Wednesday, September 22, 2004

NEWSLETTER -- Number 3, September 1, 2004

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:35 AM |  

The Portable Craig Westover
Number 3, September 1, 2004


The issue of government imposed bar and restaurant smoking bans continues to be played as a statewide “public” health issue. That argument is wrong on both counts. My column “Secondhand smoke not a “public” health issue” (September 1, 2004) in the Pioneer Press explains why and also offers a solution to resolve the conflict between the public health and private property sides of the argument.

From the column -- “It is unjust for government to arbitrarily change established conditions in the marketplace without compensating private businesses for losses they might suffer because of such changes. If "the public" benefits from dictating a change in long-established codes governing the ways a person may use his or her private property, then "the public" should justly compensate the individual property owner for any losses incurred by that change.
“(Would public officials be so quick to impose their prejudices if their constituents had to foot the bill?)”

The smoking ban debate is symptomatic of government overreaching it‘s authority to regulate its citizens. This notion is discussed in these Pioneer Press columns.

Who’ll stop the sunshine?

Government obesity is preventable

IN THE NEWS -- “TRIBE PUTS CASINO OFFER ON THE TABLE” (August 27) reported that the head of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, seeking to chart "a new course" in the sometimes prickly relations between casino-rich American Indian tribes and the rest of Minnesota, has proposed wide-ranging negotiations with the state of Minnesota that could lead to tribal contributions to charity, state government and even pro sports stadiums. Gov. Pawlenty has said that Minnesota tribes should be contributing more to state coffers. He already has scheduled sessions with some tribes in search of "financial contributions to the state in exchange for things that will benefit the tribes." If no accord is reached, he added, he would welcome "other parties" to share gambling proceeds in Minnesota.

In an OP-ED piece published in the Pioneer Press (January 2, 04) I take the position that issues surrounding casino gambling should not be resolved by how passionately one feels, pro or con, about the morality of gambling. Gambling expansion is a free market issue. Expanding gambling via private casino development is a legitimate debate; construction of a state-owned casino (or special deals with tribal concerns that funnel additional funds to the state) is not.

From that column -- “The state should not go into competition with citizens who pay taxes that the state then uses to operate a business that competes with those same taxpayers for customers . . . Entertainment dollars spent at a state-owned casino are entertainment dollars not spent at privately owned restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys and sports stadiums. These and similar businesses are certainly in competition with each other — and with Indian casinos — but none has the state's ability to tax its competitors, regulate its competitors or relax regulations on its own operations . . . The state owning a casino is little different from the state opening a department store at the Mall of America that didn't charge sales tax and didn't pay state income tax and consequently lured customers with prices well below those of private sector competitors.”

The Pioneer Press (August 27) leads its story with “The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, under pressure from Gov. Tim Pawlenty to share its casino profits with the state, said Thursday it wants to discuss new joint ventures that could include financing a Twins or Vikings stadium.” In “Let me make you an offer you can’t refuse” (Pioneer Press 17 Feb, 04), I speculate on a meeting between Gov. Pawlenty and John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

From the column -- “The brook running through the Minnehaha Café at Mystic Lake Casino babbled like Red McCombs on the need for football stadium funding as the waitress brought John McCarthy his charbroiled burger and fries. At the same moment, two men — both wearing heavy trench coats and fedoras angled across their foreheads — approached the table. The smaller of the two slid into the chair across from McCarthy, removed his fedora and set it next to an empty plate. McCarthy recognized the man they call ‘the Governor.’”


In my column in the Pioneer Press last week (August 26, 2004), “American mythology a double-edged sword,” I used he occasion of President Bush’s President Bush’s town hall meeting in Hudson, Wisconsin, to note that conservatives are at a crossroad -- that “they can protect their values through the force of government — or they can preserve them by ensuring protection from government for the values of all.” In an OP-ED piece in the Pioneer Press (August, 31, 2004), Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the “Miami Herald,” issues a more subtle but similar challenge to Republicans, occasioned by Vice-President Dick Cheney’s remarks in Davenport, Iowa, in which he expressed is opinion that the issue of gay marriage should be left to the states.

From the Pitts’ column -- "Freedom means freedom for everyone," said Cheney . . .
Which is a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse. But if every conservative home is going to have to have a lesbian daughter before we can accept it, then freedom will be waiting a very long time.

In a previous column in the Pioneer Press (January 18, 2004), “Government should stay out of marriage question,” I make the case that instead of a constitutional amendment diluting sacramental "marriage" with a watered-down legal definition, Minnesota and individual liberty would be better served by a new definition of "civil union," which applies to all couples regardless of sexual orientation.

From the column -- “I would urge those with moral objections to 'civil unions' to step back for a moment and separate the properly private and properly legal aspects of the debate. The proper question is not, 'Do gay couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples?' The proper question is, 'Does government have the legitimate authority to deny gay couples the legal rights granted to heterosexual couples?'“