How the Michigan smoking ban is likely to impact Ypsi bars

A few days ago, when the Michigan House of Representatives voted to outlaw smoking in Michigan bars and restaurants, I sent a note out to a few of our local Ypsi bar owners, asking whether or not they felt that the legislation would negatively impact their businesses. I was expecting that at least a few would suggest that the legislation would drive away customers, but, fortunately, that wasn’t the case… Following are their responses.

Linda French from the Sidetrack:

We are really pleased with the ban as it will be welcomed by the majority of our customers. As you probably know, we have been non smoking at dinner and lunch for over a year and it increased our business not just by the sales numbers but the volume of people as well. Basically, the hours which we have gone non-smoking thus far have been a boon to both business and customer relations.

We are planning to accommodate our late night customers, who are mostly drinkers, by making better use of our back patio with large commercial propane heaters and wind block panels.

Andy Garris from the Elbow Room:

I think that the ban was only a matter of time. The initial impact of this I think will be big. Some folks(smokers) may choose to be angry and quit going out as much, however they will quickly come back when they realize they still want to be part of the scene. I think also that people who don’t go out due to the smokiness of bars (especially the Elbow Room), are going to be way more willing to come out more. I have been to various cities where smoking is already banned, and it has not seemed to be a big deal. I do think that bars will have to be creative in costructing their smoking areas outside, especially in the, at times very chilly, Michigan winter days! I am not a smoker, however due to the bars I have ran for the past 7 years, I would most likely be considered a smoker. And I think this was definitely bound to happen.

Brian Brickley from the Tap Room:

We are pretty optimistic that this will not reduce our business and may acctually help bring more folks in that up to now were staying away because of the smoke. We were not in support of the ban until my wife went to New York several years ago and noticed all the bars were busy and people smoked outside with no problems.

I think once folks get used to it it will really be not much of an issue at all.

Sandee French from Aubree’s:

I’m happy that the smoking ban was passed by the legislature this past week. We have had experience in allowing one of our businesses go smoke-free and the other remain a smoking environment. We heard a lot of grumbling on both sides of the issue, including the government’s role in all of this. In the end, our customers remained pretty much the same. Not being allowed to smoke in an establishment was not the defining criteria in deciding where to go for lunch, dinner, or an evening out. However, a smoky environment did discourage some customers.

It was also difficult to have a section in the restaurant where smoking was permitted. That would be the last section to fill. This new law levels the playing field throughout Michigan and takes the ‘blame’ off the restaurant. Once the no smoking ban becomes everyone’s new normal, folks will move on and just change their routine.

We are fortunate we have the Tiki Bar above Aubree’s that will allow customers to go outside with their drink and have a cigarette under a heater. Celebrations has a lovely Courtyard with a nice environment too. I’m sure most establishments will try to create a nice location outdoors where their customers can go to have a cigarette and not feel out of place.

Some form of this new law has been trying to get passed for over 12 years. It’s finally time for a change and I welcome it.

Since establishments will have months in order to get ready for the change, I think those with outdoor seating will make a winter location for smokers as welcoming as possible. Marquette Michigan doesn’t allow smoking in restaurants and if they can find a solution for those nicotine blues, I’m sure Ypsi can too.

It hadn’t occurred to me prior to this, but this legislation, among other things, is going to be a huge boon to those Michigan contractors working with bar owners to build heated, outdoor smoking areas. And whoever is selling those big, outdoor heaters, is going to make a killing.

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  1. Posted December 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and, assuming this happens, Michigan will be the 38th state to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

    Best of luck to all of our hardworking local bar owners.

  2. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Huh. I guess most people need to be forced by law to do things they think are good ideas. That’s pretty sad; might as well still live with your parents.

  3. EL
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Did you send a letter to Powell’s Pub? My wife and I were wondering what the feelings would be of the regulars at that nice little bar on Huron.

  4. dragon
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    With the way things are going, pretty soon we won’t be able to do coke in the restrooms. Not that any of our local proprietors would know anything about that.

  5. Shaunna
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Brackinald: Although it happens to require that people to do something that is good for them, the rationale for the law is that second-hand smoke is an occupational hazard for workers. You may love propagating the nanny-state narrative in order to rail against it, but sorry, it doesn’t apply here.

  6. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to praise the ballsy folks at the Corner Brewery for not allowing smoking in their private property, without waiting for mommy and daddy to mandate it for everybody like a bunch of pussies.

  7. Peter Larson
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s a workplace issue. I suppose that you thought that OSHA was a mandate from a bunch of pussies, too.

  8. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Go ahead and explain why your analogy is apropos, Peter.

  9. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I mean, are you mandating that bars carry MSDS sheets for nicotine, or have PPE requirements for workers for a chemical that is potentially brought in by clients, but isn’t required by the work, or what?

  10. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    …and what stopped them from disallowing it in their own bars in the first place, on their own? Corner Brewery did it, as is their right. Or WAS, I should say.

  11. Shaunna
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Somebody get Brackinald some nicotine gum, stat!

  12. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I quit smoking cigarettes years ago .

    Property rights are important human rights, and if violations of them don’t piss you off, they should… even if they don’t personally affect you (eventually they probably will once the legal precedent is set, but even without that, it’s morally wrong). Democracy without protection of individual liberties (and the personal responsibility that goes with them) is tyrannical mob rule. Nobody owns you or your stuff but you and God. Not the mob.

    Consenting adults are responsible for their decisions to work at, patronize, or own a smoky bar. No fraud as to the presence of a toxic substance is involved (since we all know it’s there and it’s bad for you), and no force to compel contact with the toxic substance is involved (since you can come and go as you please, or disallow it as an owner). Be a grown up — you don’t want the smoke, don’t go there (or quit, or tell your patrons they can’t smoke at your place). Take responsibility for yourself. Violating the owners’ property rights, even if most of them consent to it, is the morally repugnant solution.

  13. Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    The next thing you know, they’ll be making us piss in urinals and drive on the right side of the road! When will this insanity end?

  14. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Yet another, more ridiculously malapropos set of analogies.

  15. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    To make them more suitable to the situation at hand, you would have to be talking about fining people for allowing their customers to piss at their establishment at all (unless it’s a casino); and of course, roads are public property. We’re talking about private property.

  16. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    We are talking about whether it is right to forbid private business owners from allowing their customers/workers to use a substance which is/contains/produces a known hazard (but which is legal and requires no special license to use) — the use of which is fully-disclosed to workers and other patrons — inside their business.

  17. Posted December 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    My point is that we live in society, and that living in society requires, on occasion, that we conform to certain norms. We enter into these social contracts because we figure, usually correctly, that there’s a value in it. Sure, there’s a risk that we may cross a line, where we’re giving up more in the way of personal liberty than we’re getting back in the way of clean water, security, what have you, but I don’t think we’re at that point right now.

  18. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    I see. Most of our countrymen add private sexual morality to the list of societal norms worth enforcing for society’s good. Why do you think it’s wrong to enforce private sexual morality? I know why I do, and can spell it out very plainly; it is the same reason it is wrong to forbid smoking in bars. Consenting adults can do what they want on private property if no one’s rights are being violated. Being an adult and showing up to, or working at, a privately-owned bar that allows smoking is consent to be in a privately-owned smoky environment.

  19. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    A compromise in keeping with existing standards of work-safety would be to require business owners to carry MSDS sheets for cigarette smoke, and to provide/require the proper personal protection equipment for workers — probably respirators.

    A compromise in keeping with existing health-code standards would be to require the installation of air-purifying devices, to require separate smoking areas with effective means of limiting contamination of nonsmoking areas, and/or a notification to customers as to the possible presence of cigarette smoke.

    A compromise in keeping with existing standards of dealing with the use of hazardous chemicals (i.e. — smoking cigarettes) would be to have the EPA regulate and label cigarettes as to their proper use and places of legal application.

    I’m not saying I philosophically agree with any of these methods, nor would I necessarily refrain from arguing against them, but they are more in keeping with analogous existing laws than to simply ban the use of a legal substance by patrons of a privately-owned business.

  20. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    …and Mark: who says we have to give up rights for the sake of society if we’re not violating anyone else’s rights? If I pollute a river, I violate someone else’s rights. If I lock someone in a smoke-filled bar against their will, I violate someone’s rights. If I smoke in a bar whose owner allows it, and whose workers are not compelled by force to work there, I violate no one’s rights.

    Punishing individuals for exercising their rights when no one else’s rights have been violated is bad for society.

    The presence of other people’s rights is abridgment enough for my rights for the sake of society. For instance, in the city I cannot exercise my right to shoot a rifle through my walls, because it would go through and violate someone else’s person or property. In the country, maybe I can. So this satisfies your scenario of society abridging the exercise of people’s rights without the victemless infringement that you seem to suggest the very presence of society mandates.

    By the way, this blog is your private property; if you asked me too, I would leave this very night, and never comment here again. I have no rights over your private property, and am allowed to comment here by you, at your discretion.

  21. Shaunna
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    “If I smoke in a bar whose workers are not compelled by force to work there, I violate no one’s rights”

    If you don’t like the conditions, just quit!

    I think we started phasing that method of maintaining workplace safety out about 100 years ago.

  22. harleyrider1978
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    Since 1981 there have been 148 reported studies on ETS, involving spouses, children and workplace exposure. 124 of these studies showed no significant causal relationship between second hand smoke and lung cancer. Of the 24 which showed some risk, only two had a Relative Risk Factor over 3.0 and none higher. What does this mean. To put it in perspective, Robert Temple, director of drug evaluation at the Food and Drug Administration said “My basic rule is if the relative risk isn’t at least 3 or 4, forget it.” The National Cancer Institute states “Relative risks of less than 2 are considered small and are usually difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to mere chance, statistical bias, or the effect of confounding factors that are sometimes not evident.” Dr. Kabat, IAQC epidemiologist states “An association is generally considered weak if the relative risk is under 3.0 and particularly when it is under 2.0, as is the case in the relationship of ETS and lung cancer. Therefore, you can see any concern of second hand smoke causing lung cancer is highly questionable.” Note that the Relative Risk (RR) of lung cancer for persons drinking whole milk is 2.14 and all cancers from chlorinated water ranked at 1.25. These are higher risks than the average ETS risk. If we believe second hand smoke to be a danger for lung cancer then we should also never drink milk or chlorinated water.

  23. Mike Shecket
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    I was going to comment that it’s been reported in the press that the ban includes outdoor decks and patios of bars and restaurants (see, e.g., but upon looking at the language of the statute (, I don’t see how you can make that interpretation: you can’t smoke in a “public place”, which includes any “place of employment”, which in turn consists of “an enclosed indoor area that contains 1 or more work areas”; a “work area” is “a site within a place of employment at which 1 or more employees perform services for an employer”. Oh well.

    I can’t really think of an angle to jump into the political question, but I’ll offer a bit of economic speculation for discussion: with the smoking ban, at least a few people who would have been unwilling or unable to tolerate working at a restaurant or bar will now find it an acceptable workplace, thus expanding the supply of such labor and consequently slightly lowering the wages which bar and restaurant owners will have to pay in order to get people to choose to take such a job. In other words, perhaps people have, in effect, been paid a premium to put up with secondhand smoke until now. On the other hand, with jobs so scarce, employers may be able to pinch service workers’ wages so much already that it won’t make a difference. And the savings in public spending on health care treating people who get sick from being exposed to secondhand smoke on the job (not to mention smokers who are persuaded to quit by the inconvenience of the ban) could more than make up for it.

  24. Mike Shecket
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    So much for my statutory analysis: I missed the whole exception for “food service establishments”, covered by a separate section of the law. Now just what are “food service establishments”? Well, our friend MCL 289.1107(n) tells us that:
    “Food service establishment” means a fixed or mobile restaurant, coffee shop, cafeteria, short order cafe, luncheonette, grill, tearoom, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, drive-in, industrial feeding establishment, private organization serving the public, rental hall, catering kitchen, delicatessen, theater, commissary, food concession, or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for direct consumption through service on the premises or elsewhere, and any other eating or drinking establishment or operation where food is served or provided for the public.
    I don’t see where outdoor areas are either specifically included or excluded, but I guess if you are “at the establishment”, you’re in a place with no smoking.

  25. watching laughing
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    “Smoke-less Drunks”

    Watching Laughing.

  26. Peter Larson
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Harleyrider, your statements only apply to lung cancer. Lung cancer is not the only negative health event caused, agitated or hastened by smoking.

  27. Peter Larson
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Brackinald probably would tell child slaves, “if you don’t like the working conditions, don’t work there”. I bet he tells the same to prostitutes.

  28. Peter Larson
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    “Consenting adults can do what they want on private property if no one’s rights are being violated. Being an adult and showing up to, or working at, a privately-owned bar that allows smoking is consent to be in a privately-owned smoky environment.”

    How many bars provide health insurance for their workers? My rights are being violated when an uninsured person develops CVD, lung, oral, throat, bladder, liver, stomach, etc. cancer and has to enter into a long term series of treatments and therapies all at taxpayer/consumer dime. Smoking costs society money that often the smoker does not have. I wouldn’t care if only people like Donald Trump smoked. There’s only one of him.

    Private ownership only goes as far as the money trail does and it has been well established that smoking costs society money. If bars are willing to pony up lifetime health insurance coverage for all their workers, then go ahead.

    I suppose breathing in asbestos unprotected was ok in your book?

  29. Kristen Cuhran
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    While traveling throughout Sweden, Norway, and Copenhagen Denmark this past June, I was amazed to find that all bars and restaurants had outdoor seating with blankets. Yes, blankets. As I am sure you realize, these are bitter cold countries. Copenhagen is known for its party atmosphere. I asked around about this, the nice fleece blankets at every chair, and folks said that just a few years ago the blankets came into fashion. It was a way to both (for restaurants) allow diners to continue to eat outside when it was chilly, and for smokers to be happy. There were also huge heaters everywhere. I asked about stealing of the blankets and how dirty they get (just had to know) and folks seemed to think there were no glaring problems. Business revenues increased so it was worth the cost in washing/providing the blankets. This, however, from a city of 30,000 bicycles and most don’t look to be locked up.

  30. Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    According to the K-zoo News, a deck, patio, or other outdoor space is considered part of the establishment and included in the ban.

    Another problem with this law is that the exemption for cigar bars and tobacco shops only applies to those open as of 5/1/2010.(<a href=””Crain’s Detroit Business article) No cigar bars can open after that date, and any new tobacco shops will be non-smoking.

  31. Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Sorry, messed up the formatting on the Crain’s link. Here it is.

  32. Kim
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    There are about ten states where people can still smoke in bars. Let’s let the market decide. If people really care about being able to smoke, drink and eat simultaneously in public, their populations will skyrocket.

  33. Curt Waugh
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I’m going to agree with BA to some degree. His points about private property rights are valid at their face.

    But there’s something about smoking that’s just different. It’s not like all of the other examples we give about our rights. It’s more like a personal pollutant or a foggy haze of annoyance.

    There comes a point, there must come a point, where the sum total of our collective experience finally gains voice. Smoking is acrid and foul and driven by addiction. A smog of self loathing. This centuries-old lore must be in our DNA by now. Smoking is just different.

    It’s the conclusion to which I have come because I agree with BA and his impassioned plea for private property rights – a hallmark of our civilization – and with the idea that smoking indoors is just a bad idea. BA, I think if you let this one go, you can make a greater case for your property rights that really do matter. This right to smoke is simply not worth holding dear.

  34. maryd
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I for one am thrilled and cannot wait. Bar owners will benefit w/ healthier employees and mostly happier patrons. Finally MI leglislature does not only something and but something right. The great outdoors is now THE only place for smoke pollution, always annoying.

  35. Amanda
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I excitedly have begun listing all the places I’ll now start to frequent and spend money at as of May 1– mostly because I’m super thrilled to not have to drive to Windsor to go to a nightclub & dance smoke-free, go bowling, etc, and partly to show those business owners that they will get more business. But, this weekend I started worrying about those businesses– like our favorite Corner Brewery– who led the way and created the smoke-free environment on their own accord. Are they going to suffer because the customers who prefer smoke-free places are more spread around?

  36. Dan
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Patios like the Tiki bar at Aubrees will also have to be smoke free. You can’t smoke in any area where food or beverages are served

    “Can smoking be allowed on patios of restaurants and bars?

    Patio areas of bars and restaurants where food or beverages are served are an extension of the establishment, therefore smoking would be prohibited.”

  37. Tim
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    If that’s the case, I’m sure they’ll just stop selling food and beer in those outdoor areas.

  38. Kam
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Why don’t our local bars just change over now and go non-smoking, since they all seem to agree that it’s a good thing? Why wait until next year?

  39. Petee
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    If they’re going to cater to smokers by building them little heated oases, I’d like to move that we also build heated masturbating areas outside. I’ve always been upset they wouldn’t let me do that inside the Millenium Club. What’s it to you if a little gets on you? The chances of catching my herpes is pretty small.

  40. Robert
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    The restaurants will just stop selling food and beer all together because, as everyone knows, income isn’t their primary goal. Providing a free place for nicotine addicts to congregate is much higher priority.

  41. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Peter, you really likened bar workers to child slaves and prostitutes. Jesus. If it’s that bad, maybe working at a bar should be illegal.

    You idiots want some other people to take care of you for your whole lives, and you’re willing to sacrifice your freedom to do it, because you’re a bunch of short-sighted pussies who believe bullshit. That’s an ad hominem.

    Sorry I’ve been away, I got pissed off about an unrelated thing elsewhere that was more pressing.

  42. Peter Larson
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    No, I likened your attitude to people who once considered deplorable and unsafe working conditions for poor people to be completely acceptable.

    And no, you are wrong. My freedom of movement is limited by smoking. I can’t go certain places, now I can. I’m overjoyed. I might actually leave the house every once in a while.

    I don’t want people to take care of me, I just want to go and see a band.

  43. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    My freedom of movement is limited by your bedroom window. Your freedom of movement ends where someone else’s property begins.

  44. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    …and my point was that your child labor analogy was malapropos (word of the day) because we’re talking about consenting adults. I have no idea what your prostitution analogy is supposed to mean, since it is already illegal and OSHA doesn’t require MSDS sheets for getting pimp slapped upside the head.

  45. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Well, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may the athiests be of good cheer as a low-sunlight winter survival mechanism, everybody!

    Here’s hoping someone else’s right to pursue happiness doesn’t break into your house and steal your presents!

  46. Posted December 24, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    BA, not to belabor the child labor stuff, but, I’m just curious… Do you have a problem with kids choosing to work in coal mines?

  47. Posted December 24, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    And, Merry Christmas to you too.

  48. Peter Larson
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Brack, you really have no idea what you’re talking about. You imply that a business owner has the right to do whatever he likes, provide any set of working conditions he likes, as long as he can find people to work for him. You forget that most people don’t have much choice in where they work, especially in a unemployment wonderland like Michigan. Hence, then need
    to enforce child labor laws, 40 hour work weeks and OSHA.

    You’re argument is basically saying that business owners can do whatever the fuck they want to their workers just because they’ve paid for it, which is wrong.

    This is exactly the problem I have with Libertarians. Far too much power is given to property owners, when they did nothing to deserve it, besides having been fortunate enough to have a little money and be able to take advantage of people who don’t.

    A smoky bar has more toxic chemicals in the air than a modern day factory. Workers should not have to spend 40 hours a week (or more) in unhealthy conditions, when all it will take to stop it, is have people smoke outside.

    Besides, like I said, aside from my views on workplace safety, I just want to see a band from time to time.

  49. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Bars will comply and we will breath freely and eat our food too.

  50. Peter Larson
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Brack, I apologize for tell you that you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m sure you know what you’re talking about, but I disagree. That’s just rude discourse and I apologize.

  51. Posted December 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Pete, your last comment reminded me of this.

  52. Posted December 24, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    And, no, EL, I didn’t contact the folks at Powell’s. I didn’t have an email address. If you’ve got one, though, I’ll send them the note and ask them.

  53. Posted December 30, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    And, Brack, I’m still curious to know what you think about kids working in mines? Should they be able to, if that’s what they choose to do?

  54. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Far too much power is given to property owners, when they did nothing to deserve it, besides having been fortunate enough to have a little money and be able to take advantage of people who don’t.

    All the property/business owners I know work harder than the people they employ to earn and maintain their property/business — even the bosses who were dicks. I think (generalizing pretty heavily) that Michiganders have been permeated with union mentality to the point of unjustly denying property/business owners their due. Remember, people don’t start a business for their employees’ sakes, they start a business for their own sake! I’ve worked some pretty crappy jobs, and had a lot of extra productivity squeezed out of me by jerk bosses, but all the bosses/owners worked harder than everybody, bar none. And labor was always their most crippling expense — hence why many factories moved overseas, and many restaurant kitchens in this high-unemployment area are packed with cheap illegal immigrant workers as we speak. There’d be a lot more places going under if they didn’t… even so, a lot of places are still going under. So there’s that.

    Property owners deserve to call the shots with their own property. That’s what “owning” means. Ownership = risk + reward. There’s a shit load of hard work, competence, risk, expense, and just plain balls that business owners have to have, that their employees don’t. Even the jerk bosses. If their employees had what it takes to run the show, they’d be running their own show. But they don’t, at least not yet. Many employees can learn the ropes, move on up, and/or quit and start their own business, where they get to call the shots and face the risks. Good for them. But the downside to not having what it takes to start your own business is that you have to do what somebody who does have what it takes tells you to do, if you want his money in the form of a paycheck. Most people can’t handle the risks of business ownership. That’s why they’re employees.

    And most people can’t handle the idea of being solely responsible for themselves and their own happiness. That’s why we try to make everybody else do things the way we want them to, by majority rule, without respect to their rights. Or we blame others for our own shortcomings. It’s easier than taking responsibility for yourself to hazard the risks of making your own decisions, and potentially suffering the consequences — like saying, “hell no I’m not working at that stinky place and ruining my lungs, even though it’s harder to find a job elsewhere and I risk being unemployed until I find one.” I’ve been in that position loads of times, I took the risks to find better jobs, I suffered poverty until I found one (and during, for the shitty-paying jobs), and here I still am! Amazing. I never even got on unemployment, even though I wouldn’t have been morally wrong to do so — having been forced to pay into it against my will on the promise of being paid back if I need it, I am owed my money back if I need it. No ethical inconsistency there, I point out now to head off a future accusation at the pass.

    As far as child labor, which is not the point of this discussion at all since we’re talking about consenting adults, but rather a trap to try to trip me up and make me look bad, I ask why it’s okay for children to work lemonade stands and paper routs?

    As far as the workplace air pollution points, I’m pretty sure I already pointed out the inconsistencies of those arguments in a previous comment or two.

  55. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I’ll throw this out there as well: if employers weren’t more important to their business than workers, then why does the business survive when the individual workers quit, but the town full of workers goes to hell when the employers leave?

  56. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    If the workers were competent to own and control the means of production, they wouldn’t be workers.

  57. Posted December 31, 2009 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, I wasn’t trying to trip you up and make you look bad, BA. And I know my question wasn’t relevant to this conversation specifically. It just occurred to me that you might not see anything wrong with mine owners employing kids to do dangerous work, as they did back in the day, before there were laws to protect against such things. At any rate, I was just interested. I wasn’t looking to discredit your stand on the smoking ban, which I actually think has some merit. (I think the ban is a good thing, but I can certainly see how it would piss me off if I were a cigarette-smoking bar owner.)

  58. kingpin
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    But with that comment, it shows that you were trying to make him look bad and trip him up a little, Mark. When kids worked in mines, it was due to being poverty stricken, and it was a means of survival. That’s what humans do…much like roaches. If i had to feed my family, I would take the risk. It would be my choice. But, thankfully we don’t live in those times anymore…yet. So next Christmas, maybe you should buy Clementine a coal shovel just in case. as far as “Merit” goes…well, that was kind of a shitty brand. I prefer Benson & Hedges.
    You know, I read this blog everyday, and the screen always hurts my eyes. Studies show that prolonged exposure to computer screens actually damages peoples eyesight. So, as of May 1st, we’re going to need you to shut this blog down, until we can find a way to print it out on paper that is safe and low glare, and then find another way to mass distribute it. I’m just saying…it’s my right and choice to read it, and it’s your responsibility to keep my safe in my choices. You ARE the owner of this blog…are you not?

  59. Posted December 31, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    No, this site is owned by Steve Pierce. I just work here.

  60. kingpin
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Is he the guy who rides the segway around town?

  61. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I guess my answer is that I think it’s wrong to exploit and abuse anybody, but especially children who are more vulnerable and aren’t consenting adults… but that they should have the right to work if they want to, to help support their families, earn some money for themselves so the old man doesn’t have something to hold over their heads, and/or to gain work experience instead of living in a bubble till they’re 16, then hitting the ground running.

    It’s our job to be private citizen activists, to expose abuse and organize against abusers, if we want to help stop it. One method is to boycott anyone who profits off of exploiting workers, such as the Chinese government and the US government that funds much of its activities (such as the stimulus) on the profits made possible by underpaid, abused, exploited workers in China (via money borrowed from the Chinese government) . So you see, much of the standard of living improvements we are so proud of here that are based on pro-labor legislation, are to this very day built on the backs of exploited child laborers… just somebody else’s exploited child laborers.

    Refuse all money from the Chinese government to stop worker exploitation!

  62. Posted December 31, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    No, Kingpin. It’s a different Steve Pierce.

    He won it in a poker game.

  63. Posted December 31, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    And you can expect a more thoughtful response from me soon on this, BA… I guess, as very bad things happened to workers in the past, I’m not so confident that evil doers will be dealt with appropriately by the free marketplace.

  64. kingpin
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I jest a tad, but, for the record…I’m all for the smoking ban. Yes, it comes down on my civil liberties a bit, but it totally F’s over evil corporate tobacco giants. I just read somewhere recently, that a tobacco company was trying to by some European company that makes stop smoking aids, such as gum and nictotine patches! WHAT?!? The sell an addictive product that is proven to kill people, make a load of cash off it, now they want to make all the cash on the cure too? Bastards. I’m sorry about the bars, but do you really think people will quit drinking and going out to make merry? I think not… F’ R.J. Reynolds in his a-hole…and I smoke…until tomorrow. Right now, I’m listening to Ernest Tubb & Loretta Lynn records, smoking, and ringing all the nostalgia I can out of it. Smoking is in the top 3 dumbest life choices so far for me….

  65. Peter Larson
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I respect your idealistic views, BA, but have little confidence that they would ever work in practice.

  66. kingpin
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    man, I gotta turn on my spell-check.

  67. Brackinald Achery
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    I guess, as very bad things happened to workers in the past, I’m not so confident that evil doers will be dealt with appropriately by the free marketplace.

    I respect your idealistic views, BA, but have little confidence that they would ever work in practice.

    Guys; our big humanitarian government is funded by profits made possible by exploited Chinese labor. You act like we’ve progressed past it by progressive laws, when we’ve just exported it to China and profit by it via loans from them and their cheap goods.

    It’s like if a charity for helping children was funded primarily by a child prostitute ring! Then they tout how much they help children!

    I respect your idealistic views too, but they are currently just whitewash. Our country’s “prosperity” is based on exploited labor, including child labor, right now.

    And again, kids seem to be able to work lemonade stands and do paper routes here without being abused. So child labor is not necessarily abusive and exploitative, is it?

    So explain to me how your system is successful and mine wouldn’t be.

    Happy New Year!

  68. Peter Larson
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    I agree. We should not be trading with China. Nor should we be trading with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or India or any other government that fails to deliver on human rights and allows vulnerable populations to be exploited.

    However, you are kidding yourself if you think that consumer choices can change any of that. People love cheap stuff. Businesses love cheap stuff. As long as we have that formula there will be exploitation. Consumers do not drive social change, governments and political movements do. Namely governments which pass laws to reign in exploitative practices which harm the general population.

    The average American could care less who makes there stuff. You greatly overestimate them. It is the role of government to act as a protect those who seek the dollar at the expense of the welfare of the people. It has been shown time and again that business cares about nothing other than money and consumer care about nothing other than the best deal they can get.

    I fail to see the link between lemonade stands and child labor laws. No one said that children working was bad. Obviously the business community you hold in such high esteem still thinks that it’s ok to exploit kids as long as they aren’t white. The only reason it has moved to China and India is because we have laws here.

  69. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    I don’t actually respect your idealistic views, if I’m honest. I respect you personally, but not your views.

  70. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    You realize, of course, that if we did not trade with or accept loans from those countries, our big progressive government would not have the money to function. That’s my point.

  71. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I find it hilarious that you were, it turns out, obviously attempting to side-track and discredit my philosophy by baiting me with a discussion on child-labor laws, thinking it your sure proven fortress of the rightness of Federal “progress.” I turned it around on you, but you just shut your ears and say “no” louder.

  72. Peter Larson
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    BA, are you drunk tonight? If so, I wish you a great 2010.

  73. Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I just assume everyone leaving comments here is drunk.

  74. Joanne
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    There’s been no reported great increase in construction of outdoor patios anywhere there’s been a smoking ban. While I don’t smoke and don’t mind a smoke free place, and have never liked those places with lousy ventilation that allowed the restaurant/bar to reek of any stench, I also see the ban creating a lack of property owner’s control. While the bill addresses workplace smoking, and I’m glad my office doesn’t allow smoking, I don’t see why people are not allowed to smoke in places where people gather for social interaction-people go to bars, cafes, etc. to meet, mingle, and smoke if they’re smokers.

  75. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Yes Joanne, the smokers should be allowed to continue to pollute and spread their poisons to the workers, musicians who work in bars & restaurants and all the rest of us who would like to go out and socialize too. Duh

  76. Blackiturd Armory
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Ugh! Open it and I turn shits around hard rock dump ass! Super funny man. Super funny. You say. Huh! How else my Jeffersons explode. Government points to my track if you count the shut bait. Add it up and exploit the temple cheeks. Super forest righteous huh?

    America blood monger. Suck it. Can’t fool me yo.

    That’s my punt no longer!


  77. stella
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait till they ban alcohol, I’m so tired of trying to go see/play a show only to come home reeking of assholes.

  78. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Jesus BA, you really slipped off the deep end here. You do realize that you’re describing feudalism in your posts, don’t you? You have studied history, correct?

    We went through all this “the owner is god” bullshit a long time ago. (Remember Pittsburg of the past? Beautiful place. An owners paradise. Here’s a picture: How many young women had to have their hair mangled in a spinning machine because of this mentality? How many miners had to die of black lung? How many folks had to sign promisory notes for uniforms and equipment that the job could never pay back? Do you have any idea how safe our work environments are now precisely because of government protection? Does it not occur to you that we live a generation longer than we did 100 years ago?

    The powerful don’t need your protections. They don’t need anybody’s protection because, you know, they’re powerful. But the rest of us do. I support the idea of property rights but I will not travel back to feudalism with you.

  79. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    No offense, Curt, but you’re just blowing over emotional shit out of your mouth, as usual.

    And yes, Peter, I was slightly drunk. Everything I said was still true. En vino veritas.

  80. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Here’s an interesting article on the history of child labor in the US.

    An excerpt:

    Most economic historians conclude that this legislation was not the primary reason for the reduction and virtual elimination of child labor between 1880 and 1940. Instead they point out that industrialization and economic growth brought rising incomes, which allowed parents the luxury of keeping their children out of the work force. In addition, child labor rates have been linked to the expansion of schooling, high rates of return from education, and a decrease in the demand for child labor due to technological changes which increased the skills required in some jobs and allowed machines to take jobs previously filled by children. Moehling (1999) finds that the employment rate of 13-year olds around the beginning of the twentieth century did decline in states that enacted age minimums of 14, but so did the rates for 13-year olds not covered by the restrictions. Overall she finds that state laws are linked to only a small fraction – if any – of the decline in child labor. It may be that states experiencing declines were therefore more likely to pass legislation, which was largely symbolic.

    May the US government’s stimulus expenditures (made possible by exploited Chinese labor) increase your already comparatively-high standards of living, however temporarily, in the new year!

  81. Peter Larson
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    That the tide had turned against child labor through lack of necessity may predict eventual policy changes, but that does not circumvent the need to outlaw bad and exploitative practices. I would argue that without policy changes to solidify and create consensus throughout society, child labor would have continued, albeit in likely more confined environments, similar to how slaughterhouses operate now. Or perhaps, as you say, the shipment of child labor jobs to other countries.

    Until we have policy that reigns in businesses which take advantage of child and slave labor, it will continue. Consumers, even in your example here, did not contribute to the decline of child labor by a conscious movement to cease buying from exploitative businesses.

    Also, to set the record straight, I agree that we should not be trading with countries that utilize child/slave labor. Did I ever indicate otherwise? I, personally, never mentioned anything about stimulus. You did.

  82. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Also, to set the record straight, I agree that we should not be trading with countries that utilize child/slave labor. Did I ever indicate otherwise? I, personally, never mentioned anything about stimulus. You did.

    I know. I’m harping on it because I don’t think you understand the ramifications to our government’s ability to enforce things like labor laws (or much of anything else), or of having high standards of living via government cheese or cheap goods, without funding/products from these countries. Funding/products that are made possible by worker exploitation. It’s a catch 22 regarding labor laws. We can’t currently enjoy them here without exporting them elsewhere and living off the profits, one way or the other.

  83. Peter Larson
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree and think I said that earlier. I just don’t believe that an anarchic non-state which allows merchants and property owners to wield power over individuals until they stop buying will do absolutely anything to stop it.

  84. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I’m doing anything of the sort, BA. I have studied a great deal of history and have seen these patterns repeat themselves. My view of the evidence is that we and societies like ours have benefited from the protection of individual rights over property rights in cases like this. It’s not always that way. Property owners will always have some supremacy on their property. Just not complete. And supporting the rights of individuals breaks down feudalism and creates a healthier society.

  85. Mike
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The blogger should follow up with all those bar owners happy about the ban that cited their open-air patios as being a great place to send the smokers. If the current interpretation that patios are included — a provision almost no state has — they may not be so happy. I wonder how many bars that supported the ban knew their patios would have to be smoke-free?

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