The real world

On Monday, the state announced that unemployment claims from food industry workers jumped 51 percent in the first four months of this year when compared with the same period in 2006.

In addition, growth in full-service restaurants was down to 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2007 after averaging 8.9 percent a year from 2003 to 2006, according to Terry Johnson, director of the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Is there any significance to these numbers?

Remember: State voters in November approved both ballot Question 5 and Question 6, the former a ban on smoking in many public places, including bars that serve food, the latter a $1 increase in the minimum hourly wage.

"This information represents the first available evidence concerning the labor market impacts of Questions 5 and 6," Mr. Johnson said. "It appears that due to the smoking ban, some establishments are choosing gaming over food service, leaving kitchen workers unemployed."

Supporters of both Question 5 and Question 6 swore up and down that opponents of the measures were exaggerating when they argued that passage of the initiatives could trigger job losses and hinder employment growth in the food service sector.

They were wrong.

Yes, many workers who lost jobs due to the smoking ban and now seek unemployment compensation will probably find other work sooner or later.

In addition, businesses will adjust to the new mandates.

But how many Nevada jobs have been lost forever -- or simply not created -- because of these two initiatives?

There are real-world ramifications -- and not all of them positive -- for feel-good policies that strip away the rights of others to enter into voluntary contracts and use their properties as they see fit.