@...
Sent: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 4:10 PM
Subject: RE: HB 259 - Prohibiting Smoking In Public Places

I'll be supporting this bill. I like to breathe clean air. Thanks for writing to advocate your position.


From: [mailto:rhodarmerx15@...]
Sent: Fri 3/16/2007 3:44 PM
To: Rep. Melanie Goodwin; Rep. Deborah K. Ross; Rep. Paul Stam; Rep. Bonner; Stiller; Rep. Martha Alexander
Subject: HB 259 - Prohibiting Smoking In Public Places

I'm watching this legislation very carefully. And I "Strongly" urge a "NO" vote on this bill, as it infringes on our individual liberties and freedoms. If you wish to make smoking illegal, then do so, but stop with this effort at denying individual persons the liberty and freedom to assemble at consenting "PRIVATE" businesses to indulge in a lawful, legal act of smoking, if they so chose. I'm so sick of the nanny state NC has become!

Are we founded on Socialist, nanny state principles, or on capitalist, free market principles? It's sad to see NC and the nation, move ever farther from the Founders intent.


Kathy Rhodarmer

Thursday, March 15, 2007


From: Elaine Lite: "When Mountain Voices Alliance began advocating for policy changes about 7-months ago, they became irate. This is actually the 2nd commercial they did. The first fear-mongering ad was in January and they featured myself and Julie Brandt as "radical extremists" for requesting a legal development moratorium at a County Commissioners meeting."

The tactic that CIBO is using is an interesting one and one that could be favorably exploited.

The first advertisement featured constructions workers toiling away to make a living, a very young girl fearing for her hard-working daddy's future, and a soft-spoken man (Rusty Hunter) hiking serenely through undisturbed woods (who could presumably be her father) with his hound dog at his side while gentle guitar chords are strummed in the background. Closing Tag Line: "Extremism vs. Responsible Growth."

Striking images, all.

However, in the course of building an argument against a moratorium, the narrator claims that, 1) the people who make up the organized resistance to uncontrolled development are a "small group of radical activists demanding extreme development policies," and, 2) that a temporary moratorium will "impede our local economy" and have a "devastating impact on our local economy."


The charge of extremism in itself is not entirely negative. It can be argued that uncontrolled and reckless development practices coupled with ineffective legal remedies against property harms could even make my country granny extreme. In other words, even mild-mannered disinterested common folk can be DRIVEN to extremes by unreasonable disregard for environmental and property concerns. Yes, advocating for a moratorium IS extreme. But whose fault is that? Urgently calling for reasonable policy measures to mounting development pressures can be a rational reaction to the real potential for future harms.

But in this case, the charge of extremism in the ad is meant to imply irrationality. It is meant to suggest that those who advocate for a moratorium are a small band of disgruntled environmentalists who are disconnected to the larger community and who would mechanically and thoughtlessly oppose progress, jobs, housing, and prosperity. CIBO would paint MVA as the out-group whose concerns are unworthy of serious attention.

This claim is thin, fallacious, and can be easily refuted with testimonials from a diversity of individuals who are emerging from the background of anonymity and apathy to the foreground of concern and activism.


The claim that a temporary and limited development moratorium would devastate the local economy has been severely weakened by precedent. Neighboring Jackson County has moved forward with just such a moratorium. Jackson County commissioners agree with the extremists of Mountain Voices Alliance and do not see the problem the way CIBO sees it. They responded to citizen concerns swiftly and have by contrast placed the Buncombe County commissioner's negligence and dereliction of duty in to high relief.

THIRD, the very fact that CIBO is spending the time and money to counter a "small group of radical activists" contradicts the key message of the ad that these people are insignificant and inconsequential. CIBO must certainly think that MVA is a formidable force that must be reckoned with at the earliest opportunity.

I agree with CIBO: MVA is a problem. Ordinary men and women in this region are being driven to wake up and demand extreme public policy measures in the face of reckless abandon and cascading development complexities which expose the area's bioregion, private property, and local infrastructure and economy to long-term and irreparable harm.