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Internally Consistent, Externally Valid

02/06/2015

When I took philosophy 101 in the last century, I recall the professor warning us to beware of philosophies that make a great deal of sense and are intuitively logical . . . until you apply them to the real world.  I’ve come to believe that is true for objectivism or libertarism.  Ayn Rand would be 110 years old this week, and I think I’ve read everything she ever published.  I love her absolutist view of the world, where the government should not restrict individual freedom – ANY individual freedom.  Everything she wrote is consistent with that view, because her philosophy is internally consistent.

Case-in-point:  Newly-elected Republican senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina was sitting in a Starbucks when he said it was an unnecessary restriction on employees that they be required to wash their hands after using the toilet.  He proposed that rule be eliminated and another rule be imposed on businesses to post a notice, only if they do not require employees to wash their hands after using the toilet.  He argued that customers staying away from restaurants with such notices would cause businesses to impose the rule – better imposed by employer than the government?

As it is now, I know every employee in every restaurant has to wash his hands after using the toilet.  If this libertarian pipe-dream replaces one law with another, we will then have to search each restaurant for a sign that employees are not required to wash their hands.  How will you know where the sign is?  Can you just ask an employee?  How awkward to ask “do you wash your hands after using the toilet?”

If it ain’t broke, what are we trying to fix?  It is internally consistent that employees or anybody else should not be more regulated than necessary, but transferring the requirement to inquire whether the employees hands were washed after using the toilet to the customer is not externally valid.

Please save us from philosophical/religious/economic purists . . . of all types!

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