Honeywell International made news this week when it was reported that the company was putting conditions on employee health and lifestyle when determining the health care costs Honeywell would cover. This, of course, should raise some concerns about corporate intrusion into private lives. Jon Tevlin at the Star Tribune did just that.
In a broader stroke, I want to comment quickly about this example. Many people from all political persuasions seem to think that government is somehow the entity that threatens privacy and freedom, but this is hardly the case. Directly and indirectly, business, not government, sets rules that affect everyone. Consumer choice dwindles in everything from personal credit to where you can work. It’s a vise that squeezes so-called free market options as those options become more scarce.
The scope of government interference in the lives of Americans is really quite limited and most of this “interference” deals with things we support for good reason. You cannot flush your toilet into a river or walk away from a contract, for example.
We cannot keep thinking government is the problem. In most cases it isn’t. And that isn’t to say that a private business therefore is the problem. That isn’t true either. Business also has interests it needs to protect. However, the next time someone suggests that privatization is the best answer, ask why.