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.

Comments Here's the description of John Schnatter's home: The house is 40,000 square feet and it resembles a castle. One interesting feature on this 16-acre estate is the 22-car underground garage, complete with an office for valet parking, a car wash and even a motorized turn table to move limousines. The home also has a state-of-the-art exercise suite and a huge 6,000 square foot carriage house.

Obviously, he's suffered enough.

Why is it that no one is talking about the fact that companies can deduct expenses, like health care costs, when they file their income taxes. This is a business expense like any other and doesn't have to be completely accounted for by lowering employee hours or pay, by raising prices, etc. Or the company can eat some or all of the cost instead of making obscene for their managers and CEO's

Correction: my comment was supposed to say: making 'obscene' profits for"

I wouldn't feel safe eating Papa John's pizza. If the CEO feels the need to cut employee hours in order to avoid spending 14 cents providing them with health insurance, they probably aren't very healthy. They probably don't feel comfortable taking time off when they're sick - he probably discourages that. I'd rather eat pizza made by happy and healthy workers.

Really good point - I'm going to be thinking about this whenever I eat out from now on.

An article in Forbes Magazine this year claims that in terms of political contributions from restaurant chains, “…you’ll have a wider menu selection if you vote Republican.” If the biggest names in the dining out industry can afford substantial political contributions, they are in no danger of going under from Obamacare. Papa John's, Applebee's, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster, among others, seem to have no interest at all in participating in the give and take process our economic system requires - they just want to take the money and run, and their attempts to generate sympathy among us as they’re getting away would be downright laughable if not so despicable. How transparent that in Massachusetts, at least 85 of these big chains, as well as hundreds of smaller independent seafood restaurants, have managed to flourish along with Romneycare, which, as we know, is identical to the Affordable Care Act.

As long as we do remain dependent on employer-provided health plans, their refusal to offer coverage to employees means their penny-ante jobs are not the kind that will allow for economic recovery - what we need is gainful employment, health benefits included.

I wonder what these businesses do when the minimum wage rises a bit? This is a lot like the weeping and crying that went on when the Clinton Health Plan was being discussed in 1993. Under the Clinton plan, minimum wage employers would have been required to pay in a minimum of 3.9% with a matching 3.9% from their minimum wage employees. I was the owner of a small security guard agency (a minimum wage employer) and I wrote Mrs. Clintion that I was fully in support of her husband's plan and that the additional tiny amount of taxes wouldn't be a bother in the least. Also, as any businessman knows, taxes are "passed through" to the consumer in the form of higher prices. As all businesses will have to pay, they will simply raise prices by this slight amount in lockstep. A dime more for a pizza won't be noticed by the customer, who is used to relatively steady rises in prices as it is. Compare what you pay at the supermarket to what you paid a year ago. The chances are that you are paying more. Here in Michigan the state government has allowed retail businesses to not price individual items, one of the reasons being that before this, the consumer could easily see how prices have risen over time. There is a steady rise in prices for a lot of things, and it doesn't seem to hinder people from buying what they want. So these protests are uttered, it is time for people to ask "why"? Papa John's has no doubt raised the price of the pizzas from time to time, just like Little Caesars and Dominino's and everyone else. Adding an additional 10 cents won't even produce a "blip" in sales one way or another. What the owner is objecting to is a slight reduction in the amount of unearned income he gets from running his business. The concept of "surplus value" as explained by Karl Marx back in the 19th Century for those curious. The income of all employers is always partially "unearned" because no employer ever pays people the full value of the goods and services that they produce. Some of it always goes into his pocket, while the rest is used to maintain his or her business.

Every worker has a right to insurance cover. Though rules slightly differ across states; but there are some basics applicable to all states. However, not employees are well aware of that and need to increase their level of knowledge about such issues.
Dan Jones

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