High Programmer > Blog Archive > Madison: Threat to Wisconsin?
Monday, August 01, 2005

Madison: Threat to Wisconsin?

Apparently the rest of Wisconsin is deathly afraid of Madison. Maybe someone should tell them that liberalism isn't contagious. Maybe someone should tell them that while we do err toward the left, we still like hunting, bratwurst, beer, cheese, and the Packers.

So whenever Madison gets uppity and passes a law that reflects too bold of a position, the state steps in to smack Madison down. Today's gem is Madison's smoking ban. Madison passed the law months ago and it took effect on July 1st. Irritated, opponents are moving the fight to the state level. They're pushing Assembly Bill 414. Being masters of deceit, ban opponents are claiming that 414 actually further limits smoking. If that's the case, why am I seeing it promoted in anonymous posters that simultaneously want to repeal the smoking ban? Obviously because 414 would marginally limit smoking while simultaneously forbidding local governments from passing their own laws. Apparently local government and local accountability aren't good enough for these cowards. Wisconsin's state legislature is a corrupt hole. Madison's local government may be flawed, but it's small enough that a single person can have a large impact.

This certainly isn't the first time. Madison banned hand gun sales for several decades and banned keeping hand guns for several months in the late 90s. I don't actually agree with those laws (and question their constitutionality), but I respect Madison's right to pass their own laws. Apparently the ban on keeping hand guns in the city was too much and the state legislature rushed out a bill that stopped local gun ordinances. Small government at work.

I'm not even clear what opponents are whining about. There is no substitute for the vast majority of bars in Madison; the smokers will deal. There will be no mass migration to bars outside the city. Indeed, we heard a similar level of wailing that restaurants would go out of business when the restaurant smoking ban passed, and yet several years later we seem to be doing just fine.

I also find the arguments against the ban downright creepy. Most make unsubstantiated claims that bars will go out of business. Even if they do, is the business worth exposing bar employees to known carcinogens? Some will argue that bar employees have the freedom to accept other jobs, but by that standard it should be legal to expose employees to other known carcinogens like asbestos.

Ultimately, we need more decisions made at the local level, not the state or federal levels. The local level is the place where an individual can make a big impact on results.

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