183. Policy Matters



Public policies work. They have always worked. The number of adult smokers has plummeted since restrictions were put in place. Many of us are too dumb to realize how good this is for us and society in general.

I was definitely (and likely still am) one of the dumb ones. A snowflake if you will, like a Republican refusing to accept the 2020 election.  “But what about my rights?”, I voiced to no one in particular when indoor smoking was banned. Why would it be their business what I did with my body? Well it turns out there’s many reasons why. 

First of all, these decisions rarely affect just one person. My smoking caused second had smoke, litter and probably a litany of regrets when waking up next to my stinky pack-a-day ass. 

Second of all, we are not great at seeing 20 years down the line. Public policy tries to bridge that gap. I may not care that I will be a wheezing, smoke-spewing, leathery sack of crap when I’m 70, but the healthcare system sure will.

Lastly & ultimately I am still free to screw up my body. Just like I’m free to risk a fine for not wearing a seatbelt and I am free to not be served if I don’t wear shoes and shirts. 

The reduction in liberties is often microscopically small compared to the gain in life, community and happiness around us. Not to say that it couldn’t be wrong headed, and we should always be vigilant that these policies are data-based and subject to change as information changes. 

I have not smoked for well over 5 years and I owe it all to public policy. I will likely have more time to annoy people and tarnish the world with crappy comics thanks to the law. I’m biased, but I think its a good thing.

Today’s example: Masking. If you can’t see why you wearing your mask is a policy that saves lives... well I wish I could just be fine with you getting the ‘rona. But you’ll likely infect your innocent family members. In the absence of stringent policing we are all well in our power to embarras you, film you or wag our fingers at you. Roxanne and I would probably just give you a very stern, yet inconspicuous side-eye; and you would have to take it.

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