Pursuing a Lose-Lose Strategy
By Evelyn Pyburn
It’s a sad lesson of life, but there is always those among us who strive every day to acquire the unearned.
In my world, that is the real definition of greed – much more so than people working hard to make money.
The reach for the unearned is seen all around us, and while much of its cost often falls to taxpayers in general, a more favored target is “greedy” money makers, ie. businesspeople. The “reach” always involves laws that force the money-makers – business owners, employers, producers, job creators – to comply just in case they should have other ideas and resist the theft. The coercion comes in laws that set minimum wages, mandated family leave, restrict management decisions to favor employees, control prices, or mandate benefits, etc. – issues that could, and should, more legitimately be negotiated voluntarily between concerned parties. The latest is the requirement that employers pay employees who are quarantined by government decree, due to Covid-19, above and beyond their sick pay benefits.
One trial lawyers association recently advised employees to make sure they know their rights, implying that employees have a right to be protected from contracting COVID. What rights? Rights aren’t guaranteed outcomes or gift cards, rights are a freedom to act. The employee is always free to leave a job and find another if they don’t like the conditions of the job, whether it has to do with health measures, the work asked of them, or compensation. To be able to legally impose obligations on an employer or anyone else, is to have the power to enslave one person for the benefit of another. That is NOT a RIGHT!
The requirement is destroying just as many businesses now as were destroyed with the closure mandates. Small businesses lose all their employees for weeks on end, which means usually they cannot operate – they cannot “make money.” Some employees think it is a lucky break, getting to stay home while still getting paid, and they milk it for as much as they can. In the meantime, the costs mount for the business owner who has no income.
Of course, if the consequences of the COVID edicts were allowed to fall directly upon the workers they might not be so tolerant of the situation. They might interpret the validity of the mandate differently and weigh the consequences more incisively. So, since employee numbers are greater than those of employers, their political clout is greater, and it becomes politically necessary to shield them from reality, and force the impacts upon the employers.
The situation does not have to last long before it destroys many businesses, but that consequence is never understood to the now- unemployed, who believe, along with the politicians and bureaucrats, that it is possible for an economic system to thrive treating businesses as though they are philanthropic organizations – as though they have the same bottomless pockets that government thinks it has.
The grab for the unearned is ratcheting up, as the almost-immoral philosophical perspective is extended to the idea that employers should be held liable if their employees contract the disease. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how broadly and unjustly lawyers and the legal system will seize the opportunity this affords them to enrich themselves, in their perpetual quest for the unearned.
Consequences far less evident will be the changes business owners will make in how they operate to reduce their exposure to liability – some of those changes will not be foreseeable as creativity is brought to bear – but be assured the adjustments will not result in improved products, services, convenience or value – or jobs. Be assured that to hold businesses liable for employees or customers contracting COVID or any other disease (as it will surely be expanded to include), will be to the detriment of all of our society in many ways.
It has been through a system of voluntary exchange of value for value – without coercion and with incentives aligned with achievement – that we have come to enjoy a standard of living beyond any ever before known in the world, with the expectation that it will grow ever greater. But if this process of granting the unearned on the backs of the productive continues, it means, not only will many businesses fail, but our standard of living will decline – the wellbeing of the general population will diminish.
It is a lose-lose strategy for all.