The Bureaucracy Runs Wild

This is a real headline in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Big Tobacco to Spend Millions on Self-Critical Ads in U.S.

Makers of Marlboro, Camel to buy prime-time TV spots, newspaper ads with ‘corrective’ messages, as part of settlement in long-running legal case

The US Department of Justice, part of our extremely efficient and consumer-focused government, “settled” with the large tobacco companies by forcing them to run ads in prime time that say things including, “Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive,” one ad will say. Another reads: “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.”

Who does this help other than media companies and a few attorneys?  Does anyone at the DOJ remember the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity?”  Do the people who watch prime time TV not know cigarettes are bad for you?  Does the DOJ really think it accomplished something with this settlement?

We live in a world with real problems that a functional government could help solve.  Instead, our elected and unelected officials continue to fight yesterday’s problems.  For years, the federal government bowed to pressure from tobacco producing states and did not regulate cigarettes.  If the government wants to stop people from smoking, how about creating an Obamacare exchange that is the only place smokers can get health insurance?  “Punish” the tobacco companies by having them subsidize the healthcare costs of smokers!

To succeed in capitalism, you need to solve today’s problems or, better yet, help people avoid future problems.  Bureaucracies have a tendency to look backwards.  That’s the major reason businesses and governments clash.

A full link to the article is below.  It might require a WSJ subscription.

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