It is common thinking among conservatives that the government getting too big is the only problem, and once that is dealt with our freedom will be secure.
However, this view forgets that big business can be just as bureaucratic and invasive as big government.
Recently this year, a hospital decided that it will no longer hire anyone who smokes. You thought the government was the only one running the anti-smoking campaign? Think again. It was neither the first nor will it be the last.
According to the hospital's new policy, anyone who tests positive for nicotine in their drug screening will now be considered in the same group as illegal drug users. From the article:
As part of the pre-employment drug screen, they will be looking for nicotine. If a prospective employee tests positive for nicotine, the offer of employment will be rescinded. Even nicotine gum or the patch would make a potential employee ineligible.
Officials with Memorial say the new policy isn’t designed to save money on health care costs, but because a hospital should set a healthy example to the community.
“I understand the concerns people have, but we are here for the health of our community,” Brad Pope, vice president of human resources said. “Like it or not, what’s proven is that tobacco is the most preventable cause of death and disability in the United States. I think the Chattanooga and surrounding communities should expect this from Memorial.”
Thus, based on an unprovable statement with no evidence to back it up (as the majority of people who smoke do not even die from it) Gudge is now going to tell his slaves what they can do when they sit at home in their living room in a manner that concerns him in no way whatsoever. Now what concerns me here is not that a majority of us here at the Review smoke (even though such contributes to our sober and balanced atmosphere), nor the fact that I smoke and I love smoking and would no sooner part with my pipe than I would with food, I might very will have a distaste for smoking and be alarmed by this event.
Mr. Pope has decided that he is the Pope of the holy office of discipline in his company, and he is going to regulate not just what the employees of his temple of Asklepios do while they're there, or with company things (which he is within his right to do), but what they do with their own things at home (which he is not). Imagine Dr. Smith at home in his living room. He decides that he should like a small cigar to go with his coffee while he reads his a very thrilling novel. No, my Pope (that is of the HR department) will fire me. Or again Dr. Smith is invited out for a round of drinks with some friends, but wait, they smoke. Not only might nicotine get in his blood stream from second hand smoke, but he will get it on people at work through third hand smoke. So Dr. Smith is now forced to contract his social circle.
Moreover, as Mr. Pope has pontificated, the hospital is not treating smokers in the same class as those who use illegal drugs because they think it will save them money on insurance, but because they are positively opposed to the thing in itself, irrespective of whether or not the research behind it is correct. The hospital is not saying "do not smoke in the building around the patients" etc. which is reasonable on various levels. They say do not do it at home. What else might a Mr. Pope decree with the dubious infallibility of statistics and studies? What about obesity? We saw the spectacle of a woman nominated for Obama's Surgeon General who was slightly pudgy, shapely might be the correct description, rejected on the basis that she was fat and this would send a bad message. What if Chatanooga's Pope should decide that the hospital needs to set the standard and fire anyone who is fat (or perceived to be fat, since our society has a strange and unhealthy obsession with being skinny, the goal should be to acquire fitness)? Dr. Smith, even though you are an award winning pediatrician who has worked with children for 20 years, you don't set the example of what a healthy person should look like because you are fat. You have been excommunicated.
Then it comes down "If anyone should on his own time eat at McDonalds, anathama sit." If that sounds far fetched and ridiculous, think again. It follows exactly from big business getting the power to determine what you can and can't do. The Nazis embarked on a massive anti-smoking campaign, and the reason was if people could accept the government's right to regulate their personal behavior, they could accept the principle that the government can regulate other behavior, and they selected that which was becoming scientifically unpopular and thus could have the weight of doctors, scientists and the gestapo behind it. Soon any behavior seen as unpatriotic, much like "counter-revolutionary" in the Soviet Union, became criminalized. How has big business gotten this power might you ask? Gas prices. Not from the gas prices, but rather the gas prices show us how they have gotten a strangle hold on us. We can't afford to lose our jobs, particularly in a volatile economy, and we can't afford to not work. This is why when gas prices went over $4 people continued to buy, although other sectors of the economy weakened, not because people are addicted to oil, but because without it we can't get to work, and end up living in the street.
In truth, big business is little different than big government. They think that they own you, the former because they pay you, the latter because they take from you. Next it becomes, I don't like the Pope (because Mr. Pope correctly observes that there can only be one at one time) so anyone whose religious affiliation is Catholic must be sacked. This has already been done for any appointment in congress who might be Catholic and faithful to the Church. Then perhaps you drink coffee. Coffee is found to cause heart problems based on these studies, so drink tea instead. Testing positive for coffee in your system will lead to rescinding of job offers or firing. Then, it will become more ridiculous, not to mention stressful without that cup of kona in the morning. On the other hand, in Michael Novak's estimation that might be a boon to capitalists in the medical field.
One may not like smoking, I for example detest cigarettes, but proudly smoke a pipe and cigar, but none of that really matters. What matters is neither big business nor big government (hudge and gudge) believe in the family. They both believe the man who works for them is but a cog in their machine, and that his is their cog in their machine. The big business doesn't believe in the family because it is inconvenient for him, the government because it believes it is the Pater Familias. Since the two become more and more alike, the two begin acquiring the other's traits, like a married couple who begin to behave like each other. The family becomes inconvenient to the state, because the state brings about a new concept of the family that clashes with tradition, so it forces compulsory education where its policies are right and mom and dad are wrong, or children can be taken away because parents taught the wrong values. The big business begins thinking it is the head of the family, and begins to control it. Yet that is the future because big business and big government are the same thing.
Now the libertarian, or some other fool who doesn't believe in the effects of original sin but sees man only in a vacuum of reality, might remark, well, work somewhere else. The market will not allow them to continue for long if that is what people want. In a vacuum that might even work, but in reality it is senseless.
In the first place, one may not be able to get another job. Let's even say he can, to get away from a tyrannical HR Pope, he must contend with other businesses which will eventually adopt the same thing. The libertarian fails to take into account what is fashionable, except in the metric of selling garbage, which capitalism does very well. It takes good products, like a bit of virginia cut tobacco leaf rolled up into a natural tobacco paper, into a disgusting capitalist product half tobacco and half chemical filled saw dust and bleached paper, not to mention fiberglass filters. It is good at selling crap, but we must not forget that when the wealthy put their wealth to something, it creates an effect irrespective of what people want. The wealthy want women to be dressed up like prostitutes even at age 4, so they flood stores with clothing of this style and mark it $4. A sweet dress such as girls about 4 should be wearing, $20. There is no market force involved, but the forces of the wealthy and social destruction. Nevertheless, let us say again that Dr. Smith has several children, and as costs go up providing for his family has gone up. So maybe he can't leave, but wishes to escape the bull of his HR Pope, yet is stuck there. So he must change certain virtues he engages in at home to suit his employer, which are but the beginning of the first. Most men will fall into this category, especially when real unemployment numbers factor in pretty high.
It is much like the gas prices. The market can bear it not because that is what people want to pay, but what they must pay to avoid being fired and living with their family on the street. It is why people worked 15 hour days before government correctly began regulating big business, not because they wanted to, but because they had to. The big business is betting that if you don't like it you will step in line, because (especially in this economy) you must or else risk joblessness and homelessness.
Nevertheless, let us suppose that Dr. Smith does move. He moves to a new city where he knows no one, that he doesn't care for because that is where he could get a job without a Pope of the home as well as the workplace.
Why should a man leave off of hearth and home and go to a new place? There are all kinds of legitimate reasons, war, or personal tragedy, or some other calamity, but not because he is required to give up smoking at his former job! Its ludicrous. Hearth and home are no longer the sacred domains of the family, but subject to the whims of the bureaucratic befuddlements of Hudge and Gudge. The Caesars rose to many heights, they also descended to many lows, but they never descended so low as to try and be worshiped as the gods of the hearth and home. Big business has done Caesar one better.