Friday, September 15, 2006
Where There's Smoke There's Ire
In their seemingly never-ending crusade to make certain no one, anywhere can ever enjoy himself, we see yet another small portion of the surface of planet Earth 'pon which the smoking of tobacco will no longer be allowed by the smoking nazis. (The Orange County Register, Sept 14, 2006 print)
Orange County's beaches. Outdoors. Where the weather is generally relatively cool and breezy.
Now, I realize smokers are, in large measure, their own worst enemies. If I had a buck for every butt I've observed tossed out of a car or just dropped on the ground, I could've retired years ago. Some--in fact, maybe most--smokers are incredibly careless with their butts and their smoke.
One of the reasons for the thus-far proposed ban is a distaste by the public for cigarette butts in the beach sand--not to mention the possibility of one's stepping on a still-smouldering butt in the sand, with bare feet.
It might be speculated that there'd be a lot less anger at smokers by non-smokers were smokers more careful with their by-products.
When I was a younger man, I had the opportunity to spend some time 'pon the beaches of southern France, Italy and Greece. One of the things I recall especially is the fact that the beaches of Cannes and Nice are segmented by cute little fences and had controlled access. I don't know if they were privately-owned or merely leased by private operators, but there was an admission fee to enter the beach. Once inside, you selected a spot 'pon which there was a parasol provided. Waiters came around taking drink orders, or you could just lie in the sun and read, or swim, etc.
Part of what was paid for admission paid people to clean the beaches up, presumably, daily. I use the past tense because it's been many years since I observed all this, and it may not now be the same.
The point is, what we have here in the beaches of the Stalag is the tragedy of the commons. The beaches are public, they belong to all, which means they belong to no one. And that's exactly who takes care of them. What's the government's solution? The same as their solution for most things: heavy fines and lax enforcement.
What you bring to the beach, stays at the beach: your soda cans, cigarette butts, spare change that falls from your pockets, candy wrappers, tanning lotion bottles..... Who's going to pick them up? No one.
You don't think the lifeguards, the police, the parks & rec drones (civil welfare recipients, all) are going to, do you? The only reason the "public" beaches are as clean as they are is that many folks clean up after themselves. But many don't.
Other than the general hatred of many at seeing others enjoying a cigarette 'pon the beach, the biggest reason for wanting a law against smoking there is the cigarette butts--which no one will clean up. That's actually not a bad reason, but attend: there are never any cigerette butts laying around at Disneyland, nor at Knott's Berry Farm--even in the marked smoking areas. They are private property. Their customers pay to be there. The staff uses part of the admission fee to hire people to keep the place clean and free of litter.
We all expect that.
Throw down a paper napkin at Disneyland and step back and watch it. Within a very few minutes, there'll be a cleanly uniformed employee along to sweep it up.
The caretakers (?!) at the "public" beaches couldn't care less. They'd step on or over the napkin and walk on, and probably throw a hot dog wrapper on the sand alongside of it.
So, what am I saying? Well, I'm saying what I always say: Privatize. The foolish notion that the beaches will be better as "public" property is best tossed into the same trash can into which all thinking people have tossed the insane idea that farms and factories should be publicly owned. We, all of us who are civilized and rational, know it was a bad idea then and a bad idea now.
Who wouldn't pay a few bucks to have access to a clean, maintained beach with various amenities such as food and drink waiters and his own mini-cabana? With security against the well-known and often observed beach louts, thieves and drunks.
Why can't some of these private beaches allow smoking, and others not? Why can't some offer alcoholic beverages, and others not? Why can't some allow children, and others not? Pets? Volleyball? Surfing? Imagine the possibilities!
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!