Freshman Republican (why am I not surprised?) Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina ended his talk at the Bipartisan Policy Center yesterday in such a bizarre way that it sounds like a piece from The Onion. He started with an assertion that “you can get regulations to a point where you preserve the environment, you keep the workplace safe, you can do all that; we want to!” So far, so good.
That’s when things got weird. He told a story where he and a colleague were at a Starbucks in his district were discussing business regulations. “Maybe you should allow businesses to opt out. Let an industry or business opt out, as long as they indicate, through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment literature, through whatever else…there’s this level of regulations that maybe they’re on the books, but maybe you can make a market-based decision as to whether or not they should apply to you.”
Around that point in the conversation, a Starbucks employee emerged from the restroom. The colleague asked if Tillis thought that the employee should be required by regulations to wash his hands after going to the bathroom.”
His response: “I don’t have any problem with Starbucks, if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that say ‘we don’t require our employees to wash their hands after using the restroom’…the market will take care of that!“
“That’s probably one [case] where every business that did that would go out of business, but I think it’s good to illustrate the point that that’s the sort of mentality we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country.”
In case what you just read sounds too unreal to be believed, here’s the video:
I have no quarrel with market-based solutions for market-based problems. I have a problem with market-based solutions for issues of health, safety, and proven science. The battle cry of “let the market decide” is often used to cover up the fact that a business is too cheap or too lazy to implement some measure that would protect its customers. Remember, the Invisible Hand is more than happy to give you the Invisible Finger; letting the market decide issues of health and safety may require people to get sick or die in order for the Hand to do its magic.
The market is also often quite dumb and pigheaded; consider the rash of anti-vaccine people, who’ve managed to ruin everything from school to Disneyland, or the people who insist on listening to Dr. Oz and buying his products, even though he’s been proven to be little more than a snake oil salesman.
Besides, what’s he’s doing is replacing one regulation (restaurant employees washing their hands after using the bathroom) with another (posting some kind of announcement that you can’t be bothered to clean up after taking a dump, and would you like fries with that?).
I know he’s using this edgy example to gain attention, but there are likely enough people who’ve too much Ayn Rand and think this would be a splendid idea. His idea is so bad that it’s positively Florida, and when I looked at his Wikipedia page, I found out why: he was born in Jacksonville.
Someone needs to borrow a page from Mallrats and give him…the stink palm: