13. February 2009 · Comments Off on Here come the personal bail-outs · Categories: General

Not really. But I don’t know what else to call it. The end of accountability? The end of personal responsibility for choices? The beginning of the end of capitalism? Or maybe it’s just plain old greed, and the thought of getting something for nothing.

news article

This might be old news, but it’s the first I’ve seen of it, so it’s news to me. It seems that a Florida jury has decided that a man who chain-smoked for 40 years was helplessly addicted to nicotine, and therefore Philip Morris is responsible for his death. Now they get to decide how much Philip Morris should give the grieving widow.

The article says he was 55 years old when he died in 1997. So he started smoking at 15, in or around 1957. By 1966, when warning labels appeared on all cigarette packages, he’d been smoking almost 10 years then, so I’ll cut him a little bit of slack. That was plenty of time to get addicted to nictoine, and I don’t know what kind of information was available then regarding the dangers of smoking.

So yes, the tobacco companies bear some responsibility in all this. But the ultimate responsibility rests with the human being who made a choice to smoke, and continued to choose to smoke even as medical evidence mounted that it was an unsafe practice. According to the article, he tried to quit on numerous occasions, but kept going back to smoking. Addictions will do that to you, and he was, indeed, addicted. But the original culpability belongs to him, not to Philip Morris. Philip Morris did not come along, tie him to a chair, and force-feed him cigarettes.

What’s next? Can alcoholics who die from the ravages of their disease sue the liquor/beer companies? What about morbidly obese folks who die from complications of being overweight? How about this one – can I sue the credit card companies because they kept increasing my credit limit and so I kept spending their money?

At what point does personal responsibility enter into this? Or have we as a nation moved away from the concepts of being responsible for our own actions, and moved into the concept of doing/saying whatever will give me the most free stuff, especially if it’s coming from a greedy blood-sucking corporation that is only out to advance its own agenda on the backs of the poor uneducated masses (in other words, any company that wants to make a profit). What will happen when they bankrupt the tobacco companies and all the folks who are currently addicted to nicotine can no longer get their cigarettes?

I should probably add that I am not a smoker. In fact, I am almost allergic to cigarette smoke, and hate the smell of cigarette smoke or stale cigarette smoke. That said, I firmly believe that as long as something is legal, then companies have a right to provide it, and people have a right to indulge in it. Cigarettes are legal, and it’s well-known that they are addicting. I don’t know when we first realized they were addicting, but it seems to me that anyone who started smoking after that became common knowledge has no grounds to sue any tobacco company.

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