Peter Koo Must Hang

I can’t stop thinking about NYC councillor Peter Koo’s bill to ban smoking while walking on city streets.

To me it looks like a perfect example of a bad law.

But what do I mean by a bad law? If there can be bad laws, then there must be good laws as well. What’s a good law?

It reminded me that I was thinking about exactly these sorts of questions when I was piecing together the ethics of Idle Theory, and began to think about law. And I never really managed to figure out law. It’s one of the unsolved problems of Idle Theory. There are lots of unsolved problems in Idle Theory.

The ethics of Idle Theory was quite simple. Good acts were acts that increased people’s idleness, and bad acts were ones that decreased people’s idleness. And idleness was a measurable physical quantity: you could measure it with clocks. And all living things find themselves somewhere on a scale between 0% and 100% idle.

The economics of Idle Theory meshes in with this. Economic growth is growth in idleness: people don’t have to work so hard. Economic decline brings a fall in idleness: people have to work harder.

So where did law fit into this? My approach to it was that sometimes people did things that made other people work harder, and the law was the means through which they could seek redress. So, for example, if you had a piano you were trying to dispose of, and you left it on the street outside for someone to come and collect in a few days time, then for the time it was sitting out on the street, people would have to walk around it. Let’s say it took them 5 seconds to walk round it. Well, that’s 5 seconds of extra work that they’d have to do. And let’s suppose that 500 people walked down that street every day, then your piano would cost them a total of 500 x 5 seconds. And if the piano was out on the street for 5 days before it finally got collected, that’s a 5 x 500 x 5 seconds. And that’s nearly 3½ hours.

Now if those 500 people wanted redress, they could take you to court, and ask to be compensated for the 3½ hours they’d lost. And the magistrate or justice would weigh up the facts of the matter, and come to a judgment about it. And in your defence you might plead that you didn’t put your piano in the street, or the guy who was supposed to collect it that day didn’t show up until 5 days later, or that it wasn’t your piano, or whatever. Let’s say that the court finds against you. And requires that you compensate the 500 plaintiffs each with 25 seconds of work, which you could pay in money (which is a measure of time also) or work in lieu.

But if there’s a magistrate that has to hear the case, and there’s a clerk of the court, and various other people who need to be present, including the plaintiffs (all 500 of them) and the defendant (you), and 12 people in a jury – a total of around 550 people -, then if it takes 1 hour to have the case heard, then that’s another 550 hours of work that has to be done to render judgment on matter of a mere 3½ hours.

Clearly it’s a waste of everybody’s time to hear cases like this, and most likely a magistrate would throw the case out on those grounds alone: Waste Of Time. But the important thing here is the administration of justice is itself time-consuming. And so justice really ought to be speeded up. Do people really need to go to a court house to have their cases heard? Does there really need to be a clerk and a stenographer and a policeman on the door? Couldn’t the whole thing be done using something like the Smoky Drinky Bar, so that everyone, including the judge and jury, could stay at home?

It’s one reason why justice is so expensive: it’s all so antiquated. We’ve got 17th century courts in operation during the 21st century. The judges might as well arrive in horsedrawn carriages, and the jurors on ponies. And write with quill pens on parchment.

And Peter Koo’s No Smoking While Walking ban is an attempt to prevent a misdemeanour even more trivial than the one I’ve just been citing. For the distracting effect of cigarette smoke on anyone seldom lasts more than a second. It’s the same as the distracting effect of the odour of perfume or aftershave or garlic or fried onions, or the sound of passing cars or trucks or trains. And most of these minor distractions are ignored by most people: they’re just accepted as being part of the to and fro of everyday life. They don’t pay any attention to it.

So Peter Koo’s No Smoking While Walking bill is creating an offence out of next to nothing. Or if it can made into an offence, then there’s nothing to stop equally trivial interruptions being banned. Like unwrapping sweets in a cinema. Or coughing in church. Any magistrate worth his salt would kick the case out of court for being a Waste Of Time. Such matters are – or should be – beneath the law. The law should be reserved for matters of considerable gravity in which it is important that justice be rendered.

But there’s another thing that Peter Koo’s proposed law does: it’s forcing smokers to stand still. It would impose that cost on them. And that cost would be the time it took for them to smoke the cigarette. Just yesterday, reviewing my IQOS, I was wondering whether 6 minutes was about how long it took most people to do. So if you’re a smoker in NYC, and you spend most of your time on its streets, and you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, then Peter Koo’s ban will cost you 20 x 6 minutes, or 2 hours, a day. The population of New York City is 8.6 million, and assuming 20% of them are smokers, and they all smoke 20 cigarettes per day, and spend half their lives on the city streets, then the total daily cost to them will be 20% of 8.6 million times 20 cigarettes times 6 minutes times half a day, which I make to be nearly 1200 days/day or 3¼ years/day.

That’s roughly the cost that will be paid every day by the city’s smokers. And in one year they’ll have paid 1200 years, and in 10 years they’ll have collectively paid 12,000 years.

So this is a law which, if enacted, will save sensitive non-smokers next to no time at all from the petty distraction of a few whiffs of tobacco, but will impose a huge collective cost on New York’s smokers. So it will impose a huge collective annual cost on New York. It will make life in New York harder.

And that’s why it’s such a bad law. It benefits next to nobody, and it imposes a huge cost on millions of New Yorkers, who really deserve to be treated as equitably as anyone else.

But we might go further and ask: shouldn’t it be a crime to enact bad laws which impose costs on people and make their lives harder? And isn’t it a very great crime if such laws end up costing people not just 3½ hours, but 12,000 years?

And when people commit crimes of such magnitude – which amount to serial homicide because they cost much more than the 70 years of a lifetime -, can there be any possible redress made? No, there can’t.

Isn’t this a case where it were better that the legislators who propose such bad laws be executed before they can enact them? If Peter Koo is going to propose such bad laws today, how many more will he dream up tomorrow? He must be stopped immediately.

I can see no way round the conclusion: Peter Koo must hang.

And so must the other sponsors of his bill.

Their lives would be a small price to pay to save New York City from the catastrophic piece of legislation they are proposing. Paying with their lives would also prevent them from ever doing anything like it again.

The only thing I’m not sure about is whether NYC ever hangs anybody these days.

About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to Peter Koo Must Hang

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    My Gawith Hoggarth Turkish Golds which i tube myself using a Powermatic 2 take 10 mins to smoke so i wouldn’t get anything done in New York !

  2. Rose says:

    I you pass a law to force one section of the community to stand still under certain circumstances, the rest of the community is put in peril of a future law dictating where they too must stand.
    The law forcing me to wear a crash helmet on penalty of fines led to you being forced to wear a seatbelt on penalty of fines.
    Such laws set a precedent and eventually make us all less free.

    Precedent
    “In legal systems based on common law, a precedent, or authority, is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Common law legal systems place great value on deciding cases according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar and predictable outcomes, and observance of precedent is the mechanism by which that goal is attained.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precedent

    So if Peter Koo gets his law past, who’s next?

    Apart from which it’s a very old fashioned idea and I thought that we were all past that kind of thing.

    pillory
    “a wooden framework with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly imprisoned and exposed to public abuse”

  3. RdM says:

    So if Peter Koo gets his law past, who’s next?,
    Passed…
    If he were to get his proposed bylaw passed…
    What would be the implications?

    Standing still, walking backwards, wind in front, wind in back, sideways, its clearly a nonsense!

  4. I may be wrong, but wasn’t there a law around back a few years ago that smokers HAD. TO WALK while smoking?

    _MJM

  5. Rose says:

    Well, I didn’t know that.

    The Hidden Healing Power of Sugar
    30 March 2018

    “As a child growing up in poverty in the rural Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, Moses Murandu was used to having salt literally rubbed in his wounds when he fell and cut himself. On lucky days, though, his father had enough money to buy something which stung the boy much less than salt: sugar.

    Murandu always noticed that sugar seemed to help heal wounds more quickly than no treatment at all. So he was surprised when, having been recruited to come to work as a nurse for the UK’s National Health System (NHS) in 1997, he found that sugar wasn’t being used in any official capacity. He decided to try to change that.

    Now, Murandu’s idea finally is being taken seriously. A senior lecturer in adult nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, Murandu completed an initial pilot study focussed on sugar’s applications in wound healing and won an award from the Journal of Wound Care in March 2018 for his work.”

    “In some parts of the world, this procedure could be key because people cannot afford antibiotics. But there is interest in the UK, too, since once a wound is infected, it sometimes won’t respond to antibiotics.

    To treat a wound with sugar, all you do, Murandu says, is pour the sugar on the wound and apply a bandage on top. The granules soak up any moisture that allows bacteria to thrive. Without the bacteria, the wound heals more quickly.”

    “Evidence for all of this was found in Murandu’s trials in the lab. And a growing collection of case studies from around the world has supported Murandu’s findings, including examples of successful sugar treatments on wounds resistant to antibiotics. Even so, Murandu faces an uphill battle. Funding for further research would help him reach his ultimate goal – to convince the NHS to use sugar as an alternative to antibiotics. But a great deal of medical research is funded by pharmaceutical companies. And these companies, he points out, have little to gain from paying for research into something they can’t patent.”

    “The sugar Murandu uses is the plain, granulated type you might use to sweeten your tea.”
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180328-how-sugar-could-help-heal-wounds

    Noted.

  6. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    Most impressive quantitative analysis Frank, although I admit in common with the majority of the population I’m in no position to contradict the calculations (one reason why anti smoking bullies hoodwink and fleece legislators with bogus fraudulent ‘proven’ claims which fail to withstand objective scrutiny). The legal system comment is accurate. The judiciary and legal profession appear to actively resist modernization including efficiency from using ICT systems. That continuing costly antiquated approach contributes to a gold plated Rolls-Royce system where only the wealthy can seek redress. Legal rights available only to the wealthy are no rights at all for most people. There should be an option for minor matters to be dealt with under summary jurisdiction based on electronically lodged documents. In person hearings with the related lawyer costs and wasted time should only be necessary when significant material issues need assessment. No other profession has resisted modernization so stridently. Red tape and hyper regulation by nanny states cost society dearly, a deadweight loss with no offsetting benefits.😩

    • anti smoking bullies hoodwink and fleece legislators

      On a financial level, legislators are OK, sheepish smokers are the ones that have been financially fleeced because they’ve been uttering nary a word against the innumerable outrageous claims directed at them by Tobacco Control for the past 6-7 decades. But that’s not the end of the story, by a long way: when not just judges (as in sentences based on false testimony) but legislators (FFS!) allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the false testimony of corrupt (or plain stupid) statisticians, you have to admit that things have gotten really ugly. And they indeed have.

      • Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

        Yes totally accurate, merci! Hyper regulation is claimed to be against Big Tobacco, but all sin taxes are passed on to smokers. Governments are the addicts – addicted to tobacco sin tax revenue, satisfying anti smoking zealots and black marketeers, while wayward smokers pay for all of these unproductive parasites.😟

  7. Tony says:

    This could get interesting.
    Minnesota Files Lawsuit to Get Tobacco Company to Pay Up | KSTP.com
    http://kstp.com/news/minnesota-lawsuit-tobacco-company-payments/4844570/
    It seems this tobacco company has already won in Florida. I’m pretty certain that Florida was not a part of the MSA but I’m not sure about Minnesota. Either way, this has to be worth watching.

  8. Joe L. says:

    In other news about ridiculous laws, the state of California is now legally requiring coffee to be sold with a warning label stating it contains carcinogens.

    Coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning, judge rules

    The judge in Los Angeles said Starbucks and about 90 other coffee sellers had failed to warn customers about a potentially toxic compound that is produced during the roasting process.

    The firms were sued by a California-based non profit-group over the chemical acrylamide.

    The group argued that as acrylamide is regarded as carcinogenic under state law, it should be sold with a warning.

    Ruling in favour of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said the companies should not be exempt from the law, as they had failed to prove that the “consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health”.

    Sound familiar? I think this will cause some non-smoking coffee drinkers to begin second-guessing all of the anti-smoking propaganda they’ve been force-fed over the years. Healthists are their own worst enemy.

  9. Lepercolonist says:

    Peter Koo must hang on the sidewalk.

    • Rose says:

      Certainly not, because then he’d be obstructing the pavement and causing a nuisance to pedestrians, it’s already bad enough that he is encouraging loitering and a run in with the New York Police.

      Long Fight Ends Over Arrests for Loitering
      FEB. 7, 2012

      “Katie Rosenfeld, one of the lawyers who filed the suit, said it had brought accountability. “All of the people who got charged under these statutes had not very much power: homeless people, gay people, marginalized people, vulnerable people,” she said.”

      You have to watch these people.

  10. beobrigitte says:

    So this is a law which, if enacted, will save sensitive non-smokers next to no time at all from the petty distraction of a few whiffs of tobacco, but will impose a huge collective cost on New York’s smokers.
    I get the impression the anti-smokers are hiding behind the non-smokers and understand that the latter are becoming more and more sympathetic towards the smokers. This sad existence of Peter Koo is showing these sympathetic non-smokers who is in charge so they’ll stop uttering: “it’s enough that smokers have been exiled to the outdoors”.

    I can see no way round the conclusion: Peter Koo must hang.
    I cannot argue with your reasoning, Frank. Rightly or wrongly I have this particularly nasty little man down as a power-hungry nobody who gets the anti-smoker support to worm his way into American politics. However, hanging him is not the way to go. It is wrong to punish people for being ?self-loathing, ?suffering from minority complex etc. etc. etc.

    The Bavarian version of Peter Koo, Sebastian Frankenstei…. erm … Frankenberger, is worming his way now into Austrian Politics. Back in 2010 he was the mouth piece for the smoking ban in Bavaria. Once the anti-smokers got what they wanted, they dropped him like a hot brick.
    Austrians, brace yourselves!
    http://sebastian-frankenberger.de/

    Google translate:
    Good day,
    I am glad that you want to know more about my person.

    Let yourself be surprised by my various interests and commitments. Anyone who wants to know more can choose me in my book People! – get to know the visions of a Christian political rebel even more closely.

    In the spring of 2015, I dropped out of German politics, as I am very disappointed with the tone within political parties.

    However, I do not last long without politics and since 2015 I am the Upper Austrian spokesman of the austriaguides and elected member of the WKO.

    Since autumn 2015 I am also allowed to lead the Upper Austrian Tour Guide Course at the WIFI Linz.

    Professionally, I am very involved with my company http://www.donau-guides.eu and as lecturer and workshop leader.

    Sincerely,
    tl_files / img / unterschrift.jpg
    Sebastian Frankenberger

    Like 20 Rothmans said before:
    I wish Peter Koo and this “verkrachte Existenz” of Sebastian Frankenberger a looooooong life –
    soiled nappies, nurses with the name “Dragonia” and all.

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