Thursday, January 04, 2007

Employment Law Myopia

"But if it's good policy [for the employer to treat employees a certain way], why shouldn't the government require it?"
It is because, my dear Employment Law classmate (yup, it's an actual quote from class), a benevolent tyranny is still tyranny, and how and under what authority the government makes laws is at least as important as the substance of the laws themselves.

It's because if the government makes a bad employment policy decision, we all suffer. But if one company makes a bad policy decision, only they go out of business, keeping the door of opportunity open to smarter businessmen.

It's because even good policy administered by a middleman government bureaucrat grows more costly and less efficient.

It's because government regulations cost employers money, which is then passed on to the consumer through the increased cost of the goods and services, sparking inflation. It decreases the number of employees that can afford to be hired, making jobs less plentiful for everyone. These things are not only bad for the economy at large, but they ironically impact the poorest people the most. A job with no benefits is far better than no job at all.

It's because good policy for one employer isn't necessarily good policy for another.

It's because employers have rights too, and the employers are the ones taking all the risk if their enterprise fails. Not the employee. Certainly not the government. And despite the socialist propaganda filling our casebook, even the Big Bad Corporations are not evil oppressors, nor do they have unlimited funds to hand out to the people they hire.

It's because when companies maximize profits, everyone benefits. Government revenue goes up without increasing taxes, companies can hire more people, and charities benefit.

It's because if government has the power to tell an employer he can't fire someone but for previously delineated reasons, the government has the power to tell an employee she can't quit but for previously delineated reasons. And if the later is slavery and an undermining of any concept of freedom of contract, than the former surely is as well.

It's because we have over a century of the history of World Socialism to show us the futility of state-micromanaged economies.

In essence, my erstwhile classmate is demanding that George W. Bush run every business in the nation. I wonder if putting it in those terms would make people think twice the next time they spout, "Why, the government oughta..."

Sigh. Forgive the rant. Two days in, and already the banal and juvenile tripe that so often passes for critical thinking in law school is in full sway. It is stunning that people so professedly concerned about the government stripping away of our civil rights are so willing to demand that this same government step in and manage our pocket books, our businesses, our health care decisions, our associations, ad infinitum. That the above truisms are hardly mentioned in an employment law class shows how badly the education I and the tax payers are buying suffers when ideological diversity among a university staff is so completely lacking.

Can someone please tell me again who exactly is threatening my liberty?


Cato said...

Well said, Orrin. That's a well put-together polemic!

SirWhoopass said...

But if one company makes a bad policy decision, only they go out of business, keeping the door of opportunity open to smarter businessmen.

Sexist pig.

ModMilq said...

Hey sirwhoopass,
Can't businessmen be nongender specific like "mankind" I am female and it doesn't bother me that is says business men...

ModMilq said...

Hey Orrin,
I think it is a reasonable question that if the policy is a good one, should the government enforce it? The answer may be 'no', but it is a good question to start a discussion that involves critical thinking. It is good that our classmates can ask questions like these because then you can respond, much the way you did in class, "No because we value freedom in this country, yada yada yada..."

Orrin Johnson said...

I'm PRETTY sure SW was kidding...

If it had been a question made by the Devil's Advocate to spark thinking, that would be one thing. But it wasn't. It was an expression of a worldview, i.e., that if something is a good idea, the government should use its power to enact and enforce it because employers can't and shouldn't be trusted to do the right thing. It's a bad thing that they ask it because it means they've achieved at LEAST 5 1/2 years of higher education and yet are still so out of touch with reality that they don't understand the bare basics of either freedom or economics.

Don't fool yourself - there was no critical thinking behind that statement. This was not a reducto ad absurdum hypothetical argument to understand the law. It was a statement of his ACTUAL policy preference made despite years of "higher" education in the USA, and is thus worthy of all the ridicule that can be heaped upon it.

ModMilq said...

Can't you be PRETTY sure that I was kidding about SW's comment?

Regardless if the person asking it was critically thinking or not, it still openned the floor for a discussion about the role of government, which is an important conversation to have. And you did a good job addressing why just because something might be a good policy, it is not the place of government to get involved. My point is that in his asking this banal question, if offered you the opportunity to enlighten your fellow classmates!