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Posts Tagged ‘amsterdam’

The following piece of news seems relevant in the context of my earlier post on tobacco and the illusion of liberty caused by unprincipled value judgements.

From the incomparable Reason Brickbats:

Dutch police cited a 27-year-old man for smoking a joint in one of Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops. Smoking pot is legal there, but the man, who was not identified by the local press, mixed the pot with tobacco before rolling the joint. That broke the Netherlands’ ban on smoking tobacco in workplaces.

The above incident is so absurd that I cannot even feel outraged.

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Manchester, New Hampshire, USA is a beautiful city and the largest in Northern New England. If you ever visit it, you will see that is a thriving, lively place with beautiful buildings, pretty shops, a decent public transport system and lots of cars, all of whose license plates carry the state’s motto — “Live free or Die.” It has no general sales tax  and no personal income tax at either the state or the local level. It allows school choice. It has few business regulations. New Hampshire is also the only American state without mandatory seat belt and helmet laws.

Amsterdam, Netherlands is one of the most famous cities in the world and for good reason. It is full of historic canals, magnificent museums and one of the best organized red-light districts in the world. Prostitution is fully legal and regulated and there is little stigma associated with the business. The city has a happening night-life and is extremely gay-friendly. If you travel around on a bicycle, which is indeed the best mode of transportation there, you will see lots of “coffee-shops”, where you can purchase and consume marijuana legally. In Amsterdam, as elsewhere in Netherlands, euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal under certain circumstances. In keeping with the country’s tradition of choice in sexual matters, abortion is legal and available on demand.

One of my fondest dreams is that there be a place, within my lifetime, that combines the freedoms of both cities listed above.

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An unusual tactic to stop make men from peeing on the floor:

Authorities at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam have etched the image of a black housefly into each urinal. It seems that men usually do not pay much attention to where they aim, which can create a bit of a mess. But if you give them a target, they can’t help but try to hit it. Similar designs have been implemented in urinals around the world, including mini soccer goals, bulls-eyes, and urine video games (seriously). Do they work? Since the bugs were etched into the airport urinals, spillage has decreased by 80 percent.

This fits into the Sunstein philosophy of nudges and ‘libertarian paternalism’ that I have posted on several times in the past.

Incidentally Sunstein, a law professor is a friend and advisor of Barack Obama. I would love it if Obama — assuming he becomes president — appoints him to the Supreme Court. Sunstein is no libertarian; however his brand of ‘libertarian paternalism’ is definitely better (and more pro-freedom) than that of any of the mainstream leftist candidates the Dems are likely to propose.

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This is very depressing news.

The Dutch cabinet has proposed a ban on the sale of all hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms because they could induce life-threatening behaviour.

A bill will now pass to the Dutch parliament, where a majority of lawmakers are expected to back a ban after a teenage French girl who had eaten mushrooms died jumping from a bridge in 2007.

Magic mushrooms are one of the safer drugs — they are non-addictive and less harmful than legal drugs like tobacco. Millions of people have tried them without doing anything remotely approaching jumping off a bridge, and in many cases have found the experience enriching. Yet a single isolated incident seems to be enough for the Dutch to ban it for all. Are the simple concepts of personal liberty and the individual bearing the consequences of his actions so hard to grasp?

As Andrew Sullivan, in whose blog I found this news, writes in this post

When even Amsterdam is becoming a center for extinguishing individual freedom, you know our age is getting darker.

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