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Local Editorials

Government will decide for you, if you let it

SAUK VALLEY NEWSPAPERS "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

* * *

The Father of His Country knew a thing or two about tyranny. He lived during the time when a king ruled the American colonies, aided and abetted by a pugnacious Parliament over there and hardheaded military officers serving His Majesty over here.

Is there any wonder why, after their fight for independence, the Founding Fathers greatly limited the powers of government and enumerated protection from such governmental outrages as unreasonable searches and seizures, quartering soldiers in private homes and the right to a speedy and public trial by jury?

Times have changed. The heirs to Washington's version of the United States passively accept one encroachment after another on their rights of individual choice. Washington would roll over in his grave if he knew what some in government were up to in 2007.

People who currently run this "dangerous servant and fearful master" are beset by anti-tobacco groups. It's trendy to urge government to ban smoking. Government's response has been to outlaw smoking in its buildings. Emboldened, anti-tobacco groups now want smoking banned in any building where the public might gather, including privately-owned bars and restaurants. They trot out statistics and former employees who speak about the ill effects of secondhand smoke.

Some in government are listening. They are tempted, oh so tempted, to exercise the force they hold in their hands.

Just last week, state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, proposed a statewide smoking ban in practically all workplaces and indoor public places.

Earlier this week, the Whiteside County Board heard more input from health officials on a proposed countywide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Wisely, the board has adopted a wait-and-see approach. Chairman Tony Arduini wants to find out more about the impact such bans have had in other communities before putting it to a vote. We hope the vote is put off indefinitely.

Let us reiterate our previous positions.

We oppose smoking. It is a proven health risk. If you smoke, we urge you to quit.

We also oppose government interference in matters of individual choice. It should be left up to business owners whether they allow or disallow smoking. Having government make this choice for them is wrong - period.

Giving in to do-gooders' arguments on smoking bans makes the slope that much slipperier for the next issue de jour. Will it be a mandatory motorcycle helmet law? How about a ban on greasy hamburgers and pizzas? What about outlawing skydiving? Maybe it will be a prohibition on the sale of high-calorie desserts laden with trans-fats.

When will it end?

Remember Washington's admonition. Government, that dangerous servant and fearful master, will run roughshod over individual rights, if individuals let it.

We say, don't let it.

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