It’s all in the name

Pollsters have known for a long time that you can often elicit a different answer based on how you phrase a question. For instance, most voters would say yes to a questions about whether they support government doing more to help educate children about gambling, but would answer no if asked whether taxes should be raised to fund a plan to put a copy of a well-known gambling history book in every classroom in the state.

In the referendum process, getting the right name can be a make-or-break proposition. A successful Minnesota anti-smoking measure proves this. From the Bemidiji Pioneer:

On Oct. 1, Minnesota went smoke-free. Just three months later, the Freedom to Breathe Act was blamed for the decline in charitable gambling. The folks who made these charges during a legislative hearing neglected to mention that charitable gambling – mainly pull-tab sales in bars – has been on the decline for years. Membership in fraternal organizations has declined, and there are ever more ways for the gambler to be separated from his or her money: tribal casinos, Internet gaming and super lotteries like the Powerball.

Bemidji Pioneer | Letter: Don’t blame smoking ban for decline in gambling

I mean, who would possibly say that they oppose the freedom to breathe?

It’s certainly harder to oppose that than it is to permit the government to constrain individual rights by legislating proper behavior.

But could you imagine the headlines if this thing hadn’t passed?
“Minnesota to Breathers: Drop Dead”
“MN says no to O2”
“Voters strike right to breathe”
Whoever came up with that name should have a job for life.

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