Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

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December 19, 2006

I Thought About It

by Adam Selene

I thought about responding to the Maha Blog after this post and comment thread. In the course of the thread, Maha decided to censor two Liberty Papers contributors, including myself and Brad. She also removed a comment from “Mycroft Holmes” without comment at all when he had the temerity to point out that she had a strange way of defending liberty (which she claims to do).

I thought about a lot of things, but decided that you folks are bright enough to be able to figure things out on your own. For example, I decided you could see through the so-called liberalism of her blog to the actual populism. Like the idea that we shouldn’t bother with an amendment process because that would just “get in the way” of doing what the people want. Never mind all the examples in history of tyranny and oppression brought about by not obstructing the “will of the people”. Just one example.

Both Maha, and her fan club, oppose W and Co for their increase in oppression, failing to notice that their populist socialism is oppressive as well. Ah well.

Maha decided to call Brad and I trolls when we insisted on publicly debating her. She decided that the conversation went “right over our head” when we disagreed with her. Check it out for yourself, if you are so inclined. If I really wanted to, I could keep commenting on her blog through the simple expedient of using a different name and email address and a web proxy to change my IP address. But, it just isn’t worth my time at this point.

One last thought. If Maha should choose to come to The Liberty Papers and discuss her position, we will provide an uncensored environment for the discussion. No one’s comments are ever removed, except actual spam. No matter how much we dislike what she says, no matter how many comments she posts, she will not have her comments removed. Even when the contributors here have vehemently disagreed with commenters (John Newman, for example), they have never censored. I wonder if she understands the irony of censoring “Mycroft Holmes”?

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18 Comments

  1. Adam, thanks for the mention. I sure was hoping you’d come up with a response to this:
    http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/12/09/should-your-employer-be-allowed-to-fire-you-if-you-smoke/#comments

    Comment by John Newman — December 19, 2006 @ 6:34 pm
  2. [...] John Newman: Adam, thanks for the mention. I sure was hoping you’d come up with a response to this:… [...]

    Pingback by The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive » The Tyranny Of The Majority — December 19, 2006 @ 8:14 pm
  3. oh, sorry John. I had moved on. I do wonder, though, why you oppose voluntary contracts being enforced? Aside from that, your comments seem valuable and well thought out. even if I disagree.

    I wonder if Maha will join our conversation?

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 19, 2006 @ 10:17 pm
  4. Somehow…I doubt it. She doesn’t seem to enjoy discussions where she isn’t able to determine who is allowed to speak and who is silenced.

    Comment by mike — December 19, 2006 @ 10:30 pm
  5. Adam, you seem a bit perturbed that the owner of the website fired/censored you. It seems to me you had a voluntary contract with the owner to abide by his/her rules. Instead, you decided to smoke when that clearly was not allowed.

    Comment by John Newman — December 20, 2006 @ 7:41 am
  6. Of course, I didn’t realize, until after the fact, that my voluntary contract included not openly and ardently disagreeing with her. But, setting that aside, to continue your analogy, I am not trying to coerce her to do what I want. I am publicly pointing out where I think she is mistaken. That isn’t the same thing as a lawsuit to force a change in behavior or win damages. She has every right to do as she has done, I have every right to think it’s a bad idea. I’m abiding by the voluntary contract.

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 20, 2006 @ 7:48 am
  7. And I respect that. Now, the question remains, what about the smokers that were hired before Scotts changed their policy. Should they be forced to quit smoking or lose their job; and, if they aren’t required to quit, isn’t Scotts employment contract discriminatory?

    Additionally, I like to hear your take on the voluntary contract discussed here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fkkdoDOIJM&mode=related&search=

    Comment by John Newman — December 20, 2006 @ 8:08 am
  8. If you change the terms of employment, it seems to me that you have to renegotiate the contract, otherwise the previous contract remains in force.

    P.S. we make discriminatory choices all the time. The question is not whether a contract is discriminatory, they all are. If I choose to hire you over someone less qualified, I have made a choice that involves discrimination. The question is whether the choices made were ethical, or not. Changing a contract without negotiation isn’t ethical, to most people.

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 20, 2006 @ 8:12 am
  9. Adam said:
    If you change the terms of employment, it seems to me that you have to renegotiate the contract, otherwise the previous contract remains in force.

    That was my question. What happened to the smokers that were hired before this policy change? I highly doubt if they would have agreed to such a drastic change, one that included interference in their private lives. The argument that they don’t have a right to a job goes out the window if the company arbitrarily and unilaterally makes a 180 degree turn.

    Btw, I have nothing against reasonable and fair voluntary contracts.

    Comment by John Newman — December 20, 2006 @ 8:45 am
  10. I have no idea what Scott’s is doing with already existing employees. I have to say that, knowing how HR laws work in most states, they are in a position where they will have to treat smoking as a pre-existing condition. They can encourage their employees to quit, they can provide assistance, but they can’t just fire them if they don’t. Scott, on the other hand, has no leg to stand on as far as I can see.

    So, do you think an employment contract mandating whether you can smoke, or not, is reasonable and fair?

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 20, 2006 @ 8:49 am
  11. Adam asks:
    So, do you think an employment contract mandating whether you can smoke, or not, is reasonable and fair?

    Yes, but only on the company’s time, not on your own time. I suppose if you were a slave the master’s demand would need to be met. However, we are guaranteed the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and a reasonable person would conclude that it is an individual’s right, not trumped by an employment contract, to put cigarette smoke or trans fats into one’s body.

    Comment by John Newman — December 20, 2006 @ 9:21 am
  12. What if it is a voluntary contract?

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 20, 2006 @ 9:27 am
  13. I would question the mental competency of anyone who agreed to a voluntary slavery contract. I don’t know what else you would call a contract that puts you under the control of an employer 24/7/365.

    Comment by John Newman — December 20, 2006 @ 9:54 am
  14. So, you question the mental competency of every adult that has ever joined the military?

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 20, 2006 @ 5:06 pm
  15. Pardon me, I thought we were discussing private sector employment.

    On the bright side, it is encouraging that you see the military as a form of slavery, and yes, I would ask anyone joining the military this question: What in the hell are you thinking?

    Comment by John Newman — December 20, 2006 @ 5:44 pm
  16. I don’t consider a voluntary contract giving an employer control over decisions outside your place of employment to be a form of slavery. Indentured servitude, perhaps, if it were to take the form of true 24/7/365 control. Agreeing to never smoke is not that. Although the hysteria around this voluntary contract is interesting.

    That said, I brought up the military because it was the easy comparison, regardless of whether private or public. There are plenty of private sector contracts where your behavior outside the workplace is an issue. For example, Eric, the founder of The Liberty Papers, had to agree not to write publicly in a personal capacity as part of the terms of his employment. I understand that he is an officer of the company he currently works for. By your definitions he is agreeing to voluntary slavery?

    I don’t see anything voluntary as a form of slavery. I see conscription as a form of slavery, but voluntary military service is not. Justify your claim that voluntarily agreeing to a contract that provides for control of your life outside your workplace is a form of slavery.

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 20, 2006 @ 6:33 pm
  17. Adam, let me make this clear, I fully support voluntary employment contracts that deal with the employees conduct and fulfilling job and performance requirements. If a an employee was expected to wine and dine clients out of the office it is reasonable to let the employee know that smoking is forbidden on company time and when representing the company.
    This is reasonable.

    My dispute is specifically with Scotts – Miracle gro not voluntary contracts. Scotts contract is discriminatory, disingenuous, and disrespectful. Their policy of not hiring non-smokers lacks common sense and is nothing more than a Smoking Nazi tactic.
    If Scotts wants only non-smokers working for them, the sensible thing to do would be to give urine tests BEFORE HIRING – not after.
    Scotts claims that this new policy is due to health costs of smoking is simply baloney. There health risks associated with obesity, unhealthy eating, motorcycles, sky diving, playing sports, unprotected same-sex sex and a million and one other things. Besides, second-hand smoke is supposed health risk, why not hire people that are never exposed to that health risk. On a side note, Weyco in Michigan is fining employees that don’t smoke $1,000. if their spouse smokes. The truth is, smokers are an easy target and Scotts is being dishonest and dishonorable.
    Scotts arbitrarily and unilaterally is requiring employees hired before this new policy to quit smoking within a year. This is using the power of the paycheck to force, yes, I said force, employees to give up their privacy, and sovereignty outside the workplace. Scotts one-sided decision is a breach of contract to these employees that were hired before this new policy.

    In doing a little research I found out that one of the VPs at Scotts is a cigar smoker and is not subject to the policy (he gave an interview to a site dedicated to SC employment laws) and that one of the Board Members of Scotts is the CEO of R.J. Reynolds (a cigarette manufacturer).

    I agree that you don’t have a right to a job. However, to get hired for a job with the requirement that you give up your privacy and property rights seems un-American, immoral and unethical to me – regardless if it is voluntary. Thankfully, many states agree that lifestyle discrimination is illegal.

    On the bright and ironic side, any non-smoking employee of Scotts that gets cancer will have a great case against them because of the dangerous and harmful chemicals they use in their lawn care business.

    Comment by John Newman — December 21, 2006 @ 9:53 am
  18. 1. No smoking contracts, whether a urine test is given before or after employment, are still voluntary contracts. This is regardless of what I think about being pro or anti smoking.

    2. Being against smoking does not make one a nazi, although you seem to have an affinity for such an argument. You’ve made it before, from looking back through the archives. However, I could believe that opposing communism is important without being a nazi, even though the nazi’s were anti-communist. It’s a specious argument. If, on the other hand, I use the power of the government to prevent you from smoking, I would be acting in an authoritarian manner.

    3. The officers/directors of Scott’s are hypocrites, which reinforces the “cost of health insurance” argument, rather than detracting from it.

    4. I suspect that these companies are getting breaks on the cost of health insurance for these policies. This argues for getting employers out of the business of purchasing insurance, but it doesn’t invalidate the position these companies are taking.

    5. Obesity has nearly achieved disability status. Attempting to do something about it policy wise would probably be challenged under ADA or a discrimination lawsuit. That doesn’t mean I think it’s right, just the reality of the legal landscape.

    Bottom line? Get companies out of the business of purchasing health insurance and get government out of the business of intervening in private employment contracts and you will solve the problem.

    Comment by Adam Selene — December 21, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

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