Today’s Column — Uneasy

I’m feeling uneasy lately. Don’t care? Tough darts. It’s my column. Maybe it’s the abominable weather, or the clouds of economic recession, or that I read Saturday in black and white that Gov. Chet Culver thinks he might someday be presidential material. It was in the Des Moines Register. No joke.
Who knows? I’m just uneasy.
I’m uneasy about the statewide smoking ban racing through the Iowa Legislature.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that smoking is a deadly scourge and that clearing the air is a good, healthy idea.
I just think this call should be left to local governments that are much closer to the individuals and busi nesses that will be affected by this very personal wielding of state power. Legislators should give locals the final say with no strings or exemptions attached. If people in gambling towns want to exempt casinos, that should be up to them, not to some lobbyists and a few legislative leaders in a backroom.
Perhaps I’d feel less uneasy about this courageous effort to make workplaces safer if I hadn’t watched some of these same lawmakers vote a few years back to make it nearly impossible for workers injured twice on the job to get fully compensated. I also watched them block strict air-quality standards aimed at hog confinement operations. I’d believe their life-anddeath overtures more if they hadn’t jacked up the speed limit and shot down state obesity studies under pressure from farm groups.
I admit I have a hard time marching with the “We know best” crowd.
My heart will always be with the working stiffs huddled outside for a smoke break. When I hear the suits talk about how those 10-minute siestas “hurt productivity,” I wonder about all their long lunches and corporate junkets and fact-finding trips and golf outings and retreats with catered lunches.
It’s the same uneasy feeling I get when $3 mocha slurpers and the buyers of $20 blocks of high-cocoa, antioxidant chocolate and $8 chocatini drinkers start railing about food stamp recipients buying candy and pop. I know it’s not healthy and I know it’s taxpayer money, but aren’t we just a bunch of big fat hypocrites?
Speaking of we know better, don’t get me started on same-sex marriage.
Backers of a constitutional ban can dress this up all they want in talk about judicial activism and preserving the sanctity of civilization, but this is pure politics. Marriage would convey new social, economic and political power to gays and lesbians who don’t agree with social conservatives on a whole range of issues. Denying them marriage denies them political clout, it’s as simple as that. And if they can fire up the Republican base at the same time, all the better.
Democrats, our champions of civil rights, are pathetic cowards on this issue, paralyzed by polls, scared of their political shadows.
I know a lot of good people disagree with me on this, and you have every right to push for a ban. It’s just that I was hoping to finally be part of an American generation that didn’t draw the disapproving head shakes of history. Guess not.
Yep, I’m still uneasy. And now I’m out of space.



Filed under columns

2 responses to “Today’s Column — Uneasy

  1. Darrell

    Chet as Presidential material?? really?

    That’s it. I’m a 5’10” 250 lb GUY but I am going to declare myself eligible for the WNBA draft.

    Hope knows no bounds

  2. MV

    As a chocolate-eating, only recently non-smoking homosexual working stiff, I totally agree.

    The trend toward banning smoking pretty much everywhere reminds me of Michael Moore’s suggested approach to gun control: let people buy all the guns they want (thus satisfying the Second Amendment arguments), just outlaw bullets. By all means, the state should continue raking in the taxes on the legal sale of cigarettes; they can just make it unlawful to actually, like, smoke them anywhere.

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