Yet Another Slippery Slope Against Freedom

  • Freedom is lost a little bit at a time, in dribs and drabs, and the justification most often used to steal the rights of a free people is “it’s for your own good.”

    There’s no need to look abroad or to the national stage for examples of politicians abusing their office in misguided attempts to control the lives of free people.

    Palm Beach County has its own budding totalitarian in Tax Collector Anne Gannon.  In a move panned and ridiculed by many, including the Palm Beach Post and New Times, Gannon has decided that the Tax Collector’s Office will now refuse to hire anyone who uses tobacco products on a regular basis.

    The ban on hiring smokers is simplistic and stupid, but I hope everyone realizes that it’s also dangerous.

    I won’t bother to rehash all the other behaviors that can increase health care costs, like obesity, pot smoking, drug use, motorcycle riding, alcohol, eating fried foods, or that under Gannon’s ban, the tax collector of Palm Beach County couldn’t hire President Obama because it has already been done elsewhere.

    Gannon’s latest quote on the controversial policy to the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett – “Private behaviors carry public costs” – and her full comments to Bennett, spell out her intent: to use the employees of the Tax Collector’s Office as guinea pigs for her own Orwellian social experiments.

    In an era of rampant STDs and HIV, promiscuity is a private behavior that increases health risks.
    Will Gannon soon decide to peek through the bedroom windows of county employees? Does getting an abortion increase health risks? Having children is a choice that increases health care costs. Will Gannon limit the number of children county employees can have? Aren’t tiny electric cars more dangerous than larger cars? Should we ban Mini-Cooper drivers from employment because they’re more likely to get flattened in an accident, thereby increasing health care costs?

    I could go on and on about the choices free people make every day that increase health care costs, but I think I’ve made my point.

    Smokers are one of the canaries in the mineshaft of civil liberty and freedom. This is much more than a slippery slope. If one accepts Gannon’s reasoning, one accepts government oversight of every other private and legal behavior in the name of lower health care costs. To be concise, one must accept tyranny.

    Of course, Gannon’s smoking policy isn’t really about health care costs. Gannon’s smoking policy is about a small-minded, inconsequential and invisible bureaucrat trying to prove her political relevancy not only to all of us, but to herself. Talk about an epic fail.

    The Tax Collector’s Office is a constitutional office that just screams “outsourcing,” and if any group wants to put a referendum on the ballot to that effect and save taxpayers some money, count me in.

    Jack Furnari

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    January 23, 2015

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