US Senator says restaurants shouldn’t force staff to wash hands

“Conservative” (as this political term is understood over there) US Senator Thom Tillis says that it’s a bad idea that government intervenes in the affairs of businesses and that it should be the “free market” forces that determines what they end up doing.

He says, as an example not that he actually proposes it, that government health regulations shouldn’t obligate a restaurant to make staff wash their hands after using the toilet, a well known measure that has proven effective beyond doubt in preventing disease.

Instead, they should just display to customers whether they make their staff wash their hands or not and the free market would decide which restaurants survive and which don’t.

Mr Tillis is very stupid.

In case that was not clear, let me repeat it: he is very very stupid.

Firstly, to believe that free market can exist without government regulations, i.e. that capitalism by itself will give origin to and sustain a free market, is naïve in extreme. It’s as naïve and stupid as thinking that unchecked socialism produces and sustains a classless society.

Capitalism naturally tends towards oligopolies and monopolies, the complete opposite of a free market. Without government regulations to prevent trusts and unethical competition the market would quickly be closed to new players and would concentrate in a few hands. This has happened before and government regulations exist to keep this from happening again.

Secondly, one of the most important requisites for a free market is “full disclosure”. A buyer should know exactly what they’re getting and be able to compare the offers from different sellers on equal terms. Without knowing how the sausage is made you can’t have a free market.

In the case of the restaurants, what guarantee do I have that they’re telling the truth when they say they force their employees to wash their hands? Should I just take them at their word? If Mr Tillis believes that businesses and corporations won’t lie to get better profits, advance their market share or increase their stock price then he’s even more stupid than I thought before and there is no hope for him, at all.

Some sort of independent organization would be required to verify that what the restaurant advertises is actually true, and this organization should have enough power to enforce deterrants in case it isn’t. Hmm… I wonder if there’s such a public organization out there that has “public safety” as one of its tasks?

Thirdly, right in his example of why regulations are bad, Mr Tillis proposes a regulation: restaurants shall display their hand-washing policy. So, what is it? Are you for or against regulations, Mr Tillis?

Sure, regulations should be only those strictly necessary to keep the free market free and the public healthy; but there’s no need to wait for an epidemic of typhoidea when we know simple actions like hand-washing can prevent it.

They should come under review periodically and kept to a minimum, but to say that they’re not necessary and that the “free market” will take care of it is just what a stupid person would say.

And that’s why Mr Tillis is stupid.


Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, made the comments on Monday during a speech criticising business regulations. His argument was that restaurants which did not require workers to wash their hands would quickly go out of business.