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Human nature

The image above, which I took about an half an hour before writing this article, shows an employee of Britain’s premier cancer hospital, The Royal Marsden, standing by the front door having a cigarette. This is a man who works in a cancer hospital and comes face to face with the savage realities of what his habit vastly increases his risk of contracting, on a daily basis.

This picture says something very profound about human nature. One thing is for sure, it says more than any lengthy exegesis I could write about the futility of trying to use the violence of law to mandate behaviour the state feels is in the regulated person’s “best interests”. Ponder that.

5 comments to Human nature

  • I once knew a noted authority on emergency-room medicine. He drove me somewhere in his fast little sportscar, and he didn’t wear a seatbelt!

  • NC3

    The person has been regulated to step outside for his smoke. The State bears the responsibility to protect the majority from the foolishness of the minority. The quality and quantity of the regulations are wholly dependent on the nature of the people within the State. If you want a better State, become a better person.

    This picture says nothing at all contrary to the notion that the State does not bear the sword in vain. He IS standing outside, right?

  • NC3: I think your arguments fail on several levels: The risk his habit poses to himself is significant but to others it is negligible (‘second hand smoke’ voodoo science not withstanding). Thus how is it the state’s “responsibility to protect the majority from the foolishness of the minority”? The ‘majority’ is not threatened by him and so needs no protection.

    Also, it was not long ago when the ‘majority’ were smokers, so are you sure you really understand what actually motivates states to do what they do? If the majority think it is ‘foolishness’ for white people to marry black people, should the state ‘protect the majority’ from that particular ‘foolishness’? You may not agree with the judgement involved but if the majority thinks it is so, is that ok by you?

    Similarly, given that I regard nation-states as the ‘first amongst many’ of sources of harmful social distortions, a better argument would be that you need a better state (i.e. less of one) to have better people. The only way to have a ‘better person’ is through a person exercising free will… states are entirely about the exercise of force. You have it the wrong way around.

    I think you are seeing a tree but missing the existence of the forest. Yes, he is standing outside but that is probably a job regulation… just as when I have a party at my house I boot anyone who wants to smoke out into my garden. My house, my rules. The fact is the man in the picture is stepping out to smoke because he still wants to work at that hospital and they will fire him if he smokes inside… but it also indicates that regardless of the possible dire consequences to himself, about which he is exceptionally well qualified to make an informed decision (he works surrounded by people suffering from lung cancer after all), he chooses to exercise his right of self ownership and run those risks. It is his life and it is his to risk, and regardless of the fact the state has inflated the cost of his habit (tax makes up 89 percent of the cost of cigarettes in Britain), he chooses to do what he wants… but he is willing to do so outside on the steps because he values his job above his health. My point is that people will do what they see is in their interests, not what the state sees as being in their interests, regardless of how irrational that might strike you, or me, or Tony Blair.

  • Kinni Peters

    How about a concrete example of what majority rule gets you? Throughout most of the Middle East, men are the majority, and women the minority. Yup, those ‘foolish’ women sure are getting what they deserve.

  • Paul

    I think this simply shows what an addictive substance nicotine is, even those who see the damage have trouble giving it up.
    I’m an ex-addict and speak from some experience, the withdrawal symptoms are VERY real!