Tuesday, August 14, 2007

THE TROUBLE WITH LIBERTARIANS, PART 45,882. If there's one thing libertarians care about more than your rights and mine, it's the rights of people with lots of money:
The Washington Times reports that Clarian Health, an Indiana hospital chain, has started charging obese employees and smokers more for their health insurance coverage—$30 and $5 more, respectively, per paycheck. As in the case of companies that refuse to hire smokers (or fire them when they test positive for nicotine), I think decisions like these should be left to individual employers, who cannot force people to work for them and, by the same token, should not be forced to hire people on terms unilaterally imposed by one party. Still, I understand the complaints about increasingly nosy bosses who seek to pressure or punish workers into changing their off-the-clock behavior even when it has nothing to do with job performance...
Jacob Sullum understands those complaints, but as von Hayek once said, money talks and bullshit walks. Why should corporations have to take care of a bunch of feebs? Healthy, strapping youths -- that's what's wanted. Surely you see the laissez-faireness in that.

And anyway, the real danger is universal health care. As Sullum points out, the government can be positively nannyish about smoking and such like, nagging and scolding. How much better to be financially penalized for it by employers. And if you don't like it, you can always quit your job and find another one, hopefully before this trend spreads widely enough (who doubts that it will?) that clean piss, blood, and lung-tissue samples become a de facto condition of employment, leaving those of us who drink, smoke, etc. to fight for scraps with the ex-cons and illegals.

Libertarians do seem to understand that each man should be free to go to hell in his own way. Unfortunately they never seem to catch on sometimes people are sent to hell by whims and quirks of fate -- catastrophic illness, say, or a shift in the employer class' understanding of what they can get away with. No doubt the staff of Reason is comprised of Randian supermen who will rise above all adversity, but when the rest of us schmoes observe a working world where it becomes easier to lose what few protections we have, the horror of intrusive government is very, very far from our minds.

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