Fuming over Assembly's concept of parity

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2003

The issue of parity has been brought up by our Assembly members as a reason to support smoke-free bars in Juneau. The rationale is that it is not fair to grant some establishments the right to allow smoking and restrict others from doing so, and the "fairest" way to solve the problem is outlaw smoking in all bars. The argument of parity is dubious at best and the argument is only surfacing because of previous mistakes made by our Assembly.

The Empire quotes Assembly member Jim Powell as saying, "Government shouldn't be in the position of putting some places over others" (Dec. 9). Mr. Powell could not be more correct and his statement illustrates exactly why the Assembly should never have restricted freedom of choice in the first place. Instead of fixing the mistake of restricting freedom to choose for some, our representatives are now trying to restrict freedom for all restaurant and bar owners to somehow make things better.

What I don't understand is how Mr. Powell can say that government shouldn't be in the position of putting some places over others when that is exactly what the Assembly did by supporting a screwy system that restricts freedom for some while not restricting it for others. The Assembly should never have supported a decision that put government in the business of making personal decisions for citizens and owners of businesses. Now, Mr. Powell and other Assembly members think it will make things better by restricting everyone's freedom to choice. Two wrongs don't make a right, and restricting freedom never seems to be right.

The word parity implies the concept of fairness, and there is nothing more unfair than when government steps in, makes a wrong choice for some individuals and then tries to somehow fix that mistake by making the wrong choice for everyone. Government shouldn't be making personal choices for individuals, especially when those decisions are inconsistent and diabolically reprehensible.

The Assembly should allow the owners of all bars and restaurants in Juneau to make the decision to allow or disallow smoking in their establishments. If the Assembly is really concerned about parity it will not restrict freedom for anyone. Let us, the people, decide where we want to spend our time. The market will take care of itself and if the majority of bars' patrons don't want smoking you'll see more non-smoking bars appear. Don't bring in some baseless and inconsistent argument of parity to come across as politically correct and concerned with fairness. Give me a break. No, give me a cigarette - your inconsistent policies are stressing me out.

Clayton Burrows


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