Keep Your Hands Off Our Business, Mr. President

By Mark Blackney
President/CEO

George Bush took a lot of grief about WMD’s and the Iraq war. John Kerry just labeled Global Warming as worse than WMD’s. They’re all missing the point. The scariest WMD in our country is the president’s pen – the one he’s using to sign executive orders that will further decimate our fragile business economy.

Impatient with Congress and wanting to score political points to save his party in November, he’s just letting it fly with his edicts that put more pressure on employers and restricts growth. With the mindset that only Big Government has the answers, our elected officials are eroding the concept of free enterprise with punitive regulations and mandates that are destroying the business model that has made America an economic powerhouse. With each swipe of his pen the president is pushing us closer to the European standard of low growth and dependency.

He’s receiving a lot of assistance from a compliant media and culture that spreads the message that employers are evil, hard work isn’t necessary and wealth should be redistributed whether earned or not. And so we get the tired, “It’s time to raise the minimum wage to make it fair”.

Basically, it is none of the government’s business what a business pays its employees. The value of a worker is based on the owner’s calculations, not the government’s spurious decision. Some ideologue in Washington doesn’t know a business’s profits, customer base or business plan. The one-size-fits all concept of government mandates does not work.

Mandating raises without a requirement of higher production makes an employee worth less to an employer and he becomes expendable. The boss must expect an extra dollar’s worth of effort to compensate for that extra pay. As one CEO explained, “We’re paying them based on need, not on skills or production”. That is a death knell for business.

Despite what the chattering classes claim, most businesses, especially small ones, and local franchises are not hoarding piles of gold to starve their employees. With ever increasing regulations and restrictions, the process of even employing people has become a huge burden. Many times that increased wage mandate is the last straw that leads to cuts in hours and layoffs. The result is fewer people working for higher wages and more not working at all.

And it’s been a slow death knell to the American spirit and work ethic. Rather than considering a minimum wage job as a stepping stone to better wages based on experience and skills, we are being told that we must treat that beginning job as a career and it should be compensated as such. Those workers expect Uncle Sam to increase their wages rather than taking the initiative to earn it themselves or changing jobs if they’re not happy. The government has been generous with the Earned Income Tax Credit and refundable child credits that provides thousands of dollars of taxpayer assisted income to those workers. But it’s still not enough.

So, the president once again put on his Superman cape, whipped out his pen and overhauled the overtime rules. As always, he bellows about economic fairness while totally ignoring the reality of basic economics – government mandates don’t work. Employers are not going to magically increase pay, they will cut back hours.

Some argue that it’s a good thing for those employees to work less if they’re not being paid. But this ignores who these employees are. These are the movers and shakers who are willing to work extra at no pay in order to learn new skills, impress the boss, improve company profits and get ahead. These are the future managers and CEO’s who consider work a calling not just a “punch the time card” activity where they complain if their break is cut short.

This describes every successful person you know. To them, there is no such thing as a 9 to 5 job. It’s 10 hour days and occasional weekends. Compensation is in the form of a job well done, promotions and achieved dreams. These people don’t know the phrase “I don’t have time or I’m too tired” They do what has to be done. They’re your doctors, business owners and entrepreneurs. They all started out in lower paying jobs and worked their way up the ladder.

Obama’s overtime overhaul means they must be paid for these extra hours. Many employers won’t be willing or able to afford the mandate or hire extra workers to fill in the hours so the enhanced work will stop and so will the opportunities for highly skilled workers.

Let’s face it. Our economy is stagnant. Oh sure, certain pundits will spin the numbers until they’re dizzy, but things are just not improving very quickly. There are pockets of success like here in Clovis, but overall our business climate is not getting better. We just can’t come up for air.

I know why. Whenever business tries to breathe, government steps on it. In addition to the many executive orders, Washington has imposed financial restrictions on banks, spent trillions on phony “stimulus” packages and decimated the energy industry, laying off thousands of workers. Of course, the granddaddy of them all is the ubiquitous Obamacare that is affecting everybody’s lives, especially businesses. With its ever changing rules, there is absolutely no way a company can plan or expand.

Locally, the brainiacs in Sacramento concoct over 2,000 new bills every year, a majority that are prohibitive to business growth. Add the environmental restrictions that have hurt agriculture and are stopping the creation of thousands of good paying jobs in the oil industry and it’s no surprise that California has the worst business climate of any state.

As government has grown and taken away our freedoms of thoughts and deeds, it has made our country smaller. Plans of doing grand things or creating grand companies are diminished by government rules and regulations. The CEO of the Home Depot got it right when he said that in today’s business climate, a Home Depot could not be created. How sad.

Many free spirited entrepreneurs can’t meet their full potential thanks to regulations. Of course, some government oversight is needed but we all know that too often government types are on a power trip. Just ask our hair dresser that was fined $200 because the lid on her sanitizing jar was slightly askew. No business can thrive while trembling in fear of the dreaded knock on the door.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have faith in the American spirit and there will always be those who stand up and keep following their dreams. It’s just harder to do and, are there enough of them to keep our economic engine running?

Of greater concern is those who have given in to the government and are allowing it to support their lives. Have generous unemployment, disability and food stamp benefits made it too easy not to work anymore? And, if the economy turns around, will they rediscover their inner drive again?

The only answer lays with us. We must let our anger at Obamacare and government intrusion drive us to turn things around. We can’t wait until November. We have to start NOW.

Posted in Blog.

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