Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Smoking in a free society.

I had a friend of mine come to me with a question he had. This was the question- " Well, I was having a conversation with a women and we ended talking about smoking (cigarettes) and how exactly (in a free society) would people go about smoking in public? Since a second party could prove that the smoke from the cigarette was in fact harmful to the surrounding individuals."

Here was my response-

So sure there's a couple of approaches that can happen in a free society. I'll post a couple here and I probably might extend this into another blog post.

I'd like to always first say that though we might be able to think of the ways things might be handled in a free society there's definitely no way to say who is correct and who is wrong, the free market and the choice of consumers and individuals will dictate what happens.

Having said that we can definitely ponder about the situations that could come about to make everyone happy through voluntary associations.

So in a free society we have to remember that "in public" would mean something much different than it is now. This "in public" is private property and not essentially owned by "the public". Although a community could come together and purchase a piece of property for the use of everyone.

Now that that has been defined those who own the private property can essentially make the rules for this very example of smoking cigarettes. Some private property owners could very well say smoking is allowed here and other property owners could say smoking is not allowed here. It's easy to see what would happen in the property that the owners say no smoking. It gets more interesting dealing with the property that the owners say you can smoke there.

With that property in mind the owners could also say that if you enter this premise you are not allowed to bring suit against anyone for smoking. So by merely entering the property, which you can choose to or not to enter, you will not have the ability to bring suit upon people smoking there because you entered a contract stating you wouldn't. So to me that issue can be laid out pretty simply.

Now, I don't like to just show the easy cases and say hey see my society would work just well with these very easy cases. We should always seek to push these cases into more difficult situations so as to show a free society could still very well function.

So to push the situation even further let's say that some property allows for smokers but does not provide that you enter a contract stating you will not bring suit upon those who smoke on that property. Now you could very well have a problem with someone hurting your health, which hurts your body which is property by the way, and this could happen on said property.

What could possibly happen then?

So this dwells even deeper into Voluntarist/Anarcho-capitalist ideology. It brings up the idea of insurance in a free society that people could pay for to account for risk.

In our situation then if let's say I was so deathly afraid of getting second hand smoke diseases/cancer/whatever I could simply purchase insurance that would protect me if I was to get second hand smoke problems. Basically I pay premiums to the insurance agency and if I got sick they would pay me 2 million dollars or whatever we agreed upon for the contract.

Well now this insurance company has an incentive to make sure that I'm not harmed by second hand smoke or else they have to pay out 2 million dollars to me. This insurance agency, that probably insures other people as well, would then make it in their best interest to only insure those who will not bring harm upon me through smoking. So those who have private property and want to be insured would, by market forces, make it necessary that 1) you can't get harmed by second hand smoke on their property or 2) if you can be harmed you cannot bring suit upon anyone within that property nor could your insurance agency.

Now that these are in place and I decide to enter a property that allows smoking but doesn't allow suits against those that smoke I have voluntarily entered into that premises and now bear responsibility of my actions. You could now say though that you could go onto that property, be harmed, and try to bring a claim from the insurance agency for the 2 million dollars since in fact you were harmed by second hand smoke. But since you entered that property voluntarily the insurance agency could very well have a clause in the contract saying that you void the insurance agency's liability to pay you if you enter such a property.

If you wanted to be the smoker then you have the choice of staying on your property and smoking or being on someone else's property that allows smoking.

This is how these types of problems can be mitigated in a voluntary and free society. It seems convoluted and complicated when written down but it is in fact very simple in practice and how many insurance agencies conduct business today.

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