Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No Smoking!

And boy do they mean it. Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. is going to fire every one of its employees who don't stop smoking. They're doing it as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The fastest growing expense of all business is medical insurance of employees. The number one cause of illness and death in America is smoking. Since it's completely preventable and surveys' show that 3/4 of smokers want to quit, Scotts may succeed in this venture.

The CEO of Scotts has said that they're also going after fat people, and here begins the slippery slope. Married people live longer, fire the singles. People who practice a religion live longer, fire the heathens. Gays contract AIDS, fire the gays. Bad drivers get in accidents, parking ticket = you're fired. Drugs are bad, mandatory weekly piss tests. Pregnancies have complications, fire the women. Where is the line? No one has suggested going beyond smokers and fat people but the constant search for sqeezing the margin tells me everyone is fair game.

What gets me is that they decided to go the social engineering route instead of the insurance differential route. Auto insurance is a good example. If you claim you wear your seatbelt, you pay a lower premium. If you want to engage in risky behavior, you pay a higher premium. Scotts could have simply told employees that they would pay a premium reflective of a certain behavior, and if they want to smoke or eat or whatever, then the employee has to pay for the difference.

2 comments:

thejamestaylor said...

Here I go with my paranoid libertarianism again, but I have a few hypothetical questions. Let's say I'm a Scott employee, and let's say that I "register" with "company officials" as a NON-smoker. And let's say that in spite of my "good intentions" I spend my nights, into the wee hours of the morning, sucking down pack after pack of Camel straights. How could/would Scott prove that I am indeed "a smoker?" Does smoking one cigarette at a party make me a smoker? What if I chew? - that's just another, unhealthy way of getting my nic fix you know.

It has been my contention, at late night gatherings after a few too many beers, that I'm really American Indian or Hispanic or something other than just a white guy; the papers have simply been lost to the ages. (Note: To my recollection I have never claimed to be a woman, perhaps because that would be easy enough to disprove). Anyway, I'm kidding as far as you know, but perhaps you see my point. Who is to tell me that I'm a smoker, or more precisely, who is to tell me that I'm NOT a NON-smoker? Can anyone prove that I am, in fact, not a non-smoker?

Stephen said...

I had a discussion with my chair a few weeks back and he said that if I had walked in the door and claimed to be black they would have to accept my claim at face value.