Why does the “free” market hate legal medicine, “libertarians”?

About a year or so ago, I was looking for employment, and decided to try retail giant Target. Like many companies these days, Target wants you to apply for employment electronically rather than fill out a paper job application, presumably to save trees and “go green” (I have heard some people question whether this is as eco-friendly as some claim, but that’s a subject for another time). The application process is done at a little kiosk in the Target store, and takes about 45 minutes or so.

What I found dismaying (and a moral reason why I’m not so keen to shop at Target anymore) is a warning during the process about drug screenings that are a requisite for employment. The warning included a statement that even if a prospective employee had a legal prescription for marijuana signed by a doctor in a state where medical marijuana was legal, the person would be ineligible for employment at Target.1 Never mind how cruel this is, to persecute someone by barring them from employment because of the medicine they use. Never mind how STUPID it is, since the patients have paperwork to separate themselves from recreational users (not that I think rec users should be denied employment either). It really underlines a lie that the pro-pot minarcho-capitalists who inaccurately call themselves ‘libertarians’ have been screaming for years: that the War On Drugs is all the government’s fault.

My hero Glenn Greenwald tweeted about this revolting policy many businesses have back in August, with a link to a NYT article about people being fired for these non-offenses.

I’m sure there are ‘libertarians’ upset by these policies, but can they explain them? After all, for years they have claimed that it is the Big, Bad Government that robs us of freedom wherever we go. We are told by ‘libertarians’ that government regulation, especially of the economy, is a harbinger of doom to personal rights.

Well, legalizing something is also regulation. Regulation doesn’t always mean restriction; it can also mean permission. In fact, while I haven’t looked at the specific wording of all the various states’ policies (they are all a bit different from one another), it would not suprise me in the least if the legalizing law restricted the state. Many laws, including much of the U.S. Constitution (which minarchists salivate over) is written this way. Pennsylvania’s HB1393, the not-yet-passed bill that would legalize medical marijuana in that state, is in fact written in precisely that way:

Section 5. Medical use of marijuana permitted.

(a) Freedom from arrest, prosecution or penalty.–

(1) A qualifying patient shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a professional licensing board, for the medical use of marijuana, provided that the patient possesses a registry identification card and no more than six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable marijuana.

(2) There shall exist a rebuttable presumption that a qualifying patient is engaged in the medical use of marijuana if he possesses a registry identification card and no more than six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable marijuana. The presumption may be rebutted by evidence that conduct related to marijuana was not for the purpose of alleviating the symptoms or effects of a patient’s debilitating medical condition.

(3) A qualifying patient may assert the medical use of marijuana as an affirmative defense to any prosecution involving marijuana unless the patient was in violation of this section when the events giving rise to the prosecution occurred.

(Note: Formatting altered to make the text more readable; emphasis added by me)

The fallacy of minarchists and other capitalists is the totally false presumption that the workplace is “free” from tyranny and that public space is savagely “controlled” by the government. I hate government authoritarianism, but the fact remains that workplaces are authority-driven environments. A boss, or corporate body, is an authority figure. There are no “libertarian” authorities. Some may be more liberal than others, and that’s great. Not every business drug tests, for example.2 But the naive belief that the market or competition or “laissez-faire” or any other minarcho-capitalist shibboleths magically protect employees (i.e., the working class) from the whims of their boss(es) is absurd. Management is going to be inclined to be socially and economically conservatives virtually all of the time because the purpose of a profit-driven business is to PROFIT, not move forward on social change. I can’t even be that hard on bosses who at least feel pressured to drug test their employees because they are afraid of losing business to socially backwards clients.

But if the law says they’re legal, and drug testing is an added expense, then every “law” of the Magical Self-Correcting Market says drop the testing policy. But they don’t. Why, it’s almost as if businesses are motivated to control their workers exactly the same way governments are motivated to control their citizens, even at added cost. It would appear that governments and businesses, both authority-driven institutions, have the same compulsion to control people, regardless of what science, medicine, or basic concepts of individual rights would otherwise dictate. And regardless of how ‘libertarians’ think the world works.

1I looked online for a copy of Target’s policy regarding drug testing but couldn’t find one. If I come by one later I’ll add it as an update.
2I also looked for a list of businesses that don’t drug test. I could have sworn there was one kicking around the webtubez years ago. Until I can find it or another one like it, here are some helpful links:
http://www.lectlaw.com/files/emp02.htm from ‘Lectric Law
companies that DO test


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