Bernero's thinking is muddled. I think whether you smoke, get fat or go skydiving should be your choice. I say "Give Me a Break" to busybody politicians in New York and California who've banned smoking in every bar and restaurant. But there's a big difference between government banning things . . . and Howard Weyers doing it. We have only one government. When government bans something, it bans it for everybody in its jurisdiction. That's why the Bill of Rights limits government power. But Weyco is just one company. Its employees have other choices. There are other jobs available in Michigan.
Cara Stiffler has already found a "better" job but still told me it should have been illegal for Weyers to fire her. "I want my children to see that I stood up for my rights as an American. That's what . . . the men are over fighting in Iraq for, is my freedom."
Give Me a Break. Freedom includes the right to quit your job, but freedom also includes the right not to employ someone you don't want to employ. No one forced Stiffler and Epolito to work for Weyco. But now, they want to force Howard Weyers to employ smokers. He built the company. He owns the company. What about his freedom?
I asked Epolito if she "owned her job." No, she said, but "there's a relationship there."
There was a relationship, that's true. To put it simply, the relationship was that Weyers thought employing Epolito was a good thing and Epolito thought working for Weyco was a good thing. Weyers doesn't own Epolito; she's entitled to pursue her happiness, not his, and if that means smoking, that's her right. But Epolito doesn't own Weyers; he's entitled to live by his values, not hers, and if that means not employing smokers, that's his right. Government smoking bans take away our freedom. But all Weyers did was exercise his.
John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20" and the author of "Give Me a Break," just released in paperback.
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