Want to have fun with champions of more government and the nanny state? Make them follow their premises to their logical conclusions.

Do they insist that the minimum wage should be raised again? Set aside the question of whether or not there should be a minimum and what business it is of theirs. Find out what they think the rate should be raised to? $10? $15? Whatever figure they've settled on for the nonce, go them one better and suggest something higher.

Why not $25 an hour, or $50 or $100? Go high enough and even the worst economic ignoramus will balk.

“Oh, I'm not sure a million dollars an hour would be workable for an entry-level position,” they might say, as though expressing a reasoned opinion.

Why not? That's where the fun starts.

Now let's play the game with State Sen. John Mulroe of Chicago, who wants to raise the legal age for smoking in Illinois.

Again, set aside the question of whether or not there should be any age limit whatsoever and what business it is of John Mulroe. To what age does John, in his infinite wisdom, think it should be raised? From 18 to 21? Why not to 25 or 30, 45 or 70? If it's good to raise it, isn't the higher the better?

If John Mulroe really cared about his fellow man, he would want to raise the age for smoking so high that only extraordinarily vigorous people would live long enough to earn the legal right to smoke, and by then everyone who knew them or cared about their health would have died of natural causes.

Maybe our real problem is not how much we're paid or how healthy our lifestyles are. Maybe our real problem is the people who think they know what's best for us. Maybe what we need is a minimum standard to protect us from guys like John Mulroe.

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