Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Class Warfare in New York

New York eats the rich.

According to Bob Herbert in The New York Times, the new anti-smoking law in New York city is less stringently enforced in upscale bars:

But like a person who enjoys smoking but knows it's not good for you, there was a touch of guilt in Ms. Phifer's comments. She felt compelled to add, “I hate the fact that this is allowed because it's the Plaza and it's a wheeler and dealer kind of place.”

Is that why you can smoke in the Oak Bar at the Plaza?

It sure looks like it.


Mr. Schweikert tried to explain. He said bar owners, if they believe “in good faith” that they qualify for an exemption, can ignore the ban during the first six months, which he described as a grace period. “The grace period is a self-effectuating exemption,” he said.

Got that? It reminded me of the comment attributed to Leona Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

I called the Health Department about the Oak Bar shenanigans, and officials were not amused. There is no such thing as a “self-effectuating” exemption. Health Department inspectors visited the Oak Bar over the weekend and issued notices of violation.

But last night, when I called the bartender and asked if you can still smoke in the Oak Bar, he said, “Yes, you can.”

So the Plaza seems committed to flagrantly ignoring the law. While the “little people” from the Bronx to Staten Island are dealing with the inconvenience of the ban — not to mention the reduced business for bar owners and substantially reduced tips for bartenders and waiters — the power crowd in the Oak Bar continues to light up in grand style, and the owners are cashing in.

For the Oak Bar, the ban has actually been a boon. Perhaps this is another one of those laws that apply only to the little people.

If failure to enforce drug laws in slums is anti-poor genocide, clearly the failure to enforce tobacco laws in upscale bars must be anti-rich genocide. This was no doubt pushed through by museum directors eager for bequests.


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