Thursday, 1 March 2018

The Concept Of Liberty Still Survives ... Elsewhere

Having a hell of a time here with Puddlecote Inc. Snow and transport really don't mix and this bout of cold weather from the east has led to the company being almost wiped out of regular daily work this week. Cancellation after cancellation due to adverse weather keeps pinging in and each one has a deleterious cost. Today we ran just 3 of the usual 75+ vehicles. Once it is all totted up, I'd say we will be out of pocket to the tune of around £30,000 despite being perfectly able to deliver the transport required, but what can you do when those decisions are taken out of your hands?

I could blather on about how the British don't seem to just 'soldier on' like we used to, and discuss why that is, but instead let's talk about some cheerful news.

Recently I spoke about how refreshing it can be in other countries where the notion of liberty still survives in some areas, and we have seen two examples of that this week.

In Austria, hundreds of thousands of horrible prodnoses demanded that the newly-elected government abandon its plan to allow bars and restaurants to permit smoking, should they so choose. The signatories to the petition argued that they hate the idea of other people enjoying themselves in places they wouldn't personally go, but the Austrian government has stood firm.
Austrian government MPs presented a bill on Wednesday which would continue to allow smoking in bars and restaurants, despite a huge groundswell of opposition. 
The bill, which would overturn a ban due to come into force on May 1st, was branded a "huge step backwards for public health" by the opposition. 
A petition to keep the planned ban launched by Austria's medical association has now been signed by 420,000 people -- almost five percent of Austria's population. 
FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache has defended his opposition to the ban, saying it infringes on "freedom of choice" and saying the new plan would protect "smokers, non-smokers and restaurant owners", whose businesses he says would be hit by a ban.
Bravo to all concerned. This won't mean that every venue will be forced by law to allow smoking, it will just offer choice for everyone and protect property rights, concepts which seem to have been forgotten in the UK of late.

Meanwhile in Switzerland ...
A Swiss politician is taking federal rail operator SBB to court, saying the decision to ban smoking on train station platforms goes "too far". 
Green-Liberal party member Dietrich Weidmann, a non-smoker himself, told newspaper 20 Minuten he had lodged a complaint with the Zurich district court against SBB’s introduction of a partial smoking ban on platforms of stations including Zurich, Basel and Nyon.

The ban is “not valid” and is an affront to the personal freedom of citizens, he said.

“SBB doesn’t have the right to stop people smoking. It should concentrate on its business and not act as a health guru or moral guide,” he told the paper.

He recognized that smoking inside enclosed spaces and buildings presented a health risk to others, but said banning smoking in outside areas and public spaces went way too far and does not even have a legal basis.
Good man! Of course it goes too far, there is nothing more absurd than banning smoking on an outdoor platform while diesel-powered trains churn by, it's the height of absurdity. But here's the thing that really makes this heroic.
However lawyer Thilo Pachmann told the paper that, as owners of the station, SBB have the right to make the rules. But they cannot issue fines to those who flout the smoking ban unless they obtain special authorization first, he added.

Currently SBB simply “asks people politely” to obey the rules, a spokesman for the company said. 
This guy, a non-smoker, is arguing against a ban which cannot even be enforced! And he is doing so from a position of protecting the basic concept of liberty.

Compare and contrast that with the UK where we do have a ridiculous ban on smoking on outdoor platforms, and where it is enforceable with fines and - presumably if you don't pay them - imprisonment.

It seems that countries we liberated from oppression in the past have a far better grasp of the fundamental principles of freedom than we do over here. 

1 comment:

Ed P said...

Some Swiss (& German) railway stations have an enclosed room beside the platforms (with little obvious ventilation) specifically for smokers. These are usually glass-fronted, so the smokers are clearly visible to people on the platforms, whether as an inducement or warning it's hard to say.