Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Momentum Gathers

The Baseball Player's Association and the Major League owners have reached an agreement to strengthen drug testing. I’ve written about this subject before but again I am enough disheartened by what I read that I restate my feelings on what I see as a vital fundamental social issue—whether society has the right to physically invade the body of, impede the otherwise unharmful movement of, or inspect the personal property of, a citizen, “reasonable” cause being any statistical probability that one may be in violation.

I don’t rush to defend baseball players. While I’m sure there are many exceptions it’s been my experience that athletes are a surly lot—most of them reaching adulthood through an isolating process borne of adoration and so having developed a less than typical capacity for the give and take social arrangements we mortals must negotiate.

I also realize that we’re talking about a small number of people here and that this agreement concerns employment rather than strictly constitutional issues, though I would always argue that the statement of the right to “the pursuit of Happiness” made in the Declaration of Independence partly intends that employment is a right not to be usurped by what would in the public sector be non-legal means.

I will at this point drop the labor issue as well. Those affected directly by this negotiation are few and far from needy. Previously I have written of how this process is a very public demonstration of the dismal attitudes toward collective bargaining so many hold, but to speak the language of labor is at this point like giving the Latin Mass.

The subject here is strictly the concept of individual rights. Quotes are taken from or as appearing in a Sunday, January 16, 2005 article in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel written by Tom Haudricourt, titled “Drug policy not perfect, but a good start”.

This from Haudricourt:

Standing behind their archaic invasion-of-privacy, civil liberties approach to running the union, Fehr and Orza originally had no intention of re-opening the labor contract to put some oomph into a weak drug-testing policy.
Considering notions of privacy and civil liberties in the area of one’s employment is thus “anachronistic”! Why would I believe that such an attitude would not be taken toward the other 2/3 of one’s life? The truth is that Haudricourt is of the reigning legions of the Reagan counter-revolution who make no such distinction—this small market columnist is only one of thousands who will trivialize the founding principles of our nation today while tens of millions amen.

Marvin Miller, a former BPA chief, had this to say about the agreement (though obviously in terms of general society):

I disapprove of all kinds of testing unless there is probable cause to believe that the person being tested has done something wrong.
The columnist’s response:

Probable cause? Where has Miller been, on Jupiter? Has he not heard of the BALCO testimony? Did he miss the fact that 6% of players tested positive for steroids during “survey” testing in 2003? Has he not noticed Bonds’ hat size increase by dramatic proportions?
And there you have it! Being a baseball player constitutes probable cause. Being an employee constitutes probable cause. Being American constitutes probable cause. This is the practical “hard” reality of the “hard” type who most recently refer to their nation as “post 9/11”. In such a country we will no longer need this:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What could the Fathers have been thinking? Mere existence in a statistical pool constitutes probable cause. No one is outside the whole, therefore all actions are warrantable.

As Yogi Berra might have said about democracy, “It gets late early out there.”


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