Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fumus aut Cruor?

I got a pamphlet in the mail today from the [my state] Medical Society. It is a twelve-page booklet urging its members to call their representatives to support a one dollar tax on cigarettes. Now, I think that smoking is a disgusting habit and I will do all I can to convince my patients to stop, but I do not think that it is the government’s job to slap smokers’ wrists by imposing a tax on them. A fold-out poster was included with the booklet. It showed a touching photograph of the outstretched hand of a child with the words: “5 reasons to raise [my state]’s cigarette tax” underneath. Very clever. The five reasons it listed were: 1) Prevent 72,000 kids from becoming addicted, 2) Help finance care for poor and elderly, 3) Improve health of citizens, 4) Lower health care costs, and 5) Cut smoking rates. First off, I think these people are delusional—if a person is addicted to smoking, an extra dollar a pack is not going to stop them from buying cigarettes. Second, even if it would decrease smoking (they say that New York’s $1.50 tax decreased smoking by 11%, but I do not know how accurate this is), how does the government have a right to punish people for performing a legal activity? What’s next, a dollar tax on hamburgers and fries?

And isn’t this “imposing” one’s own beliefs on people? A few weeks ago, in one of my small-group classes, the topic of abortion was brought up, and the question was asked about how we would respond to a woman wanting an abortion. Out of the five of us, every student said s/he was personally opposed to abortion—yet I was the only one who said I would not help the woman get one, everyone else said that s/he would refer her to an abortion clinic. They all believed that it was inappropriate to “impose” one’s own morals on a patient. This seems to be the prevailing attitude among healthcare professionals. My question is this: Why is it wrong to “impose” one’s morals on a patient by not helping her kill her baby, but it is totally fine to impose one’s beliefs about smoking, something that should be a personal choice, on the smoking populace? What a double standard.

72% of the Republicans, and 83% of the Democrats in my state support this tax. What would happen if I suggested a tax on abortions, something that has killed millions and millions more people than smoking ever has? My guess would be that there wouldn’t be a whole lot of support—maybe some support from Republicans, but the 83% of Democrats I’m sure would become more like 0%. After all, we can’t be imposing our values on other people, now can we?


Anonymous Bob said...

Support a TAX on abortions? You can't even get the abortion crowd to support treating abortion like a medical procedure with things like informed consent, and parental consent for minors. Besides, according to these compassionate souls [/sarcasm] we should be helping these girls by providing tax-funded abortions.

Thanks for being one to make a stand for the right.

11:39 AM  
Blogger c0ach said...

I couldn't agree more. I can't stand the smell of smoke, and avoid places that permit smoking on the premises.

However, the government, run by fallen men, has gotten powerful enough as it is. We can't just tax whatever social ills the majority dislikes. What of (practicing) Christians who are fast becoming a minority? Do we want a government this powerful ruling over us?

People may think it's overboard to assume taxation = powerful government, but the power to tax is the power to take your money with force if needed. I'm not against taxes, in fact I'm a big FairTax fan. We just need to be wary of the power we give our leaders.

"Everywhere there rises before our eyes the specter of a society where security, if it is attained at all, will be attained at the expense of freedom, where the security that is attained will be the security of fed beasts in a stable, and where all the high aspirations of humanity will have been crushed by an all-powerful state."
--J. Gresham Machen, founder of Westminster Seminary and the OPC.

8:24 AM  

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