Ohio's becoming the Sphincter State

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Some persons have said they plan to leave Ohio because voters approved a statewide ban on smoking and gambling last month. Their attitude illustrates that if Ohio is serious about economic development, the state should be more tolerant of individual differences and tastes. This year Ohio withdrew a welcome mat from people who enjoy smoking in bars, playing slot machines, or betting on table games such as blackjack or roulette. Two years ago, the same was done to people who want to marry or enter a civil union with someone of the same sex. And now, efforts are being made at the state level to stop people from working in or patronizing adult entertainment. As a result, all those persons — and many others who value liberty — are less likely to settle, work, attend school or open a business in this state. Ohioans seem to have forgotten that liberty and the willingness to tolerate differences helped make America an economic power by attracting talented and productive workers from all over the world. Moreover, a live-and-let-live attitude has contributed to Nevada being the fastest growing state in the nation for about the last 20 years. It's also a reason why Las Vegas continues to be one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas. Ohioans have a responsibility to help make this state economically attractive by supporting individual liberty and tolerance of others. That includes not jumping on the bandwagon of every self-righteous group wanting to impose its morality and preferences on the entire state. As Judge Learned Hand said: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; if it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it." And where liberty dies, economic strength is unlikely to live. Joseph C. Sommer Columbus

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