by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If I like to dress up as a character from Game of Thrones on weekends, pretending to fight snow zombies and treating my mutt like she’s a mystical direwolf, that’s none of my employer’s business. But if I ask my employer to pay for my trip to a Game of Thrones fan convention, I am asking him to make it his business. If my employer refuses, that may or may not be unfair, but it’s his right. If, in response, I go to the convention and have the government force my employer to pay for my travel, that only makes things worse. It not only makes my private pursuits my boss’s business, it makes them the business of taxpayers and a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington.
At the heart of this, and so many other recent controversies, is an honest disagreement about how society should be organized. For liberals (and far too many Republicans), businesses should be de facto, if not de jure, extensions of government. If something is desirable, businesses should be forced to impose it. The fact that the owner disagrees or that it is not in the business’s economic interest is immaterial. And it’s not just businesses. Recall that the Obama administration has tried to force explicitly religious groups to betray their beliefs as well.
Obviously, there’s room for nuance here. Few people think that we should scrap minimal workplace-safety rules, for instance. No one thinks the Church of Satan should be permitted ritual human sacrifice. But when in doubt, the government should err on the side of laissez faire et laissez passer, le monde va de lui-même.
Not everything is your boss’s business, or anybody else’s.