St Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann knocked a grand slam today with his veto of the proposed ballot issue to ban smoking county wide.  It wasn’t just the fact he vetoed the bill, but he gave some very solid, CONSERVATIVE reasons to do so.  Restores my faith in St Charles County Government!

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the veto letter, I don’t think there should be a government smoking ban with no exemptions forced on private businesses, but Ehlmann nails the issue of this particular bill dead on.  His explanation of his reasons for vetoing are grounded in sound principle.   I particularly appreciated his opening quote from Andrew Jackson’s veto of the re-authorization of the Bank of the United States:

“In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society . . . who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government”

County Executive Ehlmann makes application of this conservative principle when he states:

Today it is the small business owner and not-for-profit organizations who “have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves.” I want to give them no occasion to “complain of the injustice of their Government.”

The two veto messages are good primers in the proper role of government rather than the unfortunate current day role of thinking they (government) should pick winners and losers.  We can only hope that our state legislature will soon recognize this fundamental truth.

I like the rest of the Jackson quote that goes with his veto message.  It completes the definition of government’s role:

. . . . If [government] would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.”

President Jackson got it then and County Executive Ehlmann gets it now – government’s role is not to provide “happiness” through government programs, picking winners and losers nor is it to make sure every one’s outcomes are equal. But rather government’s role is to provide equal opportunity for the “pursuit of happiness” not an equal guarantee of success.

Congratulations to County Executive Steve Ehlmann for not only his display of courage but his principle and instruction in doing so!