Your Country Needs You Smokers


On Saturday Ben Bradshaw, Labour’s Blairite former culture secretary, pleaded with his party not to lurch even further to the Left when choosing a new leader and a fresh strategy.

“Please, colleagues in the Labour movement and outside commentators, don’t try to claim we lost because Labour wasn’t radical, Left-wing or distinctive enough,” he said after retaining his seat in Exeter.

“Ed and his team bet on the British people moving to the Left in response to the global financial crisis. The whole of our strategy was based on this. But it was not true.”

I find it rather mind-bending that the Labour strategy could have been so simplistic. Are these people really such simpletons? Perhaps they are?

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them see the world through the prism of some sort of Marxist idea of “overthrowing capitalism” in some sort of glorious revolution. So when the economy moves into recession/depression, they expect left-wing revolutionaries to start manning the barricades and hurling Molotov cocktails and calling each other “comrade”. There seem to be an awful lot of people who think this way.

I think it’s a substitute for thought. The economy and money and profit and banking is far too complex for them to understand, so they instead propose to just abolish the whole thing and replace it with something they imagine to be simpler and fairer. And these days also something that must be “green” and “sustainable”, obviously.

My own view is that an economy is a more or less natural process that has its own inner logic that needs to be understood before it can be adjusted or improved – a bit like a plane or a  spaceship. If you understand how it works, you can design a better one. If you don’t understand anything about it, your revolutionary new design is almost certainly not going to fly. Unfortunately none of us seems to really know how economies work – which is one reason why we have so many rival economic schools of thought.

Anyway, in a country like Britain, with a great many people living on state benefits, it’s not as if these benefits have been removed. As far as I can see, state benefits have hardly been reduced at all, despite all the talk of “cuts”. And thousands of immigrants arrive every day in Britain to claim more of these benefits, and the government doesn’t seem much bothered about it. Nor have outfits like ASH, which live off state benefits, yet seen their funding slashed (as I was complaining yesterday).

Furthermore, my own experience over these last few years hasn’t been one of moving to the Left, but of moving to the Right. And it had nothing to do with the global financial crisis, and everything to do with the smoking ban that evicted me from my pub, and made me a social pariah, and triggered an economic slowdown as smokers stayed home and stopped spending.

Which reminds me of something Rose found today:

Chinese ordered to smoke more to boost economy

Local government officials in China have been ordered to smoke nearly a quarter of a million packs of cigarettes in a move to boost the local economy during the global financial crisis.

The edict, issued by officials in Hubei province in central China, threatens to fine officials who “fail to meet their targets” or are caught smoking rival brands manufactured in neighbouring provinces.

Even local schools have been issued with a smoking quota for teachers, while one village was ordered to purchase 400 cartons of cigarettes a year for its officials, according to the local government’s website.

The move, which flies in the face of national anti-smoking policies set in Beijing, is aimed at boosting tax revenues and protecting local manufacturers from outside competition from China’s 100 cigarette makers.

In total, officials have been ordered to puff their way through 230,000 packs of Hubei-branded cigarettes worth £400,000.

kitchenerI hope the Cameron government introduces this Chinese innovation soon. I think it would be a very good idea to make smoking compulsory in government departments, with finger-pointing General Kitchener-style “Your Country Needs You” posters plastered all over their walls. And I for one would be more than ready to “join up” with a newly-formed regiment of Herefordshire Smoker Pals.  I’m sure I could smoke much more than I already do, particularly if there was somewhere congenial where I could Do My Duty, with a well-stocked bar and some chairs and tables, and maybe a few newspapers and pool tables and pinball machines and juke boxes. And a roof and walls. We used to have places like this once, before the global financial crisis. I could sit in one of those places all day with a platoon of Fellow Volunteers, if it was really necessary, enjoying enduring the camaraderie.


About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to Your Country Needs You Smokers

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    The barrage of antismoking propaganda and actions continues unabated. In Australia, they are in the process of banning smoking in the CBD. In Montreal they are moving toward a patio ban. On the vaping front outrageous claims that vaping causes pneumonia. For traditional smoking we are told that smoking causes MRSA infections. False flag commenters (astroturfers) write in letters to the editor and comments sections that smoking is the evil of all evils and suggest all want to ban smoking. Meanwhile in New Orleans the casino is facing 20% losses in business after the antismokers claimed there would be no losses (despite documented losses from the prior restaurant ban). It is time to stand up against this tyranny!

    • waltc says:

      20% casino losses? Good! Let’s hope those losses are not only immediate but sustained.And that bars have the same. Sorry that owners and staff have to be the other sacrificial lambs but the city (and others who want to hop on the ban wagon) need to have their noses rubbed in the hell of their “good intentions.” At this point, economic disaster is the only way out

  2. smokervoter says:

    My good man Nisakiman, Not sure if you’re in the habit of backtracking to old replies/posts/comments here but…

    I can’t think of any place is dislike more than Frisco. Link and typo fix with one stone

    • smokervoter says:

      Did it again, freakin’ cut-and-paste – “I dislike more than Frisco”

    • nisakiman says:

      Yes, I generally check comments from the previous day’s post, SV. I’m two hours ahead of UK, so often miss the final comments.

      I knew LA wasn’t quite in the same league as SF when it came to anti-smoking hysteria, but I thought it came close, which is why I was so surprised to come across that article. And in a major newspaper, too!

  3. waltc says:

    I note the China article is dated 2009. China’s still got some economic problems so what could have changed its communal mind? Ah yes. Bloomberg and Gates have been over there evangelizing and who knows what el$e.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I didn’t notice the date. I read it at about the same time as I read another rather more current article:

      China Declares War On Islam: Prayer In Mosques Is Outlawed And All Muslim Shopkeepers Must Sell Alcohol Or Face Prosecution

      …The Chinese authorities launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to weaken the hold of the drug of Islam in China’s western region. So they have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and even promote them in “eye-catching displays,” as Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Alcohol and tobacco, while it is a problem, to the Chinese is the lesser of the two evils. So now establishments that failed to comply were swiftly dealt with and were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.

      Government employees and children are also barred from attending mosques, lest they consume the drug and are even prohibited from observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. And in many places, women have been barred from wearing Hijabs and the men are discouraged from growing long beards.

      China understands that spreading Islam starts by peer pressure and public scorn towards anyone who smokes or drinks alcohol. For example, in the village of Aktash in southern Xinjiang, Communist Party official Adil Sulayman, said that many local shopkeepers had stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes from 2012 “because they fear public scorn,” while many locals had decided to abstain from drinking and smoking…

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Walt Russia and China have created their own central Bank and exchange center for asia and last I remember Australia joined them.

  4. waltc says:

    A friend called my attention to this essay, “The Power of the Powerless” by Vaclav Havel (whom I’ve always admired). I’ve just now read the first 6 of its 20 parts and am forced to call it a night, but I was moved to come over here and post the link because his thoughts seem startlingly apt and illuminating, offering a glimpse into the acceptance of anti-smokerism by the “general public” as well as by so many smokers themselves, though that’s clearly not his subject. But imagine, as I did, that the sign he postulates in the grocer’s window reads “No Smoking” and take it from there. (My apologies if everyone but me has read this essay before.) Here’s the link

    • nisakiman says:

      Thanks for that link, Walt. No, I haven’t read it, but it’s now bookmarked for future perusal. I’ve always thought that Vaclav Havel was a singularly intelligent and prescient politician, one of the very few who could see beyond the soundbites and populist cant.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Very interesting. And very relevant.

      “And do we not in fact stand (although in the external measures of civilization, we are far behind) as a kind of warning to the West, revealing to its own latent tendencies?”

      That was written back in 1978, nearly 40 years ago.

      There were some things I didn’t understand. He doesn’t define exactly what he means by a “post-totalitarian society”, although this gradually emerges as a sort of soft totalitarianism in which everybody participates, like the grocer with the “Workers of the world unite” sign in his window.

      The slight difference with No Smoking signs might be that shops (in the UK at least) are required by law to display them. I didn’t get the impression that the grocer was required by law to display his slightly different sign.

      Apart from that, the whole process of living a lie about smoking (and all the rest – e.g. global warming) seemed all too relevant to our time.

      I also wondered about this passage:

      “What Sládeček, the author of the book Sixtyeight, in a brilliant analysis, calls the “principle of exclusion,” lies at the root of all our
      present-day moral and political misery.”

      What was the principle of exclusion? I’d guess that it’s what we see all the time, as people are ignored and excluded if they don’t toe the party line, parrot the “consensus”. But that’s just a guess.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Frank its simple divide and conquer tactics only on a civilian population led by propaganda since diapers and told what to think,not how to think.

      • waltc says:

        Good point that it’s not by law tho it might as well be in terms of its consequences and I think that’s part of his point. That in post-totalitarianism, you no longer even need laws to force conformity. So how about the sign, delivered to all businesses by the Health Dept, that reads “Secondhand Smoke Kills”? Posting it is nominally voluntary but think how fast the Health Dept could close your grocery by finding violations up the wazoo. And think how not posting it would lead to the accusation that you endorse the vile act of smoking or that you’re indirectly responsible for the deaths of countless children. I think of the classic Bloombergism when, in his second of three runs for mayor, he tarred a political opponent who’d talked about loosening the smoking ban as “the pro-cancer candidate.”

        • Frank Davis says:

          in post-totalitarianism, you no longer even need laws to force conformity.

          If that was happening, then pubs would have banned smoking outside as well as inside, to show how conformist they were. But in the UK at least, they mostly just stuck to the letter of the law, and allowed smoking outside, sometimes doing their level best to make it as comfortable as possible out there.

          Maybe Havel’s Czechoslovakia was a bit different from the West (although his warning to the West still applies)

    • Frank Davis says:

      I recommend people read The Power of the Powerless. Sample passage:

      A dictatorship has no
      reason to hide its foundations, nor to conceal the real workings of power, and therefore it need not encumber itself to any great extent with a legal code. The post-totalitarian system, on the other hand, is utterly obsessed with the need to bind everything in a single order: life in such a state is thoroughly permeated by a dense network of regulations,proclamations, directives, norms, orders, and rules. (It is not called a bureaucratic system without good reason.) A large proportion of those norms function as direct instruments of the complex manipulation of life that is intrinsic to the post-totalitarian system. Individuals are reduced to little more than tiny cogs in an enormous mechanism and their significance is limited to their function in this mechanism. Their job, housing accommodation, movements, social and cultural expressions, everything, in short, must be cosseted together as firmly as possible, predetermined, regulated, and controlled. Every aberration from the prescribed course of life is treated as error, license, and anarchy. From the cook in the restaurant who, without hard-to-get permission from the bureaucratic apparatus, cannot cook something special for his customers, to the singer who cannot perform his new song at a concert without bureaucratic approval, everyone, in all aspects of their life, is caught in this regulatory tangle of red tape, the inevitable product of the post-totalitarian system.

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Tobacco is as legal as coffee. Can you Imagine starbucks losing it over no coffee drinking signs and having to keep all their brands behind a curtain…………for fear some child might see it.

    • smokingscot says:

      @ Harley

      Thought you might be interested in this little snippet – issued today – of the IMF working with countries bordering on Greece to prepare for a probable default.

      Had no idea Yanis Varoufakis rode a motorcycle. Okay so it’s a Yamaha (XJ 1200 I believe), but still it seems so much more impressive than Cameron and Johnson (and others) who wobble around with their little bicycles when it suits.

      Compare and (hopefully) smile:

      Try as they might, bicycle helmets do look very prattish.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Well all of the companies are virtually all are pumping up prices in America across the board,theyve repacked into smaller quantities and raised the prices even pharma and the generics are doing it. A small regular bottle of VK Penicillin was 5 bucks a bottle 28 500mg now they are 19 bucks a bottle……….for generics.

        This plays right into the hand where nobody had been producing any marginal real profits in almost 10 years. Hook and crook didn’t work even Lowes dropped merchandise line ups for what appears to be higher value crap,when you trace the product history its the same old Chinese company making it the same stuff just the name has changed and the look,but the prices jumped nearly 300% on some items and even a small cordless was a 100 bucks with 2 batteries and quick charger,today 189.00.

        Its Obama at work tying to force stagflation into massive inflation to eat his 20T dollar debt down and he is raising taxes thru every regulatory agency he can that doesn’t require congressional approval……….

        Here we are 97 million working age americans unemployed!

        The whole basket of eggs is just about rotted out of the bottom.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Off to the dentist I got another one infected far back molar topside……Im sick of this crap

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Nice abcessed Molar got me a 1/2 x 3/4 hole in my gum line now…………..4 more to go and Im an official Hillbilly brushin my tooth!

      • beobrigitte says:

        Sympathies, Harley! I did spend my pre-smoking years in agony with tooth abscesses. I inherited my mother’s family (mostly non-smoker!) teeth….
        After I started smoking (at the age of 12) the number of these abscesses roughly halved.
        Currently all except one tooth have an abscess on the tip of the root but they are not giving me problems – and haven’t done for a while! Nevertheless, I am negotiating loosing the teeth and opting for implants. But since the NHS will not pay for smokers (!!!) it’ll be my polish family member’s dentist earning some money.

  7. jltrader says:

    “You ask me what we need to win this war. I answer, tobacco as much as bullets.” – Commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Gen. John Pershing, to the War Department in 1917.

  8. Rose says:

    H/T Dick Puddlecote

    The fury of the elites when the little people reject labour

    “The more parties of the left become dislocated from the people, the more they come to view those people with derision. And they end up asking, ‘Why won’t these stupid, ungrateful idiots vote for us when we only want to care for them?!’, in the process answering their own question.”

    Substitute Tobacco Control for the Left and Murdoch for Big Tobacco and you’ve got a fairly good match.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Great find, Rose!
      In the same angry breaths with which they denounce the Tories’ contempt for ‘ordinary people’, these dumbfounded supporters of Labour reveal their own far deeper disdain for ordinary people, for what one of them calls ‘gloop-brained voters’ who don’t know what is in their own best interests.

      And Labour wonders WHY people didn’t vote for them?? Perhaps Labour is just getting too carried away with themselves – people do know what is in their best interest: First of all, we voters are ADULTS who by now are sick tired of being nannied!!

      Not without gloating did I follow the BBC news today; Ed Miliband’s brother criticised the party and his brother for portraying the party as “backward”….
      I thought this was quite funny; surely the Milibands can’t be THAT stupid!!! A lot of smokers are becoming more and more disgruntled – and UKIP is the only party in which’s manifesto there was the amendment of the MUCH HATED SMOKING BAN.
      Put 1+1 together, Labour, and work out what people REALLY think!

      Talking about UKIP; the BBC also announced that UKIP’s chairman rejected Nigel Farages written resignation. Nigel Farage will continue to head UKIP.
      That does remind me; has Paddy Ashdown now eaten his hat as he said he would if the Liberals did badly in the election?

      Substitute Tobacco Control for the Left and Murdoch for Big Tobacco and you’ve got a fairly good match.
      Indeed! That does remind me of one point in Labours’ manifesto: squeeze money out of the tobacco companies (thus their customers). This must have gone down like a lead balloon with the average English workforce who has no friends/family in countries where you can get your tobacco cheaper than in England….

  9. Some French bloke says:

    The economy and money and profit and banking is far too complex for them to understand, so they instead propose to just abolish the whole thing

    According to a thinker like Jérôme Deshusses, much of this “complexity” is contrived and deliberately misleading, making a chaotic system look like an organic whole, while lulling the public and possibly the “researchers” themselves, into a false sense of scientificity. See this paragraph taken from “The Game of Grab”, a chapter in his 1978 essay “The Eighth Night of Creation (Life on the Edge of Human History)”:

    “Among the many myths that current economics endorses, though it has not created them, we find that of the complexity of the modern world. Technology is complex, but economics is merely complicated. This apparently captious distinction is really of prime importance. Complexity produces structure; complication merely produces disorder. A multicellular organism is more complex than a paramecium because it is more structured, but a thousand paramecia are no more complex than one; a beehive is more complex than a solitary bee, but a swarm of flies is no more complex than a single fly—it is only more complicated. Flies merely form an indifferent, apparent whole; a beehive forms a whole within itself. It is complex (or—which comes to the same thing—structured) because it is something other and more than the sum of its parts. The structure is possible only because it is the objective and the criterion of the information its parts exchange.”

    N.B. For clarity, I substituted the words “captious distinction” to the original expression, “Byzantine nuance” used by the translator (A.D. Martin Sperry).

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