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Friday, April 23, 2021

Through The Looking Glass

Witnessing first hand the wreckage that smoking can create in a life has made me newly grateful for my early-in-life decision to avoid that toxic habit. And, I'm angrier than ever with the venal cigarette industry for continuing to shamelessly destroy millions of lives in its relentless pursuit of profit, consequences be damned. 

Call this rant false equivalence, or the ravings of a naive idealist, or even label me with the dreaded "s" word if you must. But I just don't understand how an industry thriving on such misery is allowed to continue and flourish. Which unreconstructed capitalist among you can explain to me how cigarette industry executives who willfully obfuscated the health risks associated with smoking for years were allowed to retain their obscene, ill-gotten wealth? How about the wealth passed along to the heirs of those poison peddlers? How many of those executives or their progeny have ever watched a loved one slowly deteriorate from the effect of the addictive drug they legally shill? What rationalization did they use to help them work through their grief while excusing their role in this travesty? 

While on the subject of legality, let's travel together through the looking glass, shall we? The crime that set in motion the events leading to the untimely death of Eric Garner seven years ago was the sale of untaxed cigarettes. What are we saying about what we value when it is legal to sell a product that slowly maims then murders millions but, it is illegal - and in Garner's case punishable by death - to sell that product untaxed? Anyone else feel like they're marooned in a Lewis Carroll story? 

How has the abomination of manufacturing, selling, and profiting from cigarettes gone unchecked for so long? Pretend I'm a moron; break it down for me, please. Give me a moral - other than unbridled fealty to the almighty dollar - to this ugly, seemingly unending story.

8 comments:

  1. Provocative post.

    No disagreement...we all see the first hand issues the habit causes.

    You have identified the problem; what is the solution?

    I have some thoughts for the next family gathering.

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    1. Chris; Thanks for the comment. One solution is to hold the cigarette industry much more accountable for the damage they have done, perhaps so much so that maybe they re-consider even staying in their lethal business (see Kim's comment below). My other solutions are more radical so I'll leave that for a different forum, perhaps that family meeting you speak of? Although, maybe not, given my view of unregulated capitalism is probably not the majority view among that group.

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  2. Interesting...I never thought about the legal ramifications of taxation relative to the health detriments that tax payers end up holding the bag for. Although I don't believe government did a total cost benefit analysis before making these laws, we need the tax revenue to offset the detrimental health effects of smoking that the government pays for via Medicare and Medicaid. But I echo your sentiments, why should the leadership of these companies get to keep their ill-gotten gains rather than footing the bill for the damage they caused? The solution is holding companies like this accountable...as we are doing in the opioid epidemic.

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  3. Hear. Hear. Accountability? happening so much these days. I agree with what you have said but also am concerned about the larger picture of many corporations paying no or very little tax. For the last 30-40 years the country has been rigged to allow this to happen and most people aren't even aware. Sorry state of affairs. And not just the cigarette industry. What about fossil fuels????

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    1. Ines; Thanks for comment and affirmation. Accountability is frequently a quaint concept for some of corporate America. Yet somehow - strangely enough -it's OK for the average Joe or Josephine like you and I to have to pay our fair share.

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  4. Hello, Pat. My initial response to this post would be ... well .. Money, Money, Money. And we all know how much of an influence that is, and will always be. Unless we follow the 'Star Trek, The Next Generation' philosophy where people stopped striving for personal gain/goal and all served to make mankind better. But, that's just the geek in me talking. Smoking and the Tobacco industry in its entirety, Gun Control (or the lack of), Politics ... It's all the same when it comes to the 'Why'. I've always wondered why anyone would want to be President of the United States. Especially when most that run for, or achieve, that office are wealthy to begin with ... But it comes right back around to ... $$$. I honestly wish I had a better/different answer.
    Be well ...
    Bob

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    1. Bob; Thanks for the comment, Star Trek geekiness aside. All my "answers" to the perpetual issue of how $$$ distorts our humanity in so many ways are so far to the political left that I keep them to myself. Maybe someday over a beer (or ten), I'll share a few of those answers with you and then watch you run away from me, never to be seen again.

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    2. I don’t see myself running away, Pat. But I do look forward to sharing those beers. Be well, my friend.

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