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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I built and drive an electric vehicle but I would never propose to embarass, punish or legislate against those who choose to drive gas powered vehicles.
Within the spirit of our laws, America is about freedom to choose.

For example:
If you want to own a gun, you have that right. If you don't want to own a gun, no one is forcing you. That is your choice. But if you choose not to own one, you have no right to deprive or embarass others because of their choice.

I am concerned over the insidious erosion of freedom here in America at the hand of what I call "Do Gooders". While many are well intentioned, behind some of those "Do Gooder" movements if you look deeply enough you will find an ulterior motive grounded in money.

Lets consider the case of Miracle Grow Corp. of Marysville, Ohio. A number of years back, management decided to implement a program to improve
the health of it's employees (kind of ironic for a corp. who has been cited numerous times by the EPA for contaminating the ground water in Marysville with toxins). So, their program required any employees who smoke cigarettes to cease and desist over a period of months. Even if you did not smoke at work, those who did not or could not quit would be fired.
Employees were required to submit to random urine tests. In addition, spouses of employees, even if NOT employed by Miracle Grow were required to quit. The result? Many employees did quit smoking, some who did not or whose spouses would not, were fired.

Sounds like a successful program which probably did improve the overall health of the employees. But what of motive? Was Miracle Grow actually concerned for their health or did their Balance Sheet reflect lower current liabilities following the program and tell a different story? Were those current liabilities lower because of smaller health insurance premiums paid by the company? I'll let you decide.

So here is a company which not only dictates behavior for their employees but also for employee spouses. And while that may sound innocent enough on the surface, it creates what is known in legal parlance as a "Slippery Slope".
If you can urine test for tobacco today........maybe you can urine test for alcohol tomorrow.
Or, heart disease is the proven number one killer in America. Maybe they can begin testing for high cholesterol and punish those who violate the acceptable limits. And all this in the name of good health? I think not.
All this in the name of higher profits.

There are currently proven tests on the market which will reveal what diseases an individual is likely to get during ones lifetime. Productivity studies suggest that there is a direct relationship between an individuals health and work accomplished. Think insurance companies and corporations would never stoop to such screening? Think again. I would bet their lawyers are already working out the legal challenges to such screening.

Oh, on a similar note, here is a news flash: Our Govt. is considering putting pictures of diseased lungs and graveyards on cigarette packs. Good grief!
Why should you care? Because of the doors it could open. Maybe pictures of decayed livers on wine and whiskey bottles? Wouldn't that look wonderful on your Thanksgiving Table?
How about a picture of bypass surgery over the McDonalds sign or maybe some graphics of Liposuction at Dunkin Donuts? How about an Emphysema warning over the tail pipe of every gas powered vehicle?

Every freedom has it's inherent risks.......you either protect all freedoms or risk losing one of yours.
 

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Well said.

It happens all over the world though. Here in BC, Kelowna is installing cameras on their garbage collection trucks so they can see what is dumped by each house hold. What are they looking for? chemicals? batteries? some other toxic substances???
Nope - Compostable waste. grass clippings, leaves, kitchen waste, that sort of thing.

Any violators are put on record based on their bin number and issued a formal warning. Repeat offenders will be issued a fine. Privacy concerns? Not important.

As time goes on, it will probably become illegal to even build your own back yard conversion (Oklahoma isn't far from that right now). As it is, DOT (or equivalent agency) rules are constantly getting more strict.

In some places you can't even insure a car with a spot of rust showing on it. So far BC is pretty lax in that regard but I have no delusions of it staying that way for much longer.

I also agree about the holier (greener) than thou argument as well. There is nothing to be gained from that sort of grand standing. Moderate supporters will be disillusioned, and partisan opponents will be given more ammunition when shrill activists show their colors.

As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
 

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What about in Vancouver with bicycle lanes going up everywhere? I realize that bicycles are a good thing, but when only 5% (just a guess) of commuters are using bikes, is it really smart to take away a street lane on an already overly congested street and replace it with a bicycle lane that stays mostly empty all day? All this does is alienate bicyclists from "normal" commuters. The mayor uses the bicycle lanes, so it must be worth it.

As far as vehicle inspections goes, I think BC is a joke, as there are no inspections. You can buy a car with a cracked windshield, worn out brakes, and a flat tire without a problem, as long as it passes the cash grab emissions test. What they need to do is make mandatory motor vehicle inspections for all private car sales, and get rid of Air Care. Air Care can then focus on the real polluters: over the road trucks and ships parked on our harbor.
 

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There was talk of phasing out aircare a while ago but I guess that scared too many people and it remained in place. The reasoning back then was with modern EFI engines that are self tuning, there really aren't that many polluting vehicles left on the road so it was becoming redundant. If a vehicle is spotted on the road smoking up a storm a police officer does have the authority to issue a ticket for "excessive emissions" so I don't really see the point anyway. Where I live, there are no emissions testing and even if there were, the GVWR of my truck makes me exempt.

I rather like the lax rules as they are now. I wasn't even required to have my car inspected after it was converted. The brakes work, the weight distribution is within spec - so why should I have to pay to prove my compliance under the presumption of guilty until proven innocent? Considering the alternative in places like NS or ontario, I'll take my chances with fewer rules rather than risk having too many.

I wonder how many die hards will be using those bike lanes when it's raining (or sleeting) sideways.
Maybe council thinks it will regain vancouver the top spot in the world for best places to live. Ahh....vanity:rolleyes:

Don't think some one like me could survive in a city like vancouver.
 

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While I get what you're saying I don't agree with the Miracle Gro example. That company should have the freedom to run it's business (within the law) the way it wants too. If employees don't want to quit smoking they have the freedom to get another job, and if enough people complained and used their freedom of choice to buy a competitors products then Miracle Gro would probably change their policy.

It's a sure bet that they created the policy to save money, not out of concern for employee health, but saving money is the name of the game in a capitalist society.
 

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While many are well intentioned, behind some of those "Do Gooder" movements if you look deeply enough you will find an ulterior motive grounded in money.
I think if you look deep enough you will find selfish personal gain ( of some kind ) as being motivators for just about everybody ... for just about everything.

If you can think of an exception ... please let me know.

All this in the name of higher profits.
who expected otherwise?

Every freedom has it's inherent risks.......you either protect all freedoms or risk losing one of yours.
I agree ... this equally includes the 'do gooders' voicing their opinions ... and supporting those things they want ... as it does for others who voice different opinions or support different things.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Agreed ... perceptive and self justification can go a long way... and have to justify many many atrocities throughout history.

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That company should have the freedom to run it's business (within the law) the way it wants too. If employees don't want to quit smoking they have the freedom to get another job
agree ... the alternative would be to have the government come in and legally force / prevent companies from enacting policies like that ... that is just more big brother government.

If a competing company offers lower wages but does not have the same other restrictions / issues ... maybe they get people to work for them for less money to get away from some of those corporate policies ... competition.

My sister took a job with less pay for doing the same thing ... but she did it because the new job is work from home 90% and in the office 10% ... they call it a 90/10 plan... so that other benefit was worth more to her than the money ... her choice to take it or not... and the companies choice to offer it or not.

It's a sure bet that they created the policy to save money, not out of concern for employee health, but saving money is the name of the game in a capitalist society.
agreed ... unless we want to move more toward a different system ... there are others ... socialism , communism , monarchies, etc... etc... doesn't have to be a complete switch ... some people would only want 1 more step toward other types of systems ... and others would want 1 step further away from other types of systems.
 

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I think the specific issue of smoking is valid so long as it pertains to the workplace (other enployees should not have to be exposed to second hand smoke). However what some one does at home on their own time should not be up for scrutiny as long as it isn't illegal and they continue to perform satisfactory at work.

I see no difference between a corporation doing this or a government doing the same. Its a slippery slope that should not be set foot on......

....at least not in my opinion.

Although sometimes I wonder what the reaction would be if something like this were proposed for smoking weed. Strange times we live in:rolleyes:
 

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However what some one does at home on their own time should not be up for scrutiny as long as it isn't illegal and they continue to perform satisfactory at work.

I see no difference between a corporation doing this or a government doing the same. Its a slippery slope that should not be set foot on......

....at least not in my opinion.
How do you know if what they are doing is legal or illegal ... threatening the lives of others ... etc ... unless you look? ... to know what they are doing.

In the privacy of his own home some guy can do any number of things that threaten those around him / her ... do we have to wait until he sets of an EMP and takes out the air traffic tower to look? ... do we have to wait until he sets off the bomb in a crowded school to look? ...

I agree it is a slippery slope ... but I disagree with a 100% hands off approach ... privacy of ones home or not ... it is something that has to be done carefully ... very carefully ... but sometimes it is a good idea to do ... which is why we have a system in place that requires certain levels of invasions of privacy to require a court to agree with the evidence at hand justifies the actions proposed.

Although nothing is perfect ... and it is not a once and done thing ... it is a delicate balance that must be constantly monitored to make sure it is not tipping too far in any one direction... and when it does start to tip to far in some direction ... adjustments need to be made.
 

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How do you know if what they are doing is legal or illegal ... threatening the lives of others ... etc ... unless you look?
You don't.

But the example in this discussion is one of doing harm to one's self, not engaging in terrorism.
 

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You don't.

But the example in this discussion is one of doing harm to one's self, not engaging in terrorism.
I thought the several different types of examples were just to illustrate 'do gooder' behavior... as from the first post there are a variety described.

The lone person doesn't have to be a terrorist to be doing something illegal ... or something that can harm those around them... usually they are not ... terrorists are relatively rare tiny % of overall crime , injury , and destruction in most 1st world countries.

In the smoker example ... Should insurance companies not be allowed to offer discounts for living a healthier life style? ... Should companies not be allowed to take such discounts for their insurance plans? ... Should the companies not be allowed to use the purchasing power of a large groups of employees to get a lower rate and a better deal?

The short of it ... smoking ... is not a legally protected class , like race, sex, age , etc are... so it is 100% legal to discriminate against smoking ... and would we really want to put smoking up on par with legal protections for race, sex, religion, etc?
 

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The short of it ... smoking ... is not a legally protected class , like race, sex, age , etc are... so it is 100% legal to discriminate against smoking ... and would we really want to put smoking up on par with legal protections for race, sex, religion, etc?
The issue is Liberty and Freedom of choice. Something that is being taken away from us each and every day by minority interest groups.

I am an ex-smoker and I have no problem banning smoking in public owned buildings, but strongly object to mandatory smoking bans in private business. For example restaurants, bars, retail, homes, cars, etc. The owners should decide upon their own smoking policy. If the workers or patrons do not like or approve of the facility smoking policy, work or shop elsewhere. In the end the market will dictate the policy, not a Nanny State.

Besides governments should cherish smokers, especially if that government has some sort of retirement entitlement program like SSA. Smokers will never live to collect.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The problem is not really about smoking or not smoking. It's much larger. We all know smoking is not good for ones health. The dilemma is this: Given that a particular activity is legal at what point does individual freedom take a second seat to corporate freedom?

If Miracle Gro had hired someone 15 years ago who smoked, we could accept that they have the right to later stop that individual from smoking in the workplace but do they have the right to stop him from smoking outside the workplace? This type of policy could be an invasion of privacy and additionally smacks of "Ex post facto legislation".
eg.......Congress could pass a law today making it illegal to wear a red shirt but can the courts then prosecute people who wore red shirts yesterday?


How do you know if what they are doing is legal or illegal ... threatening the lives of others ... etc ... unless you look? ... to know what they are doing.

In the privacy of his own home some guy can do any number of things that threaten those around him / her ... do we have to wait until he sets of an EMP and takes out the air traffic tower to look? ... do we have to wait until he sets off the bomb in a crowded school to look? ...
I'm not sure if you are advocating random house to house searches a la Orwell's 1984 or something different but, yes, there are inheritant risks to such freedoms as Right to Privacy. This is why we have search warrants issued by courts and not at whim by your neighbor. There has to be some evidence to "Warrant" the search and it must be conducted by representatives of that court.

In a similar vein every man has the right to free assembly no matter his affiliation. The Supreme Court ruled in Skokie, Illinois v The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan that the town of Skokie must issue a parade permit to the Klan giving them the right to march in a Memorial Day Parade along with the Boy Scouts and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Freedom is not free and this is the price we pay. We don't have to like it
and we can boo and hiss the Klan as they march by but we must protect their right to free assembly or jeopardize our very own.
 
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The ulterior motive for genetic testing is to weed out those that will cost bundles when problems arise. The information will keep folks from getting proper health insurance and be FORCED to pay out of pocket and this is determined before you have any real problems. Just because you are at risk will be enough. It's coming my friend and you have had your rights stripped. Right now it is not legal to force you to do this but it will happen and more than likely without your knowledge.

It is all about MONEY & CONTROL.

Pete :)
 

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There is a long list of unhealthy but legal habits that people engage in.

From staying up late and partying to eating spicy and/or salty food.

So who gets to decide what is allowed and what isn't?

How are such laws enforced in the privacy of some one's very own home?

"Carefully"?


I don't think there is a safe or careful way to manage such a regime because there are many examples of such ideals being recycled as lessons of the past are forgotten.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Good points David.
And Wow! Pete and I actually agree on somethig. I also believe Genetic Testing is coming and it's initial use will be reduction of liability for Health Insurers.........resulting in increased profit. One might additionally hope that through Genetic Testing we can identify individuals at risk and implement therapies early on which may extend their lives.

Ian also brings up a good point regarding "Protected Classes" ie...sex, race, religion etc. Do we want to put smokers in the same class as religion?

I think if we examine the notion of "Protected Classes" we'll find that it is sometimes flawed and eligibility for the protection can be arbitrary.
One example which quickly comes to mind is religion and political affiliation. Do Rastafarians enjoy the same protections as Protestants or Jews?
Obviously not as their religion (or political affiliation depending on your definition) encourages the smoking of Marijuana, the use of which is subject to prosecution here in the US.
Islam, a much larger religion, permits "the taking of up to 4 wives"........yeah, try that here in the western world.

Since smokers are only approx. 19% of the US population according to the CDC........lets agree that they are a minority. Lets replace them with a larger group and call them "Reckless Eaters"......those who consume large amounts of red meat, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats etc. and do so without a care for the damage to their current or future health.
We are free to eat whatever we please in this country no matter the health consequences............can corporations descriminate against this group of people? Should "Reckless Eaters" be a Protected Class?
 

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The owners should decide upon their own smoking policy. If the workers or patrons do not like or approve of the facility smoking policy, work or shop elsewhere. In the end the market will dictate the policy, not a Nanny State.
Am I reading you correctly then ? ... sense in the case being discussed it is not a 'Nanny State' ... but it is a private company ... Do you support their ability to ban employees and medically covered family members from smoking? ... even outside of work ... as you wrote, "If the workers or patrons do not like or approve of the facility smoking policy, work or shop elsewhere."

Just asking for personal clarification.

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The dilemma is this: Given that a particular activity is legal at what point does individual freedom take a second seat to corporate freedom?
Agree ... there will be times when they conflict.

This type of policy could be an invasion of privacy and additionally smacks of "Ex post facto legislation".
eg.......Congress could pass a law today making it illegal to wear a red shirt but can the courts then prosecute people who wore red shirts yesterday?
privacy issue yes ... as you posted above it is a conflict between individual and corporate rights.

It is not Ex post facto at all ... they gave time to people who already where smokers to quit or leave on their own ... after the new policy took effect... they made no issues against people smoking at any point prior to the policy ... and they even gave current smokers time to adjust after the policy went into effect.

I'm not sure if you are advocating random house to house searches a la Orwell's 1984 or something different but, yes, there are inheritant risks to such freedoms as Right to Privacy. This is why we have search warrants issued by courts and not at whim by your neighbor. There has to be some evidence to "Warrant" the search and it must be conducted by representatives of that court.
The next part I wrote in that same post , might help to explain what I am advocating.

I agree it is a slippery slope ... but I disagree with a 100% hands off approach ... privacy of ones home or not ... it is something that has to be done carefully ... very carefully ... but sometimes it is a good idea to do ... which is why we have a system in place that requires certain levels of invasions of privacy to require a court to agree with the evidence at hand justifies the actions proposed.

Although nothing is perfect ... and it is not a once and done thing ... it is a delicate balance that must be constantly monitored to make sure it is not tipping too far in any one direction... and when it does start to tip to far in some direction ... adjustments need to be made.
Does that clear it up any? ... or am I still failing in communication?

Freedom is not free and this is the price we pay. We don't have to like it
and we can boo and hiss the Klan as they march by but we must protect their right to free assembly or jeopardize our very own.
I agree.

If person A owns an insurance company maybe they want to offer a discount to those people who live healthier life styles ... they save them money and the discount might be a small amount of encouragement for others to do the same ... Maybe they don't see a good reason to pass on the costs of those who live unhealthy life styles onto those who live healthy life styles... and maybe person A also wants to offer bulk discounts ... if you sign up enough people under a plan you get another discount.

If person B owns a company and wants to reduce their medical insurance costs ... maybe they like the looks of person A's insurance discount for a healthier life style ... Maybe they also like person A's additional bulk discount ... and if they need to switch all their employees to get the bulk discount ... maybe they want both discounts ... not only does it save them money from the medical insurance discounts ... but healthier workers take less sick days ... and they generally will get more hours per year of work out of them, for the same annual salary.

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So who gets to decide what is allowed and what isn't?

How are such laws enforced in the privacy of some one's very own home?
excellent points ...

who gets to decide? ... always a sticky question when it comes to laws of any type ... at least in the U.S. ... same people as always ... ultimately the general public determines what will be legally allowed or disallowed.

How are things enforced? ... also always a sticky question when it comes to laws of any type ... at least in the U.S. ... same people as always ultimately up to the general public.

I don't think there is a safe or careful way to manage such a regime because there are many examples of such ideals being recycled as lessons of the past are forgotten.
I agree there is no 'safe' way to do it ... but unless you want 100% absolute privacy , you have to do it somehow , safe or not ... if it were 100% absolute privacy , you can't look into the homes of the child abusers , terrorists , serial killers, anarchists, etc ... as long as we don't have an absolute privacy system ... we use a system to do it ... safe or not ... dangerous or not... we try to put checks and balances on it ... but it will never be a 'safe' system ... it will always need to be watched ... and adjusted from time to time as it will eventually go too far in one direction or the other.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
who gets to decide? ... always a sticky question when it comes to laws of any type ... at least in the U.S. ... same people as always ... ultimately the general public determines what will be legally allowed or disallowed.
Ian......we would all like to believe this is true but as long as there is PAC money available to Congressmen and Senators.......not even you would completely agree with your own words.

Also as far as I know Miracle Gro never offered to retain smoking employees in exchange for higer health care premiums paid by those
employees. If there are such programs available for smokers then it begs another question: Heart Disease is the number 1 killer in the US. Are there or will there also be mandatory higher premiums for obese employees and those with high cholesterol? If not then those who smoke are clearly descriminated against.

While you will want to say that corporations have the right to descriminate against these unprotected classes of people.....it does present a double standard.
 

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Ian......we would all like to believe this is true but as long as there is PAC money available to Congressmen and Senators.......not even you would completely agree with your own words.
I do agree with my own words ... PAC and other money or not ... does not change it ... at most it may influence , but not control... ultimately it is the masses that decide ... good or bad.

There have been many times when a person A has more campaign funds than person B ... and still looses the election to person B... money may help an election , but no amount of money grantees an election ... because ultimately it is the collective will of the masses that carry the day... educated or not ... informed or not ... free of influence or not.

For example:
You could not win the next presidential election even if you spent $500 Trillion on the election campaign , if you ran on a platform of being a devote satanist and your top priority was to execute all non-satanists ... no amount of money PAC or otherwise will get you that election ... or political support to pass laws , or to enforce the executions ... not because of the platform itself ... or the lack of not enough PAC money ... but because it goes against the ultimate base source of political power ... the collective will of the masses... if a large enough % of the masses agreed with you ... you could win that election without one penny of PAC money.... even on the same platform.

We collectively intentionally allow money from PAC and others ... those in the PAC want the PAC to have that influence ... so they support it ... if there were a large enough % of the general public that actively opposed PACs ... we would not have PACs like we do.

Also as far as I know Miracle Gro never offered to retain smoking employees in exchange for higer health care premiums paid by those
employees.
I have not read that they had that option either.

Would it not be discriminatory to effectively pay smokers less for the same work? ... I think it would still be discriminatory.

By splitting up the workers into the smokers and the non-smokers ... that might have cost the company ... bulk discounts ... and other discounts ... for all workers... As long as we assume Miracle Gro has a financial motivation for doing this ... where are we willing to draw the line? ... when is a company not allowed to do something to save money ... do they have to buy cars for employees without a car? ... do they have to buy houses for employees without houses? ... etc.

At a certain point ... we collectively say ... 'if you don't like it, get a different job.' ... right now , as smokers are not a protected class ... they can comply or find a different job.

If there are such programs available for smokers then it begs another question: Heart Disease is the number 1 killer in the US. Are there or will there also be mandatory higher premiums for obese employees and those with high cholesterol? If not then those who smoke are clearly descriminated against.
I agree the smokers are being discriminated against... I think it is clear they are.

But sense smokers are not a protected class , like religion , race , sex , etc... it is perfectly legal to do.

While you will want to say that corporations have the right to discriminate against these unprotected classes of people.....it does present a double standard.
We all have the right to discriminate against any unprotected class we want ... in any legal way we want... We can discriminate against red heads ... pay them less ... fire them ... refuse to sell products to them etc ... we can even point blank to their face tell them , "I don't buy from red heads" ... and it is perfectly legal... so yes ... as long as it is a unprotected class ... it is well ... unprotected.

We can't do illegal things ... murder is illegal in and of itself ... as is assault ... etc.

Is it a double standard? ... of course ... which for unprotected classes is perfectly legal.

Unless you add that group to your list of protected classes ... and where do you draw the line ... is everything a protected class?

Should exhibitionists be protected from me not wanting my children to see public displays of sex?

We have have to draw that line somewhere... And I don't think smoking warrants becoming added to the list of protected classes.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Well Ian....we will agree to disagree as I believe the notion of protected classes is flawed via my examples of Islam and Rastafarians.
 

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Ian, exhibitionism is something carried out in public, not in the comfort and privacy of some one's own home. As an "uptight conservative" I have no patience for them either, but I don't see how that example applies here.

As far as protected groups are concerned, I'm not completely comfortable with there being any in the first place. As an individual, anyone should be entitled to the same rights as anyone else weather they align themselves with an recognized group or not. I see anything less as being a double standard and a form of discrimination.

I also disagree about your example of invasion of privacy as a something that has to be done to see if people are breaking the law. Such a practice invites the assumption of guilty until proven innocent. Any law enforcement agency that still has any self respect is more than capable of tracking down criminals based on their patterns in public, so I don't accept your suggestion that it is a necessary evil. It is evil but it is not necessary.

Once the state crosses that line and no longer protects the rights and privacy of it's own citizens, it is no longer fulfilling the mandate it was created for in the first place. Some things chance over time, the idea of freedom does not in my view and I feel the words of Benny Franklin are at least as true today as they were when he first spoke them.

Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security

As an individual, you are welcome to invite the state into your home to inspect anything they want. I will not support or condone such practice in any form unless there is prior evidence to support such an invasion. Evidence which must be carefully collected in a manner that respects the rights of citizens - as required by law anyway.
 
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