Work in the Time of COVID-19

If corporations want to maintain the legal fiction that they are people, they would be wise to support the rights of actual people. Because one right that corporations ask us to defend for them—the right of freedom of speech—is the same right they happily deny their own workers.

Thus do public rights vanish behind the doors of private corporations, despite the fact that corporations blight the landscape and bombard the airwaves with advertisements, despite the fact that corporations say whatever they want while they limit what their workers may say.

Such is the choice between bread (or “bread”) and freedom, which is no choice at all. Not when employers police speech within the workplace. Not when some employers seek to extend their police powers to conduct warrantless searches of people’s homes.

What these corporations want is control—total control over the whereabouts of their workers.

What these corporations demand is the right to violate the privacy rights of people who work from home, making employment contingent on the right of employers to spy on their workers.

What these corporations would have workers do is authorize a national campaign of domestic surveillance—to automate the process—via spyware.

By having workers spy on themselves, corporations impose a loyalty oath like no other.

Though a worker may acknowledge and accept this oath, promising to discharge his duties to the best of his ability, we know the truth: that all passions yield to God and country; that the chief business of the American people is what makes business possible; that these prophets include character, industry, and ambition.

We work to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

We work to unite freedom of speech and freedom of worship with freedom from want and freedom from fear.

The work goes on, as it must, until we receive the reward of freedom and peace.

The work is a pattern of good works, showing integrity, reverence, and incorruptibility.

The work must truly be our own.

About Bill Asher

Bill Asher is a writer and retired executive. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.

Photo: PM Images/Getty Images

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