Someone Explain To Senator Tillis That It’s Unethical To Make People Sick On Principle

Thom Tillis

Where do Republicans find these people?

Tillis said he was then asked whether he thought establishments serving food shouldn’t be required by law to have employees wash their hands after using the restroom, and that means using the bathroom in ways that require them to handle their genitals and be in close contact with urine and fecal matter. (Sometimes euphemisms just won’t do.)

Tillis said he responded that that would still be preferable to having the government dictate policy, saying ‘”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 says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom.”

Then, he said, the market would work.

Sen. Tillis was serious.

Did I already ask where Republicans find these people? How about why they find these people? Or why anyone with sufficient IQ to play a can of okra to a draw in Stratego would vote for these people?

So we must conclude from this hilarious anecdote that this high-ranking Republican doesn’t just oppose excessively burdensome regulations, but even regulations requiring conduct that no sane and responsible person could possibly oppose, because it is preferable as a matter of ideological principle for the almighty market to work its magic instead, however long it takes and however much projectile vomiting results in the meantime. Right, Senator? And if it takes three, or ten, or a thousand instances of serious illness or death for the “How about some bacteria with your muffin?” establishments to be run out of business, well, that’s just the price of freedom.

I don’t even know if “unethical” is an accurate description of this position.. It passes irresponsible, laps it ten times, and goes right on to insane. Will there be regulations requiring that sign telling customers that they can expect the delightful taste of turd with their meals be printed in large enough type to read? Or mandating that it be on all pages of the menus, and not on the back? Well, that would be silly: if you are going to pass a law about having to inform your customers that you hire human pigs as cooks and servers, you might as well just pass the law saying they have to wash their hands, and that’s an affront to liberty. So we should also let the market favor the restaurants with servers dripping urine from their fingers that prominently warn diners about their yellow food enhancement over those who put the information in fine print on the napkins. That seems consistent with Senator Tillis’s principles.

Hey, how about dental hygienists? Should they have to wash their hands or wear gloves? If a patient gets sick and dies because they missed seeing the sign, does that bar a lawsuit? It might, since there was a warning, like on cigarette packages. Should laws make nurses and hospital employees wash their hands? Presumably Tillis wants the market system to work in hospitals too, wouldn’t you think? My mother was in the hospital for a minor urinary infection, some employee didn’t wash his or her hands, and she was infected with a bug that ate her colon away and killed her. I have to say, Tillis is right, though: the market system works; I won’t send my mother to that hospital again.

Of course, I don’t have a mother now.

After the session, the moderator joked to Tillis, “I’m not sure I’m gonna shake your hand.” HAHAHAHAHA!!! Funny! What isn’t funny is that we elect people as doctrinaire, rigid, dim-witted, smug and dangerous as Thom Tillis to make our laws and protect our health, safety and welfare, elected officials who really think American citizens dying unnecessarily is less of of a burden on society than reasonable government regulations.

The rule often cited here is “When ethics fail, the law takes over.” “When ethics fail, the market takes over” is not a rule, because the market doesn’t care about right and wrong.


Facts and Graphic: Talking Points Memo


32 thoughts on “Someone Explain To Senator Tillis That It’s Unethical To Make People Sick On Principle

  1. Next comes denial, denial of what he emphatically said. What I don’t get is how they think food and public safety is only optional. This is the kind of thing that a couple of generations was more self-evident. Does he honestly think he and the people he cares for are immune to the things he denies. Our grandparents or great-grandparents saw the effects of ‘free market safety’ and this shows triumph of partisanship over both history and science. If he thinks they are so negligible, he should give up his cell, big screen, big game, and net and live like an isolated pioneer where the margin to death is much closer with no take backs.

    I don’t know which is worse, that he is that ignorant as to how lives are saved, or he doesn’t care as he thinks he’s immune.

  2. Does he honestly think he and the people he cares for are immune to the things he denies.

    Effectively, yes, in the main. They hire their own cooks. They hire their own security guards. They hire their own judges, sometimes.

    When wealth concentration reaches a certain point, the wealthiest no longer share the concerns of the rest, they are a society unto themselves.

    This particular Senator was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth though. He’s very much a self-made man, and of considerable talent.

    After graduating high school at 17, Tillis left home to get a job, telling The Charlotte Observer that he and his siblings “weren’t wired to go to college.” He would eventually go back to school, attending Chattanooga State Community College and receiving his bachelor’s degree in technology management from the University of Maryland University College in 1996

    In Tillis’s Republican primary bid, his candidacy had received endorsements from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, current North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Tillis’s primary candidacy had also been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Many of his policies I agree with. Much of his actual legislative actions have been very much above average.

    Then he says something like this…. inexplicable, unless playing to the base. Something I’ve seen when talking informally to various legislators here on the plane from Canberra (the capital) where I live. They sometimes drop the mask, and a complete dolt, a bigoted idiot, reveals themselves to be merely acting a part for the audience.

    His words though are a bit of a worry, given his membership of some key committees.
    Special Committee on Aging
    Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
    Committee on Armed Services
    Committee on the Judiciary
    Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

    • When wealth concentration reaches a certain point, the wealthiest no longer share the concerns of the rest, they are a society unto themselves.

      Celebrities and politicians are out of touch with America regardless of wealth concentration.

    • And wasn’t there a politician, a Republican, not long ago, who didn’t believe a woman could get pregnant after being raped? You’d think we could find somebody who at least had the fund of knowledge of a high-school drop-out.

  3. Relax — he is saying that allowing an opt-out and requiring a sign that “we don’t require our employees to wash our hands” would be just as effective as a requirment that employees wash their hands. And he is right, of course. Nobody is going to put up such a sign, so the net result is the exact same. It is sort of a silly ideological point, and he should not have gone there, precisely because folks will misinterpret it.

    • Huh? I don’t get his point, then, or yours. If you don’t have a policy requiring workers to wash their hands, they might not wash their hands. If you do, they know that if they don’t wash their hands, they get fired. How is the result the same? Why do you think this guy’s smart enough to know that “nobody would put up such a sign” and if he’s stupid enough to say this? He did say he opposed the safety regulations. He is arguing that there are too many regulations. What possible intelligent interpretation can you put on someone sho says the market will solve the problem, and that’s a better approach than having a straightforward law? It’s not a silly ideological point, it’s a stupid point.

      • Two questions:

        1) who says they get fired?

        2) why should it be a law? Should all good habits be laws or should they just be habits?

        Might as well regulate the amount of hair allowed on an employees body so you dont get a hair in your food.

        • 1. Which part of “When ethics fail, the law takes over” don’t you understand?
          2. They get fired, or the restaurant risks being closed down for health violations. Sorry I didn’t spell that out for you.
          3. The workers in the kitchen are required to cover their hair.
          4. If hair is in my food, I ask for a new plate, and get it. Even so, the incidence of hair-caused sickness is small.
          5. What’s the matter with you?

          • 2. This is where we’re talking marginal effects on the Community. Arguably effective marginal effects.

            The law is next to impossible to uniformly and completely enforce without a massive invasion of privacy (which I WOULD consider more costly than the benefit of the law). Enforcement is really trickle down. The individual employee (who chooses NOT to wash their hands) faces maybe a 5% chance of an employer catching them if the employer happens to walk in on them leaving.

            The individual employer (who chooses NOT to enforce the regulation) faces maybe a 1% chance of being busted by a health inspector.

            But I think on the aggregate, the presence of conscientious employers and the remote possibility of governmental punishment, most employees do the right thing, and the practice of “Not Washing” becomes an extreme outlier, with the occasional forgetful employee who is otherwise good being even more of an outlier.

            Either way, even if there were rampant “Non Washing”, the cost of the Regulation is TINY TINY TINY compared to the effects of getting MORE people to wash up, even if it were only marginal. (And I don’t think it is rampant).

  4. I wonder what the compliance rates are for employees washing their hands as a result of those signs. Are we just getting a false sense of security.

    • There is definitely a false sense of security. I wash my hands all the time after I use the restroom but I know some who dont. They cough and sneeze right into their hands just before they pick up your plate. Im not joking. You might ask yourself “what if a manager catches them?” And? Do you think he or she wants to take the time to reprimand their employees when they probably don’t wash up either?

      Sign or no sign, it doesnt matter. Some will without a sign and others dont with a sign. Its not an infallible barrier against any and all germs.

      • Arg. I meant to include this topic on my long winded post below –

        I think the regulation in question is next to impossible to enforce. The likelihood of catching an employee NOT washing their hands is next to nothing.

        A lot of times when Manners and simple-personal-integrity-in-private fails and the law has to step in, it is a law without teeth and more or less rises to the level of “Public Service Announcement”. Those signs on the bathrooms requiring employees to wash their hands, in practice are really just PSAs.

        And PSAs do work. And I’d say the cost of the PSA to the employer is infinitesimally small compared to the marginal benefit of employees washing hands. The law is more or less up to the employers to enforce on their own integrity – which I think is actually relatively effective.

        • The only defense of the regulation is that if someone gets sick as a result of failing to follow the regulation, the regulation provides a legal foundation for a negligence lawsuit. Without laws requiring restaurant employees to wash their hands, those who get sick due to failure to do such would not have a legal cause of action, because restaurants are only liable for damages resulting in their failure to comply with the law, and if the law does not require their employees to wash their hands, then the sickness would have been the result of a lawful action, and people are not liable fore damages resulting from lawful actions.

          • Not sure if this is supposed to be a disagreement with my comment or a supplement.

            I can only assume supplement because it doesn’t seem to bolster the concern you raised below which I responded to.

    • As someone who used to work in a fast-food restaurant when I was in college, I can tell you that quite a few customers don’t wash their hands.

      In fact, not only did we have a sign up in bathroom about how employees had to wash their hands (as if any adult employee wouldn’t know that…none of us wanted hepatitis, I assure you!), but we also had to wash our hands at a sink in the back room before returning to our station. So, twice the hand washing.

      In fact, though, the signs shouldn’t be needed if everyone followed the Golden Rule. I find the idea that we have to have a sign up to govern every possibly scenario that could come up in public life somewhat disheartening. But, until we can be assured that every person can be guaranteed to wash hands, especially in a food-handling environment, the signs will have to say.

      • “As someone who used to work in a fast-food restaurant when I was in college, I can tell you that quite a few customers don’t wash their hands.”

        That’s the consumer’s prerogative though. They can assume whatever risks they want to assume. As long as they don’t impose risks on someone else. (within reason).

  5. It seems to me that he’s talking about the ability to opt out of a mandatory practice, if you disclose to the public that you are opting out of the practice. If you believe in freedom as the default state of mankind, you have to accept that people are going to be free to do things that you yourself would consider unwise.

    • Gibberish. Being a member of society requires some consideration of others. Your freedom stops where it threatens my life, health and safety. that kind of irresponsible Freedom is the “default” when you life alone in a cave. Why not let people “opt out” of the drunk driving laws? How about cabbies? I’m sure the market will eventually reject them after they’ve killed few people. And not everything is a matter of opinion. Not washing when you are handling my food isn’t something I think is unwise—it IS unwise…in fact, irresponsible, and well within society’s right to require.

      • “Not washing when you are handling my food isn’t something I think is unwise—it IS unwise…in fact, irresponsible, and well within society’s right to require.

        And all because the Cost of Washing Hands is .0000000001 the Benefit of Washing Hands.

        Arguments can be made that if “Good For Society Task X” is more costly than “Benefit For Society of Task X”, then you don’t require it.

        *cough cough*

        Affordable Care Act

        *cough cough*

    • I agree that is his point. He is not endorsing dirty hands. I believe his implication was that no business would dare put up such a sign so the net result is the same, but with more liberty. That being said, it is a really silly point. Requiring the sign as a condition to opt out is at least as intrusive as having a clear prohibition, since the government gets to regulate the size, content, and placement of the sign. Its counter-intuitive but from a liberty perspective sometimes it is better to have a clear prohibition than a complicated opt out.

    • Yeah, but he fails to grasp that there are hundreds of practices providers ought to be able to “opt out of” as long as they tell consumers.

      But no Consumer has the time to review each individual company’s standards, lists which would approach a thousand line items. Commerce would freeze.

  6. Let’s unpackage this.

    Purchasing Products and Services

    When we buy a product or service, we don’t just buy the end result. We buy a long string of tasks leading up to that final product and sometimes we buy even more things than just the final product*. In this instance, that doesn’t just mean the food on your plate, as tasks, upon deep consideration are actually HUMONGOUS things that are composed of the Time necessary to complete, Material either used up in preparation or as a component of the end item, Personnel Knowledge needed to perform, Equipment which facilitates, and Space needed to complete the task.. You don’t purchase just the food. You purchase the time and care EACH employee puts into the process. From Day 1, you purchase the time a procurer makes a deal with a vendor OR personally hand selects the ingredients of your meal. You purchase the time and quality of the food storage in the pantry/refrigerator. You purchase the chef’s level of knowledge. You purchase the time he devotes to ensuring the burners are a certain temperature. You purchase the manager’s level of knowledge in keeping things efficient and cost effective. You purchase EACH AND EVERY action the server takes that could affect the final, tangible product or service.

    So when you order a Large French Fries, you are ordering an entire Litany of tasks – not just the 40 or so deliciously greasy vehicles for transporting salt to your taste buds.

    *Sometimes you are buying an entrepreneur’s pet charity or pet political candidate, when they devote part of their profits to that particular cause.

    The Market Works

    It does. It just sometimes produces results you personally disagree with. However, for the market to work, ENTIRELY by itself, you must have a handful of components.
    1) Full Disclosure of your Product – that means the entire 1000 item long list of everything that goes into making the end product AND all the side items your money is purchasing as well.
    2) Consumers on the Market actually approving or disapproving of items on the “Disclosure List” and believing their analysis to be solid enough to make a purchasing decision
    3) Your personal standards aligning with the Market average.

    So, FULL DISCLOSURE, would allow a market to work.

    In theory.

    But no consumer has the kind of time available to read every single line of what goes into a product. We’d never get any commerce OR community interaction done. So a balance must be struck. We accept that certain standards of quality are REASONABLY expected from a service provider and THEREFORE don’t need to be disclosed. I shouldn’t be told that my food is kept away from roaches and mice. I shouldn’t be told that my waiter has been trained not to swear at me every time I ask for his attention. I shouldn’t be told that the electrical outlet on the wall next to me isn’t going to arc onto me as I grab my condensation covered glass to dake a drink…

    We used to teach “Reasonable Expectations” of conduct religiously. We called them manners. In this intance, the manner in question is “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness”. No, there SHOULDN’T be a law that says “Wash Your Hands after Defecating and Before Handling a Customer’s Food”.

    The Market Balance – Free Market vs Government Imposition

    So, because we CANNOT expect commerce or community to occur if we expect EVERY single practice to be listed on the door of an establishment or the in the list of products, we cull those lists of all the “Reasonably Expected” bits…such as “Washing Hands”, we can sell items without Full Disclosure. But what happens when enough of the supply side of the market stops engaging in Reasonably Expected conduct because the Buyer does not have the time to check on it themselves?


    You see, the Government, as per long meditation on my part, exists in regards to Commerce, to protect the Market from Forces that occur faster than the Market can generate solutions for those Forces. This is why an Army is a “product” provided by the Government…because Foreign Invasion would destroy the Market before the Market could generate a solution. This is why Fire Departments & Police are provided by the Government… because the contingencies they deal with occur rarely enough to the individual consumer that the Free Market would never sustain such on its own and would never generate one in time to deal with the needs they solve.

    What does that have to do with washing hands? Well, as I mentioned before, no consumer has the time to analyze EVERY single behind the scenes task that goes into the product he is purchasing. By no means would “dirty hands” destroy the market, BUT, when reduced to a simple mathematical ratio (the appearance of which I haven’t determined) that involves Time Available to a Consumer, Potential Harm to the Consumer, Cost to the Service Provider of Mitigating that Harm, then it makes perfect sense to require “Hand Washing”.
    1) Time Available to Consumer – I’ve already beat this horse dead. The Consumer DOES NOT have the time to analyze EVERY single bit of the product he buys and still expect the Community & Commerce to occur.
    2) Potential Harm to the Consumer – this may actually be relatively low in some instances, arguably for sure in the topic of the post. But in terms of Reasonable Expectations of service, it ranks much higher.
    3) Cost to the Service Provider of Mitigating that Potential Harm – NEXT TO NOTHING. Another 2 ounces of water? A drop or two of soap? 10 more seconds of “Non-Productive” time of an employee? Sure it adds up, but as a percentage, this costs an employer NOTHING.

    The ratio makes sense. Require the Employees to wash their hands. And it fits nicely into a Free Market.

    Too Much Government

    But yes, the government CAN go overboard and create so much of a burden on service providers that Commerce cannot happen either. To make a hyperbolic example of the current instance – the government could decide that all employees must completely decontaminate before leaving the rest rooms – taking up to an hour in chemical sprays and scrubbers to reduce those cleaning chemicals. Eventually more time and resource are spent following the regulation and the employer can’t sustain his service anymore.

    An obvious hyperbole, but yes, balances must be struck. I don’t know how Tillis managed to mess up this balance.

    Final Thoughts

    I am a rabid fan of what I call “Full Disclosure Free Market”. I think consumers need to know far more about the behind the scenes aspects of the products they buy. It would only compel providers to increase quality where the consumers want it and it would convince alot of the government-drum-beating drones on the left that some regulations are just plain dumb and don’t rise to the level of importance they think it does.

    Level of government matters considerably as well. On this topic, is this a State issue? or is it a municipality issue? Certainly not a national issue.

  7. Sadly, your previous post does not give us confidence that the government should be trusted to require restaurants to require their employees to wash hands.

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