The GOP view on hand-washing in restaurants

Mark Levin has often remarked that Republicans don't make the case for limited government because they don't know how. There is no better example of this than the newly minted Senator from North Carolina, Thom Tillis, the establishment GOP's choice for that seat.

Tillis said he was at a Starbucks in 2010 talking to a woman about regulations and where businesses should be allowed to opt out. His coffee companion challenged him, asking whether employees there should be required to wash their hands.

“As a matter of fact I think this is one where I think I can illustrate the point,” he recalled telling her. “I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says we don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom. The market will take care of that. It’s one example."

That's Tillis's argument against government regulation. Let businesses ignore common sense safety rules as long as they tell people they are ignoring them.

While his heart may be in the right place, he simply has no idea how to articulate the idea of limited government.

Businesses don't need government to require that their employees wash their hands. Do you think before government regulation that restaurants didn't require sanitary work environments? Do you think large numbers of people died of food poisoning in restaurants before government regulation? How did we manage to exist, and survive, before government regulation, without all of us dying of food poisoning?

The answer lies in relying on the incentives of business. If restaurants don't run a sanitary operation, people will get sick. Word will spread quickly, and the restaurant will go out of business. Period, end of story.

Now of course every restaurant should require its employees to wash their hands. And of course every restaurant does. They would still do it even if the government didn't make them. But liberals pretend that without a government rule on handwashing that we would all die of food poisoning. Well, what if food being prepared falls in the garbage, can a restaurant employee fish it out and serve it? There is no specific government rule about that. So why don't restaurants do that? In some jurisdictions there are no  regulations on how thoroughly plates must be washed. So why don't restaurants simply use the same plates over and over without washing them in more than a superficial way, if the government isn't requiring it? Somehow, restaurants manage to mostly do the right thing because its in their own interest.

So the question about the government requiring handwashing is irrelevant. If a reporter introduced herself and asked me that, I would tell her, "You just shook my hand, but the government didn't require you to wash it beforehand. Should I be worried?"

Now that's an articulate way of responding to this typical lib trap.

Pedro Gonzales is editor of, the conservative news site.