TO: WF BUCKLEY, Founder, National Review
R LOWRY, Editor, National Review
E CAPANO, Publisher, National Review
T RHODES, President, National Review
FR: JONAH GOLDBERG, Editor, National Review Online
RE: Occupational Safety Health Administration Directive on Home Employees and Telecommuters.
Gentlemen, as I am sure you have heard, OSHA has announced that employers must assure a safe work environment for employees working out of their homes. “If an employer is allowing it to happen, it is covered,” declared Charles Jeffress, the assistant secretary of labor who runs OSHA. Remember: This is not a proposal, but an assertion of existing law. I realize that such a ruling is not consistent with many of the principles of NR — and it must rankle that it is an Al Gore-driven sop to the labor unions — but it is the law of the land and we certainly do believe in the rule of law, even if in this instance it strays somewhat from the Hayekian conception. Remember, too, that — as Calvin Coolidge said — one with the law on his side is a majority.
So there are some things you gentlemen will have to take care of. OSHA’s ruling was made in response to an inquiry by a Texas firm about whether home employees must have an ergonomic workstation. They said yes. Otherwise, “Your employees could be exposed to ergonomic risks.” As it stands now, Alexander Solzhenitsyn had better ergonomic conditions when he wrote his cri de coeur on a roll of toilet paper in the Gulag. So, obviously, I will require some improvements around here. Please see attached invoices for new furniture, computers, keyboards, remote controls, cocktail shakers, carpeting, etc.
Here are some other issues you need to deal with in order to be in compliance:
- You will need to put exit signs on all windows leading to my fire escape and front door in case of fire, creditors, etc.
- Someone will need to check the wiring around here.
- I have a fireplace which I often use for work-related necessities (hiding the evidence that I read The Nation, for example). I will need to be outfitted with a functioning fire extinguisher and receive training and certification that I know how to use it properly.
- I will require certification that my apartment is handicapped- accessible.
- As Rich can attest, my apartment has quite a few stairs (it is a small duplex). As I am rapidly approaching a weight that would qualify me under the ADA as disabled, you will need to install an electric rail chair on my staircase. I will forward you the specs.
- Also, in re the stairs, please have someone remove the huge pile of porn, back issues of The Public Interest, Commentary, and Entertainment Weekly at the top of the staircase. Not only is this heap an eyesore, it is also a fire hazard, and could easily cause me to fall down the stairs if I’ve been over-served at a business-related meeting.
- Which brings me to the next issue. I assume that my office must now be “Drug-Free.” You have my assurance that I am “clean” as currently defined by the Drug Free Workplace Act, but no one can predict the future. Additionally, as I have designated my couch an employee of NR Online, you might want to check under the cushions — I cannot vouch for the stuff my webmaster or other business guests may have dropped down there. Also, should you decide that regular drug-tests are required, perhaps you could send Ramesh or John Miller to supervise and collect the samples? It would be easier for them, as they are already in Washington and I don’t think any of you would like to fly to our nation’s capital for such purposes. Also, as they have covered the White House they know the procedure.
- Relatedly, my bathroom is disgusting and easily qualifies as a biohazard zone. I assume that you will want to take care of this as quickly as possible. Especially if more staffers are coming here to supervise those drug tests. I guess I could use one of those “Employees Must Wash Hands” signs too. Also, how about some of those sanitary toilet seat cover paper doughnut things. And while were at it, I could use one of those electric bug-zappers — don’t ask.
- Which of course leads me inexorably to my kitchen, a.k.a. “liability nirvana.” As this serves as my office cafeteria, you guys should really do something about the conditions in there. The vegetable crisper has been a no-man’s land for virtually all of FY 98-99. The garbage disposal is something I just don’t talk about anymore. When people ask, I just say a rat died in the air vent, it’s less embarrassing. Also, you might want to inquire if my coffee-maker is up to spec — we wouldn’t want a fire or the resulting lawsuit. And while we’re at it, throw in one of those Heimlich/Choking Victim signs, although I don’t know who would read it if I were choking.
- And finally: The Left’s objections to policing private behavior in people’s bedrooms notwithstanding, I think we need to have a delicate conversation and, eventually, training about what constitutes “safe sex” according to OSHA. The less said about that now, the better.
I realize there are considerable costs involved in all of this, but, as you are good corporate citizens, I have every confidence you will make every good-faith effort to be in compliance.
Though, on a personal note, I feel I should tell you that I am more than a little disappointed in you for letting conditions here deteriorate as far as they have.