08 September 2007

Longrider's Liberty.

Longrider and I disagree over what liberty is. This is a fundamental disagreement. He cannot understand why I place him on the reactionary right of the political spectrum for opposing the smoking ban, supporting speeding drivers and opposing any elected authority he deems are infringing on the rights of drivers....

As I have pointed out to him in a recent comment on his site, why do libertarians like him never speak of the rights of pedestrians or non-smokers to have a choice not to be choked by traffic or choked by smoke? When we build for cars that pollute and kill, why is that not an infringement on the rights of pedestrians and cyclists and any other vulnerable (usually poor) group who cannot have a car? When there is no practical choice to have a drink or watch a band without stinking of smoke, where is the liberty there? In theory there may be a choice - non-smokers should set their own non-smoking club up they cry. But why did this not happen? Tolerating something is not the same as choosing it. Having a choice between not going out to see a band or have a drink or stinking of smoke is no choice at all. The inconvenience for those trying to find a pub that didn't make them stink of smoke was far higher than the inconvenience of smokers having to smoke outside.

The truth is there is no absolute monopoly on liberty. Most actions increase the liberties of some while reducing it for others. Longrider cannot get this simple concept through his thick skull unlike people who actually do understand the true concept of liberty.

87 comments:

  1. Er, no, you did not point out anything to me; you attempted with your usual statist bullshit to patronise me. Liberty is clearly defined in any decent English dictionary. Get hold of one an look it up sometime.

    Given that I fit into several of the groups you claim to defend - and neither want nor need your "defence", and can see beyond my own dislikes rather undermines your attempts at justifying more statist control freakery.

    You cannot, as usual, see beyond your own deep rooted bigotry. One day, the control freaks will try to stop you doing something that you enjoy or is an inherent part of your life and you will look around for support. Unfortunately by then, it will be too late. You will, at least, finally understand. Until then trying to hold a sensible discourse with you is wasted.

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  2. OK, Neil, how about this...

    A load of smokers get together, buy a pub, only employ staff who themselves smoke and tell non-smokers to put up or shut up.

    Is that OK?

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  3. I see nothing changes with you Neil. Longrider doesn't defend speeding drivers. He just doesn't. You, however, seem to think if you say it enough it will be true. It isn't.

    As to your claim he is thick - he's Einstein compared with you (in my not very humble opinion).

    You really ought to read I'm OK you're OK by Thomas Harris.

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  4. As to your claim he is thick - he's Einstein compared with you (in my not very humble opinion).

    Why, thankyou ;-)

    I did read Conor Gearty's Groan article. With the exception of referring to the common law principle, it was nothing more than a justification of totalitarian behaviour on the grounds that previous generations had it worse. Pure arse dribble, I'm afraid. And I wasted half an hour of my life reading it.

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  5. urko, longrider supports drivers who try to escape punishment for speeding. Isn't that the same thing?

    I called longrider thick because I was responding to this string of insults from him; 'You have to be terminally stupid to think that is the case. But, then, we’ve been here before and once again, you demonstrate that you are unable to follow the English language, let alone a simple logical argument.'

    I know I shouldn't rise to the bait, but I am only human.

    One of the definitions of liberty is; 'unwarranted or impertinent freedom in action or speech'. i.e liberty can be a BAD thing if one person's liberty unduly affects someone else's liberty. This is the concept of liberty you lot cannot accept. You have an absolutist idea of it always being a good thing for your favoured groups. You distort it by ignoring some people's liberty in favour of others - usually drivers, smokers and homophobes over pedestrians, non-smokers and gays. This is why you are reactionary bigots - firmly on the right of the political spectrum.

    Mark : When we have a marginal advantage in the market - businesses cannot survive even with a marginal financial disadvantage - which means non-smoking pubs cannot survive at all without a smoking ban. This means in practise non-smokers are given no choice. Non-smokers are more inconvenienced by allowing smoking than smokers are by having to smoke outside - on this one there was just no compromise and believe me this Labour government tried to find one.

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  6. urko, longrider supports drivers who try to escape punishment for speeding. Isn't that the same thing?

    I have done no such thing. Please stop lying. I don't fall for the big lie technique even if others do. Of course, all of this was explained to you in simple plain English, but still you persist in your ridiculous obtuseness and misrepresentation. Is it any wonder I lose patience and accuse you of stupidity? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

    I am well aware of the common law principle regarding liberty - and have cited it often enough. The constant erosion of liberty to the point of micro-management of our lives goes far beyond this basic principle, so your attempts to use this as a justification of totalitarian behaviour just doesn't wash.

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  7. Neil - although I find your mudslinging quite reprehensible (and frankly, as I've said be before it would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive), there is a serious point.

    Some freedoms are excercised at the expense of others, but surely not all? You seem to view freedom for one as an automatic curtailment of someone else's rights, but that is not always true, is it?

    I recommend the Thomas Harris book, by the way.

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  8. "You distort it by ignoring some people's liberty in favour of others - usually drivers, smokers and homophobes over pedestrians, non-smokers and gays."

    Whereas you support the freedoms of pedestrians, non-smokers and gays over the liberty of drivers smokers and homophobes.

    Oh, yes, and you support the liberty of NuLabour ministers to do what the bloody hell they like over the freedom of the poor to pull themselves out of poverty.

    Luckily, the rest of us understand what liberty actually means, whereas you continue to be a thick, lying cunt.

    DK

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  9. The BNP claim not to be racist and probably some of them believe they aren't but they still advocate racist policies. So when you say speeding drivers should fight speed cameras, fines, parking tickets etc and say people should be able to discriminate against someone's sexuality, race etc, you are supporting these groups.

    You have finally acknowledged that liberty can be harmful in some cases. Let's see how long it takes you to realise that the inconvenience to non-smokers was greater than the inconvenience to smokers. You act as if ALL non-smokers were perfectly happy breathing in smoke before the smoking ban. The truth is very different - most people (including smokers) support the ban - you are just so far up your own arsey libertarian ideology you cannot work out that the theory stinks and you ignore the practicalities of what you propose.

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  10. DK, the point is, you weigh up who is going to be inconvenienced the most and take their side, not always take the side of the status quo that favours the more powerful - who can push their propaganda.

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  11. "urko, longrider supports drivers who try to escape punishment for speeding. Isn't that the same thing?"

    No. It isn't. Not even close. Defence Lawyers do their best for their clients to ensure that the Crown has the toughest possible time proving their guilt.

    Do defence lawyers support murderers?

    We should bear in mind, Neil, that it is YOU that needs to be bloody careful when challenging people's commitment to liberty. Try here:

    I quote: "A man found with 10,000 in cash late at night with no reasonable explanation DESERVES prosecution".

    DESERVES? F*ck me, Neil. And YOU call Longrider illiberal? Wow.

    What's that? Oh, the rest of that sentence:

    "regardless of whether the police can actually PROVE it is the result of wrongdoing."

    regardless? SO the Police can arbitrarily confiscate sums of money? And you think that this makes you a champion of liberty?

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  12. Neil, so you would forbid me from getting together with some other smokers, buying a pub, employing only staff who smoke and sign a waiver and going in there and smoking if we so wished?

    It's a straight "yes" or "no" answer I am looking for.

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  13. "non-smoking pubs cannot survive at all without a smoking ban"

    Look, cinemas, trains, buses, aeroplanes, McDonalds, loads of other shops have all gone strictly no smoking over the past few decades. Did it hurt their business? Not much, I guess, or they wouldn't have done it. In fact, it may have helped their business (e.g. McDonalds is for kids). There is demand for non-smoking McDonalds.

    So are you saying that there is a lot of demand for non-smoking pubs? Or that there isn't?

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  14. I'm still waiting for a response to my last two comments on the EU is fantastic thread.

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  15. So when you say speeding drivers should fight speed cameras, fines, parking tickets etc and say people should be able to discriminate against someone's sexuality, race etc, you are supporting these groups.


    It is not the same thing at all - not within a parsec of close. Only in your fantasy world where white is black would it be.

    I have not "finally acknowledged" the common law principle. Every discussion I have engaged upon takes it into account.

    You merely compound you libellous lies with more, unfortunately - now, it seems, I'm a homophobe.

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  16. Mark, I am just about to answer your EU questions - see other thread. On the smoking ban - the bans in cinemas, buses etc have happened earlierly because a lot were controlled by dominant operators in the market or public authorities influence who didn't have to worry so much about short term financial constraints. The ban that has happened in restaurants may well have moved to pubs in a decade or so, or might not have ever happened but that is besides the point. The point is a significant minority or even majority of people who wanted to enjoy a drink or concert have had to put up with stinking of smoke when they did not have any other choice.

    This is not about being tyranical against smokers - it is a minor inconvenience for them but of great benefit to everyone else who were suffering a major inconvenience. Nor is it about being tyranical against drivers when we enforce speed limits or parking rules. Many thousands die and get seriously injured because of speeding or negligent drivers. I have never heard of anyone dying of a speeding ticket. It is always a balance. In fact as I have argued before, the net liberty of the whole population has been increased by these enforcements and bans - not decreased as the so called libertarians claim. If these people get their heads out of their arses they would see that.

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  17. Longrider, What you write supports homophobes, speeding drivers, smokers and others. You may not think you do, or even intend to do this, but you still do it. You wrap these reactionary views up in a libertarian cloak - you do a disservice to those who really argue for liberty with your defence of the trivial and ignoring of the more serious breaches of liberty that happen as a consequence of this defence.

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  18. Neil, for the third and last time "yes" or "no"?

    You are perfectly entitled to your opinion, but we can't have a discussion until you tell me what it is.

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  19. Mark, the demand to have smoke free pubs is not great enough for any pub to make it financially viable, but that does not mean that there is not a strong demand from a lot of people not to have to suffer smoky pubs. People tolerate it because they are given no choice. The market is not perfect, it sometimes needs regulation to protect people's liberties.

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  20. Mark, the answer to your question is 'yes' I would forbid you from what you suggest because your actions would mean that every other pub would HAVE to follow your example and this would effectively forbid non-smokers from having a smoke free pub. Simple as that. If there was any other way round this, a compromise of some sorts would have been found by the masters of fudge - new Labour. Their proposal to ban it if pubs serve food was just unworkable and this is why we had to have a ban. Think of the other side of the coin, non-smokers have been majorly inconvenienced for many years, smokers have done very well. This is happening right across the world in many countries and cities - to suggest they are all totalitarian is just pathetic nonsense.

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  21. Cleanthes; "Do lawyers support murderers?" : I think if they get them off on a technicality when they know they are guilty that they do and it is morally reprehensible.

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  22. Neil,

    "People tolerate it because they are given no choice. The market is not perfect, it sometimes needs regulation to protect people's liberties. "

    That is a very nice description of the reasoning behind the current ban.

    Now can you answer Mark's question please. He asked:
    "If am a smoker and want to open a pub, hiring only smokers who are willing to work in the full knowledge, in advance, that this will be a smoking pub for people to smoke in, am I allowed to do so?"

    That requires a "yes" or "no" answer. No blethering about imperfect markets. Mark is assuming the investment risk from buying and doing up the property, employing the staff and he, we can safely assume, will be doing so without any call on taxpeyers money. If there is no market, he will lose his shirt.

    He knows this and he freely chooses to do so.

    Should he be allowed to do so?

    Yes or no.

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  23. Neil,

    "because your actions would mean that every other pub would HAVE to follow your example and this would effectively forbid non-smokers from having a smoke free pub. Simple as that. "

    "HAVE", as in "force", "no option" that kind of thing?
    You are mad. Just mad.

    Where is the causality? If I open a record shop selling thrash metal and play it over the PA system in the shop, does that FORCE the classical music shop down the road to do the same?

    You have utterly and completely lost the plot.

    But let's assume that these evil smokers have this pervasive effect on the market.

    I'll pose one for you then. I'm going to remortgage my house and sell myself into slavery etc etc etc at no risk to anyone else or the taxpayer to raise the funds to buy TWO pubs.

    I am going to have to raise a lot of money because these two pubs are going to be two or three doors apart on the same street. One will be exactly as Mark's: smoking pub, smoking employees etc. The other will be very strictly NON-smoking. I might even make the non-smoking one much nicer: better food, prettier barmaids, that sort of thing?

    Further, because smokers are evil, I will take ALL profits from the smoking pub and invest ALL of it into making the non-smoking pub better, nicer, cheaper, friendlier and with even more comely barmaids.

    Should I be allowed to do so? Yes or no please Neil.

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  24. As I have already explained my answer to Mark is 'yes' I would forbid him in what he says because we al know what would happen. All the othere pubs would follow the example and we would be back to square one with no choice for non-smokers. You can't just ignore this practical reality and pretend that everything is alright because in 'theory' non-smokers have a choice. In practise they didn't which is why we need the ban.

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  25. Neil,

    "I think if they get them off on a technicality when they know they are guilty that they do and it is morally reprehensible. "

    Given that you are not sold on the idea of being innocent until proven guilty, I think there may be just the smallest gap between your view of "a technicality" and mine, but we'll let that pass for the time being.

    I'll do this from first principles. Either you believe that the state, in attempting to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, should follow the due process of the rule of law or you don't.

    If the technicality causes sufficient doubt on the certainty of the Crown's case, on the "safety of the conviction", then I posit that it's not a technicality.

    I think it is not only reasonable but ESSENTIAL that the police and the CPS be made to follow their own rules. That "technicality" almost certainly exists to stop innocent people being fitted up or otherwise being denied a fair trial.

    If they did finger the right man and then went and fucked up the prosecution, that is their fault, not the defence lawyer holding the state's feet to the fire.

    The answer to this, as you seem to be suggesting, that we allow the state freer rein unilaterally to ignore their own rules in their attempts to convict people. The answer is to hold the Police and the CPS to account and start ensuring that they feel the incentive to get their stuff right.

    I don't like guilty men going free any more than you do, but the difference between us is that you seem to think that it is better that innocent people can get fitted up by the Police than to let a guilty man go free because the state screwed up the prosecution.

    I, together with Urko, Longrider, Mark W, DK and all the rest of us, think that that suggests that we have a clearer idea of liberty than you do.

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  26. Neil,

    I think we're out of sync: I assume your "10/9/07 5:36 PM " comment is not an answer to my two pub conundrum, but to my earlier (and also out of sync) question.

    If it is, please delete my earlier question - we crossed in the post as it were - and this one as well to clear up the thread. Thanks.
    C

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  27. Longrider, What you write supports homophobes, speeding drivers, smokers and others. You may not think you do, or even intend to do this, but you still do it. You wrap these reactionary views up in a libertarian cloak - you do a disservice to those who really argue for liberty with your defence of the trivial and ignoring of the more serious breaches of liberty that happen as a consequence of this defence.

    Do not presume in your arrogance to tell me what I think. It is interesting that you accuse me of the very thing you do yourself.

    There is a clear difference between criticising the method of enforcement and criticising the principle of enforcement. I have clearly engaged in the former and not the latter. Even you should be able to work that one out. If not, then my accusation of stupidity stands. If you do, you merely compound your libel.

    I note that you persist in ignoring Anticant's support of my position on the guest house issue - but a gay rights campaigner coming down on the side of those guest house owners doesn't fit with your prejudices, so you ignore him. I expect nothing less.

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  28. There was an Asian guy in Dagenham who said he was gonna vote BNP. Does that mean the BNP are not racist? One person supporting you doesn't mean anything, no matter who he says he is.

    I admit you have not advocated breaking the law, but when it comes to those drivers caught by a speed camera or parking fine - it is very clear where your sympathies lie. Are you arguing they were somehow not breaking the law despite breaking the speed limit?

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  29. As I have already explained my answer to Mark is 'yes' I would forbid him

    I take it you mean "No"? But that's fine, you have made your opinion (reasonably) clear.

    Cleanthes understood this conundrum all too well and has posed the question again (and again) far more elegantly than I did.

    But your answer is still "No". So that's the end of that discussion, really AFAIAC.

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  30. One person supporting you doesn't mean anything, no matter who he says he is.

    He, however, unlike you, is right about the concept of liberty and is capable of looking beyond his own personal dislike to the underlying principle.

    I admit you have not advocated breaking the law,

    Oh, finally... So why did you lie about it then?

    ...but when it comes to those drivers caught by a speed camera or parking fine - it is very clear where your sympathies lie.

    Really? So why do you persist in misrepresenting it?

    Are you arguing they were somehow not breaking the law despite breaking the speed limit?

    Where, exactly, have I said this? Please point it out to me. (Clue: I haven't and you damn well know it.)

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  31. Mark,

    "Cleanthes understood this conundrum all too well and has posed the question again (and again) far more elegantly than I did."

    You are too kind. It was your idea. I just tweaked it to remove Neil's opportunity for rather disingenuous wriggling.

    "But your answer is still "No". So that's the end of that discussion, really AFAIAC."

    You give up too easily. Neil requires months and months of work.

    I shall attempt to take up the cudgels.

    So Neil: Firstly, my two pub question: TWO pubs. Am I allowed? Yes or No?

    Next: let's go to the heart of this question. It is clear that you regard the REAL problem as a market failure. You seem to be saying that you are not illiberal - perish the thought - but that the market has failed and, in failing, the liberty of non-smokers is thereby curtailed.

    You recount that the freedom of non-smokers to enjoy a pint without smoke is in direct opposition to smokers' freedom to enjoy a pint WITH smoke.

    So far so good. There are now a number of further questions that need to be asked:

    1) If the rights of two groups are in direct conflict, what are your criteria for deciding - on a blanket basis as you have done here - which group takes precedence.

    2) Your favoured approach - or at least your description of it - is that favourite of all lefty horrors: the primacy of the group over the individual. Consider the social smoker: he quite enjoys a drink in a smoke free environment quite a lot of the time, but sometimes, after a hard day speeding around town, exploiting the proletariat and denying gays a place to stay, he finds that a crafty cigarette is just the ticket. He might find that there is one pub - where he likes to take his family (being part of the patriarchal hegemony) -which is generally smoke free. The one he frequents after work is distinctly smokier. Which group does he fit in? Is he a smoker or a non-smoker?

    3) With laser-like precision, you have identified the problem - market failure. Target painted: excellent. The only problem is that apparently your only munition available and which you have now dropped onto your target...

    ... is a daisy cutter.

    Why, Neil, in answer to a MARKET FAILURE do you need A BLANKET BAN?

    Why is there no alternative? Who says there is no alternative? Are you really saying that there is no mechanism at any level of Government that might serve to tweak the incentives - you know: the things that drive markets - of smoke-free vs smoking pubs?

    Off the top of my head I can think of several possible schemes:
    What about Differential pricing for smoking vs non-smoking pub licences? Landlords have to have licences: just alter the terms.

    Alternatively, a local authority could, say, issue licences for smoking vs non-smoking on a 3:2 ratio.

    Perhaps the (compulsory) employers insurance could be jacked up if the employer wishes to run a smoking establishment.

    Maybe - perish the thought - individual licencing authorities could come up with their own schemes. We might find out, because you just never know with markets and things, that some schemes work better in different parts of the country for different reasons, different parts of the country being different and having their own quirks and stuff.

    Perhaps you might find that in fact the freedoms of the two groups don't need to be eternally in conflict because individuals have - perish the thought - the liberty to choose - and to change - which group they might wish to belong to at any given time.

    Why MUST we have a ban and why MUST the ban give the best outcomes overall?

    Answers please.

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  32. Cleanthes, I was determined not to revisit this blog, but I got bored of watching TUC on BBC Parliament and couldn't resist, your last comment was one of the best I have ever read, I nearly suffocated. Wife and kids are in bed so I have to laugh quietly.

    after a hard day speeding around town, exploiting the proletariat and denying gays a place to stay

    Classic! I trust it that this chap is an estate agent or something?

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  33. Actually, what Cleanthes says.

    I looked up alcohol licences, and they appear to be only a few hundred pounds a year, depending on size of pub.

    So if the council charges £10,000 a year to allow somebody a smoking licence, only a few pubs would go for it and the council rakes in a shed-load of money for no effort whatsoever, a form of Land Value Tax, if you will.

    Everybody wins. The landlord only pays the £10,000 if he thinks he can increase his net profits by at least that much. The somkers win. The local council wins.

    And most pubs would remain non-smoking - if all the pubs in any area paid the £10,000 for a smoking licence, then the advantage would be competed away, and some would give up the smoking licence again.

    That's that fixed.

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  34. Mark,

    Thank you.

    Just one thing before Neil comes back in though.

    I said:
    "Why is there no alternative? Who says there is no alternative?
    ...
    Off the top of my head I can think of several possible schemes:
    What about Differential pricing for smoking vs non-smoking pub licences? Landlords have to have licences: just alter the terms."


    I want to pre-empt Neil's most likely answer which I suspect is going to be a variation on his earlier comments, namely this:
    " on this one there was just no compromise and believe me this Labour government tried to find one."

    and this:
    "If there was any other way round this, a compromise of some sorts would have been found by the masters of fudge - new Labour. Their proposal to ban it if pubs serve food was just unworkable and this is why we had to have a ban. "

    Of course it was unworkable: the legislation had to describe precisely what constituted "serving food" and what did not. Does a ginsters in a microwave qualify? What about a cold ginsters pasty? Or a pork pie?

    This is self-evidently nonsense. My suggestion is entirely different: two forms of licence. The landlord applies either to have a smoking licence or a non-smoking licence. If this is coupled with a price differential, there are all sorts of incentives: the pub landlord is incentivised to run a non-smoking pub because his licence is cheaper. He is further incentivised actually to RUN it as a non-smoking pub because it will be blindingly obvious if there is smoking going on there (because it will smell which would be a giveaway to anyone checking up on his compliance to his freely-agreed licence terms and because his grateful non-smoking customers will piss off somewhere else).

    There is no room for screwing around with a token nod in the direction of food and no complexity in the legislation. The landlord voluntarily agrees to do something (run a non-smoking pub) and accepts the terms of that contract without coercion.

    Where's the problem? (Other than accepting that market problems have market solutions which would rather undermine the statist mindset)

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  35. Cleanthes, Mark, I would love it if a solution could be found that allows smoking pubs and non-smoking pubs in suitable numbers- but it seems just too complicated. I can see a number of problems with your suggestions that I will outline below.

    We need to have very clear rules to make this work otherwise smokers will not take it seriously when entering a pub ('oh, i didn't realise', 'I can smoke next door' etc etc). The smoking ban has not been the end of the world, in fact a lot of smokers welcome it and it has been overwhelmingly observed. There is a majority in favour of it, even amongst smokers.

    The problem is that smokers are addicts and will just not frequent non-smoking pubs if there is a choice. Non-smokers tolerate smoke even though they find it deeply unpleasant. They do this for a variety of reasons:- do not want to upset smoker friends, want to see a particular band or group, it is the only decent pub in terms of beer or food or entertainment that is nearby. Non-smokers will still be denied a choice of going somewhere they want to go to and it being smoke free.

    Why do I favour non-smokers over smokers?

    The inconvenience to non-smokers and staff is far greater- clothes and hair and body stinking of smoke and getting ruined and burnt, effects on asthmatics, there are also the health concerns to consider. Smokers just have to spend a few minutes outside - hardly an inconvenience at all in the summer and a minor one in the winter.

    Your idea of fixing the licence price is once again just not realistic - this would be expensive in practise - it would have to be constantly reviewed to see it was getting the desired mix of smoking and non-smoking establishments. It would inevitably mean some towns and areas are completely without choice where-ever the limits were set. It would be confusing for the consumer and too complicated for the landlords and local authorities to administer and enforce. In short, it just wouldn't work.

    You are starting from a position where you consider smoking indoors as allowable. Why is that? If we start from a neutral position we can consider that some activities have impacts on others that are just too undesirable.

    As for the two-pub scenario - you are just inventing hypotheticals that are just not realistic in the real world. If it doesn't work in practise the non-smoker still has no choice whatever you suggest is theoretically possible.

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  36. it would have to be constantly reviewed to see it was getting the desired mix of smoking and non-smoking establishments

    That is quite simply not true.

    We can run an auction like the Goblin King did for the 3G licences (a stroke of genius, even I must admit that). I think that smoking in pubs is a tad simpler than 3G licences!

    Let's assume we are aiming for no more than one pub in five in any area, say a local borough, being a smoking pub (one in five, is that OK, Neil?). Each local council invites bids from pubs who want a smoking licence, so they start off by all offering £100 p.a. Then the council ups the price, and a few drop out and some bid £200, and so on.

    How high the price will go I have no idea, I imagine several thousand pounds. So that's free money for the council.

    And the procedure would be repeated every year or so, until a long-run market price is established.

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  37. As to enforcement of non smoking pubs, we don't really need inspectors. If somebody sparks up, there'll be plenty of rabid non-smokers brandishing camera phones and so on.

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  38. A local council can cover many areas, what if all the pubs in one town or village get a smoking licence? There would be no choice for non-smokers in that area. I just don't think this could be made to work. It would undermine the whole notion of a smoking ban. Customers would be confused and landlords might bid too much. What if these licences force pubs under because landlords have misjudged the price? This is much more likely to happen than under the present ban and likely to cause much resentment - imagine the stick you would get for coming up with such a scheme that drove perfectly viable pubs out of business. It is just unworkable. Smoking bans are coming in around the world and they are always total because there is no viable alternative. Sad but true.

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  39. what if all the pubs in one town or village get a smoking licence?

    They wouldn't if the bidding procedure were completely open.

    There is a HUGE advantage in being the ONLY smoking pub in the village. There is a smaller advantage in being the second smoking pub in the village. So the price that you are prepared to bid is a function of how many other pubs are still in the bidding.

    If you know that the other four pubs have all bid £2,000, the fifth pub will say "Great, I am now the ONLY non-smoking pub in the village!" and will withdraw from the bidding quite happily.

    And then think about the pubs in the next village, the price that a pub would bid to be the ONLY smoking pub in that village would of necessity be more than the price bid by the third or fourth pub in the first village.

    I suggest that you read up a bit the theory of auctions, in particular the 3G one.

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  40. imagine the stick you would get for coming up with such a scheme that drove perfectly viable pubs out of business

    Nope. Wouldn't happen. Neil, you've got to learn to THINK about things rather than just SAYING things.

    Landlords know perfectly well by how much their net profits are down since the ban and how much money they save on ashtrays and cigarette-related damage repairs.

    They will therefore have a pretty good idea of what the value of such a licence is. They will pitch their bids at a fraction of however much their net profits are down (a third? a half? I have no idea - that's up to the market to decide).

    We are talking about a couple of thousand quid per pub, nothing that will push them over the edge. And after a year, they are free not to renew their smoking licence.

    It's like Land Value Tax. Go and read up on that, e.g. at www.labourland.org.

    Besides pubs go bankrupt all the time, they then just get taken over by somebody else, the pub doesn't actually SHUT.

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  41. The pub could still bid too much and go out of business as a result. It would be your scheme the public blames fo rpubs closing unnecessarily.

    There is also no way of guaranteeing that EVERY pub in a town or village would not get a smoking licence. It would be quite likely to happen in some poorer areas where smoking is more prevalent. Then we would have a patchy scheme where some non-smokers have a choice and some do not.

    The more I think about your scheme the more ridiculously unworkable it seems. Whereas the smoking ban is working really well and winning overwhelming support. Smokers can smoke outside - that is little inconvenience to them and a great benefit to those who want the choice to enjoy a beer/food/gig/dj/concert smoke free.

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  42. The pub could still bid too much and go out of business as a result. It would be your scheme the public blames for pubs closing unnecessarily

    That's the point, the pubs don't close, they reopen under new management. Most of 'em are owned by huge chains anyway, who would of course make sure that some pubs are and some pubs are not smoking (so that they can compare figures to see what a licence is really worth).

    OK, let's say that a pub has to pay his smoking licence in monthly instalments and can revoke it at any time? If you overbid, and you are paying £500 a month for the licence but your net profits are only up by £300 (or even down, who knows?), then what has the pub lost? £200? They are not going to go bankrupt over £200, are they?

    There is also no way of guaranteeing that EVERY pub in a town or village would not get a smoking licence.

    OK, instead of 1-in-5 pubs in each borough, we make it 1-in-5 pubs in each local ward? Or a maximum of one per ward?

    The more I think about your scheme the more ridiculously unworkable it seems.

    Well, obviously you have not read up on auction theory or the 3G auctions as I suggested. The Goblin King banked £23 billion, which to me seems to be good evidence that out there, in the real world, these things work!

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  43. All this licence money will be taken out of the pub business, this is bound to cause resentment and more pubs closing. All this added administraton cost of collecting the licence fee monthly, having annual 'open' auctions, ensuring a fair distribution within wards. This is going to cost a bomb. You know how inefficient local authorities can be at these things. And for what? To save a few disgruntled smokers having to stand outside for a few minutes in the winter every now and then. It is a hell of a lot of time, money and effort to save smokers such a minor inconvenience, don't you think. Plus as well as all that, I still think the scheme is wrought with problems. It is bound to undermine the smoking ban and some non-smokers are still going to be denied seeing certain bands or hae to put up with smoky places they find distasteful. I think the whole idea is too complicated but it is the best suggestion I have ever heard at trying to accomodate both smokers and non-smokers. So well done for that. It is all arbitrary now anyway because people are liking the ban so much it is unlikely smoky pubs will ever return.

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  44. "All this licence money will be taken out of the pub business, this is bound to cause resentment and more pubs closing"

    Nope. You could take the £5,000 quid you get from the one smoking pub in the ward or village or postcode area (or whatever geographical or administrative unit you choose), and dish the money out to the other pubs as a negative licence fee. It is inevitable that the TOTAL income of all pubs will increase slightly, because there is more choice.

    gain, you have to THINK about it and not just SAY stuff. Ask yourself, why do some pubs have loud music, some have quiet music and some none at all? It's to cater for different tastes!

    If all pubs by law HAD TO play loud music, then people who like to have a chat in peace and quiet would stop going. And if all pubs were BANNED from playing any music whatsoever, those who like a boogie would stop going. And so on.

    The total takings of the pub industry are down, look, let me do something that you never do and cite an actual hard fact - Wetherspoons profits were down by 11% in the first three months after the ban came in in Scotland see here

    And don't say "It'll pick up again once people get used to it" unless you have EVIDENCE to support that claim. I could argue that people will get used to drinking and smoking at home, maybe even with a few mates, and never go back. Who knows what will happen?

    "All this added administration cost of collecting the licence fee monthly, having annual 'open' auctions, ensuring a fair distribution within wards. This is going to cost a bomb. You know how inefficient local authorities can be at these things"

    I work in tax, it'll certainly be no worse than any other tax and no more complicated than the system of alcohol licensing. have you never heard of Direct Debits? How is more complicated that the TV licence fee that twenty million households pay? Have you never heard of car or property auctions? It is often the quickest and best way of buying and selling.

    And as it is a VOLUNTARY tax, collection costs will be relatively low and enforcement will be easy (as I have explained before).

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  45. Neil,

    "It would undermine the whole notion of a smoking ban. "

    Umm... That's the whole point! If a market solution gives non-smoking pubs a chance, then YOU DON'T NEED A BAN. NO-ONE'S LIBERTY IS REDUCED.

    It's a feature not a bug.

    As for the pricing issue, of course it's difficult for you to comprehend. That's because you are a socialist. For a little exercise, let's compare scales of difficulty.

    You say it's hard to do this for precisely one product, once a year.

    Your average supermarket is monitoring prices across 30,000 - that's right thirty thousand - products EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    Pricing is what tells everyone what everyone else wants so everyone can make THEIR OWN INFORMED DECISIONS.

    "Customers would be confused and landlords might bid too much."

    Have you ever bought a car Neil? Have you ever bought car insurance? Have you ever bought a plane ticket? Have you ever stepped out of your own cottonwool world were you are not responsible for your own actions for even a second Neil?

    Pub landlords are business people. This is part of the calculations that they will make and part of the normal risk that every single sentient being has to process every single day. I quite agree that the pricing won't be immediate because a latent demand is going to take time to appear and for its precise worth to appear. That will settle down.

    Pub landlords spend their entire time making exactly these decisions. How much can I afford to pay my employees? If I raise the price of a pint, what will happen to volume and hence total revenue (and margin)? How much should i spend upgrading the kitchen? Or hiring a chef? Or changing the menu? My existing customers might like what I cook now. If I change, I might lose some, but I might gain others. How do I market to those unknown others to get them to try? How much do I spend doing so?

    Just because your head hurts coping with the risks that everyone in the real, actual value-generating world have to deal every day does not mean that no-one can.

    You have also superbly glibly rejected my two pub conundrum. There is so much in your response that puts the cart before the horse or is wrong or contradictory that I'll need time to unpick it all.

    Just one quick one though:
    "As for the two-pub scenario - you are just inventing hypotheticals that are just not realistic in the real world. If it doesn't work in practise the non-smoker still has no choice whatever you suggest is theoretically possible. "

    Tough: answer the question: I'm taking the risk. I'm going to put all the profit into the non-smoking pub and do my best to make it a real success. It is the PRINCIPLE of liberty that we are trying to nail here. That's why we are positing hypothetical cases.

    We are trying to show that your view of life may be many things - that there may utilitarian arguments in favour of the ban, but it does not have any notion of liberty.

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  46. Neil, please answer Cleanthes questions.

    Neil, please also explain apparent contradiction here:
    the demand to have smoke free pubs is not great enough for any pub to make it financially viable, but that does not mean that there is not a strong demand from a lot of people not to have to suffer smoky pubs

    What is it "demand not great enough" or "strong demand from a lot of people"?

    Please make up your mind.

    I have illustrated, using the uncontentious example of music that some pubs CHOOSE to play loud music (to attract a certain clientele - even though it damages your hearing - which is a Bad Thing, but of no concern to me) and others play NO MUSIC (to attract a different kind of clientele). There need be no tension between the two groups. The market sorts it out.

    Cleanthes and I are offering you two compromise 'market' solutions. Of course restricting the number of licences to one per village and so on is not really a free market - it is restricting supply (so is the whole licensing system), but hey.

    I think we are all in agreement that some people like smoke-free pubs; that the smoking ban probably reduces the amount that people smoke (which is presumably a Good Thing); and, in order to move the argument on, Cleanthes and I are prepared to concede that the number of pubs where smoking is allowed should be restricted, to 1-in-2 in C's example and to 1-in-5 in mine.

    The difference is, you go for a blanket ban, and what we are doing is far more subtle, and takes human nature into account.

    So please answer C's questions and my further question above.

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  47. Cleanthes, Mark; in theory your suggestions are perfectly reasonable. It is of course better if both non-smokers and smokers can have their demands satisfactorily met.

    It is also refreshing that you acknowledge that non-smokers were being hard done by before the ban and try to come up with solutions. In the campaign to oppose the ban, non-smokers wishes were usually disregarded by those opposed to the ban.

    In terms of loud/quiet music, the market works to the satisfaction of nearly everyone, but this clearly wasn't the case with smoking - hence the overwhelming popularity of the ban.

    The problem for me is I don't think any of your proposals will work in practise.

    Lets assume your licensing system works fine and everyone has a choice nearby of smoking or non-smoking pubs, and that it doesn't result in pubs needlessly going out of business, that there is no confusion among clientele or problems of enforcement for staff (remember most pubs can easily quote the law at the moment and deflect blame for the ban, this won't be so easy when it is voluntary). Lets assume all that.

    The problem is that smokers are addicts and will not forego their habit whereas non-smokers do not feel strongly enough to lose their smoking friends and will tolerate the smoke, even though they may find it distasteful. Or there might be a particular band/beer/quiz/dj/restaurant they are only able to get in smoking establishments. Then there is passing trade - a lot of people go to pubs and would not realise its smoking status. Also some people might only have one pub within a reasonable walking distance or even reasonable driving distance. In all these cases the non-smoker would still be denied choice.

    In the market, the absoluteness of feeling of a minority of smoker addicts is over-riding the wishes of a majority who do not feel quite as strong as to stop going to an establishment and a minority who do feel strongly but have no choice. Smokers also had the advantage of the status quo - which we all know can be a glacial process to change. This is why the market did not provide any choice for non-smokers and why smoking pubs would be full while non-smoking ones would be empty regardless of whether you subsidise them with license fees. This may have changed gradually over time as it had with restaurants and cafes but it might not. In all that time non-smokers have been discriminated against and still would be under your scheme.

    As well as all this, lets not forget that cigarette smoke is distasteful and harmful. Why should something so distasteful to others be allowed in enclosed establishments? Would you allow alcoholics to drink alcohol in a lecture? Or people to masterbate in town centres? Some behaviour is just so anti-social we ban it, and rightly so. I think smoking in enclosed public spaces comes into this category.

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  48. We seem to have got stuck here.

    "What is it "demand not great enough" or "strong demand from a lot of people"?

    Please make up your mind"

    You're just wasting time now.

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  49. We both agree that before the ban non-smokers were not given a choice of smoke free pubs despite wanting them.

    So we both agree that somehow the market was ignoring people's demand in this respect.

    The fact that the majority of people now support the smoking ban shows that the demand for smoke free pubs was widespread.

    The problem is that the desire to smoke indoors amongst the minority who are smokers was greater than the desire of non-smokers to stay home if faced with a smoky pub - they would tolerate the smoke even though they disliked it or even found it very distasteful because they had nowhere else to go. The reason they had nowhere else to go was that smokers, although a minority, were too significant a minority for ANY pub to be able to afford to lose the trade.

    Smokers could simply go somewhere else because they did have a choice and felt strongly enough about it to ALWAYS go to where they could smoke. This meant that until the minority dropped below a critical point (as it did with restaurants and cafes) then NO pub could offer a smoke free environment because they couldn't afford to lose a significant part of their trade and there would hence be no choice for non-smokers etc. etc. Does that explain what I mean?

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  50. the market was ignoring people's demand

    It was not. The market is the people. The non-smokers are a market as much as smokers. Like the market for pubs with loud music, quiet radio and no music.

    I have explained how we could have a fair system. You don't like it. I don't like the blanket ban.

    I am bored now.

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  51. Fair enough. I have tried to explain my point why non-smokers are ignored. I think the ban is ok (as do most people when surveyed). It is being overwhelmingly observed and accepted so I guess this discussion in irrelevant from a practical point of view anyway.

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  52. Neil,

    "I have tried to explain my point why non-smokers are ignored. "

    Oh for F*CK'S SAKES NEIL. That point was not and has not ever been in dispute. Stop trying to suggest stuff that is just sh*te.

    "I think the ban is ok (as do most people when surveyed). It is being overwhelmingly observed and accepted so I guess this discussion in irrelevant from a practical point of view anyway."

    But that is not - and has never been - the point either.

    Your objections to our proposals as to how a BETTER accommodation could have been reached stem largely from the grounds that they would undermine the smoking ban. We think that this reasoning is objectionable and self-evidently false, yet you refuse to engage sensibly with any non-statist solution.

    Our point is two-fold:

    1) The smoking ban is not the best solution: there are small tweaks to incentives that would have allowed a market solution to appear.
    2) Any ban is by its very nature illiberal. The trade off may be overwhelmingly one-sided in favour of the reduction of liberty, but IT IS STILL A REDUCTION OF LIBERTY.

    These two points, which linked, are entirely independent. Generally the more liberal solution, the better. The more that you leave to individual's discretion, the more individual's will be able to make decisions that suit their needs. This is plainly obvious stuff.

    Your argument is purely utilitarian - it has f*ck all to do with liberty. Now look at your first sentence in this post:
    "Longrider and I disagree over what liberty is. "

    If you are going to lay any glove on Longrider, you are going to have to show that NEITHER of points 1 (market solutions almost always give a better outcome in terms of choice) and 2 (Bans are illiberal, even if they are a net good) hold in this case.

    One more thing: markets don't ignore people. Markets don't even ignore people who make demands that cannot currently be met. Worse still, you can bet your bottom dollar that the people who were doing the most to figure out how to make a non-smoking pub work - even in advance of the ban - were [hold your nose Neil] the big chain operators.

    It would have been the large operators who would have had the head office staff at their disposal to think about exactly these problems. All of them are constantly working how to bring in new customers, how to identify specific demographic niches and what those people want and how to provide it. Any sniff of an incentive tweak and these guys would have been on it like a shot.

    The fact that it is THE STATE SECTOR element of this that is the problem - you have admitted that it is the state's problem of trying to figure out the pricing - not the feasibility of a market solution.

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  53. Neil,

    "Then there is passing trade - a lot of people go to pubs and would not realise its smoking status. "

    You have a characteristically low opinion of the general population.

    If adults - and we are talking exclusively about adults here - are not able to cope with this, how, for example, do they manage to cope with selecting the correct type of petrol when at an unfamiliar petrol station? Might it because they know that using the wrong fuel in their vehicle will damage the engine and cost them money? might it be that - shock horror - incentives matter and individuals take responsibility for their own actions when they know that they have to?

    How did they cope with the [sarcasm] utterly bewildering array of [/sarcasm] different policies for different restaurants, fast food outlets, cinemas etc all of which sorted this out entirely on their own, long in advance of a ban?

    Why could an adult NOT understand the smoking status of a pub, when perfectly capable of doing so in the restaurant next door?

    What is so peculiarly confusing about pubs that means that a perfectly workable solution elsewhere was inevitably doomed to failure in this sector?

    In fact, passing trade is the easiest to deal with. The reason that these customers go into the PUB is because they want a drink. If they wanted a smoke, they could already do that pretty much anywhere. But they could only get the pint to go with it in the pub. It is the pint that is the determining factor, not the smoke.

    "The problem is that smokers are addicts and will not forego their habit"

    Bollocks. Smokers have demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction that they are completely capable of moderating their addiction when in restaurants, cinemas, cafes and all the other places that went non-smoking entirely of their own volition and without state interference.

    more importantly, you are betraying your illiberal statist mindset again. You infer that smokers are not able to control themselves, that they - and others - must be protected from them against their will. I'm struggling to find any way that this attitude - standard for a socialist - is consistent with any reasonable definition of liberty.

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  54. "would not realise its smoking status"

    And sorry, this was sh*te when you wrote it.

    You yourself make great play on the fact that a smoke free pub smells completely different. So that reduces our passing trade to passing trade that is only people who are all of:
    a) smokers - in that they want to smoke
    and
    b) stupid - in that they are unable to recognise the signs or notice the lack of any smoke or its smell
    and
    c) utterly incapable of moderating their physical desires
    and
    d) rude and incapable of understanding instructions not to smoke from the barman (who, remember, is incentivised to keep his pub smoke-free)
    and
    e) with a very thick head cold and unable to smell anything.

    I suggest to you Neil, that that is not a very large demographic and certainly not one that our legislation ought to be trying to cater for.

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  55. I think the ban is ok (as do most people when surveyed)

    Of course - most people DON'T SMOKE! The majority people who don't go angling might support a ban on angling. The majority of Christians might support a ban on halal slaughter and Muslim headscarves. The majority of people who don't like boxing might support a ban on boxing. People supported a ban on 'dangerous dogs' (albeit unworkable). And so on.

    So you have finally quoted a hard fact, but one that is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    And you contradict yourself over at mine, where you say that non-smoking pubs would go bankrupt and everybody would crowd into the smoking pubs. This is not true.

    On THIS site you say that pubs would over-pay for the smoking licence and be closed. Which is not true either.

    So fine, we are all allowed to be wrong, but please make up your mind which effect you think is more likely.

    As C has explained at length, the true market value of the smoking licence would quickly be established, so nobody would lose out.

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  56. Mark

    "As C has explained at length, the true market value of the smoking licence would quickly be established, so nobody would lose out."

    And do you know what the REALLY clever thing is: I'm prepared to bet that the price differential would soon vanish.

    That's right: give the market a quick nudge, the non-smokers would get their pubs, the market would appear and the market would take over from there.

    After probably not more than a year, the relative demand for smoking vs non-smoking pubs would become clear in each location and any given landlord would make his own decision about what sort of pub he would want to run and what sort of clientele he wants to attract. more importantly, non-smokers will not want to lose the pubs they've got. There will be actually existing demand that the landlord will not want to give up by going to a smoking environment. Think how hard individuals will campaign to try and save a local pub that they know and love.

    So....
    Licencing authority then steps out of the way and equalises licencing costs. No complexity for the council to handle [oh the humanity!], no loss of liberty and no ban.

    Brilliant!

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  57. Mark, even a majority of smokers think the ban is fair.

    On the licence issue - inevitably some smoking pubs would overbid and struggle financially and go out of business. You got round this by saying they could drop the licence on a month by month basis. But this would surely be even more confusing for customers and costly/complicated for local authorities to implement?

    Those pubs that allow smoking would be packed to the rafters and those smoke free would be empty this would mean problems financing these smoke free pubs.

    This does not mean there is not a lot of demand for smoke-free pubs (as the popularity of the ban demonstrates), just that non-smokers will choose their smoker friends, favourite beer, bands, djs etc and tolerate the smoke even though they do not like smelling like an ashtray. The only way to give non-smokers a choice is to have ALL pubs smoke free.

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  58. Cleanthes, The point about liberty is that before the ban we both agree that non-smokers were disadvantaged and after the ban smokers are disadvantaged.

    As I have tried to explain there really is no compromise on this issue - we either have all smoking or all smoke-free pubs. This is because smokers will ALWAYS choose smoky pubs if given a choice whereas non-smokers will tolerate the smoke to keep their smoker friends happy or to see their favourite bands/dj/food/beer etc.

    So given that either way SOMEONES liberty is affected - we have to CHOOSE which group is affected the least. Clearly it is less inconvenient for a smoker to step outside or sit outside for a few minutes than for everyone to stink of smoke and get health problems.

    You claim that banning anything lowers liberty but that is simply not true. We ban murder - does that not increase the liberty of most (to feel safe) at the expense of a few who like to murder? Obviously there is also the fact that some things are just anti-social and need to be banned. The truth is that smoking indoors should never have been acceptable. It is never acceptable to harm someone else just to satisfy someone's dirty habit. This is why we ban alcohol in certain situations and don't allow people to masterbate in the street. I think we have taken this discussion as far as it will go. It has clarified my views and thanks for that - but I don't think there is any more we can get out of this discussion.

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  59. Ooo! Ooo!

    I've got an even better idea: how about democratising the whole thing.

    Given that
    - we start from where we start from, that the ban has created non-smoking pubs and has allowed us all to experience smoke free pubs,
    - that the population declares itself to be happy with smoke-free pubs (because that's what they are expressing satisfaction with: the outcome not the ban itself)
    - that democracy is the highest and most noble ideal...

    WHY NOT LET THE PUNTERS VOTE?

    Here's how it works: pub landlord invites the local councillor for the ward (because we have representative local democracy, don't we Neil) to his pub to meet the punters and to oversee the process.

    Pub landlord puts up posters to announce a vote night or something like it and formally asks his regulars (because that's what we are dealing with): which do you want:
    - a completely smoke free pub
    - a separate smoking room, if available - and this is absolutely on a case by case basis for each pub.
    - a free-for-all complete with spittoons and stuff.

    He validates his electorate by issuing voting slips to any customer in, say, a month long period before hand and signs the card each time the customer visits the pub in the interim. Only customers with >x visits in the month are eligible. The publican could perhaps waive this requirement for regulars that he knows personally and who he knows personally have been away. There's stacks of ways of doing this really easily.

    Then we'll find out, on a pub by pub basis, what the customers of that pub actually want. If smokers are in the majority in one pub, they might get their way, or they might easily concede the separate smoking room. If not, they won't. IN THAT PUB.

    If, as you keep saying, the majority do not smoke and want smoke free pubs, they will prevail.

    It need only be on a show of hands - you are, after all, guests of the landlord: it's his pub.

    Let's face it: as a voting mechanism, if it's good enough for the European Parliament, it ought to be good enough for a pub.

    Or perhaps you don't really like democracy...

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  60. Neil,

    " This is because smokers will ALWAYS [YOUR emphasis] choose smoky pubs if given a choice whereas non-smokers will tolerate the smoke to keep their smoker friends happy or to see their favourite bands/dj/food/beer etc. "


    NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

    Why do you automatically assume that non-smokers' favourite bands appear ONLY in smoking pubs? This assumption is patently rubbish.

    Why do you automatically assume that ALL smokers will ALWAYS choose the smoky pub? Why do you assume that in a given group of friends that the lone smoker will ALWAYS win? These assumptions are just bollocks.

    But without them, your case for the "no compromise" position is holed below the waterline.

    I'm sorry but they're just bollocks. They do not hold for any of the cases that pre-existed the ban. Did groups of friends NEVER go the cinema because they always caved in to the lone smoker's demand for his nicotine fix? Of course they didn't. Even to ask the question is to show just how flimsy your justification is.

    "some smoking pubs would overbid and struggle financially and go out of business."

    Oh for heaven's sake. If you take this logic as being a rationale for not adopting anything except a total ban, you will have to outlaw all commercial enterprise. Oh. Wait. That's what you want.

    For F*ck's sake Neil: if the pricing risk on a licence is too great, what the hell do you think the property price is? Why is it OK for landlords to risk 100s of thousands of pounds on the real estate, but not a tiny tiny fraction on the licence?

    "You claim that banning anything lowers liberty but that is simply not true. We ban murder - does that not increase the liberty of most (to feel safe) at the expense of a few who like to murder? "

    A is not true ... A is true.

    This must be a record, even for you Neil: a internal contradiction in two consecutive sentences.

    That aside, your example is flawed. I mention it, not to suggest for a second that I think that any part of liberty involves the freedom to murder [because I know you Neil - you are real horror for misrepresenting people's opinions] but to point your own failure to think clearly at all on any level.

    Further, it demonstrates just how poor your concept of liberty is, that you could consider that it was even close to being a valid counter-example.

    Even more, it shows that you didn't even try and understand my very simple point: there can be good utilitarian cases for reducing liberty. But that does NOT mean that such cases do not reduce liberty.

    Address the actual point I'm making. I'm contrasting utilitarianism with liberty.

    "Obviously there is also the fact that some things are just anti-social and need to be banned."

    There you go again. There is a word for your type Neil: Bansturbator.

    I happen to think that bansturbation is anti-social.

    "The truth is that smoking indoors should never have been acceptable."

    No: your opinion is that smoking indoors should never have acceptable.

    Your opinion is wrong. If it isn't, why is the sale of smoking tobacco not banned entirely?

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  61. Sorry - I missed the other important element in this pile of cack:

    "the liberty of most (to feel safe) "

    What? What liberty "to feel safe"? This is some sh*te along the lines of the "freedom not to be offended". It's bollocks.

    If I don't feel safe, who has infringed my "rights"? Against whom do I seek redress?

    What if I'm paranoid or just of a nervous disposition? What if I'm not a very experienced driver and being on the road scares me? Is my liberty infringed?

    The reason murder is illegal is because it breaches the most fundamental liberty: the individual's right to life.

    The murder of my next door neighbour does not infringe MY liberty. It is the fact that it infringes HIS that is the problem.

    Get a grip Neil. Your failure to state such simple stuff shows just how utterly misplaced your conception of liberty really is. You simply cannot think beyond your utterly Marxist claptrap of group rights.

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  62. This is because smokers will ALWAYS choose smoky pubs ...

    This whole premise is false, I smoke, most people I work with, family, friends don't. I explained that because 90% of the people in my department go out, we ALWAYS used to go to the non-smoking area of the restaurant, which is fine. Hell, I smoke in my own kitchen, btu if we are having people round, I will go outside to smoke.

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  63. Cleanthes, I admire your determination, but I am signing off for now, I have had enough.

    Neil refuses even to admit that he keeps contradicting himself, with his ideas that pubs that are 'full to the rafters' would go out of business.

    It's called Doublethink.

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  64. Cleanthes: If smokers had a choice between a smoky cinema and a smoke free one they would ALWAYS (ok 99% of the time) choose the smoky one and most of their non-smoker friends might go with them despite preferring smoke free. That is the crucial point that you seem not to get. We all know this is the case because we had ZERO smoke free choice for people who went to the pub before the ban.

    As for your election idea - the surveys clearly show what the majority prefer and that is the smoking ban. If people don't like it they can vote for a party that will get rid of it. Your idea of mini-elections in each pub will be manipulated. We all know how much people's answers change depending on how you ask the question.

    On the liberty question, if liberty increases for the majority and decreases for a minority when something is banned - the overall liberty has increased. So liberty is not always lowered as you claim. You are the one misunderstanding the sentence.

    Mark, It is not a contradiction to say pubs could overbid for a licence even if they were full. Even if your licence scheme could be made to work - it would still mean people stinking of smoke in some places when all they want is a certain beer/gig/dj/food etc. That is limiting their choice and stinking of smoke and the associated health problems will always be worse than the current mild inconvenience that smokers are incurring. Heck some smokers actually like the ban and a majority think it is fair so you are just going to a hell of a lot of trouble for nothing really.

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  65. Mark, Cleanthes, When I started this thread I didn't expect a long discussion about the smoking ban. But you guys have made me realise that smoke free pubs would have been an impossibly long time coming without a ban. Because unlike cafes, restaurants and cinemas, most people go to the pub in bigger groups maybe four or more. As 25% of the population smoke, this means most groups would contain smokers and the smokers wish to smoke was clearly over-riding the non-smokers wishes for smoke free. Non-smokers just didn't want to piss off their smoker mates. With cafes, cinemas and restaurants etc (although it still took a long time to overturn the established status quo of smoking), there were more individuals and couples that did not include smokers who could express a clear preference to have a smoke free environment. You see, them market has its limits. Sometimes the state has to intervene to correct things and improve liberty. I know you won't accept that, as Mark is a Tory and Cleanthes also probably has absolute faith in the market as 'always right'. While the market can work wonderfully - it usually needs a shove in the right direction and that requires regulation and planning and yes, sometimes this means banning things.

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  66. "As 25% of the population smoke, this means most groups would contain smokers and the smokers wish to smoke was clearly over-riding the non-smokers wishes for smoke free. Non-smokers just didn't want to piss off their smoker mates. "

    And perhaps for once you can acknowledge the very telling fact that Mark has provided a very specific contradictory tale.

    You are simply resorting to dogma to reject out of hand some very sensible suggestions because you have no conception of how anything outside your statist sledgehammer legislative approach could work.

    Why do you assume that the non-smoker's favourite band is ALWAYS going to be in the smoker's pub? Where is the evidence of this?

    You reject the informal pub-level plebiscite out of hand because you say that it can be manipulated. Why is it only smokers who are underhand and dastardly?

    Why are you so certain that these large (or is it small, you can't seem to decide) numbers of non-smokers who have been yearning for so long (or not if that helps your argument at the time) for non-smoking pubs and who have a chance to have their long-ignored voices heard (or not as the case may be) will simply roll over and allow the smokers to vote them out?

    You want to have it all ways at once:
    - pubs, though packed to the roof with smokers, will not be able to afford the licence fee.
    - the huge majority of non-smokers have been desperate for non-smoking pubs but apparently also couldn't care less.
    - they hate the smoke but don't object to it
    - the market solution giving a broader variety of offerings and therefore greater choice won't work because it will undermine the ban that it is there to undermine.
    - the smokers pubs are awful and the non-smokers hate them, but all the non-smokers favourite stuff - selection of beers, food and music - will curiously only ever be on offer in smoking pubs.

    You are just simply clutching at anything to try and disguise the fact that you dislike smoking and don't trust individuals to reach accommodations about differences in taste between themselves: The state must intervene.

    Mark and I have patiently outlined the numerous and wholly obvious contradictions in your reasoning and you won't admit to any of them: the state - which is unable to determine the price differential between licence types - apparently knows better than individuals what they want.

    You are willfully obtuse to a degree that borders on pathology.

    You have been disgracefully disingenuous and rude to Longrider and persist in misrepresenting him even after your blatant distortions are served up to you with a side-salad.

    You simply will not even acknowledge that your position relies on hopeless contradictions but that is because you have no conception of how ordinary small businessmen - such as pub landlords - manage stuff like this ALL THE TIME.

    Finally:
    While the market can work wonderfully - it usually needs a shove in the right direction ...

    Absolutely agreed. It would have been nice if you had admitted that right at the top. It would have saved a great deal of time.

    "... and that requires regulation and planning ..."

    Sometimes, and in very limited circumstances and only if you concede that the regulation also distorts the market as well.

    "... and yes, sometimes this means banning things. "

    Very, very rarely and certainly not in this case.

    We have outlined some perfectly reasonable ways in which a tiny tweak in the regulatory framework for pub licencing, devolved to the lowest possible level - councils, wards then subsequently to the pub and finally to the invisible hand itself - would give something very closely approximating the perfect outcome.

    You have ... dogma and a countrywide ban. It won't wash.

    And one more thing: you need to retract your statement about liberty above. I need you to confirm that group rights play no part whatsoever in the illegality of murder please.

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  67. Actually, there is another truism that you need to confront. It is this:

    If the state has got something to work, the market is almost certain to make it work better, because the state cannot respond to incentives or changes in demand quickly enough and cannot cope with the infinite gradations of individual preferences.

    Conversely, if the market has got something to work, the state will almost certainly f*ck it up.

    You have only to look at nationalised industries to the see the destruction that you would wreak upon us all Neil.

    This is not to say that the market ALWAYS works on its own: it is merely to say that if it can be made to work AT ALL, the market will do it better.

    In order to uphold the smoking ban AT ALL, you have to rely on the fact that it cannot be made to work AT ALL - the market cannot make non-smoking pubs work. Yet you cheerfully admit that the market would probably have got there on its own in a decade or two. At which point, Neil, I would like you to concede that your ban will be sub-optimal: it will not represent the best solution.

    We can argue about the potential scale of downsides during the intervening period (or not as the case may be, given that these passionate non-smokers don't care enough to do anything even when given the chance in their local pub plebiscite), but unless you are going to admit that there is a difference in outcome at the end of the period, we have nowhere to go.

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  68. Look, I really really hate smoky pubs - I am sure we can agree on that. Yet.. if I wanted to see a band I would put up with smoke because if I wanted to see that band and have a night out I had no choice. Under your scheme there will ALWAYS be occasions where someone's favourite band/food/beer/dj etc. will be in a smoky pub and people will not have a choice of smoke free.

    The quiz night I went to was great but very smoky and I had to put up with it or stay home. That is not a proper choice is it? There were plenty of nights I went home stinking of cigarettes because I went to places that were smoky. I suppose there is something about the social situation that makes it impolite for non-smokers to complain and piss their smoker friends off. There is no contradiction no matter how you try and twist it.

    At the end of the day - you have lost and nobody wants your silly scheme. It is no big deal for smokers to go outside for a few minutes, whereas it was a big deal for a lot of people to stink of smoke and damage their health just because they wanted to have a night out.

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  69. By the way, I am a big believer in the market system, but I also recognise how it works best when it is regulated well.

    Yes, we have to be careful how we regulate - but also if we regulate too little we get credit crunchs, recession, massive inequality, social problems, increased crime, destroyed environment etc.

    So lets get away from this 'the market is always king' and that the 'less we regulate the better' because that is false. Yes, the state is rubbish at micro-managing but there are some things it does better - some R&D, innovation, infrastructure, healthcare, long term planning etc, etc. In a lot of areas we can make use of the market but fund it through taxation. I am also a big believer in the third way - neither state nor private - co-ops, trusts, waitrose, bbc, etc. No one ideology or system is perfect, we need a mixed approach as always.

    I am sure you are in agreement with a lot of this but we probably diverge in that you want lower taxes and less public services and you are not worried about inequality, whereas I believe the opposite is needed.

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  70. "you have lost "

    I am crushed - utterly crushed - by your superior command of logic, philosophy and minute grasp of the statistics supporting your case.

    NOT.

    " and nobody wants your silly scheme."

    I'll pass over the obvious tetchiness appearing now and ask exactly when were the public offered the market solution?

    "It is all arbitrary now anyway because people are liking the ban so much it is unlikely smoky pubs will ever return."

    Can we stop with the "people like the ban" bullshit already? People are not expressing favour for the BAN, they are expressing favour for the OUTCOME.

    The very fact that people like the OUTCOME shows that your scare stories of all non-smoking pubs vanishing if the ban is relaxed are nonsense.

    So what is the danger of allowing a number of smoking licences, if everyone loves the non-smoking pubs so much? Now that the public has had a taste for it, the market has appeared: non-smokers now know PRECISELY how much they lose by conceding to the smoker's demands to go to a smoky pub. Non-smokers are now empowered when being strong-armed into going somewhere that they now know that they positively hate. They can say "NO: actually none of us want to end up reeking of smoke: we're going to pub x and you can smoke outside if you are so desperate".

    Which is it Neil? Non-smokers like the non-smoking pubs now that they have tried them or that they won't do anything to preserve the non-smoking status of their local?

    These two positions are mutually exclusive. You can't have both. Unfortunately, only the second gives any support for the continued *need* for the ban and the support it does give is limited at best.

    More unfortunately, you've just told us that the first is true. I agree with that.

    Now: here's my concession. You're right: it would have taken time - possibly a decade - for non-smoking pubs to appear. However, that was BEFORE the ban. Now that the ban has been in place for a while, the market has had time for the demand to be recognised. It's like a free trial period: once you've tried a new product (non-smoking pubs, not the ban) that you really do like, you are much more likely to object if it is taken away.

    In fact, it really is a free trial period. People have not had to "pay" to get the ban, in the same way that you don't pay during a free trial period. Once the trial period is up, then comes the crunch: you have to put your money where your mouth is. THAT'S when the REAL preferences are revealed. Do you care enough, do you like the outcome enough, to do something about it. That is what we need now.

    The ban allows the big market shift of latent demand - I too believe that the non-smoking majority have put up with a sub-optimal outcome for too long - to appear. Now it is not necessary. The demand is there, if your polling is correct, so your primary motivation for the ban - that non-smokers always lose - is not there.

    The ban itself is now sub-optimal because it does not allow the two preferences - smoking and non-smoking - to co-exist.

    Whilst we are on this topic: in what way is the ban in restaurants not illiberal?

    Restaurants each decided their own policy quite happily. This worked. Everyone had choice. Why is the ban BETTER in restaurants, Neil?

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  71. " and nobody wants your silly scheme."

    And that's wrong too: Mark, Longrider, Urko and I want it.

    And at least LR and I are non-smokers.

    Oh and BTW: I absolutely detest smoky environments.

    I prefer pubs to be non-smoking and love the OUTCOME - I just disagree with the method. The market could accommodate all of us with no problems, in precisely the way it did in restaurants until your ban destroyed the choice for smokers.

    Do you know particularly why I cannot abide smoky environments? It's because I'm asthmatic Neil.

    But even I can see that the ban is hugely illiberal - I have no right to dictate to others what they may or may not do in places that do not affect me. That is why I would allow pubs to decide which they wish to offer.

    When I'm in a group, the smokers know to sh*t the f*ck up and control their cravings. They can when they put their minds to it. But then it's also because smokers are also people and many of them are very nice people. You seem to forget this in your desire to paint them all as an amorphous blob of nicotine crazed sociopaths.

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  72. Cleanthes: '[Either] non-smokers like the non-smoking pubs now that they have tried them or... they won't do anything to preserve the non-smoking status of their local? These two positions are mutually exclusive'.

    No! My whole point is that these positions are not mutually exclusive.

    As we could see with exclusive restaurants - very quickly all of them became non-smoking. Do you see the problem? - the market does not provide the choice because any marginal financial advantage is followed by ALL. In restaurants, the market moved in favour of the non-smoker so all exclusive restaurants became smoke free.

    The market for pubs is still in favour of the smoker so ALL pubs will follow that to maximise takings, whatever ingenious scheme you propose. And even if you could design a scheme where a small minority of pubs were smoking (and I don't think your scheme will work) there is no guarantee that non-smokers will have to tolerate smoke just to get their favourite entertainment/beer/food etc.

    For non-smokers to have a choice there needs to be pubs NEARBY that provide the whole range of music/beer/food etc. smoke free AND they need to persuade their smoking friends to forego smoking indoors and not feel they are being impolite in even asking. It is this last point that is the most difficult to change because it is cultural change that is needed. Special circumstances have allowed it to happen slightly quicker with cafes and restaurants where the groups who attend are smaller and contain more exclusive non-smoking groups, but without a smoking ban people were not going to get that choice in pubs.

    Nobody was saying smokers were horrible people, just that they are only human and will choose what is most important and convenient to them. And to them smoking is VERY important. Their desire to smoke is more than the desire of people to forego going out because the pubs are smoky or to upset their smoker friends by demanding smoke free. This does not mean that the demand for smoke free is not there or that it is not significant!

    It just means that there is a marginal loss to pubs of going smoke free and of course pubs have to maximise revenue to stay in business, so they ALL allowed smoking - hence no choice. Surely you understand this simple point?

    Another point is that takings in pubs will be fairly static because this smoking ban is across the board. Any pubs that tries to go smoke free when smokers have a choice will see a significant drop in takings and make it more likely more pubs will suffer financially.

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  73. Neil,

    Are you telling me that you see no problem with these two statements (that you made in the same comment)...

    "Mark, even a majority of smokers think the ban is fair."
    ...

    Those pubs that allow smoking would be packed to the rafters and those smoke free would be empty this would mean problems financing these smoke free pubs."


    Christ on a crutch, Neil, you've told us that the majority of smokers (and non-smokers) support the ban and then, barely one breath later, that smoking pubs would be packed.

    If a majority of smokers and non-smokers support the ban, then the smoking pub should surely be empty? You are as consistent in your arguments as Polly Toynbee.

    Whilst we are about it, going outside for a cigarette is not a minor inconvenience in a great many cases.

    If there are just two of you, for instance, it means that you have to leave someone on their own; this means that you smoke the cigarette faster and are not able to enjoy it. So, it puts you on edge and, of course, every smoker knows what calms them, right? Yup, another cigarette.

    Or, if you both want a cigarette, you have to take all of your stuff with you, or it might get nicked. Then you lose your seat.

    I have, believe it or not, been in a group in which 14 out of 15 people smoked and they all went outside at the same time -- leaving the one non-smoker looking like the world's most unpopular person.

    DK

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  74. "As we could see with exclusive restaurants - very quickly all of them became non-smoking. Do you see the problem? - the market does not provide the choice because any marginal financial advantage is followed by ALL. In restaurants, the market moved in favour of the non-smoker so all exclusive restaurants became smoke free."

    And this is simply an outright lie. My favourite Edinburgh restaurants -- and, believe me, most of them were almost certainly more exclusive than anywhere you've ever been -- allowed smoking right up until the day of the ban. Indeed, most of them sold cigars...

    What did happen in restaurants is that smokers tended to curb the amount that they smoked so as not to inconvenience other people too much. This was done out of pure politeness.

    DK

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  75. DK, People can support something but act differently. Most smokers want to give up, most fat people want to be thin, most car drivers want to save the environment. This doesn't mean when they smoke, overeat or constantly drive, that they don't still think that way. There is no contradiction. People sometimes need government to open up choices they wouldn't otherwise of had. The smoking ban has done that, banning junk food adverts or increasing funding for public transport would also do that.

    As for losing seats etc. that is crap - there is a constant turnover of seats and pubs have more seating now, because they have so much seating outside that is being used - refurbished terraces etc. In fact I would say the smoking ban has improved a lot of pubs and both smokers and non-smokers are enjoying themselves more.

    People are smoking less cigarettes, is that a bad thing? Also beer sales have been relatively static - so there is little evidence it has damaged the pub trade significantly.

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  76. DK, I am sure there were a very few exceptions, but all the restaurants I knew in Brighton, London, the Mids and North West were smoke free long before the ban.

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  77. "People can support something but act differently"

    In which case, they don't really support it - that's the whole point. it's called a demand revealing referendum. It's not until you ask people to put some commitment behind a statement that you REALLY find out what people think.

    That's why your earlier sh*te about ID cards was shot to bits: the polls superficially (and with horrifically set up questions) that some people supported them, yet the support fell off a cliff when presented with the likely cost.


    "In restaurants, the market moved in favour of the non-smoker so all exclusive restaurants became smoke free. "

    Bollocks. Total Bollocks. The exclusive restaurants were the ones that retained the sale of cigars.

    Whatever the case may be, I'm not even going to dream of allowing you this get-out Neil:

    "the market does not provide the choice because any marginal financial advantage is followed by ALL."

    Have you ever even *looked* out of your window? Do you have a secret tunnel that leads straight from your bedroom to the HQ of the Brighton council for the proletariat revolution? So that you have to meet or interact with anyone except those who share your entirely blinkered world view?

    Markets don't provide choice? Do you actually believe any of the stuff you write?

    You keep telling us that non-smokers hate smokey pubs. They have had a taste of them now. Are you seriously telling me that when ALL pubs have reverted to smoking, that NONE of them, NOT ONE, will think, "Hang on - there used to be lots of people who said they loved the smoke free pub: If I go back to smoke free, I'll be the only one in the town and the punters will come flocking".

    Why will that NEVER [your emphasis] happen? Fuck it, Neil: if every single pub in a town did revert to smoking, I would - like actually would - go and buy a pub to make it non-smoking again. There would be a ton of money to be made. That's what real business people do: spot and exploit unserved market need.

    The ban has revealed the need. Now it can be relaxed or, better, removed entirely.

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  78. And what about Private Members' Clubs?

    A club, of which I am a member, had a smoking room, and yet is included in your ban. Whilst I don't really smoke, the three or four times a year where I smoke a cigar, I now have no option but to go outside in the cold - and not have my drink with me!

    It's the members' club, and as such we decided pre ban who could smoke where. Yet we're now forced by this bansturbating to have our freedoms curtailed.

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  79. "DK, I am sure there were a very few exceptions, but all the restaurants I knew in Brighton, London, the Mids and North West were smoke free long before the ban."

    In that case, might I suggest that you get out more? Here's some restaurants in Edinburgh that were smoking right up until the ban: Jacques Bistro, Off The Wall, Maison Bleu.

    Here are some restaurants in London that were smoking right up until the ban: Rules, Archipelago, the Savoy.

    I went to all of these personally. Now, I'll admit that they are a little exclusive and the poor workers may not have been able to afford them but that's what made them exclusive, you see. The hoi poloi don't go there.

    DK

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  80. Cleanthes: I suppose I didn't really want a smoke free environment when I worked in a smoky office for 6 years? I suppose I didn't want a smoke free environment every time I went to the pub? I suppose I should have quit my job and never gone to the pub otherwise I obviously WANTED it to be smoky. What utter bullshit!

    Everything I say is proved by the fact that before the ban there was no non-smoking pubs to be found. There was no choice and you know it. The ban may have changed some attitudes but I can bet I would still have to tolerate stinking of smoke to see my favourite band or go to my local for a decent beer and that is just not right no matter how much you try and dress it up.

    When you go out there is a small risk you might encounter violence. But just because you DO go out doesn't mean you accept the violence and it is justified. Same goes for smoking. Smoking is unpleasant for a lot of people and damages their health without their explicit permission. It is anti-social. If smokers want to damage their own health, fine, but it is not right to harm someone else for your own pleasure.

    As for restaurants - nearly all were non-smoking and smokers were reluctant to smoke in those that did turn a blind eye because they knew it was wrong. This is why they have accepted the pub ban so easily because deep down they know it is wrong to inflict smoke on others.

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  81. "Cleanthes: I suppose I didn't really want a smoke free environment when I worked in a smoky office for 6 years? I suppose I didn't want a smoke free environment every time I went to the pub? I suppose I should have quit my job and never gone to the pub otherwise I obviously WANTED it to be smoky. What utter bullshit!"

    Ummm? What?

    What on earth are you talking about? Where on earth did I ever say anything else?

    If that is how you feel, then I'm fairly sure you would campaign vociferously in favour of a pub remaining smoke free. So looks like my pub plebiscites will work then. Perhaps you would like to withdraw your objection to them.

    And you can cut the crap about ALL pubs reverting to allowing smoking.

    "When you go out there is a small risk you might encounter violence. But just because you DO go out doesn't mean you accept the violence and it is justified. Same goes for smoking."

    Smoking = violence. Let's run with that. When you go out with your friends, they want to take you to a place where you know that they will beat you up. In the past, most people generally accepted getting beaten up.

    Whoops! the analogy seems to be broken.


    "This is why they have accepted the pub ban so easily because deep down they know it is wrong to inflict smoke on others. "

    Correct. And now that they know that, and that everyone knows that they know that, the ban has served its purpose and is now illiberal. Now that the ban has given non-smokers a chance to see what life can be like, the market can take over and the ban can be lifted.

    You can't have both.

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  82. Cleanthes: What I am on about is market dysfunction. There clearly is a large number of people who want smoke-free nights out who are not catered for by the market. The suggestion from you seemed to be that, because pubs were smoky there was no demand for smoke free. You now seem to not be saying this.

    Smoking is a violent act - it causes harm to people who do not desire that harm. It was socially accepted in the past whereas violence in general (bare knuckle boxing?) is not. That was the main difference. The ban will never be lifted so this thread is thankfully all academic anyway. For once I am defending a good law that has happened rather than waiting for one that never comes.

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  83. This does not mean there is not a lot of demand for smoke-free pubs (as the popularity of the ban demonstrates), just that non-smokers will choose their smoker friends, favourite beer, bands, djs etc and tolerate the smoke even though they do not like smelling like an ashtray. The only way to give non-smokers a choice is to have ALL pubs smoke free.


    Oh dear, Neil. You're contradicting yourself again. First you tell us that the majority of smokers support the smoking ban - in other words, they think it's a good thing that pubs are forced to make them go outside if they want a smoke.

    Then you tell us that these same altrusitic smokers who are happy to support legislation to prevent them from smoking in pubs aren't willing to voluntarily go to a non-smoking pub and go outside to smoke when in the company of their non-smoking friends who don't want their clothes and hair to smell of smoke and don't want the extra risk of lung cancer.

    Your smokers appear to be unwilling to act voluntarily to safeguard the health and comfort of the people that they claim are their friends, but more than willing to support legislation that compels them to act in this manner.

    They sound like very confused people...

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  84. Sam: I really don't see any contradiction. Like I have already said. Fat people want to be thin but still overeat , smokers want to give up but carry on, people want smoke free pubs but don't want to offend or miss entertainmentat etc. Sometimes they need help. There is nothing wrong in the government providing that in the form of a smoking ban. It is popular and accepted and in a few years time, people will not understand how it was ever accepted to smoke indoors infront of others. Very few people would now propose that cinemas or public transport should go back to allowing smoking.

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  85. Sam: I really don't see any contradiction. Like I have already said. Fat people want to be thin but still overeat , smokers want to give up but carry on,

    What you are describing is either a person who has an addiction, or a person who is lying to himself. If a fat person goes to his doctor and asks for help with his eating problem, one of the first things that the doctor will tell him to do is to stop frequenting McDonalds. If he feels compelled to wolf down a Big Mac every time he smells the McDonalds smell, and he wants to eat less, he needs to not go to McDonalds. This might mean that his kids don't get to play in the McDonalds play area with Ronald the clown.

    He can make that choice - that is liberty. You want to force McDonalds to stop frying chips and start selling tofu salads. That's not liberty.

    It is popular and accepted

    People like the results. I don't think most people have really thought about the difference between "I would like pubs not to be smoky" and "I want to ban smoking in pubs". Nevertheless, the fact that something is popular doesn't say anything about whether it enhances or suppresses liberty.

    Here's an example for you. In Malaysia, there is a woman named Lina Joy. She was raised as a Muslim, and converted to Christianity. She has recently been refused permission to change her "official religion" from Islam to Christainity, on the grounds that apostacy is not permitted under Islamic law. (Malaysian law treats Muslims and non-Muslims slightly differently). This is a popular decision in Malaysia. It should be obvious even to you that it is not one that increases liberty.

    and in a few years time, people will not understand how it was ever accepted to smoke indoors infront of others.

    You seem to be conflating what should be legal, what should be polite and what should be moral in to one big list of "things Neil likes". It is not accepted - at least in moderately polite society - to reach into your trousers and scratch your balls in public. It's rude, but it's not (and shouldn't be) illegal.

    Very few people would now propose that cinemas or public transport should go back to allowing smoking.

    Nobody disputes that, but that's hardly the point (and no libertarian would propose that cinemas "should go back to allowing smoking". They may well, however, propose that cinemas should be free to set their own smoking policy.)

    I far prefer not to sit in smoky pubs. I used to sit outside in the middle of winter rather than sitting inside in the smoke. My parents' local had one bar that allowed smoking and one that didn't - guess where I went?

    There is no question that my personal day-to-day life is better with pubs that don't permit smoking.

    Nevertheless, I vehemently oppose the smoking ban - because it is wrong to make authoritarian diktats to constrain people's choices for my convenience. It is wrong even if people like me are in the significant majority.

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  86. Sam, the point about liberty is that before the smoking ban, those that wanted to go out to enjoy a beer or music in a pub that was smoke-free, well, realistically they had now choice. Now they have that choice. Their liberty has been greatly enhanced. The cost of this is a small loss of liberty to some smokers - but to briefly step outside to have a cigarette is clearly a lot less inconvenient than being denied the choice at all of going to a pub that is smoke free. There was also a lot more people that wanted the ban than opposed it. Of course being popular is not in itself a justification but in terms of liberty surely it matters if the majority's liberty is enhanced at the expense of a minor inconvenience to a minority. Overall liberty has increased.

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  87. Of course being popular is not in itself a justification but in terms of liberty surely it matters if the majority's liberty is enhanced at the expense of a minor inconvenience to a minority. Overall liberty has increased.

    I own a house with a garden. I have a back gate that leads out on to road A, and the drive at the front of my house leads to road B. As it happens, my garden would make a convenient shortcut for people that live on road A to walk in to town. The houses on road A are of modern construction, and there is no right of way through my garden.

    Following your argument, it is clear that the convenience of the large number of people living behind my house outweighs the trifling inconvenience of my not being able to use a part of my garden as I see fit, so I should be compelled to allow the public to walk through my garden on the way to town.

    Should the convenience of the many ride roughshod over my rights over my garden? After all, it would clearly, in your terms, increase overall liberty.

    Yes or no?

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