I was really surprised by this editorial, “Barring smokers from hospital jobs unfair,” since it argued that it was wrong for smokers to be barred from making a living just because of an unhealthy habit. I wanted to like and agree with it.
But even though it is somewhat refreshing, the writer really can’t seem to grasp the most basic question involved. That question is this: Who has the right to decide?
Think about a private school. I can easily imagine that a school, associated with a denomination of Christians and maybe even some other religions, might emphasize that they only want teachers who can be positive role models for students. The decision-makers for such a school, the board or whoever was designated the proper authority by the institution, might easily decide that smoking cigarettes is not compatible with the example they want their students to see in their teachers.
But this editorial presupposes that is all irrelevant. The writer just wants to decide for society how all people should be treated by all businesses. There is one standard of “fair,” and it must be imposed on all employers and all institutions.
“I don’t doubt smokers cost us all a lot of money. It is also cheaper not to have to hire them and give them insurance or see them miss work. But the obese, the gamblers, rugby players, skiers, the sedentary, the promiscuous who don’t practice safe sex, those who won’t wear helmets on motorcycles and bikes, horseback riders, pool owners, all-terrain-vehicle operators, small-plane pilots, sunbathers, scuba divers, and surfers — all of whom cost us money and incur higher than average health care costs — are still on the job. Picking on the smokers alone is simply not fair.”
Notice what is slipped into this article. Right now the Obama Administration has been working to force all employers, religious or “secular,” to underwrite lifestyle choices even if doing so violates their consciences. I find it hard to believe that the writer could mention sexual promiscuity without referring to Obamacare making employers provide for employees’ birth control and abortions, or Obama’s campaign speech yelling at women to vote with their “lady parts.”
So this call for “tolerating” smokers and others—some of whom I don’t even believe are truly unhealthy as a group—is really a call to make sure that they get the free loot that is Obamacare. Yet one group missing from this call for “fairness” is the elderly. If one doesn’t want to reveal the utility of death panels, I suppose one just ignores these seniors, except for refreshing bursts of honesty every once in a while from Paul Krugman. Toleration seems to be reserved for those with potential in the workforce.
The only way a society as a whole can be really fair, is to offer equal freedom under one law. Freedom means people in society get to make their own decisions about who they will hire and what health decisions they will make. Employers have the right to choose whether or not to hire smokers for the same reason people have the right to choose whether or not to smoke. Society should be the aggregate of all those many interacting decisions. It should not be traded for a government that decides upon policies of “tolerance” or “no tolerance” for everyone.