|Public Enemy Number One|
I have a friend in the area that spent many long hours for many long years working at the Philip-Morris factory near here. The income he received provided his family a life of health and comfort and, thanks to the generous pension plan he got when he retired, he lives very well now. Tobacco was a great provider for many of its people so long as you didn't use its product. Charlotte, North Carolina became the financial center of the south because its banks were the premiere lender to the makers of the cigarette brands that became household names nationwide.
What was the mission statement of firms such as Philip-Morris, R. J. Reynolds and Liggett & Myers? Judging by its product I would guess it was something on the order of ‘encourage people to inhale the smoke of burning leaves’ and, of course, strive to capture the largest market share of this portion of the population. On the face of it you wouldn't think there was much promise to this business model. After all, who gains any pleasure from inhaling smoke? It would seem to appeal to the fringe elements of society – maybe people that pierce their tongue or tattoo their face would voluntarily try coughing with the aid of smoke.
It’s all so ridiculous were it not for the pleasurable sensation that comes from inhaling the tobacco ethers. Too bad smoking turned out to be so addictive. Too bad it was also discovered to be such a hazard to one’s health. I really miss being able to light up a hard-pack Marlboro red with my morning’s coffee. What a shame this pastime turned out to be so flawed. I can’t begin to appreciate the scale of tragedy its consequences brought to so many people. But then every human enterprise has its downside. Aircraft fly us quickly about the globe but a few of these flights end in disaster for all aboard. Automobiles have given us unimagined personal mobility but they, too, have their dangers. Computers and the internet have brought a revolution to human communications and, yet, some people have succumbed to spending much of their life in a virtual world. The experiences of human life are both extraordinary and challenging.
Everything about the human enterprise has its challenges. The greater the possibility a human endeavor has to enhance the individual lives within mankind, so then greater is the challenge likely to be. No complicated work derived from human minds and hands is ever born into perfection. Someone dreams a grand idea and then it’s given shape through our time-honored process of trial and error. Can you name one example of great human ingenuity that didn't begin rough and didn't require a series of subsequent improvements? I can’t think of anything – certainly not a program providing affordable health care for all. Poor Barack Obama, what could he have been thinking? Have you tried to enroll in an insurance plan on healthcare.gov, yet? It’s a disaster. The site can’t handle the load. Sure, the state exchanges seem to be working but the Federal site is swamped with people that think they need this product. Apparently they haven’t been listening to their state government officials that won’t offer the service because… why? Death panels? It comes between you and the doctor you don’t already have? You would prefer waiting for hours in expensive hospital emergency rooms for your care at the tax-payer’s expense. Maybe you like the idea of being able to get insurance at the same premium rate as everyone else despite having a pre-existing condition but you don’t like the method of paying for it. What a shame it is that perfectly healthy people also have to purchase health insurance. Of course, the private health insurance companies that administer the program would soon go out of business if there wasn't available to them a large revenue pool to cover their expenses. Funny, but isn't that how car insurance works? People that don’t have wrecks shouldn't have to purchase insurance for their automobile. It’s another example of government overreach. Maybe the real problem with Obamacare is that it’s just going to be too difficult. We can’t do it. It’s not worth the effort. Let’s dwell more on simpler, more profitable achievements like bottling beer, building slot machines and rolling cigarettes.