Why "loss of productivity" is NOT an issue

Jim Whitehead ejw@cse.ucsc.edu
Tue, 31 Jul 2001 16:34:33 -0700

> Fine.  You see Joe Smoker smoking --- stay away.  Be responsible for
> yourself, don't look to Joe for it.

OK, so say I'm already sitting someplace, such as a table in a restaurant.
Joe Smoker comes in. You're implying that I should move to avoid his
carcinogenic second-hand smoke?

You are free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness only to the point where
it starts affecting my ability to do the same.  Second hand smoke has been
shown to have a causal link with various cancers, thus affecting my pursuit
of life. Therefore, the initiator of the smoke must accept limitations on
activities that generate it in the presense of others.

> So how do you feel about all the EM radiation we're awash in from all
> nasty, smelly cell-phone users?

Once a causal link has been established between cell phone EM radiation and
cancer (or other illness), then the same logic applies. To date, this causal
link has not been conclusively established for cell phones (r-squared does a
number on a signal that is only milliwatts to begin with).

> How about all the emissions from cars

This is why car owners were required to bear the cost of adding catalytic
converters. It would be interesting to see the outcome of a class-action
lawsuit by non-drivers against drivers in a high-smog area such as Los
Angeles. It might actually win.

> How about those nasty, short-sighted Brazillians
> who are destroying our planet's lungs?

This does not affect my ability to pursue life, liberty, or happiness, so
they are free to do what they want. You could maybe argue that this is a
*quality* of life issue. It certainly doesn't seem comparable to direct
inhalation of carcinogens.

> How about those hormones in the beef?

If I eat beef, it is my choice. Someone eating beef within 10 feet of me
does not expose me to beef hormones. Hormones in beef do not affect my
ability to pursue life, liberty, or happiness. Thus this case is not
comparable to second hand smoke.

> It's a slippery slope

No, application of the "pursuit of life, liberty and happiness" rule crisply
resolves this issue.

- Jim