Making laws for other people

What’s that American saying? “Nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session”? You can feel for some Muslims in Belgium who now find it illegal to wear the full face veil in public.

Closer to home, Schütz’s own life-style is being challenged. A new excise on tobacco came in today raising the price of a packet of cigarettes more than $2. I don’t smoke cigarettes – I smoke a pipe – and have yet to find out how the new excise will affect a packet of pipe tobacco. I am not “addicted” to tobacco – I smoke my pipe because I enjoy it. I have been known, usually while travelling on holidays with my family, to go up to five days quite happily without a pipe, but I do enjoy at least one pipe a day, if not two. If I don’t smoke at all on any particular day, it is because I have been too busy or because it has been too cold and wet outside to enjoy the experience. Many have heralded the new excise (and plans for radical repackaging) and the Opposition is now committed to supporting it. But – like the burka in Belgium – it is a case of people making laws for other people. Smokers are a minority among our law makers, and easily scape-goated as piranas on society and public health, and so we are easy targets for new laws and taxes.

But it doesn’t end there. This morning I read in the paper about the Henry review of our tax system in Australia – many of the proposals of which seem set to become law before too long. Most radical is a proposal for a “flat tax” on alcohol, which will result (absurdly) in a bottle of Grange Hermitage being $133 cheaper and a cask of red wine rising from $15 to $35. A bottle of Johny Walker Red Label scotch is supposed to drop from $43 to $35 dollars. Now, I have often complained that Scotch is too expensive in this country – but when a bottle of Scotch costs the same as a cask of red wine, (or rather, vice versa) you know that things have gone completely crazy. My standard drink is cask wine (although lately clean skin bottles have been about the same value), with the occasional small whisky as a luxury. This new tax proposal will rewrite my drinking pattern radically – most predictably in the downward direction. Now some might think that a good thing, but again: like my smoking, I drink wine because I enjoy it. Mr Henry and Mr Rudd might look forward to saving a bit on high-end price wines and on their next bottle of Scotch because they can afford it and probably wouldn’t touch cask wine in a blue fit. On my salaray, I don’t have that luxury. God knows that the pleasures of life are few and far between for middle and low income earners in this country. (God also knows, incidentally, what all this will mean for our Australian wine industry.)

I really don’t expect much sympathy from readers of this ‘ere blog, since I don’t expect much approval for my smoking and drinking habits. All I am saying is that as long as our law makers are bent on this program of making laws “for other people”, it seems that the American saying about life, liberty and property has more than just a bit of truth to it.

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32 responses to “Making laws for other people

  1. Louise

    I think the new excise on tobacco is absurd. Nanny Statism.

    I think the law re: the full face veil to be a singularly good idea.

  2. “Life, liberty and property.” We Americans fought a revolution over those notions. Another term for them was “The Rights of Englishmen.”

    John Adams wrote, “The rights of Englishmen are derived from God, not from king or Parliament, and would be secured by the study of history, law, and tradition.”

    “Derived from God.” What does that mean? Where did it come from? Well, the rights of Englishmen was already there in 1215, so it goes way back. My guess is that it’s something that arose out of the melding of barbarian tribal equality and Catholic Christianity in the “dark ages.” And that such ideas were once common, but were flattened on the continent by the rise of the absolutist states. They were preserved in England, perhaps just by the accident of her being an island.

    And now, alas, the English have mostly given up their rights, in exchange for nanny-state slavery. But the colonies still retain some of the old spirit. WE are the “Englishmen” now. Americans and Australians especially. But you can see some of it in all the former colonies.

    My take is that the Rights of Englishmen is a Catholic truth, (though inherited later by Protestants.) They were truly “derived fro God, because they came from people who were much more in the spirit of God’s Truth than we are. The concept of “subsidiarity” comes out of that same medieval meld. I’d lay odds the people behind your proposed new taxes hate both Catholicism and subsidiarity like poison.

    You should enjoy your pipe and glass of Scotch with a happy conscience.

    Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
    There’s always laughter and good red wine.
    At least I’ve always found it so.
    Benedicamus Domino
    ! — Hilaire Belloc

  3. Matthias

    I would have thought purely from an antitax perspective that tony Abbott would have not supported the new tobacco tax. But i also read that some in the Opposition did support it so perhaps he ahs decided to go with the majority.BUT i think he has his eyes on the resources tax which will hit WA and QLD based mining companies hard,unless the senate knocks it back.
    There is talk of seccession in WA and remember that topic appeared there during the war over the very same issue-TAXATION

  4. Tony

    There is talk of succession in WA? Must be a Monday!

    Louise,

    I assume you’d support the banning of nuns wearing traditional clobber too?

    The law in Belgium may effect as much as 100 women in a population of around 11 million. If this is not heavy-handed ‘nanny-stateism’, I don’t know what is.

    David,

    I think you’ve jumped the gun tying the law about tobacco (which has happened) to the law about booze (which is just a proposal).

    And surely the ‘law for other people’ is a fairly weak argument? Couldn’t we say that about every (or, at least, most) laws?

    And I suspect you know you’re on shaky ground with the ‘I don’t expect sympathy and I’m not really addicted’ line.

    Smoking, even more that drinking, has social consequences. Even if you are one of those very rare individuals who manage to smoke without being addicted, you are influencing others (like your kids, for example) to see smoking as OK.

    Please don’t get all defensive about such an observation, I make it because I think it is simply the truth.

    While we can be cynical about how governments (or all persuasions) use tobacco as a ‘cash cow’, I think it is also true that they get away with it because most people think it is something we want less of in our society. In other words, your ‘making laws for other people’ doesn’t apply.

    By way of disclaimer, I have been a smoker. One of the things you really do appreciate once you’ve won the stuggle to give up, is how it impacts on others. You may make an effort to smoke outside, but your breath still stinks and your clothes reek. ‘Other people’ are just too polite to tell you.

    • Louise

      I assume you’d support the banning of nuns wearing traditional clobber too?

      Certainly not. On the basis that nun’s habits are a part of our society’s traditions (and moreso Belgium’s) and secondly, b/c the full face veil is inhumane.

  5. Tom

    A law that affects a small section of the population cannot be called a just law, because it is not aimed at the common good. This just reminds me of a debate we had here on Sentire a good year or so ago, about the conditions of a ‘just law’ (inuista lex, non est lex!)

    Secondly, as a smoker attempting to become a non-smoker, I heartily feel for you Schutz. I may be trying to quit, but that’s not because I don’t love smoking, it’s because I’m such a poor student that I just can’t afford it. Smoking is the most wonderful of all past times. It helps you to think more clearly, and after a delicious meal on Sunday, there is nothing like sitting on a deck chair, smoke in hand, coffee next to you and reading a book. It’s marvelous.

    Back to the question of laws though – I don’t actually think it is a just law, since it is aimed at such a small section of our society. Then again, most laws passed in recent years are generally poor laws, or unjust laws. No-one seems to be able to separate out the object of the act with the act itself, and so if smoking gives you emphysema, people seem to think that we smokers smoke TO GET emphysema. Some basic Aristotle would not go astray in their lives, their thinking or their conversation.

    The question, ‘why do you want to get bronchitis?’ just seems to me the dumbest question ever. Of course I don’t want bronchitis, what I want is to enjoy my cigarette. If bronchitis comes, then I judge that to be an acceptable cost. Then again, that’s a scandal in itself; our society, dominated by the New Orthodoxy cannot handle people accepting to be sick. If you’re sick, you’re basically a sinner (same as if you’re old, ugly or poor).

    There’s so much psychosis about smoking, because there’s so much psychosis about being healthy, it’s one of the main idols of our world today. I wonder what kind of attitude people would have to smoking if they weren’t all so paranoid about getting sick. Once more though, this is just the fear of death. I don’t know, it’s like we live in a secular society, lead by a Christian who lives in the fear of death (political oblivion).

    What to do, what to do…I’m going to have a cigarette while I think about it.

    • Tony

      Smoking is the most wonderful of all past times. It helps you to think more clearly …

      I hope you come back after you’ve had your gasper, Tom, and see the irony of your ‘clear thinking’.

      The question, ‘why do you want to get bronchitis?’ just seems to me the dumbest question ever. Of course I don’t want bronchitis, what I want is to enjoy my cigarette. If bronchitis comes, then I judge that to be an acceptable cost.

      Wonderful, wonderful straw man there! It is the dumbest question ever! Who asks it? Don’t you think they’re really asking, ‘why do you take such a risk?’.

      Smoking has social consequences, it’s not just about an individual (in isolation) enjoying a fag.

      I also think that the addictive nature of smoking is much worse now than before it became popular early last century. Modern cigarettes are made to be addictive.

      • Tom

        Tony, nothing straw-man about it. Re: my comments about conflation of the object of the act with the accidents of the act. The basic logic leads to very odd conclusions, that most sane people would not support eg:

        Argument against smoking
        p1/ Smoking causes x
        p2/ x is bad
        c1/ smoking is bad

        Argument following same logical form
        p1/ Giving birth causes physiological damage
        p2/ physiological damage is bad
        c1/ giving birth is bad?

        Conflation of the object with the accident leads to bad logic. Comments about ‘what they really mean are x, y, z’ are all just fine and dandy if people are actually going to abandon their logic train of conflation, but they never are. Until someone seriously wants to debate this without using the logical form proscribed above they’re not going to get anywhere. The best you could do is use New Natural Law theory, which if I was prepared to accept would pose a problem (ontological difficulties aside), or some variety of utilitarianism. And the second option is just poor quality moral theory.

        • Tony

          Tom,

          A straw man argument is when you characterise an opposing argument in a form that is easily ‘burnt’ (irony unintended).

          It might be satisfying, but I don’t think it reflects reality.

          David tried to make a logical link between sport and smoking (in relation to health services) and now you’re trying to make a logical link between smoking and having babies.

          Step back a little guys, you’re defending the indefensible!

          It’s one thing to be cranky because the government has ripped you off again and while I think most people have a measure of cynicism about their motivations, trying to construct ‘logical’ arguments in defence of a risky, anti-social behaviour just doesn’t wash.

          Been there, done that. It’s really hard to give up, but it’s worth it for you, those around you and society as a whole.

          (In my humble opinion … of course!)

          • Tom

            Tony,

            I am not associating smoking with pregnancy, nor is Schutz associating smoking with sport, they are merely like for like comparisons using the same logical structure. In philosophical logic this is generally referred to as the ‘form’ or the ‘argument structure’. The point of the exercise is not, as you say, a straw-man (I did like your pun, by the way), but is to demonstrate an invalidity in the argument form.

            This is why the fallacy of reductio ad absurdum is used, it means literally to reduce to the absurd. My argument is this: that generally when I have been on the receiving end of such arguments about smoking, they have followed this basic logical formula:

            p1/ Smoking causes X
            p2/ X is bad
            c1/ Therefore, smoking is bad

            This is essentially what you were arguing before; smoking gives me this, that or another, it will kill me before x, y, z date and will possibly damn me to hell.

            I say, the argument is invalid, because that same argument form can be used to bring about absurd conclusions (such as, my example of pregnancy, or Schutz’s example of sport).

            Neither of us are comparing smoking to pregnancy or sport, we are comparing the logical structure of your argument (which, if it is a good argument, will always provide good conclusions)

            That is, by slotting in different (and true) premises, your argument becomes absurd; reductio ad absurdum.

            This then goes further back to the previous point I made which is, when people generally criticise smoking, they conflate the accident (illness) with the essence (what the smoker intends). This is due to a whole variety of factors, mostly to do with the enlightenment and the way in which the history of philosophy was affected by the breakdown of metaphysics.

            Anyway, the point of it is, the goodness or badness of an act cannot be determined by an appeal to the accidental consequences. We rightly call pregnancy a good thing, even though it can have a consequence for the body of a mother; we rightly call sport good, despite the fact that it can cause significant bodily harm (did anyone else see the picture of the soccer player whose shin snapped clean out of his leg?)

            The point then is to ask what is it that a smoker intends; what is the object of the act when one smokes? I suggested that one might make an appeal to New Natural Law, but the more I think about it, I wonder if pleasure is in fact a valid reason for acting. I know Aquinas says that pleasure is the grace, not the object of the act of sex (the object being union and procreation).

            It comes down to the ultimate question; why does a smoker smoke? It seems that if they are addicted, in an uncontrollable way, then their smoking is generating what we might call a false appetite, or perhaps they are just gluttons. If smokers are not addicted, but enjoy smoking for its own sake, we have to ask ourselves, is this a sufficient reason to smoke? That is; is seeking the pleasure of smoking a good enough reason for smoking, or is there something else about smoking that might be considered a viable reason for pursuing the act.

            • Tony

              … they are merely like for like comparisons using the same logical structure.

              Like for like?! They are ‘like for like’ because you choose them to be for the purposes of your argument. They are not ‘like for like’ in reality otherwise the following construction would be just as valid:

              p1/ Holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger causes a wound (at best) or death (most likely).

              p2/ A wound or death is bad.

              c1/ Therefore, holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger.

              By your logic, you’d reject the notion that holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger is not bad because it is ‘reductio ad absurdum’.

              But, again, let’s cut to the chase. Could a heroin or cocaine user use your form of argumentation to convince you that such addictions are OK or, in your terms, not ‘bad’?

              Or, another question, would you smoke in front of your kids? Would you buy an argument like yours from them?

              • Tom

                No, Tony, that’s not right. Saying something is ‘not bad’ is not the same as saying it is ‘good’. They are logically distinct. For example, my scissors are ‘not bad’ scissors. They are also ‘not good’ scissors. They are pretty average scissors.

                In logic using negative terms like ‘bad’ which is normally taken to mean ‘not good’ should never be used. If you want to say ‘not good’, say ‘not good’. Bad and ‘not good’ in this strict sense mean different things. Colours are a good example, ‘not white’ and ‘black’ are different things. Black is ‘not white’, but ‘not white’ just means anything that is not of this particular colour.

                The examples I used are like for like because the logical structure is like for like. The examples are merely a different set of premises.

                The whole point that I was trying to argue is that this little syllogism is a bad syllogism. It is bad logic. This is why I reject the argument. If you want to argue about the goodness or badness of such acts, find a different argument, because this argument leads to absurd conclusions. That’s what I’m saying. Nothing about cocaine users, nothing about giving birth, or playing sport.

                It’s just poor quality logic, and the moral condemnation of smoking (or anything) requires good logic. Don’t blame me, I’m not the one who invented the rules of logic. Though they do prevent us making errors of thought.

                • Tony

                  Tom,

                  This is the syllogism you accuse me (or someone?) of using:

                  p1/ Smoking causes X
                  p2/ X is bad
                  c1/ Therefore, smoking is bad

                  You say this form of argumentation is illogical by randomly placing other things, like pregnancy, in p1.

                  If that is so, I ask if you reject the logic of this similar construction:

                  p1/ Holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger causes a wound (at best) or death (most likely).

                  p2/ A wound or death is bad.

                  c1/ Therefore, holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger is bad.

                  Do you reject c1 or not?

                  And, again, both you and David don’t seem to want to wander out of the comfort zone of your ‘logic’. So I put the questions to you again:

                  Could a heroin or cocaine user use your form of argumentation to convince you that such addictions are not ‘bad’?

                  Or, another question, would you smoke in front of your kids? Would you buy an argument like yours from them?

                  • Tom

                    Tony,

                    Yes, I similarly reject the logic of your argument. Killing someone is not bad because ‘death is bad’; this is exactly why Hume was correct (in one of the few, infinitesimal situations that he was correct).

                    I’m not saying moral arguments are not possible, it’s just that they require a different format. This kind of format is just bad thinking. The answer to the situation comes when we have a proper answer to ‘what is good’.

                    One might wish to argue with children in this manner, but I, nor you, are a child. A child would not understand the meaning of good as analogous to being. This is a flawed argument. We have to find a different way of making the argument about cocaine and everything else. That is readily done, I’m just saying that I think it does not work for smoking.

                    Smoking in front of my children is not the same as buying this argument. There is more than one way to argue. It is just that this way is a bad way, and we need to find a good way to argue. Tony, you can reasonably argue Heroine, Cocaine, Murder and these things are bad, by arguing about the nature of the intent of the act. I have said your argument form is bad because it makes no distinction between the object (intent) of the act, or the accidents of the act.

                    To change the logic so as to produce a good argument form, you need to introduce some kind of qualification (that is, to address the quality and modality of the major premise.

                    Right now, the logic is basically functioning with some kind of an illicit minor, because the minor premise is being exploded to say all sorts of things that it should not say.

                    In short: we need a way of knowing what the good is, before we can determine the bad. I would argue we don’t try and use a logic that says ‘x, y, z’ is bad, instead, use logic to frame an argument that says x, y, z is good, and a, b, c destroys the good by its essence. Therefore, a, b, c, is bad.

                    Even then this wont work properly since you have to have a way of discussing this that is not confined to a simple 3 line syllogism. It’s just too narrow a scope; the syllogism can only ever apply the FPPR, it can never logically argue about it. This syllogism requires an entirely new set of terms, or you would need to rework the premises somehow (I’m not sure how to fix this up to make it good logic).

                    • Tony

                      Tom,

                      Let’s get something straight, the syllogism is yours, not mine. You’ve focussed on it because, apparently, you seem to regard it as the form of argumentation against smoking. I’m running with it to explore the logic.

                      You randomly replaced ‘smoking’ in the syllogism with ‘pregnancy’ on the grounds that it was comparing, in terms of logic, ‘like with like’.

                      On those grounds, I randomly replaced ‘smoking’ with ‘holding a gun at your head and pulling the trigger’.

                      So far, you haven’t rejected the conclusion that ‘holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger’ is bad.

                      So, in the absense of that rejection, depending on what you actually put in ‘p1’, the syllogism can be valid and logical.

                      But let’s move away from the navel gazing: Imagine your 12 year old son comes to you and says he smokes. Like his dad he’s a bit of a philosopher and lays that syllogism at you and concludes that saying smoking is bad is unsound logic and he enjoys it so he’s going to do it.

                      What do you say to him?

                    • Tom

                      Replying down the bottom since we’ve hit the far right of the column.

    • Ah, Tom, a person after my own heart. A veritable Ode to the Joys of Smoking. As for those who say that it shortens your life: my Grandfather smoked rollies for all his life. He died at eighty-eight – probably due to the smoking, but he had to die of something eventually! I loved the smell of his tobacco, whereas I don’t really like the smell of ready-made cigs which is why I don’t smoke them even if there is nothing else to smoke. I don’t think my daughters will take up smoking cigarettes on the strength of my pipe smoking. If they want to smoke a pipe – sure, I wouldn’t mind. Does that make me a bad parent? I don’t think so. My first pipe was borrowed from my aunt, after all. I don’t love her any the less! Quite the contrary. Smoking isn’t a sin, as far as I know. I’ve never included it in Confession anyway. If it is, it would have to be the venialest of venial sins. If it ain’t a sin, why should I stop? That may not be very good theology, but I’m sticking with it. As Danny Overduin of blessed memory used to say on this: “Don’t do as I do, do as I say”…

      • Tony

        Ah, anecdotal evidence! My gramps died at 88 so the statistics about smoking are a load of old cobblers!

        Your logic about you Grandfather is also flawed because you assume the age of 88 is somehow not a shorter life span than he could reasonably expect if he didn’t smoke.

        I knew a few guys in my yooof who took up heroine, some gave it up and survived. I guess that’s anecdotal evidence that heroine is not so bad after all?

        My father-in-law died in his mid-60s after smoking all his life. In the last few years of his life, he didn’t have enough lung capacity to walk to the corner store. In the last few weeks he fought for breath in a way that distressed everyone who saw it.

        Another guy I came across in my volunteer work at a hospice had both feet amputated up to the knees and, similiarly, fought for every breath but as soon as he woke up from a fitfull nights sleep he was after the morning heart-starter.

        Believe it or not, I’m no anti-smoking zealot, but I find this kind of justification quite disturbing. It amazes me how otherwise logical people, twist logic when it comes to an issue like smoking.

        Finally, I’m not suggesting it’s inevitable that you’ll influence people around you, especially children, to smoke but it’s a risk. You (I assume) think it’s an acceptable risk. I don’t.

        • And you assume that my grandfather would have wanted to have lived longer than 88, Tony.

          Okay. I don’t know the statistics, but lets just say that the number of people currently with lung cancer who also at some time in their lives were smokers is somewhere close to 100% (I might be wrong). But the anecdotal evidence does at least suggest that the percentage of people who smoke who end their days prematurely from lung cancer is much, much lower – how low? I have no idea, but I’ve known a lot of people (not just my grandfather) who smoked and didn’t die of lung cancer. But smoking increases the chance? Almost certainly. But another bit of information: I smoke a pipe. If I get cancer from this at all it will surely be lip cancer or mouth cancer rather than lung cancer as I don’t inhale to the same extent (nor, for that matter, smoke as often or as much) as cigarette smokers. What few stats on this I have been able to find suggest that the incidence of cancer in pipe smokers is a much lower percentage (about half) than in cigarette smokers. So the logic of this would be to discourage smoking cigarettes in favour of smoking a pipe…

          Lets look at something else in my lifestyle. I am a motorcycle rider. My chances of ending up dead or in hospital as a result of this activity is at least as great as my chance of ending up in hospital from smoking. Should I stop doing it? Many people would say yes. But I enjoy doing it. It (like smoking) is not a sin and it gives me pleasure. Are there benefits to riding a bike as opposed to a car? Sure. Smaller environmental footprint and all that, less congestion, less wear and tear on the roads etc. etc. But we are taxed (via registration feed) higher than car owners. Why? Because we are deemed a drag on the hospital resources. Apparently a disproportionately large percentage of commuters suffering from serious accidents are motorcyclists. Do all motorcyclists end up in hospital (or dead) from this activity? No.

          Which brings me back to the sport argument. Sport brings great enjoyment to a huge number of people. But it is exercise, not sport, that increases health. Many sports carry significant risk of injury. Does the Government discourage it for this reason? Course not, because the percentage of Australian’s who “love their sport” is about 99% (I’m among the 1 in 100 who don’t, but I don’t discourage others from this pastime just because it costs the hospital system so much).

          It all comes back to Tom’s syllogisms:

          p1/ Doing X carries a risk
          p2/ Risk is bad
          c1/ X is bad

          If we applied that to everything, rather think that we succeed in draining most of the colour and excitement out of our lives.

          • Tony

            So let’s cut to the chase, David. Does Tom’s syllogism apply to heroin or coke addicts?

            • Or marijuana? Or caffeine? There are many drugs used in our society other than alcohol and nicotine. Most are addictive (as is enjoyable behaviour in general). Some are more, some are less dangerous. All have what may be termed “benefits” (eg. the medical use of the fruit fo the poppy) or draw backs (eg. caffeine can cause sleep difficulties). So the syllogism could be broadened out to:

              p1/ Taking “drug X” causes A, B, C and X, Y, Z
              p2/ A, B, C is good but X, Y, Z is bad
              c1/ Therefore, we need to weigh the benefits and the draw backs of taking “drug X”, in order to minimise the drawbacks while not withdrawing the benefits.

              Some drug addictions, such as heroine and cocaine, are terribly destructive. It could be argued that one might be able to continue to live and benefit with a cocaine addiction (eg. the fictional Sherlock Holmes) but there are a lot of other issues playing into this such as the crime created by the fact that cocaine is illegal.

              Some, such as marijuana and tobacco, are not so destructive. Here we have, on the one hand, people ready to argue that marijuana can be medically beneficial and should be legal for personal growing and use, yet it remains illegal and untaxed. On the other hand, we have tobacco which is argued to be negative in its effect, but it remains legal, but taxed to the hilt.

              And then there is caffeine. Can we imagine a world in the future in which caffeine is designated as a negative drug, where it is illegal or taxed to the hilt, and where those who enjoy a daily cup of coffee (or six) are seen as anti-social misfits?

              • Tony

                c1/ Therefore, we need to weigh the benefits and the draw backs of taking “drug X”, in order to minimise the drawbacks while not withdrawing the benefits.

                Eureka! Exactly my point. That is, Tom’s original construction is too simplistic. It only works in the context of weighing ‘the benefits and the draw backs’ of whatever you slot into p1.

                In other words, what you put in p1 is not ‘like for like’; it depends on weighing the ‘benefits and draw backs’ (pun intended?).

                In terms of caffeine? I could only imagine that scenario if coffee was found, in the same way that tobacco has, to be harmful. IOW, I don’t see it happening. I think we’d know by now if caffeine was that harmful.

    • Louise

      A law that affects a small section of the population cannot be called a just law, because it is not aimed at the common good.

      Is that The Angelic Doctor? I would be loathe to disagree with him about anything and in general I would not like to see such laws become commonplace, but I still think the outlawing of the full face veil is a great idea and actually likely to promote the common good.

      Are not all people who currently have to look at a woman in full face veil “affected” by this law?

      • Tom

        It is indeed Louise; Aquinas in his treatise on the laws (ST IaIIae, q.90-107, specifically q.96, a1): Whether human law should be framed for the community rather than for the individual?

        I answer that, whatever is for an end should be proportionate to that end. Now the end of law is the common good; because, as Isidore says (Etym. v. 21) that law should be framed, not for any private benefit, but for the common good of all the citizens. Hence, human laws should be proportionate to the common good. Now the common good comprises many things. Wherefore law should take account of many things, as to persons, as to matters, and as to times. Because the community of the state is composed of many persons; and its good is procured by many actions; nor is it established to endure for only a short time, but to last for all time by the citizens succeeding one another.

        The question of whether or not the banning of the burka is a just one or not, I don’t know, I’ll have a think about it, but off the cuff it strikes me that it probably is unjust since it restrains a small section of the community, though I do understand that it attempts to achieve the common good. I’m not sure.

  6. An Liaig

    To all smokers (not just David) – Smoking and smoking related illnesses cost the community far more than the Government takes in tax on tobacco. So, unless you are willing to pay for all your own health care, the community is still sponsoring you in your filthy habit.

    Re the other thing – in Victoria we have the absured situation of women being photographed for their drivers license and other photo ID where a full face covering. Nive photo of the fabric but useless for identification.

    • An Laig, have you ever been to hospital? What caused it? Do you ever expect to be in hospital? What do you think will cause it? Sports injuries land people in hospital and cost the tax payer heaps too: do we say that people should stop playing sport? What a silly arguement. I could stop smoking today and that wouldn’t lessen my chances of ending up in hospital at some time eventually. Most people will end up in hospital one day simply because they are alive. Even people who don’t smoke.

      • Tony

        Come on David! Sport is pursued to improve health and wellbeing. No matter how you spin it, smoking doesn’t.

        If the population was to play more sport the positive effect on health would be significant. Not so if the population was to smoke more.

        But, your principle is not unreasonable, in terms of how we provide health services … in principle. Many people are a cost to the health system because they make bad choices. They are still entitled to the same standards as others.

    • Louise

      I get really nervous when “health” becomes the greatest good. It’s a very unhealthy topic, imo.

    • Louise

      To all smokers (not just David) – Smoking and smoking related illnesses cost the community far more than the Government takes in tax on tobacco.

      Are you sure of that?

      I feel like a cigar, in solidarity with you, David!

  7. Mike

    I guess that’s good news and bad news, about the alcohol tax.
    If Grange drops $133, I’d be tempted to finally taste one of the “cheaper” bottles! With several co-contributors, of course.
    You should easily be able to buy a standard Johnny Red for about $35 today. But that’s mostly bad news. No one should drink that stuff. You can get a Johnny Walker Black Label for as low as $40 most of the time. I agree that Scotch is overpriced. We’ve seen the pound go from $2.30 to $1.60 in the past few years, and yet Scotch has only gone up! How does that work?
    Anyway, I believe that recommendation has not been taken up by the government.

  8. Tom

    Tony, in fact, the syllogism is yours. I just put it into a more accessible form.

    You said: [i]”Smoking, even more that drinking, has social consequences. Even if you are one of those very rare individuals who manage to smoke without being addicted, you are influencing others (like your kids, for example) to see smoking as OK.”[/i]

    Later in your post, with regard to the social consequences you referred to, you inform us that people are just too polite to point out to us their disgust. It’s kind of funny; an enthymeme with a suppressed conclusion instead of one of the premises.

    p1/ Smoking has social consequences
    p2/ Social consequences are bad
    c1/ (which is Smoking is Bad)

    Tony, yes – I reject ON THESE GROUNDS the claim that putting a gun to one’s head and shooting is bad. I think there are ways that can be argued, but this is not one of them.

    I am throwing everything out – this syllogism is a bad syllogism and EVERYTHING that comes out of it is poisoned because of it.

    With regards to taking drugs, shooting yourself, all these other examples we discussed, they can be adequately addressed by getting rid of the conflation of the accident and essence. What I mean by this is; we call human that being that is rational animal. As part of being a rational animal, we understand that humans have hair. However, humans having hair is not essential to being-human, it is accidental. A human without hair is still a human, just as a human without legs, or arms is still human. We understand those essential characteristics by which the term rational animal is intelligible (nutrition, reproduction, rearing of young, etc. etc.) and anything else, while being characteristic is not essential. This doesn’t mean you can separate it out; one does not expect anyone to have absolutely zero hair on their body, but if such a thing occurred, we would not call them ‘in-human’.

    My whole criticism of this entire process is that saying ‘smoking causes X’ and then saying ‘X is bad’ is a conflation of the accidental feature of smoking with its object; its intent. I then asked the question ‘what is the true object of smoking’, because most people tend to argue that it is the pleasure of smoking that is what they want to achieve. I am wary of this though, since pleasure is not the object of anything, but the grace of the act (such as when Aquinas discusses sex); the object of sex is union and procreation, pleasure its grace. Further, the problem of addiction of cigarettes makes it very difficult to truly sort out what we actually want to achieve when we smoke, since most of the time (at least for us cigarette smokers) all we want to achieve is to satisfy our addiction (which makes smoking perhaps seem gluttonous).

    Finally; what I would say to my son:

    Be careful, smoking is addictive and you will spend money on it you never intended to. It is bad for your health and will make things like playing sport very hard. Finally, the reason I do not forbid you to smoke is that it is not a sin, God loves you, as you are and you have your own freedom – when you want to quit, come to me and we will deal with this, but for now, remain in the Church.

    This more or less expresses what I think about smoking – it can be bad for some things, but you can also enjoy it. Either way, it does not matter as long as you remain close to the Church and God.