Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, spent Tuesday being the butt of several jokes after his comments on hand washing went public. During an appearance at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, Tillis argued that restaurants should be able to opt-out of the requirement that employees wash their hands after using the restroom, as long as they let customers know.
…“I said: ‘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,”’” he recalled, as the audience chuckled. “The market will take care of that.’”
The senator’s comments have inspired a dozen jokes about hand washing (Salon: “If you ever see Sen. @ThomTillis out campaigning, don’t let him shake your hand or kiss your baby.” MSNBC: “Sen. Thom Tillis’ constituents might want to think twice before shaking his hand.”) But Tillis isn’t arguing that employees shouldn’t wash their hands after using the restroom. He’s arguing that the government shouldn’t be the reason your employees wash their hands—the fear of going out of business because people think your restaurant serves feces-covered food should be the reason employees wash their hands.
The problem with Tillis’s comment isn’t that he thinks employees should be allowed to opt out of post-poop hand washings, but that he’d rather make things easier for businesses than safe for consumers. Tillis’s example takes pressure off businesses to provide safe food, and forces consumers to judge every meal’s likelihood of making them violently ill…
The reasons for regulations are premised in standards. Knowledge, science, reason are all involved in the process. One quality is eliminating all the foolishness from ignorance. We don’t need to rediscover salmonella and the illnesses caused – every time we go to a restaurant for a meal. No different from standards for tire safety and recommended air pressures. One reason, for example, why I prefer Asian tires made to meet Japan’s standards. They are the most demanding in the world.
Free market idealogues, strict libertarians – have a unique and egregious personality disorder. At a minimum, you simply needn’t waste time reinventing the wheel every time you step out the door to participate in ordinary commerce. In fact, a great many processes are simplified. Responsible governance has no problem establishing standards and enforcing them.