Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nanny State Update: Swine Flu

As we officially head into flu season, our politicians are more than happy to trample the Constitution in this age of the "Nanny State"

Reps. George Miller and Lynn Woolsey, California Democrats, have taken the lead to pursue legislature1 to force "sick pay" from employers if the ill are sent home.

Isn't government intrusion amazing.

Scientifically, the infected swine flu worker will have potentially exposed everyone to the virus when they arrived to work in the first place. This is political posturing for those that don't have or receive sick time. While it's noble on one hand, it's full of holes on the other.

"Sick workers advised to stay home by their employers shouldn't have to choose between their livelihood and their coworkers' or customer's health" - Rep. Miller

Many businesses are making special accomodations for employees to work from home, participate on conference calls etc...to prevent sick workers from infecting the work place.

But do we need the Federal Government involved?

Small business spokewoman Molly Brogan spoke out: "The more restrictive the government is in how businesses can develop their benefits programs, the less flexible business owners can be. If it's paid sick leave, you're paying somebody who's not going to be there and you have to pay somebody to replace them. That has the potential to affect the bottom line for a lot of small businesses."

The government forcing business, small business or otherwise, to run their business a certain way -- well, no surprise there. We could survey GM or AIG executives and workers what that feels like.

One of the public statements (via Homeland Security) reveals that the federal government has strongly recommended that businesses force employees with the flu to stay home and that they adopt flexible sick-day policies allowing staff to work from home if a family member becomes infected.

Robert Herriman's column examines the hysteria surrounding the Swine Flu, media coverage, and the President's declaration of national emergency.

I expect the Congress to use this as a tool to distract from bigger problems and seem sympathetic to those "sick" workers. If they have to penalize businesses with an unconstitutional action to get votes, then they have proven they will. Chris Dodd is set to prevent this action to the Senate as early as today 2.

1. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hotstories/6701202.html

2. http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-SwineFlu/idUSTRE5A90KM20091110

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