- - Monday, December 13, 2021

It’s morning in America, and once again, Oklahoma, “the reddest of red states” — a state that hasn’t had one county vote blue in the past four successive presidential elections — is proving that its elected leaders are not nearly as conservative as they pretend to be. 
Consider the following.
In October, Oklahoma’s Gov. Kevin Stitt issued this statement: “President Biden’s vaccine mandate … is not just federal overreach. It’s unconstitutional. … This administration has no respect for individual freedoms. I can’t believe we have a president who wants to force Americans to choose between a vaccine and their job. … Getting the vaccine is a personal choice, period.”  

Mr. Stitt then went on, however, to add this, “Just as I believe, Joe Biden can’t tell businesses they have to mandate a vaccine. I don’t believe the government should tell a company. They can’t. Businesses should have the freedom to make decisions based on their circumstances.”

What could possibly be wrong with all this, you ask?  

Well, Mr. Stitt just told all Oklahomans that while it is wrong for the federal government to meddle in the affairs of private businesses, there is absolutely nothing untoward with private businesses meddling in the affairs of private citizens. In other words, federal overreach into the privacy of our personal lives is abhorrent, but corporate overreach is not.  

This is two-faced and duplicitous, and no true conservative would ever hold this view. 

At the end of the day, my health records and yours are nobody else’s business.

They are not the governor’s business. They are not my employer’s business. They are not the Chamber of Commerce’s business. They are my records, represent my personal decisions and should be kept private. Period!

Whether it be run by Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or the CEOs of Devon Energy, ConocoPhillips or Walmart, no company should ever be permitted to force anyone to disclose their medical records as a condition of employment.

Just stop and think about it. Even if you’re a staunch proponent of capitalism and free enterprise (which I am! I actually founded an academic institute under such a banner when I was a college president), I assume you would agree that no employer should ever be empowered to know, for example, if you’re pregnant, or whether or not you use contraception, or if you’ve ever been treated for an STD?

What if you’ve undergone counseling and currently have a prescription for antidepressants? What if you have cancer? What if your family history predisposes you to heart disease, and you presently take statins as a preventive measure? 

How about if you were prescribed Ritalin for ADHD when you were an adolescent? What if you have a degenerative spinal disease and you’ve had back surgery to fend off the inevitable?  

Should any employer, private or public, be able to force you to disclose any of this?  Should you be subject to termination if you don’t comply?

I surely hope your answer to all the above is “No!” 

If you have an elected representative who says, out of one side of his mouth, that he “opposes federal vaccine mandates” because they are “unconstitutional” but who then turns around and tells you that “private” employers have the legal right to make such mandates a condition of your employment, then you have elected someone who is bold-faced telling you that Bill Gates’ rights always trump yours. 

Such a person is not a true constitutionalist, and he does not represent you but rather represents your boss. He is doing the bidding of crony capitalists while telling all of us common folks — you know, us deplorable rubes — that our rights be damned.  

Where in our Constitution does it say that businesses have more rights than individuals? When did we ever decide that the billionaire boys club has unilateral authority over our bodily autonomy, medical records and personal privacy? 

This oligarchical intrusion into our private lives must stop. If Republican voters don’t hold “Republican” politicians to account, we will soon find ourselves under the thumb of a bunch of unelected “Republican” elitists hellbent on making it impossible for us to buy and sell and even earn a daily wage.   

In 1928 German companies boycotted Jews by telling them that anyone not wearing a yellow star would be denied the right to work and engage in daily business transactions. By Mr. Stitt’s logic, these private business owners had the “right” to do all this. Today, unvaccinated Americans are in danger of being treated similarly, and our “conservative” politicians stand on the sidelines and applaud.  

Maybe Mr. Stitt and his lemmings in the Oklahoma Senate would do well to refresh their memory on the story of Pandora’s Box. Ideas have consequences, and many of them are unintended.

Everett Piper is currently a candidate for Commissioner in Osage County, Oklahoma. 

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