For as long as I can remember I have believed that decisions should be made at the lowest level possible. When I was younger, I used this thinking to justify the existence of supranational organisations such as the EU and a whole host of government regulations that to my older, but still young, eyes now seem to be ridiculous. Many of my conclusions have changed over the last fifteen years but my core ideology remains the same. It's just that now I see that the lowest level possible is often the individual.
Voltaire is often misquoted as having said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I often find it odd the way this quotation is used. Should it not be followed with “and if you're a sexist, racist or homophobic I will use the same right to follow you around and ridicule you at every opportunity”? I have come to take a broadly similar attitude to actions, at least those which do not involve the use of either force or deception, though I probably would not go quite
a far as Voltaire in defending them to the death. Unfortunately one of the logical conclusions of my ideology is that when one sees injustice which involves neither force nor deception, I can't utter phrases such as “someone should put them away” or “there should be a law against that.” This is why I hate being a libertarian.
Yesterday there was quite a twitter storm over a user who goes by the alias @badlydrawnroy. His twitter feed describes how he has been feeling depressed of late and after taking some advice from the twittersphere decided to tell his employers about his predicament. Unfortunately it transpires that his employer is about as unenlightened as the mouldy cheese inside my fridge when the door is closed, and her response appears to have been to summarily dismiss him for being ill.
There is no denying that if, as I would prefer, employers did not pay your sick leave, maternity leave and holidays to you when they became due but instead put money into an account which was entirely under the employees control for the expected cost, this would be much less of an issue. Particularly since this would lead to a situation where employers would be paying all employees for their actual work done and insurance companies and private providers would be the ones taking all the risks. However, the fact remains that an employer has decided to sack a man for having depression. While in an ideal world I wouldn't want the government to intervene, I do disapprove.
The worst thing, in my opinion, is that this is exactly the reason why our country is so completely drowned in red tape. It's because when many people hear stories like this they get angry and demand that 'something must be done'. Politicians who like to be seen to be doing something then cobble together some atrociously-worded legislation which increases the burden on small businesses making themless inclined to be flexible and continuing the drowning spiral.
Therefore I find myself wanting to cry out that 'something must be done' and hating that, as I am a libertarian, it would make me a hypocrite. Then I recall that there is an option open to me. I can choose to boycott this company and use my free speech to encourage others to do so also. Therefore, if you agree with me that sacking a person for being ill, without having first tried to make the situation work either by offering them the option to go part time, with a proportionate cut in pay, or at the very least statutory sick pay (which would cost an employer little), is totally unacceptable, then I encourage you to boycott this company until either it reinstate Roy or goes bust. Of course, if you don't agree with me you're free to continue purchasing their goods and services. That's the voluntary way.