Billionaire Fascists Club

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg join forces to rid the world of smoking.

Golly. What a great use of your fortunes, fellas: to convince governments across the globe to impose your preferences on the rest of the world.

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39 Responses to “Billionaire Fascists Club”

  1. #1 |  Frank N Stein | 

    This shouldn’t be too surprising; to have success in a mercantalist* economy, you need to have close relationships with the thugs in power – making deals with government to obtain non-market advantages over competitors, etc. Of course sometimes the thugs turn on you, but regardless, the landscape in which you do business is deeply entwined with government. So it’s no wonder those with great success in state capitalism view their philanthropic efforts within the same power structure.

    * – it’s really more fascist than anything else, but there’s too much non-economic baggage associated with that term so that it can’t be used without irrelevant emotions and inflamed rhetoric being dragged in

  2. #2 |  Sithmonkey | 

    Gates’ has made more people ill with his bloated OS than my second-hand smoke ever could…:P

  3. #3 |  chance | 

    I can think of a lot worse ways for them to spend their money.

  4. #4 |  Thom | 

    I don’t know…it’s their money. If they want to spend it on anti-smoking programs isn’t that their business?

  5. #5 |  Matt | 

    It’s the fact that they are trying to get governments to spend tax payer’s dollars on these programs that’s wrong. If they want to do it on their own, its one thing. When they want governments to use force and coercion to stop people from making their own decisions, then it’s wrong. They use governments to protect themselves from the real free market and real compitition, it shouldn’t be a suprise when they help governments nanny us to death.

  6. #6 |  Buck B. | 

    Come on Radley, this is weak. We’re not talking about nanny culture here, but as the lead says, a habit that “will kill up to a billion people in the 21st century, most of them in poor and middle-income countries.” And many of whom are by necessity low-information consumers and may well not know about the ill-effects of smoking.

    How is this different than any other campaign against a global health problem, like HIV or lack of clean drinking water? Because it involves personal choice? So does unprotected sex or living places without potable water.

    Not to mention the heavy externalities of long-term smoking in countries with socialized medicine. If you have to pay for your neighbor’s lung cancer, it ceases to be an entirely personal choice.

  7. #7 |  Vlad Drac | 

    “Not to mention the heavy externalities of long-term smoking in countries with socialized medicine. If you have to pay for your neighbor’s lung cancer, it ceases to be an entirely personal choice.”

    I love how every time someone brings this up, their “solution” is to use the gun of the law to change B’s voluntary behavior, instead of making A pay for his own goddamn hospital bill.

  8. #8 |  Thom | 

    “It’s the fact that they are trying to get governments to spend tax payer’s dollars on these programs that’s wrong.”

    Again, if they want to spend their own money to lobby the government that’s their business. It’s not as if they are asking to spend taxpayer dollars – they’re just spending their money to tell governments what they think. Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have just as much a right to free speech as you or I do.

  9. #9 |  JDC | 

    Right. Fascism. Of course. Somebody get Inigo Montoya.

  10. #10 |  Tom G | 

    Let me point out a few things for people to remember while you defend poor Mr. Gates and Mr. Bloomberg –
    1) Gates makes a LOT of money because most of the operating systems used in state and FEDERAL government agencies’ computers are….Microsoft-based (as opposed to Linux, Unix, or Apple).
    2) In the real world, billionaires lobbying government get listened to a LOT more attentively than do us little guys. Especially if you remember point 1 above.
    3) Microsoft also has lobbied the State department in the past, to put strong pressure on OTHER COUNTRIES and discourage them from trying out Linux or other alternatives to MS products. I don’t really think the State department is supposed to tell other countries what their internal buying practices ought to be.
    4) Bloomberg is not only a billionaire, but a mayor of the biggest city in the country. He’s IN government, not exactly a neutral bystander.

    So pardon me if I seem skeptical about the true equivalence of their free speech versus yours or mine.

  11. #11 |  Buck B. | 

    “I love how every time someone brings this up, their “solution” is to use the gun of the law to change B’s voluntary behavior, instead of making A pay for his own goddamn hospital bill.”

    So, let’s be honest here. What you’re really saying is that those who can’t pay for healthcare, which includes most of the people targeted by this campaign, should be allowed to sicken and die without recourse.

    Of course, most don’t have access to healthcare at all, Not a lot of chemotherapy in Bangalore!

  12. #12 |  Zeb | 

    “Not to mention the heavy externalities of long-term smoking in countries with socialized medicine. If you have to pay for your neighbor’s lung cancer, it ceases to be an entirely personal choice.”

    I love how every time someone brings this up, their “solution” is to use the gun of the law to change B’s voluntary behavior, instead of making A pay for his own goddamn hospital bill.

    No to mention the fact that smokers pay very high taxes on their vice. I am not certain, but I would think that tobacco taxes more than cover the added burden on society. Smokers also die younger, avoiding many other long term health care problems.

  13. #13 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have just as much a right to free speech as you or I do.

    While I completely agree with that sentiment, I don’t think Radley was suggesting they don’t have a right to petition governments to do stupid things. I think he’s suggesting simply that they’re stupid for doing so.

  14. #14 |  freedomfan | 

    Buck B.

    This is exactly nanny culture here. Gates and Bloomberg aren’t spending their money to educate the citizens of these countries about smoking or to fund addiction services or anything. They are using their money to get those governments to spend taxpayer money and use government force to change people’s behavior. They are lobbying for nannyism. I am not saying G&B don’t have the right to lobby, but that doesn’t mean they are right to do it.

    And, as Vlad pointed out, the old “governments have a right to regulate it because it increases the cost of welfare programs” is pure statism. The government could (and does, really) potentially have a welfare program or subsidy for anything and then use that fig leaf as an excuse to regulate behavior. By that logic, the government pays for schools, so it can tell you how to raise your kids so that “poor home environments” don’t increase education costs; the government pays for health care, so it can tell you what to eat; the government pays for college, so it can determine what gets taught; etc.

    And, as broadly as courts read things like the Commerce Clause (there was hope with Lopez, but I think it’s mostly gone after Raich), there already basically isn’t anything you do that doesn’t affect an area where the government claims jurisdiction. Neither the US nor other countries needs extra “help” from misguided nanny billionaires (I’m also glaring at T. Boone) lobbying governments to do what they are already inclined to do.

  15. #15 |  Buck B. | 

    “Not to mention the fact that smokers pay very high taxes on their vice. I am not certain, but I would think that tobacco taxes more than cover the added burden on society.”

    Well, let’s see. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The total economic costs associated with cigarette smoking are estimated at $7.18 per pack of cigarettes sold in the United States.”

    Meanwhile: “The federal excise tax is 39 cents per pack of cigarettes.1 The median state cigarette excise tax rate, as of January 1, 2007, was 80 cents, but varied from 7 cents in South Carolina to $2.58 in New Jersey.”

    Nope, that doesn’t seem to cover it.

  16. #16 |  Chris | 

    “$2,462,500,000 has been paid to Minnesota through Fiscal Year 2006 since the Master Settlement Agreement was signed on November 23, 1998.”

    …And they still raised the tax on cigarettes.

    Doesn’t affect me much, as I get my cigarettes out of state.

  17. #17 |  Matt Moore | 

    Buck B. – The CDC’s estimate of smoking costs does not take into account the savings caused by smokers dying younger. It’s possible (there’s still some debate) that smokers create less medical expense over the long term.

  18. #18 |  Matt Moore | 

    Again, if they want to spend their own money to lobby the government that’s their business. It’s not as if they are asking to spend taxpayer dollars – they’re just spending their money to tell governments what they think. Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have just as much a right to free speech as you or I do.

    But that doesn’t mean that what they say isn’t stupid, or that it doesn’t promote fascism, or that we’re not allowed to disagree with them. Whether you agree with them or not, Bloomberg and Gates are pushing governments to control adult consensual behavior.

  19. #19 |  Sam | 

    Are they advocating making smoking illegal? No. So really there is no problem. People still can choose to smoke if they want there will just be more information around telling them not to. As long as that information is the truth (unlike information about basically any illicit drug) I could care less. I really can’t stand that y’all seem to think smokers have more rights than non-smokers…

  20. #20 |  Matt Moore | 

    Sam – Yes, part of their package is to make smoking in “public places” illegal:

    The campaign will urge governments to sharply raise tobacco taxes, outlaw smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to children and free giveaways of cigarettes, start antismoking advertising campaigns and offer their citizens nicotine patches or other help quitting.

    Remember that by “public” they mean private property that the public has access to, like bars.

    Non-smokers have the right not to smoke. Why do they have to insist that no one else smoke, too?

  21. #21 |  Sam | 

    Matt-

    Why not complain that it’s illegal to drink in public places? Nobody seems to have a problem with that…

    As for bars let me first say I can’t speak for smaller communities where business may have been hurt by the smoking ban. In NYC the smoking ban has been a godsend and I would be extremely surprised if it has had any adverse effect on a bars patronage.

    I’m not insisting people don’t smoke (although they shouldn’t) But if they are smoking me and the 80% of other non smokers in a restaurant or bar shouldn’t be forced to inhale their smoke regardless of the effects of second hand smoke. The basic life function of breathing is being adversely affected by someone else’s personal choice? Sorry, that is the opposite of freedom to me…

  22. #22 |  Richard | 

    Buck- “…low-information consumers and may well not know about the ill-effects of smoking.”

    Your body tells you smoking is bad for you the first time you inhale. I’ve never really believed in the idea that smokers are so dumb they needed a label on the box to let us know that inhaling smoke might not be the healthiest thing to do.

    Sam- “As long as that information is the truth (unlike information about basically any illicit drug)…”

    If the “education” Gates is lobbying for resembles those lying, god-awful “Truth” commercials, the info is going to be just as bad as it is for illegal drugs.

  23. #23 |  Alien | 

    Sam – Restaurants and bars, being private property, should be able to make their own smoking policies… no smoking, some smoking, all smoking etc. If you don’t want to inhale second hand smoke, don’t go to places that allow smoking. Only go spend your money at places that are non-smoking. If non-smoking businesses are more successful, more and more businesses will switch to those policies. You don’t have a right to walk into someone else’s home (or privately owned place of business) and demand they stop smoking while you are present. You do have the right to leave.

  24. #24 |  chance | 

    “Your body tells you smoking is bad for you the first time you inhale. I’ve never really believed in the idea that smokers are so dumb they needed a label on the box to let us know that inhaling smoke might not be the healthiest thing to do.”

    Intelligence has little to do with it. Some people are simply more succeptible to nicotine addiction than others. New research suggests that smokers can potentially be hooked by the very first cigarette. For more information check out this link: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=hooked-from-the-first-cigarette

    “If the “education” Gates is lobbying for resembles those lying, god-awful “Truth” commercials, the info is going to be just as bad as it is for illegal drugs.”

    Yeah, those are pretty horrible commercials. I’m not sure if they are lying or not, but either way I somehow doubt the cigarette company’s info is any more reliable.

  25. #25 |  Frank N Stein | 

    For those arguing this is just free speech at work, did you read the article? They are spending their own money (good for them) to form organizations and other bureaucrat factories, to petition and influence the government to engage in various forms of anti-smoking social engineering, including increasing taxes on those legal products. In more honest times, that was called “advocating theft” and anyone who is unsure of whether Gates’ or Bloomberg’s actions are wrong because smoking may not be good for you, really needs to take an introspective look at what their moral foundation is made of. And arguing for additional violations of liberty because of current violations of liberty (socialist healthcare) is nonsense on stilts. Lots of fuzzy thinking going around here.

  26. #26 |  Harry Callahan | 

    as a seattleite, let me point out that gates likes to slip his security on occasion and go to dick’s drive in, a classic american burger joint and seattle icon. so gates will eat junk food that trashes his arteries and waistline on the one hand while on the other he uses his billions to go after smokers in other nations. just pointing out this lovely discrepancy.

  27. #27 |  Matt Moore | 

    Why not complain that it’s illegal to drink in public places? Nobody seems to have a problem with that…

    You come to a libertarian blog and make assumptions like that? Silly man, of course I have a problem with laws that ban drinking in “public,” especially if “public” really means private. Hell, I just went to a wedding at a Nebraska state park where drinking was illegal, and a whole bunch of otherwise law abiding non-libertarians would have complained up a storm if you’d taken away their beer.

    But if they are smoking me and the 80% of other non smokers in a restaurant or bar shouldn’t be forced to inhale their smoke regardless of the effects of second hand smoke.

    Assuming you own the restaurant, I’m fine with this sentence. Oh, you don’t? Then find a restaurant more to your liking. Bars are not public places.

  28. #28 |  JDC | 

    Only –5? Come on. You freedom lovers can do better than that!

  29. #29 |  Buck B. | 

    If we’re talking about the United States, I’m with you guys. Smoking bans are a ridiculous infringement of property rights, and I’ll gladly debate the wisdom/constitutionality of our government trying to influence our decisions.

    But the role of government is simply not the same in societies where most of the populace lives in abject poverty. There are a few things above individual liberty on the needs hierarchy, such as food, shelter, not having to drink from the same river you shit in and not dying before you’re 45.

    Dying before 45, of course, is what happens when you’re a long-term smoker in a country that lacks the means to treat your condition (from asthma to emphysema to heart disease) or the mechanisms to help you quit (nicotine patches, 12-step programs, hypnosis). This is on top of the horrible air-quality to be expected of countries just entering the industrial revolution.

    Again, I fail to see how the Gates Foundation’s efforts to reduce smoking are substantially different from its efforts to combat other health scourages such as AIDS and malaria.

  30. #30 |  roy | 

    How seriously are you treating the word “forced” in your scenario? It only makes sense if you’ve watered down the definition to the point of uselessness.

    If you go into a business that allows smoking, you simply have not been forced to do anything, in any significant sense. The owner of the business invited you in. Nobody threatened you with violence, jail, or fines if you declined. You accepted the invitation. Nobody threated you with violence, jail, or fines if you left upon seeing ashtrays on the tables or a sign pointing towards the smoking section.

    Yes, once you’re inside you have to breathe or you’ll die. But you chose to be there. The only real force involved is what you appear to support: forcing the business owner to force customers not to smoke.

  31. #31 |  roy | 

    Above is addressed to Sam

  32. #32 |  chance | 

    I’ve lived in several areas where (for whatever reason) there simply were practically no restaurants or clubs that were non-smoking. Having the right to go elsewhere means little when you have no where else to go. While smoker can smoke outside for a couple minutes, then go in and enjoy a good meal, a non smoker in an area like that can get take out, or get a lung full of smoke.

  33. #33 |  roy | 

    chance,

    You had the right to cook for yourself and eat dinner at home. It may not be as convenient or fun, and may not even be as nutritious if you’re not much of a cook, but there’s a huge gap between that and “no where else to go”.

  34. #34 |  claude | 

    “I’ve lived in several areas where (for whatever reason) there simply were practically no restaurants or clubs that were non-smoking”

    Well Chance, then u do the other capitalistic thing we do in circumstances like this. U band together with like-minded people and convince the owner that there would be an economic advantage to him or her if they were to disallow smoking. U and your group call, write letters, mention it to the owner or manager when u r patronizing one of those establishments, and do other things to convince the owner of your position. The owner sets up their business to attract customers and make money. They see an economic benefit to allowing smoking within their establishment. Thats y they do it. Its how it works in a free market system. I remember when we had one of those here in America.

  35. #35 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

    I’ve lived in several areas where (for whatever reason) there simply were practically no restaurants or clubs that were non-smoking. Having the right to go elsewhere means little when you have no where else to go. While smoker can smoke outside for a couple minutes, then go in and enjoy a good meal, a non smoker in an area like that can get take out, or get a lung full of smoke.

    Chance, I feel your pain. I presently live in an area where there are there are no Thai she-male erotic massage parlors. Sure, there are plenty of massage parlors, but none of them employ Thai she-males. The owners of the massage parlors in my area are depriving me of my god-given right to receive an erotic massage from a Thai she-male.

    And hey, all you libertarians, don’t even think about coming back with some stupid assed remark like “Why should the rest of the world be forced to cater to your desire to get an erotic massage from a Thai she-male?”. This is america, and I have rights, you know, like those guaranteed by the constitution that you are all so fond of?

  36. #36 |  roy | 

    You’ve no more right to a smoke-free restaurant than I do to a bra-free dance club.

  37. #37 |  Chris M | 

    Buck B sez:

    “Not to mention the heavy externalities of long-term smoking in countries with socialized medicine. If you have to pay for your neighbor’s lung cancer, it ceases to be an entirely personal choice.”

    This attitude is what scares me the most about the idea of universal healthcare in America.

  38. #38 |  Nick | 

    Certainly, smokers should be allowed to light up in any public place where I am allowed to piss on the floor.

    I know, I know, cigarette smoke smells worse than stale urine and probably causes a lot more disease, but I’m feeling tolerant. Any restaurant that allows patrons to urinate under the table should allow smoking.

  39. #39 |  Jay Earwood | 

    Tell ya what Bill & Mike,

    You give me just a measly 0.2% of the $500 million dollars you are looking to give away, and I will never smoke another cigarette again for the rest of my life. I swear to god.

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