Monday, February 11, 2013

Employers "in loco parentis"

Long ago there was a debate:  To what extent were colleges in a parental role vis a vis their students?  Seems to me that pretty much got settled.  Grades are no longer sent to parents, but not students.  (Now it's the reverse.)  Smoking is allowed.  Drinking is allowed.  Cutting classes is allowed.  Students are no longer required to live on campus, nor monitored for how late they stay out at night.  Students are considered adults, responsible for their own behavior. 

But here we are again:  Employers in loco parentis!  Employers, indeed, claiming to take over a religious role for employees, claiming... do you believe it? ...  to take over the role of conscience for their employees.

All because some employers cannot abide that employees exercise their own consciences.  Exercise responsibility for their own private lives.  In one area onlycontraception.  (Which means controlling women's behavior, mind you.  For I've heard no uproar over limiting drugs like Viagra.)

Now, colleges, for example, still consider themselves responsible for the safety of students.  They can't just leave patches of ice in the parking lots.  They can't just let gun-toting murderers run rampant on campus.  So, with the exception of some very conservative religious institutions which require students to agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct, most colleges today are able to draw lines between the public and the private.  (They provide safety within the college environment.  And they allow wide latitude with regard to student's private lives, so long as their behavior does not endanger the safety of others.)

But some employers, claiming consciences which speak for all, claiming a kind of infallibility, based (it would appear) on a claim to extreme holiness - now assert a right to a parental role with regard to their employees.  With regard to their female employees.  With regard to their family planning or their medical care.  In effect they want to punish women for private decisions they make with their doctor, decisions which have nothing to do with the workplace.

The mind reels!

It seems to me that today the root of so many problems in our society relates to a lack of logic, bordering on insanity.  Think about it.  How of many of our problems relate to a desire (by some) to control the private lives of others?  Or a desire to punish others for private behavior?  Or a desire to relieve themselves of any responsibility for the welfare of others?

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, disability, food stamps - no one forces us to use them.  But they certainly should be available for those of us who need them or who qualify for them.  As should contraception - as a covered medical option.  With fairness and equity for all.

We don't exempt some employers from paying taxes to social welfare programs.  We don't exempt some from laws requiring worker safety, hours worked, or the minimum wage.  So why is medical care different?

So why meddle in the medical?

Employers, is it so difficult for the professedly holy among you to understand?  Is it so difficult to accept that free will is a gift from God?

Honestly, I'm tired of the insanity!