Walter E. Williams

Under the liberty-oriented method of private property, as a means to conflict resolution, we'd ask the question of ownership. If the owner wishes his restaurant to be smoke-free, it is his right. Whether a smoker is harmed or inconvenienced by not being allowed to smoke in his restaurant is irrelevant. Similarly, if a restaurant owner wishes to permit smoking, it is his right, and whether a nonsmoker is harmed or annoyed is also irrelevant. In the interest of minimizing possible harm either way, it might be appropriate for restaurant owners, by way of a sign or other notice, to inform prospective customers of their respective smoking policy. That way, customers can decide whether to enter upon the premises.

In today's America, the successful anti-tobacco campaign has become a template for conflict resolution through the forceful imposition of wills through the political system. It's part of a continuing trend of attacks on private property rights. Private property rights are the bulwark for liberty, and should be jealously guarded and not be sacrificed for the sake of expediency.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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