Sunday, July 16, 2006

Big brother knows best

60 Minutes had program tonight about a company president who mandated that his employees quit smoking or be fired. His reason? Health care costs related to their smoking may eventually make his costs increase. Doesn't matter if they don't smoke at work and only smoke at home on personal time. Doesn't matter that he can't show any increase in his company's health costs due to smoking. He wants them to quit period. He would also like to mandate the spouses of these employees cease smoking as well but he'd have a harder time implementing that one. Several employees quit smoking, several refused to give in to the required breathalizer test and were fired. When asked if he's being a little like "Big Brother" he said "maybe we need Big Brother". That's when I nearly threw up from disgust.

Now I don't smoke, never have, never will, but I gotta say WTF?

Don't get me wrong, I believe as a private businessman he can do what he wants, but I think playing big brother to your employees and forcing them to abide by your rules on their off time doesn't sit well with me. Now this guy works out seven days a week, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, he seems pretty fit. But I am sure he does engage in SOME sort of risky behavior. Driving, lifting weights, running, in your seventies can be dangerous.

Life is risky, period. And if you are going to fire an employee for smoking, you might as well fire them for rollerblading, swimming, driving, mountain climbing, working out too hard, lifting too many weights, eating anything with fat or sugar, taking medication, cutting grass in hot weather, or oh hell, just about anything.

Of course you could play it safe and do nothing but even doing nothing can give you a heart attack so that's not even safe.

60 Minutes also interviewed the president of some southern university, who offered its employees the chance to fill out a questionnaire about their smoking, drinking and sexual habits (I know can you believe the gall of these people?) and join a wellness program. If they did both, they would receive a 20% discount on health insurance premiums. Agreeing to it would also open them up to a "coach" calling them once a month to nag them about their dietary and exercise habits and their weight.

Can you imagine?

I am for eating right, exercising, not smoking and taking care of yourself! But how I do it is my business and I feel that my life off the clock is my own. Besides, since when does your employer know what's best for your life MORE than you do?

They don't.

I say let adults live their lives as best as they see fit even if they're doing something that could potentially shorten their lifespan. You can't make people do something they don't want to do. And as long as a person's actions do not interfere with the freedom and civil liberties of another human being, I say let them alone to do what they want.

Besides, if God had wanted someone other than me and you to run our lives he would have not given us free will.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7/17/2006

    Amazingly enough I can look at this from two different perspectives. Imagine that! Does that mean I'm open minded? Don't let that get out.

    Perspective one: This man has no business poking his nose into his employees' private lives. Why is it that he can tell people to quit smoking or be fired simply because he is a private business owner? Why the next thing you know, he will tell them they can't go to church on Sunday or witness in their free time. I guarantee you he could not get away with firing someone because they are homosexual or a minority. All of a sudden his being a private business owner would not allow him those kind of freedoms.

    Perspective two: You asked the question "Besides, since when does your employer know what's best for your life MORE than you do?" I suppose they started thinking they could have a say whenever they started paying for our health care. Simply put, anytime a person invests money, they expect to have a say in how the money is being spent.--ST