Last week, when the Biden Administration announced it was invoking emergency rules to force large employers to mandate vaccinations for their employees, some industry “leaders” proved that they weren’t really leaders at all. Like, for instance, David French, senior vice president of the National Retail Federation: “… the Biden administration has chosen to declare an ‘emergency’ and impose burdensome new requirements on retailers during the crucial holiday shopping season,” he said in a prepared release.

First, let’s note that French is suggesting the orgy of conspicuous consumption we call “the holidays” is as important as ending this pandemic. We might point out to him that each of the 1,100 Americans who are still dying every day due to COVID-19 would have rather been home with family “during the crucial holiday shopping season” and that many of them work in the retail sector.

Next, we understand that French was referring to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's emergency authority over workplace safety when he put “emergency” in quotations. But let’s be clear: If keeping Americans safe from a new killer virus isn’t an emergency, we don’t know what is.

And as for the “burdensome requirement” of making sure employees have time off to get a shot and that their vaccinations are recorded, we might note that OSHA already imposes many mandates and they are all designed to keep employees safe. The agency was created by a Republican president after popular outcry over working conditions, injuries and deaths on the job. Nothing hampers production quite like someone dying at the cash register next to you, Mr. French.

Lastly, Jan. 4 is after the shopping rush, unless French is referring to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is hardly a retail bellwether.

There is nothing new about government and even private employers mandating various health and safety protocols. OSHA already requires masks for certain health care and construction industry jobs. You can’t smoke on the job anymore, because it’s unhealthy for you and everyone else in the workplace. In California, kids have long been required to have 15 vaccinations against rubella, mumps, tetanus and other viruses and diseases before they can attend public schools.

Late last week, a federal appeals panel in Louisiana temporarily blocked the new rule, suggesting there were constitutional questions about federal overreach. Administration officials say they are confident the mandate will ultimately take effect.

Either way, the reality is we have had to add one more malady to the human condition. Get used to it. When the pandemic ends, this coronavirus will become endemic. The virus will continue to circulate, but hopefully in a manageable way, much the way seasonal flu is managed — with vaccination.

If you won’t get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family, please get a shot to protect your job. Just get a shot.

— Clay Lambert

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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(5) comments


Well written and well said Clay. The informed and thoughtful opinion is always appreciated, but especially so these days.

August West

OSHA has no authority to enforce the proposed Labor Department mandate. Not even using the nonsensical “emergency” framework. Clearly why the mandates were stayed.

Vaccines are good - I was fully vaxxed in March.

Mandates are bad. But progressives like Clay love them. Perhaps Clay also loves to see Antifa disrupting anti-mandate protests - fascism creeping in from supposed “anti-fascists.” Amazing. 2021 has been crazy.

John Charles Ullom

"Vaccines are good - I was fully vaxxed in March." +1

"Mandates are bad." +1 Imagine if gays were mandated to vaccinate or be an outcast. Imagine if women were mandated to complete a pregnancy. Imagine if young men were mandated to fight a war. Or imagine your child being shamed for not reciting the pledge of allegiance.

"But progressives like Clay love them" -2 Plenty of conservatives would mandate school prayer, risk of consequences for sex, and a ban on people that face Mecca when they hobnob with God.

Why does almost everybody have to politized almost everything?

August is right about the mandates. They are pointless and are being used by the merchants of outrage to gin up their ratings.

Nobody should be mandated to compete a pregnancy. Nobody should be mandated to inject an Aids vaccine. Nobody should be mandated to pray or recite a pledge. Nobody should be mandated to sign up for selective service. Nobody should be mandated to attend school. Nobody should be mandated to pay taxes for polices they object to.

"Perhaps Clay also loves to see Antifa disrupting anti-mandate protests - fascism creeping in from supposed “anti-fascists.”"

Perhaps you love seeing White Nationalists plow cars into crows of Americans protesting hate? Perhaps, but I doubt it. And I know your animus towards Clay warps your thinking. I doubt you really believe Clay or anybody else here loves Fascism.

Jim Larimer

This is a good example of libertarian thinking and what is wrong with it. For example, reckless driving is bad, but regulations against it a step towards . . . What? Safe highways?[sad]

John Charles Ullom

Jim. Would you mandate gay men take an HIV vaccine or wear a condom? Would you mandate the completion of a pregnancy? Would you mandate participation in a an overseas war? Would you mandate the recital of a Socialist inspired pledge with a congressionally mandated reference to god?

Are you sure you aren't a Libertarian? Maybe just a little? And yes Jim, like all creeds, Libertarianism can be taken too far.

Hey Jim. Did you know that Fascists impose mandates too?

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