To the Daily:

Robert Soave writes that “an important principle is at stake” in the recent smoking ban in his recent column (Michigan’s morality police, 01/05/2010). He’s right.

Some jobs — firefighting, for example — are unavoidably dangerous. People who take those jobs have to face the risks. But if a risk can be eliminated, the employer is legally obligated to do so. An employer can’t invoke “private property” or “freedom of choice” when deciding whether to expose his employees to unnecessary risks — any more than the owner of a private restaurant can bar health inspectors from his private kitchen.

The owner is not the only stakeholder in an economic entity. Employees, customers and, for some purposes, even the general public, have legally protected rights which can impinge on the owner’s freedom. Get used to it.

Eric Ebel

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