Earlier this week, I saw this on Facebook:
The supposed actions of an unnamed CEO are supposed to be unethical, maybe even illegal.
This may have been in response to this, passed on by the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner:
It seems appropriate that in the same week that Atlas Shrugged premiered at the movies, Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel sent a letter to his 6,500 employees warning them that the burden of taxes and the constant demonization of successful businessmen is reaching the point where he may decide it is no longer worth it to continue the hard work that he put in, building his company from the ground up over the past 42 years.
Siegel recounted the years of sacrifice, long hours, and hard work that went into making his business a success. Now he finds himself attacked for that success and is being crushed under a growing burden of taxes and regulation. “State taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes, and unemployment taxes” take half of everything he earns. And President Obama is threatening to impose even higher taxes on him and his business. If that happens, Siegel warns, “I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company, I will be forced to cut back. That means fewer jobs, less benefits, and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”
He isn’t quite ready to head to Galt’s Gulch, but Siegel pointed out that he doesn’t need to continue putting in 60-hour weeks to keep a business running. If government continues to punish his success, he told his employees, “My motivation to work and provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.”
At about the same time, Arthur Allen, president of ASG Software Solutions, sent a similar letter to his 1,300 employees, saying that the increasing burden of taxes and regulations could force him to sell his business, and that such a sale would almost certainly result in the loss of hundreds of jobs. Allen said that he had been fighting off takeover attempts for years, but that he didn’t know if he could continue to do so in the face of the current administration’s policies.
Some businesses are not waiting. For example, the restaurant chains Olive Garden and Red Lobster announced last week that they were going to move many of their workers from full-time to part-time because they cannot afford to provide the health insurance mandated under Obamacare.
Elsewhere, nonfinancial businesses are reportedly sitting on more than $1.7 trillion in liquid assets that they are not investing. There is a reason why so many businesses are, in effect, choosing to shrug rather than to put their resources to work building new plants and hiring new workers.
Here’s my question: Why is what these CEOs did wrong? Exactly what is unethical about a business owner’s telling his or her employees about the consequences of elections and the political decisions that are made by those who win elections?
This may date back to Recallarama, when those opposed to Gov. Scott Walker tried to boycott businesses whose employees contributed to Walker, including Kwik Trip, Johnsonville and Menards. It is unclear to me why an employer’s seeking to educate his or her employees is a negative. Education is better than ignorance, right?
I’ll try to explain for the economically illiterate. (Such as: What is the “Dow Jones 500″? And, by the way, unless you’re using single letters, plurals do not use apostrophes.) Businesses employ people based on the amount of business that individual business has. (Which is why the stock price performance of the “Dow Jones 500,” whatever that’s supposed to be, is irrelevant.) The more business they have, the more people they employ, and the less business they have, the fewer people they employ. This is because the most important thing for a business to do is to make a profit — revenues more than expenses. Nothing good happens in any organization — yes, even government — unless it brings in more money than it pays out.
This graphic was created for the express purpose of inciting those who read it against “CEOs,” the “1 percent,” the “Dow Jones 500,” etc., etc., etc. There’s another word for this bunch: Employers. Those who want to stick it to “the man” endanger their own employment, because these evil corporate types make, or sign off on, hiring and firing decisions, which are based on the business climate generally and how their business is doing specifically.
Readers of this blog know that the U.S. has about 15,000 publicly traded companies, with another 7,000 companies whose stock can be purchased by anyone with enough money to do so. That is 22,000 publicly traded companies out of, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 6 million businesses with employees, and nearly 22 million businesses without employees (the owner gets all the profits but is not paid, and neither is anyone else). But most of those 6 million businesses and many of those 22 million businesses are organized as corporations for the legal protections the corporate form gives shareholders. Keep that in mind the next time you read some idiot trashing corporations.
Anyone who thinks that government actions do not affect business, which means business’ employees, is really too ignorant to be able to function as an adult. The Obama administration has opposed business since it took office, not merely with “You didn’t build that” rhetoric, but with piles and piles of new regulations, new and higher taxes and fees, and, as of Jan. 1, “Taxmageddon,” the death of the early-2000s tax cuts, which will increase taxes by nearly half a billion dollars, more than $4,100 per family. (That $4,100 represents, by the way, about $1,000 more than the average family income drop during the Obama presidency.) Anyone who thinks that taking another $4,100 out of family incomes won’t be reflected in lower consumer spending is, apparently, an Obama supporter.
Remember that the cost of fuels is reflected in the cost of everything we buy. So do you think $4-per-gallon gas and diesel fuel benefits business? ObamaCare is going to increase, not decrease, health insurance premiums. Who will taking money out of both employers’ and employees’ pockets benefit?
There is one additional problem. Votes remain secret. I could blog all I want about how great Romney and Republicans are, and then in the privacy of the polling place cast a straight Democratic ballot, and no one will know that except me … and anyone I choose to tell. If you lack the courage of your convictions to the extent you feel intimidated to vote a specific way on an absolutely secret ballot, that is no one’s problem except yours.
Of course, anyone who disagrees with his or her employer’s views about the role of government and business is free to seek employment elsewhere. Of course, the Obama administration has made that more difficult to do, with 14.7 percent of Americans either unemployed or underemployed. Votes have consequences.