One would like to believe that individuals that are elected to high office are visionaries: men and women of the people, and of modernity.
Republican State House Member, Certified Public Accountant, and likely Pennsylvania's next Auditor General, Republican John Maher, flunks these tests on a number of counts, prominently including his consistent and embarrassing stance in opposition to the Clean Indoor Act, which imposed prohibitions on smoking in most public places.
Maher, a smoker, voted with the minority in the General Assembly who believed that there was no role for state government to ensure that workplaces, stores, and restaurants offer protection from the ingestion of second-hand smoke, which had already been declared a first-class carcinogen by the U. S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona. If Maher had his druthers, places of employment would simply say to their workers, "You knew the risks when you took the job. Don't come crying to us when you contract an illness or have difficulty breathing. If you don't like it, find a job elsewhere." Given this mentality, why not disband the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? If and when someone determines a hazardous condition to exist, let government respond, "Sorry, we are closed."
It has puzzled me that the smoking issue became a partisan one, my fellow Republicans supplying the opposition to clean air (something which, I would inform or remind, we are guaranteed per the state Constitution). I suppose that to the Clean Indoor Act "nays", freedom from government intrusion means that smokers have the right to poison others. I would note that Maher's opponent in the Auditor General race, the Honorable Eugene DePasquale, voted for the act as a member of the House.
At the time that enlightened members of the General Assembly voted to pass this long-debated legislation, Maher, still skeptical about it, suggested to me that we take a look at how it is working out one year after implementation. I have evaluated it continuously and conclude that with the exception of the exemptions to the legislation for powerful, money-bearing special interests like casinos, which are not required to protect their employees from harm, the law is working extremely well, something with which I know the significant majority of my fellow Pennsylvanians agrees. There has been no indication from Maher that he regrets or has renounced his position in support of smokers like himself over the public interest.
How many, other than those addicted to their nicotine, would take us back for a return to the days of smoke-filled workplaces, restaurants, and stores?
I hear cries of "I thought you were a Libertarian" coming forward in response to this essay. I would note that the Libertarian believes in the general freedom for responsible adults to do what one wishes UNLESS AND UNTIL THE RIGHTS AND COMFORT OF OTHERS ARE AFFECTED.