Defending the Right to Treat Your Employees Like Dirt

Getting tired of eating at Chick-Fil-A every day to express your hatred of liberals? Well, now you have a couple more options. You can chow down at Applebee's, where the CEO of their New York franchises went on TV to declare that he won't be doing more hiring because of the costs Obamacare would impose. Or you can head over to Papa John's, whose CEO, John Schnatter, has said that Obamacare could add as much as—brace yourself—10 cents to the cost of a pizza, and since obviously customers would never tolerate such price gouging, he'll just have to cut back employees' hours.

In our new era of corporate political activism, we're goin to be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing. So let's make sure we all understand exactly what it is these chieftains are complaining about: They don't want to give their employees health insurance. That's it. They'd prefer to talk about "regulation" in some general sense, so you might get the impression that Obamacare is making them needlessly remodel their bathrooms or something, but the provision in question mandates that health coverage be offered in any company that has over 50 employees.

And there's something else to keep in mind: Nearly all companies with over 50 employees already offer health coverage to their employees, even though this provision of Obamacare doesn't take effect until January 2014. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 98 percent of companies with over 200 employees offer coverage, as do 94 percent of companies with between 50 and 199 employees. That means when you see some CEO come out and decry the costs of Obamacare, the person you're looking at is one of the jerks, the guy who treats his employees like crap and is angry that the law is going to force him to be a little more humane.

There's a strong argument to be made that we should decouple health insurance from employment altogether. Making people depend on their employers for their health care is an artifact of history (unions began demanding health benefits during World War II, when they couldn't negotiate for pay increases because the government had instituted a wage freeze), not something that came about because it was a particularly rational way to get people insured. But as long as we're sticking with a largely employer-based system, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I'd be more than happy to pay an extra 10 cents for my pizza if it meant knowing that the workers who made it are insured.

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