Friday, October 26, 2007

Owning UP

Had a small discussion going on Dan'l's blog recently about bars and booze, and he allowed as how he'd be uncomfortable owning or running a bar, because of some moral qualms about serving alcohol to drunks.

Fair enough. I'd have trouble working in a butcher shop, or driving a truck for Phillip Morris.

My contention is that the guy who bellies up and asks for a cold one is solely responsible for his own actions. Assuming he's not a child, mentally-impaired, or a criminal, nobody should be allowed to tell him what he can or cannot do as long as he isn't transgressing against the rights of others.

Laws, in my mind, should be designed to protect people from each other; not to protect sane adults from themselves.

Read: If somebody drives drunk or stoned and puts somebody else at risk or actually causes them injury or death, then he should get nailed for it. I got nothing against the laws that are designed to keep the inebriated from getting behind the wheel.

This is a big can of worms vis a vis personal responsibility. In my view, if you are an adult in our society, you are on the hook for your actions. You have to take care of your own business, and if it slops over onto somebody else and causes them problems, unless they volunteered to clean up after you, then you have to do it.

The Frankenstein Concept: You create it, you take care of it. If you have a big rock to roll up the hill, you can hope for aid, you can ask for it, but your neighbor down the street doesn't owe it to you to add a shoulder, it's his option.

You don't get to make your problem into my problem unless I offer.

And there are different places to draw the lines. This doesn't mean that you can't help your neighbor if he falls in a hole. Nor that as a functional member of society, you don't have some dues to pony up to enjoy the benefits. Yeah, I hate taxes, but I pay 'em -- that's part of the deal. And yes, we need national health insurance, because it is criminal to have people who can't afford medical care sick or dying when they could be helped. Our country is too rich to be shoving folks off the sled for the wolves.

Starting wars for fun and profit is evil. Evil.

Guy who sells cigarettes, knowing they are poison? Not as evil, because that includes every checkout clerk in nearly every corner grocery, supermarket and 7-Eleven in the country. Do I blame them for death by cancer or emphysema? No. They didn't go out and pull a gun on people and force them to light up.

Guy who buys and tokes on coffin nails these days? He doesn't get to bitch about it if he gets sick from smoke -- it says right on the package the things are going to kill him, anybody with the brain of a turnip knows this, and if he is willing to risk that they won't? It's on him. I'll be sorry that he didn't get that, but it's not my fault.

Guy with heart-disease wants to chow down every day on a couple Triple Whoppers with Cheese and Bacon, that's his choice. If he does so knowing the risks and falls over with a plugged-up coronary artery? Whose fault is it? Not the kid flipping burgers for minimum wage, and not the Burger King Himself. We live in the information age -- if you want to know about what is in your food, you can find out. If you don't care, that's a choice, too.

Like Baretta used to say, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."

(And yeah, yeah, I know that Blake got off ...)


Yooperman said...

Never posted before, but don't you see a problem between saying we NEED National health insurance and then saying we should just let anyone smoke or eat anything they want?

Isn't National health insurance then making their problem MY (our) problem?

Just looking for clarification

Steve Perry said...

Not how I see it.

We live in a society that is not now, never has been, and likely never will be totally "free." Everything costs something, TANSTAAFL, and part of the price to live in a world where we don't throw the old or lame to the lions is a certain level of social welfare.

It's necessary, because we do have children and the mentally or physically infirm, and they don't always have somebody who can carry them. All you have to do is look around.

Man works all his life, pays into Social Security -- not an option, any more than are taxes -- he should get to draw on it if he falls on hard times. That's what it is for. Welfare, Medicare, those are necessary.

Rather than spending a trillion dollars on a war that is immoral, illegal, and just plain stupid, that money could have fed and treated tens of thousands of American children whose parents could not -- or worse, abdicated their responsibilites and chose not -- to take care of them.

You are, if you a taxpayer, already paying the money. Why not put toward giving life instead of death?

You don't blame the child for the sins of the parents. And a society that doesn't speak to the basic needs of its children is doomed. And one that doesn't take care of its old folks or infirm when they can't work is morally bankrupt.

In my view.

toby said...

Yup, I'd strongly agree both around responsibility for your actions and the purpose of laws.
Protect me from corporations, the government and from my fellow citizens. Don't protect me from myself.

I'd suggest taking it a step further. You are welcome to smoke cigarettes (as an example) all you like, but you aren't welcome to exhale in public or let the cigarette leak smoke in public or where any non-consenting person may inhale it (and by definition, children cannot consent)

Steve Perry said...

Seems that the law is going that way, since second-hand smoke has been found to be harmful.

Got no problem with protecting the public health. That's what the laws are supposed to do.

Too bad about Typhoid Mary, but she was dangerous.

Which brings us to private clubs, like cigar salons, where folks agree to smoke. Okay with that idea -- everybody should be allow to go to hell in their own way -- as long as they don't require unwilling company to go with 'em.

Dan Moran said...


Yeah, personal responsibility is core and everyone should know better. But most alcoholics started drinking in their teens -- most smokers started smoking then. An immortal 15 year old starts smoking and drinking booze (and doing whatever else) ... I do think the society around him/her has a responsibility to limit the opportunity for those things to happen. And we don't do a good job of it.

For adult alcoholics, smokers, what have you -- at a certain point, it doesn't matter what happened to you as a kid, even if what happened to you was agreed-upon victimization that the entire society participated in: time to cowboy up and cope. That's what adulthood is.

I still think bars should take your damn keys away, though. :-)

Dan Moran said...

BTW, Sammy Davis Jr's. track to that show is still one of the greatest songs ever -- and probably the best theme song to any television show ever. Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow:

Don't roll the dice
if you can't pay the price
don't do it
Don't run your feet
down a dead end street

And keep your eye on the sparrow

Steve Perry said...

No, we don't do a very good job keeping the kids out of the booze, cigarettes, and too-soon-sex. The laws are there to do it -- you aren't supposed to able to buy alcohol, tobacco, or even go into a bar if you are under legal age.

If you tell your teenager, "Look, if you want to drink, do it at home." and furnish them with wine or beer, you can go to jail.

We have way more laws than we need. The malum prohibitums far outweight the malum in se's ...

Every teenaged boy I knew when I was one spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get hootch, smokes, and laid, not necessarily in that order.

The evidence that these three were dangerous was in when I was in high school -- the Surgeon General's report on tobacco came out in 1964, and the knowledge that you could get killed drinking and driving had been around since chariots. Ditto that veneral diseases and pregnancy could result from sex.

Evidence? Go on ...

Kids think they are going to live forever, they are invulnerable, and the second you try to stop them from doing something, it becomes that much more appealing.

Having been there, I know what they think: Not me. Yeah, my buddy got plastered and rammed his Barracuda into a tree and died, but it won't happen to me.

When my children were at home, we provided healthy meals. They'd save their allowance and buy white bread.

We told our daughter she could watch any kind of movie she wanted, except for chop-and-slash.

Want to guess what her favorite kind of movies are?

KIds are going to experiment. Adults will do stupid things. Making the bartender responsible for either or both doesn't solve the problem.

Steve Perry said...

I almost entitled that posting "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow." It was a great song.

TV theme songs have faded of late. Some don't have them, some are atonal instrumentals. A good theme song needs to be something you can at least hum.
Hillstreet Blues; St. Elsewhere. The old B&W Superman.

Even Gilligan's Island ....

Dan Moran said...

You're going to hate me for this --

Take the lyrics to "Amazing Grace." Set them to the tune to "Gilligan's Island" ...

Took me a month to get that out of my head the first time I did it.

Steve Perry said...

Yep, I knew about Gilligan and Amazing Grace. Works for Stairway to Heaven, too ...

Steve Perry said...

And Amazing Grace also does a one-for-one swap with House of the Risin' Sun. Blind Boys of Alabama do that one, and I must admit, I've added it to my repertoire. Alternating versions make it a lot of fun -- sin, redemption, sin, redemption, sin ...