This editorial was published by the Post Register of Idaho Falls
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin held a press conference on Thursday at which she castigated some hospital systems in the state for making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory in order to be employed there.
Employers requiring employees to be vaccinated constitutes an affront to the principles of “individual liberty and freedom,” she said, calling for the Legislature to reconvene to forbid employers from mandating vaccination.
That would be quite the departure from Idaho’s general position on labor matters.
Idaho’s Republican majority has structured Idaho as an at-will employment state, meaning employers don’t need any reason at all to fire someone.
While McGeachin would never consider, say, signing legislation that would make it illegal to fire someone because they’re gay, she seems quite comfortable decrying medical providers requiring their workers to be vaccinated in order to be employed.
Of course, sexual orientation and vaccination status are different matters. Being vaccinated is a choice, for example, while sexual orientation is something you’re born with. And having a gay nurse puts a patient at risk of nothing, while having an unvaccinated nurse puts them at elevated risk of contracting a very dangerous disease.
Perhaps, having now abandoned her commitment to free labor markets, McGeachin will soon announce her support for ending Idaho’s at-will employment system and repealing the Right to Work law. But more likely, it’s yet another example of McGeachin’s readiness to bend her avowed fundamental principles to fit any chance she sees for political grandstanding.
The hypocrisy of “free markets for thee, but never for me” is nothing new to McGeachin. During the pandemic, while she was sending out op-eds criticizing government handouts, McGeachin’s own businesses were on the federal dole to the tune of $300,000, as the Idaho Statesman reported.
It’s yet another instance that demonstrates the curious understanding of the word “freedom” that some in this state hold. What freedom seems to mean to McGeachin, and many others, is: Everyone should be forced to adopt my personal values. It means employers must be free to fire gay people because of who they are, and they must be forced to employ people who pose a risk to their customers’ health.
So any time McGeachin promises to fight for your liberty, it’s important to ask yourself a question: What does this “freedom” mean I’ll be forced to do?