Dick Puddlecote highlights the tortured logic of Tobacco Control/Public Health in the Lancet as it claims that its “sin taxes” are progressive rather than regressive:
There is no case whatsoever economically, or health-wise, for stating that sin taxes are progressive. So why are ‘public health’ campaigners making up daft fantasies over this – which no-one believes for a minute – when they have never felt the need before?
Well, perhaps they can sense that the public just doesn’t buy their shit anymore.
It is pretty well established in the minds of the public that the poor suffer from these taxes. In the past ‘public health’ got away with it because people would say “well poor people shouldn’t smoke/drink/eat fast food” etc if they are short on cash. But taxes are so incredibly high now – especially on tobacco – that the public are increasingly seeing them as an injustice. A form of bullying of those least able to afford a comfortable life.
Another form of bullying is highlighted in a long comment by Rose on prison smoking bans, which is well worth reading in its entirety. In the Isle of Man:
“Many prisoners appeared to be intensively and creatively engaged in circumventing the smoking ban.
“We saw this happening in full view of staff and were satisfied it was a wide spread and long standing occurrence.”
Prisoners were also found to be using lint from tumble dryers and pubic hair to make their homemade cigarettes.
“They boiled up nicotine patches, soaked fruit peel or other substances in it and then rolled cigarettes from the resulting ‘tobacco’ in pages from dictionaries and bibles held together with toothpaste. Lights were obtained from kettle elements and electrical wiring.”
The propensity of prisoners to manufacture their own cigarettes would seem to vindicate the late Lauren Colby, who wrote: “The active ingredient in smoke is… smoke.” After all, if nicotine is the ‘active ingredient’ of tobacco, shouldn’t nicotine patches be as effective as cigarettes? Clearly not, if prisoners will go to extraordinary lengths to manufacture something they can smoke.
Or perhaps it’s that nicotine is only one of several ‘active ingredients’, with nicotine as one active ingredient, and ‘smoke’ as another. In a time when all sorts of new ways of smoking are being invented, the requisite ‘active ingredients’ may eventually be accurately identified as the new technologies evolve and become more refined. Since the vapour in e-cigarettes doesn’t contain any ‘smoke’, but many people claim to prefer them over traditional tobacco products, it would seem that smokers and vapers have a shared need to inhale something, and a patch or piece of gum will not suffice. Furthermore, it would seem that smokers need to inhale some sort of hot vapour or smoke. The physical composition of the experience may be as important as the chemical composition.
Like all bullies, the bullies in Tobacco Control fix upon the weakest and most vulnerable social groups. The poor are one such group. And prisoners are another such group.
One might add that hospital patients are another weak and vulnerable social group. And also patients in psychiatric institutions. And elderly people in care homes. For in all these places, the bullies in Tobacco Control are now well established. And they seem to have been well established there for many years, long before their bullying practices were extended to the entire population.
Where else do we see large scale bullying? I think there’s a strong case to be made that the EU is a bully state, and this is why more and more people want to escape it. The EU bullies its smaller and weaker states (e.g. Greece).
Also David Cameron’s Conservative government established something called a “nudge unit” (an idea he seems to have got from Barack Obama):
Nudge theory is an attempt to resolve a classic Conservative dilemma: since they believe in the small state and low taxation, should the Conservatives just leave us to our bad habits, and accept the undesirable social consequences that will follow, or use the levers of state to try to improve our behaviour?
Cameron’s Nudge Unit was, of course, just another bunch of bullies. The only thing that was remarkable about it was that it was a bunch of bullies ensconced in the heart of government. And if Cameron established a bullying Nudge Unit in the heart of his government, it was probably because David Cameron was himself a bully.
Where else are there opportunities for bullying? What other weak and vulnerable social groups are there? One obvious one is: children. Children are the easiest people of all to bully. And I now find myself wondering, in our strange new era of rampant paedophilia, whether paedophilia may simply be another form of bullying. The paedophile is perhaps just yet another kind of bully in a world that is already chock full of bullies. The paedophile maybe only likes children, and actively seeks them out, precisely because they are the easiest to bully.
But it appears that it is always necessary for bullies of every kind to feel morally justified in their bullying. They need to feel that the pain that inflict on others is for their own good. As long as bullies can find some sort of moral justification for their activities, they can continue to inflict pain and suffering with a clear conscience. And that’s why they need to explain in the Lancet why their punitive “sin taxes” are “progressive”.
The same is probably true of any other sort of criminal conduct. The criminal must believe that his crime is morally justified before he can carry it out. If he is a thief, he must tell himself that he is justly redistributing wealth. If he is a murderer, he must believe that his victim deserves to die. And so on.