Senator Supports Freedom For E. coli

Your average person understands
The reason that the law demands
Employees all must wash their hands
Before they work with food.

A toilet trip or sudden sneeze,
Or scores of little things like these
Make hands a vector for disease—
On top of which, it’s rude!

But now we see Thom Tillis yearned
To see our culture soon returned
To days before we’d ever learned
Of germs—it’s rather scary!

He wants to set his people free
To keep their thoughts on Me! Me! Me!
With hand in (dirty) hand, we’ll be
The modern Typhoid Mary!

Senator Thom Tillis has a better answer than government-mandated workplace sanitation–the magical free market!

In a week packed with news over concerns for public health, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) described his own history of opposing certain health and hygiene regulations, including those that require employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

During a Q&A at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, Tillis related a story from his time in the state legislature in 2010, complaining that the U.S. is “one of the most regulated nations in the history of the planet,” video via C-SPAN shows.

“I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,'” the senator said.

Because the government forcing you to do something that is in your best interest is worse than dysentery, apparently. But don’t worry, the market will save you!

“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,” Tillis said.

“The market will take care of that,” he added, to laughter from the audience.

I am a little unclear on one part, though. Since a sign like that is bound to cut into sales, what business would post it, unless they were forced to by government mandate?

So… Senator Tillis must not be opposed to all mandates.

I think maybe he just doesn’t like washing his hands. Remember that, next time you see him with his hand out, say, at a fundraiser.


  1. says

    Microbes rule the world. Customers have a right to know that their food purchases are reasonably safe. Food handlers wearing those plastic gloves delude us into thinking they’re sanitary. Just watch what else they touch with those gloved hands. And signs in restrooms that employees must wash hands also mislead: unless you stand there and police them, no guarantee how well employees follow this rule. And they touch dirty faucets and door handles after washing!

    The only way the market will take care of it is if customers refuse to patronize doubtful establishments. When fooderies realize that customers care about cleanliness (and health), they will voluntarily compete with sound practices, and will post signs to that effect. A friend who used to work in fast food once said if you knew what went on in those kitchens, you’d never eat there. Sadly, customers won’t protest till things get bad enough–wide-spread food poisoning, Legionnaires’ disease, etc.

    The same logic applied to listing ingredients on packaged foods. Manufacturers got the idea and started putting “No MSG”, “No high fructose corn syrup,” “No sugar added” on packaging to be more competitive; no government regulations required.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    I’ve worked at a load of restaurants. In one, the dude in charge of mopping up was legally blind, and mostly didn’t clean what he didn’t see. In another, the head of the kitchen literally gave the kitchen the white-glove test at the end of each day. With government inspections, there was a minimum standard that must be met (most went way beyond minimum, of course); without government inspections or the threat thereof, I absolutely guarantee some restaurants would be disease vectors. The free market can only work after something bad happens, when the market gets to react. And of course, the segment of the market least able to vote with their money are those with the least money to vote with. We had government-mandated tests and classes in food handling and preparation, and while we were annoyed by it, the customers didn’t have to worry that maybe they were going to be the thing the market was going to react to.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Cuttlefish @ # 3: … the segment of the market least able to vote with their money are those with the least money to vote with.

    Quoteworthy prose from the molluscan poet!

  4. mithrandir says

    Cuttlefish @ # 3: … the segment of the market least able to vote with their money are those with the least money to vote with.
    Quoteworthy prose from the molluscan poet!

    The formulation I typically use is “when the only rights are property rights, the people with property are the only ones who have rights”.

  5. says

    One little germ can fell a throng.
    What doesn’t kill us makes us strong.
    Thus mankind’s progress lurches along
    By what goes well and what goes wrong.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    One little germ, it might be said,
    Leaves some folks stronger, some folks dead,
    Some folks crippled, some with scabs…
    It might be best to get your jabs.

  7. thebookofdave says

    Tillis is opining in ignorance, based on his experience in Congress, an institution which is expected to run normally when everyone’s hands are dirty.

    Never shake the Invisible Hand. You don’t know where that thing has been.

  8. says

    Linus Torvalds and Bill Gates were at a computer show, and they both felt the urge to nip to the Gents’. As they were entering, they spotted Theo de Raadt walking away from the urinal and leaving without washing his hands.

    “Look at that!” said Bill, loudly enough for Theo to hear. “Microsoft developers always wash their hands after they have been to the bathroom!”

    “Well,” replied Linus, “I’m sure Linux developers always wash and dry their hands after they have been to the bathroom!”

    Theo walked up to them both and said, “OpenBSD developers don’t piss on their fingers!”


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