Sunday, September 09, 2007

Only in California? Tagging Employees Like Cattle?

A weird story. Can it be true?

“Posted by ScuttleMonkey on 3rd September
from the not-quite-cattle-yet dept.:

InternetVoting writes "California has passed a bill banning companies from requiring employees to have RFID chips surgically implanted. Already one company has been licensed by the federal government, implanting more than 2000 people. At least one other company —, a Cincinnati video surveillance company — already required RFID implants in some employees. 'State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans. "RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," Simitian said. "But we shouldn't condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It's the ultimate invasion of privacy.

From a comment by a reader of Slashdot:

To quote the grandfather of free-market capitalism":

"Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters." -- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book 1 Chapter 10 [WN I.x.c: pp 157-8]

Free market capitalism does not require blind acceptance of any working conditions, in fact, abuse that potentially damages workers or reduces their motivation, capacity and desire for work damages the very engine of wealth creation in society, ruining the greatest asset the economy has.

Adam Smith most certainly recognized the disparity in power between employers and employees, and while there are a whole lot of people who like to twist the idea of free market capitalism into an anything-goes feast for the new aristocracy and corporate owners, the fact is that the state has many legitimate roles in a free market. As long as it stays away from protecting the owners and investors from competition

The story itself could be filed under ‘Only in California’. Read it and make up your own mind.

In so far as the attributions to ‘the grandfather of free-market capitalism’, they may be ignored. Adam Smith was neither the usual ‘father’, nor the ‘grandfather’ of ‘free market capitalism’, a phenomenon not known to him or others in his day and for some time later (1854 in fact).

He wrote about his analysis of the ‘age of commerce’, as it was reviving from the 15th century to the mid-18th century. The long, slow, and gradual evolution of commerce in Britain was the subject of Wealth Of Nations, and he subjected mercantile political economy to close scrutiny for its distortions in national monopoly trade, jealousy of trading partners, called preposterously, ‘rivals’, colonies, chartered monopoly trading companies, wars over trivial ends, and the failures to grow the economy more efficiently to the benefit of all orders of society, particularly the labouring poor.


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