Who Says Liberals Want Government Out of the Bedroom?

Nothing is off limits anymore. Nothing. Not as far as politicians are concerned. Democratic State Senator Kevin De Leon wants California to mandate fitted sheets in the state’s hotels, and forbid flat sheets.

According to the bill’s opponent Lynn Mohrfeld, president and CEO, California Hotel & Lodging Association, “SB 432 would cost the hotel and lodging industry $30–$50 million to replace sheets and buy the appropriate laundry equipment. On top of that, it would cost millions more in frivolous lawsuits—costs that will be passed on to hotel customers. This is nothing more than a transparent ploy to provide workers comp attorneys and trial lawyers a new avenue to file frivolous lawsuits.”

There are plenty of arguments against this ludicrous proposal. But it frustrates me that arguments have to be made. A hotel should have whatever sheets it wants, period, and if the customers or employees resent the decision for any reason, they shouldn’t patronize or work there. Is this really difficult for people to understand?

This is only to be expected, I suppose, in a society where nothing is private any more. Property owners, certainly those who own “commercial property,” haven’t had actual property rights for a very long time. There is nothing fundamentally different between SB 432 and many other intrusions we have seen for years. To forbid a bar owner, for example, from allowing smoking (or any other behavior) on his own property, all because it poses a potential risk to the employees there, relies on the exact same logic. Bed sheets are just the latest target for regulation by the officious planners in Sacramento.

In a free society, hotels could allow or disallow smoking of cigarettes (or other substances), mandate or prohibit whatever sheets they wanted, set the terms of employment and patronize, and do pretty much anything else short of prohibiting their customers and workers from freely leaving their premises whenever they wanted. There would be norms established by social convention, as patrons would tend to favor certain policies over others. But it would ultimately be up to the owners to decide.

Of course, in a free society, workers would also have much more economic opportunity while at the same time having much less sense of entitlement. Maybe this “problem” of the difficulty of changing flat bed sheets wouldn’t exist in such a world. But if it did, a proposal to address the difficulty through government mandates would not get very far. I our own reality, I expect it to fail in the state senate. The fact it’s a controversy at all, however, is a testament to how far we’ve slid away from the principles of liberty, free enterprise, and personal responsibility. So is the fact that this politician wasn’t simply laughed out of the room for suggesting such a law.

Anthony Gregory is a former Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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