Recently, Wal-Mart got some heat for an internal memo proposing ways to save health care costs by attracting a “healthier, more productive workforce.” But Wal-Mart’s proposed strategy is only the tip of the iceberg, as more and more companies are involving themselves in their employee’s personal health and lifestyle choices. And even moreso in their politics and first amendment rights.
Weyco, an insurance company, has even gone so far as to ban its employees from smoking (at home or at work), firing those who couldn’t kick the butt. And Weyco owner Howard Weyers wants to go even further — firing employees whose spouses smoke (and theoretically anyone they associate with).
This is one of the grey areas of libertarian ideology for some that tends to generate a lot of flack. Because we agree that the companies should be able to hire and fire employees based on whatever criteria they choose, most people (read: Democrats) tend to dismiss us as in favor of big business. Some democrat libertarians will disagree with me, saying that it’s none of an employer’s business what they do at home. Unfortunately, this argument holds no water when it comes to covering that same behavior with health insurance. One person’s hobby of being shot out of cannons on the weekend is suddenly a huge liability for everyone.
The reality is a little more pragmatic. If you don’t agree with how these companies treat their employees, it’s up to you to vote with your dollars. If you continue to buy Weyco Insurance, knowing that the company policy is to openly discriminate against them — you’d be endorsing their behavior, plain and simple.
Common sense says that’s the ideal way to deal with companies that bully their employees.