How about: Let people live, make their choices

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton wants state lawmakers to reverse tax cuts on tobacco products they implemented in the just-concluded legislative session. Dayton can make a good case that higher taxes on tobacco have reduced smoking, which is neither a smart nor glamorous thing to do.

On the other hand, government actions to herd citizens into doing what the government wants are kind of scary. Aren’t they? And usually expensive for taxpayers. Like low-income smokers, in this case. What they pay in taxes on a pack of cigarettes is astonishingly outrageous.

We believe there is a fundamental problem with government that says to citizens: hey, you are stupid, so we are going to monitor and change the things you do. It’s “soft” tyranny. In this day and age, in the information age, if government feels it must do something, why can’t it simply provide citizens with the facts. About smoking, in this instance. Then let the chips fall where they may.

One counter argument is that smoking creates costs of about $3.2 billion annually in Minnesota. Why not save this money, especially in government health programs? It seems to us the problem is disincentives fostered by collectivism. If the state doesn’t want to cover the costs of smokers’ health bills, make that a law. Tell smokers to quit or they are on their own for health coverage.

We just can’t help but feel that this issue sums up all the others, in which government acts to solve some “problem” it identifies. Does it ever cross anyone’s mind in St. Paul to butt out and leave people alone? Or is relentless do-gooding what it means to be a politician?

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