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 Post subject: Cigarette Legislation
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:46 am 
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So Australia passed "Plain Packaging Laws" which require branding to be removed from cigarette packages and adds one of several pictures - of diseased lungs, of an eyeball with something terribly wrong with it, of a mouth with cancer, etc. All of them are shocking images.

In other words, you get a box of cigarettes with a big terrible picture on it with the brand name in small letters. Needless to say, demand for cigarettes dropped to its lowest level following the introduction of this law.

Despite the undoubtedly positive public health effects, something about this is little unsettling. You're forcing companies to manufacture and sell their products to consenting adults in packages purposefully designed to eliminate demand for the product.

I think cigarettes are terrible, but I'm a uncomfortable with the ramifications for property rights.

Thoughts?

(Language warning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UsHHOCH4q8 )

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:19 pm 
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I think if it reduces smoking it is good. In this particular case, I'd value life more than freedom.

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Also, Cashley died in a hole. I don't know why you keep trusting him. I mean sure he's super good at mafia and knows exactly what he's doing, but I feel like maybe some game you would just not trust him. :P Props to you Cashley, always making my games exciting.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:19 am 
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Something to ponder: is this fundamentally different from other packaging laws (e.g. requiring nutrition information), and if so, what's the brightline that distinguishes it?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:21 am 
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Since I only smoke maybe a pack every other month, I'm really not too worried for myself.

However I do wonder though. Since the purpose of these regulations is to cost cigarettes out of the market, the death of Eric Garner should make us ask ourselves how far we are willing to go to make sure some people don't smoke for cheaper?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:20 am 
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As a libertarian, I am aghast at the audacity of the Australian government. (Alliteration much ;) ) But in all seriousness, I am very uneasy with the idea of a government mandating that a business must put images on their products that are deliberately designed to decrease sales of said product. This gives government way too much power and a dangerous legal precedent to dispense of property rights when they see fit. TBH, this policy gives me Prohibitionist vibes, even though the law doesn't criminalize cigarette usage. Anyone else getting this vibe?

Caleb, I can see where you're coming from. But I would say that if you're okay with government doing this to cigarette companies, then you should also be in favor of enacting similar measures on alcohol companies, firearms companies, and any other firm that manufactures something remotely dangerous to human health in order to stay morally consistent. Where is the brightline between "OH MAH GERSH, GOVERNMENT MUST FORCE THESE BAD GUYS TO SHOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THEIR EVIL PRODUCTS!" and "Ehhh, we shouldn't impose this on them"? Would you support such measures, and if so or if not, why?

Overall, I think it should be up to individual responsibility to research the pros and cons of the products they choose to purchase and the substances they choose to consume. It's not the government's job to become a nanny state that tells us what we can and cannot put into our bodies.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:06 am 
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MSD wrote:
Something to ponder: is this fundamentally different from other packaging laws (e.g. requiring nutrition information), and if so, what's the brightline that distinguishes it?


I would say that yes, it is different from other packaging laws because of the content of the message. Nutritional information (e.g. ingredients, calorie content, etc.) is made up of objective, verifiable, factual information. If a product lists an ingredient, and you consume the product, you know you have consumed the ingredient.
The pictures Sharkfin speaks of are not facts, but images with emotional appeal. They imply that certain things might happen, but they are not statements of objective facts. They are more like propaganda. Indeed, they are propaganda.

Evan wrote:
Overall, I think it should be up to individual responsibility to research the pros and cons of the products they choose to purchase and the substances they choose to consume. It's not the government's job to become a nanny state that tells us what we can and cannot put into our bodies.

Agreed. :) That's why we need freedom of information. If people value their own health, they'll look into the information that's out there. If not, then the pictures probably wouldn't affect them anyway. No need for government direction.

CalebAshley wrote:
I think if it reduces smoking it is good. In this particular case, I'd value life more than freedom.

Caleb, I think you bring up a very good point. Life and freedom seem to be in conflict here, and who doesn't support the value of life? I would have to say that the real conflict comes between responsibility and protection. Safety is important, but I think freedom is more valuable in this instance because without the initial freedom to choose, people will never learn to be responsible and to improve their lifestyles by themselves. I believe that the learning experience, the progression, is worth more than immediate safety.
Caleb, since so far you are the only differing opinion, I'd love to hear more from your side of the issue. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:27 am 
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I am in favor of all sorts of labelling requirements (provided of course the labels are factually correct and promote a public interest). A truly competitive free market assumes rational consumers acting on complete information. Sure, a consumer can do independent research about the negative health effects of smoking, but if someone wants to offer a harmful product for sale it should be incumbent on them to educate the consumer, not the other way around. Considering all the deceptive marketing practices used -not just by tobacco companies - I find it strange that forcing companies to tell the truth is somehow anti liberty. I don't think alcohol should be illegal, but I would have no problem if bottles contained anti-dui messages instead of labels; assuming there was some reason to believe that would be effective.

Then again, I also think it is wrong to spend 3 minutes convincing people to buy a product and 3 seconds of unintelligible gibberish going through the safety warnings. That is not truth in advertising.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:33 am 
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Phillip Morriss's official response included this gem:

Quote:
we take seriously the responsibility that comes with selling a product that is an adult choice and is harmful to health.


Tobacco companies fought for years to avoid admitting health risks of smoking. Why would we trust their opinion on this?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:04 pm 
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HannahMiele wrote:
MSD wrote:
Something to ponder: is this fundamentally different from other packaging laws (e.g. requiring nutrition information), and if so, what's the brightline that distinguishes it?


I would say that yes, it is different from other packaging laws because of the content of the message. Nutritional information (e.g. ingredients, calorie content, etc.) is made up of objective, verifiable, factual information. If a product lists an ingredient, and you consume the product, you know you have consumed the ingredient.
The pictures Sharkfin speaks of are not facts, but images with emotional appeal. They imply that certain things might happen, but they are not statements of objective facts. They are more like propaganda. Indeed, they are propaganda.

ooh, I like this.

It's like a negative marketing campaign versus informed consent.

Db8r wrote:
Tobacco companies fought for years to avoid admitting health risks of smoking. Why would we trust their opinion on this?

I doubt anyone seriously believes that tobacco companies care about the health of their consumers.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:10 pm 
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Evan wrote:
Caleb, I can see where you're coming from. But I would say that if you're okay with government doing this to cigarette companies, then you should also be in favor of enacting similar measures on alcohol companies, firearms companies, and any other firm that manufactures something remotely dangerous to human health in order to stay morally consistent. Where is the brightline between "OH MAH GERSH, GOVERNMENT MUST FORCE THESE BAD GUYS TO SHOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THEIR EVIL PRODUCTS!" and "Ehhh, we shouldn't impose this on them"? Would you support such measures, and if so or if not, why?


I'm probably in favor of restrictions to some extent and to some extent they already happen. To buy a gun you usually have to go through a background check or some similar process. So there are restrictions on those things in the status-quo. I think the brightline is when the product poses a significant public health risk. We can debate all day about the meaning of that, but to me cigarettes would definitely fall under that category. I'd handle the brightline on a case by case basis and let the courts decide which is mostly what has happened with cigarettes. Let me ask my own questions of you: would you allow cigarette companies to set up a kiosk fifty feet from an entrance to a public high school? If you say no doesn't that violate freedom and give the government discretionary power over freedom?

HannahMiele wrote:
Caleb, I think you bring up a very good point. Life and freedom seem to be in conflict here, and who doesn't support the value of life? I would have to say that the real conflict comes between responsibility and protection. Safety is important, but I think freedom is more valuable in this instance because without the initial freedom to choose, people will never learn to be responsible and to improve their lifestyles by themselves. I believe that the learning experience, the progression, is worth more than immediate safety.
Caleb, since so far you are the only differing opinion, I'd love to hear more from your side of the issue. :D


Thanks Hannah for your response :D I think there are some things where people shouldn't have the ability to choose. To give a drastic example you shouldn't be able to build a nuclear weapon in your backyard. That's a little bit beside the point because we're not talking about banning people from buying cigarettes we're only talking about adding more information to the packaging. We are still giving people the option to choose we are simply providing them with truthful information on the product they're buying. This is especially pertinent with cigarettes giving the fact that the major cigarette companies knew the harmful effects of tobacco in 1954, but most didn't admit it til the 90's. And yes the information may be extreme, but it represents what a cigarette does to the human body. If the cigarette didn't actually do that we wouldn't be in this position. I'm not saying take away responsibility I'm saying be truthful and provide all the information and then let the consumer make an educated choice.

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Also, Cashley died in a hole. I don't know why you keep trusting him. I mean sure he's super good at mafia and knows exactly what he's doing, but I feel like maybe some game you would just not trust him. :P Props to you Cashley, always making my games exciting.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:15 pm 
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I doubt anyone seriously believes that tobacco companies care about the health of their consumers.


Then why shouldn't the government step in to protect consumers? False advertising is illegal. Isn't selling a harmful product like cigarettes without showing the harmful consequences false advertising?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:37 pm 
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Db8r_from_Dixie wrote:
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I doubt anyone seriously believes that tobacco companies care about the health of their consumers.


Then why shouldn't the government step in to protect consumers? False advertising is illegal. Isn't selling a harmful product like cigarettes without showing the harmful consequences false advertising?

No, of course not.

Advertising isn't "here's everything this product does." Advertising is "here's how this product will help you."

I'd argue that we don't need to be (nor should we be) protected from everything that could possibly hurt us. People should bear some measure of personal responsibility.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:15 pm 
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I get the necessity of mandating labeling for nutrition and other characteristics because it's necessary to have a (relatively) free market flourish. Imperfect information allows for market failures. Even as someone on the right, I am ok with this.

Is there anyone who truly doesn't believe that lighting something on fire and inhaling the smoke, doesn't damage your lungs? Most Americans (79%) do not smoke, and only 11% of smokers believe that secondhand smoke isn't harmful and 3/4ths themselves would like to one day quit.

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health. Full stop. The whole "People need to know" argument is foolish because everyone already does. I find it ironic that folks who vehemently oppose marijuana prohibition and see alcohol prohibition was some bizarre relic uptight Protestant moralists, turn around and embrace tobacco prohibition.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:18 pm 
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I don't think cigarettes should be banned. Full stop.

Quote:
Advertising isn't "here's everything this product does." Advertising is "here's how this product will help you."


Ok, so give me a single cigarette commercial that truthfully tells people how the product will help them :P cigarette commercials are designed to sell based on image, not substance. Warning labels balance the fluff with substance.

Sure, people are "educated" on the dangers of smoking - in no small part due to laws the cigarette companies fought tooth and nail. But there is a difference between the abstract idea of cancer and the visible representations of the disease. If people don't like the pictures they can remove them immediately after purchase. All the labels do is counter the advertising narrative of smoking as glamorous without consequences.

would anyone favor removing all warning labels on all alcohol/tobacco products?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:51 pm 
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CalebAshley wrote:
I'm probably in favor of restrictions to some extent and to some extent they already happen. To buy a gun you usually have to go through a background check or some similar process. So there are restrictions on those things in the status-quo. I think the brightline is when the product poses a significant public health risk. We can debate all day about the meaning of that, but to me cigarettes would definitely fall under that category. I'd handle the brightline on a case by case basis and let the courts decide which is mostly what has happened with cigarettes. Let me ask my own questions of you: would you allow cigarette companies to set up a kiosk fifty feet from an entrance to a public high school? If you say no doesn't that violate freedom and give the government discretionary power over freedom?


Sorry, but "let the courts decide on the brightline" doesn't cut it for me. :P It's a clever dodge on my question really, because you can't accept the idea that your support of this policy tangibly violates property rights and freedom. I would 100% support allowing cigarette companies to set up shop wherever they want, as long as it abides with zoning laws and whatnot. And depending on the locality, I doubt that hypothetical scenario is legal in already existing legislation anyway...

But that's besides the point. I still think my analysis stands that these images constitute an undue violation of rights. Imagine something like this was proposed for fast food restaurants, gun sellers, and video game companies. Fast food consumption can kill people. Video games can kill people if they are played too much and cause people to get violent. Guns can be misused. So let's have government force them to slap on images of morbidly obese individuals on all hamburger wrappers and bags and images of bloodied children from Sandy Hook on all gun packages and every copy of Call of Duty so we can "uphold lives over freedom." Now we can argue about the specifics of these and why I may be comparing apples to oranges all day long, but step back from that for a second and think about your analysis again. If we should force cigarette companies to put pictures on their products that are deliberately designed to decrease sales of said product, shouldn't we just go all the way and make every company that sells products that can harm the human body also put unappealing images on their products? I say let's uphold freedom of choice for everyone so that its the responsibility of consumers to protect themselves and others, not the government becoming a massive nanny state dictating what choices we can and cannot make.

Hannah gets it. IrishMexRebel (I think his name is Joe) gets it. Anthony gets it. Not sure why you and Db8r don't.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:23 am 
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Evan wrote:
Hannah gets it. IrishMexRebel (I think his name is Joe) gets it. Anthony gets it. Not sure why you and Db8r don't.
Laws don't have to be consistent; they just have to be fair.

I think it's a perfectly coherent view to say "decisions about which things to implicitly discourage should be made democratically by the people." You speak as if opening the door to "punitive packaging" logically requires (or will inevitably lead to) an overbearing nanny state, but democracy doesn't work like that. We have plenty of laws like this already, and they're pretty inconsistent. People want cigarette taxes and abortion-facility restrictions. They don't want obese people on their burger wrappers.

Democracy tends to get left out of these discussions, for some reason. This is sort of the kind of question that democracy exists to solve.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:52 am 
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Quote:
I don't think cigarettes should be banned. Full stop.


Except you want to functionally regulate to the point where no one buys any.

Or that at least seems to be the logical extension of your argument.

Again, this seems like an overstretch when there is a historic decline in smoking and literally everyone knows it's bad for you.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:42 am 
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I never said I supported regulations making it more difficult to buy cigarettes? You may be confusing me with someone else. I am ambivalent on punitive taxation of cigarettes for reasons like the Eric garner example you cited.

I just think forcing companies to tell the truth doesn't violate anyone's liberty.

're: slippery slope arguments and fast food warnings.
1) a brightline can easily be drawn between cigarettes and other products if you wish to do so. You can exercise, eat fast food, and still be healthy. obesity is a combination of many factors with processed foods being just one. Same thing with guns. Buying a gun does not mean that someone's risk of getting shot automatically goes up. The link between cigarettes and public health is much more direct than either of those and there is no possible use of cigarettes that does not have drastic health consequences.
2) I am fine with graphic labeling of both guns and fast food (provided it is backed by scientific research). Don't think voters would go for it, but I don't think that violates anyone's liberties either.
3) it's interesting that you mention video games which already carry warnings. And the Wii actually interrupts game play to suggest taking a break periodically (not sure about other consoles). Are those regulations also violations of liberty? If not, what Is your brightline?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:48 am 
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Evan wrote:
Sorry, but "let the courts decide on the brightline" doesn't cut it for me. :P It's a clever dodge on my question really, because you can't accept the idea that your support of this policy tangibly violates property rights and freedom. I would 100% support allowing cigarette companies to set up shop wherever they want, as long as it abides with zoning laws and whatnot. And depending on the locality, I doubt that hypothetical scenario is legal in already existing legislation anyway...


Well who decides what tangibly violates mean? And who decides when that is appropriate? Do all taxes tangibly violate property rights and freedom, I don't think so but you could argue that logically and convincingly that they do. That is where the courts come in they get to weigh the balance between public good and freedom. I think saying as long as it abides with zoning laws is also a clever dodge. Since zoning laws are just another form of the government telling you what to do just a more subtle one.

Evan wrote:
But that's besides the point. I still think my analysis stands that these images constitute an undue violation of rights. Imagine something like this was proposed for fast food restaurants, gun sellers, and video game companies. Fast food consumption can kill people. Video games can kill people if they are played too much and cause people to get violent. Guns can be misused. So let's have government force them to slap on images of morbidly obese individuals on all hamburger wrappers and bags and images of bloodied children from Sandy Hook on all gun packages and every copy of Call of Duty so we can "uphold lives over freedom." Now we can argue about the specifics of these and why I may be comparing apples to oranges all day long, but step back from that for a second and think about your analysis again. If we should force cigarette companies to put pictures on their products that are deliberately designed to decrease sales of said product, shouldn't we just go all the way and make every company that sells products that can harm the human body also put unappealing images on their products? I say let's uphold freedom of choice for everyone so that its the responsibility of consumers to protect themselves and others, not the government becoming a massive nanny state dictating what choices we can and cannot make.


Fast food is not addictive. Video games are restricted and do have warning labels(I think, though they may not be prominent) and age guidelines. Also a direct link between video games and violence is tougher to establish than one between tobacco and cancer. Water can kill people if you drink too much, yet nobody advocates for warning labels on water. At the same time, no one compares cigarettes to water so clearly there is a difference in scope between cigarettes and other products.

Big picture wise I have a few thoughts as well. The labels do decrease sells, but that's not the point, if cigarettes were harmless sells wouldn't decrease. The reason why the labels decrease sells is because of the danger of cigarettes. Most other products aren't nearly as dangerous or as addicting. And even if labels were placed on them sells wouldn't decrease near as much. I promise people would still buy big macs even if the wrappers had obese people on them. The reason why cigarette sells decrease are not the labels but the truth about cigarettes and the fact that that truth is being held out in the light for all to see. And yes most probably know about the danger of cigarettes, but there is a difference between knowing in the back of your head and knowing when you make a purchase. If you left this up to the cigarette companies you'd have no labels, you'd have ads on TV that talked about 4 out of 5 doctors approving smoking and ads that run during Spongebob, and ultimately you'd have an increase in smoking and in child smoking. Now, I'm not advocating for a nanny state or massive government. I'm arguing for fairness, I'm arguing that people should know or at least have a clear chance to know what they're putting in their bodies before they consume it. It's the same reason the FDA has to approve drugs before they can be sold it is to protect us. On most issues this means the government stays out of the way, because most things aren't harmful if they aren't taken to excess(then again anything taken to excess is harmful) but cigarettes even if smoked at a reasonable amount are harmful. So what I'm asking is what world do you want to live in. One where cigarette companies have freedom to do what they want and pursue their profit without restraint. Or do you want to live in a world where there are restrictions on things laws that let the truth shine laws that don't ban smoking, but laws that make sure you have full freedom of knowledge on cigarettes before you buy a pack.

Evan wrote:
Hannah gets it. IrishMexRebel (I think his name is Joe) gets it. Anthony gets it. Not sure why you and Db8r don't.


I do understand your position, I just don't agree. And I think that may be a little bit of an Argumentum ad populum just because everyone else believes it doesn't mean it is true. I do really appreciate the chance to have this discussion it helps me shape my beliefs and defend them! :)

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Also, Cashley died in a hole. I don't know why you keep trusting him. I mean sure he's super good at mafia and knows exactly what he's doing, but I feel like maybe some game you would just not trust him. :P Props to you Cashley, always making my games exciting.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:46 am 
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Ideally, the only advertisement would be purely objective. However, the producers of goods have an obvious incentive to appeal the the consumer with emotion-based advertisement. There definitely needs to be something to counter that.

The issue is this: which actor has the incentive to counter the producer's emotionally charged advertisements with emotionally-charged advertisements of their own? In most cases, I think the press and the people themselves are able to do this. But in some cases, primarily with drugs, I think there needs to be government action (e.g. FDA warnings). Cigarettes, in my opinion, warrant such action because of the universally-agreed-upon nature of their health detriments and the relative imbalance between cigarette company advertisements and

At this point in the process of writing this post, I realized that there aren't really any advertisements for cigarettes (not sure if this is a government thing or what). I feel like removing the branding is the most a government should do in this instance. To do otherwise would be unbalanced as well, just in the opposite direction.

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