Big Brother Takes Aim At Salaries

Big_brother_is_watching_youThe message addressed to “friend” in my inbox from Barack Obama paints a grim picture of life for a large class of working Americans:

“When a working parent needs to put in more than 40 hours a week, that time can be measured in family dinners, tee-ball games, and ballet recitals missed — and too often, that worker isn’t even being paid fairly for the extra work.”

Obama lays the blame for this alleged worker abuse at the feet of business owners.  “Right now,” he continues, “there are employers skirting even basic overtime laws, adding “manager” to somebody’s job title solely to avoid paying workers what they’ve earned. Those workers are being cheated today, and this new step fixes that.  The rule I’ve proposed will expand overtime eligibility to nearly five million workers. It’s one of the fastest ways we can help expand opportunity for all Americans.”

The Obama administration, invigorated by a string of recent policy victories that expand federal authority over personal and business interests, now seeks greater control of private employee compensation rates and methods.   The Dept. of Labor has proposed revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that would further restrict employers from exempting some employees from overtime rules.  Under current FLSA regulations, an employee is exempt from the 40-hour overtime rule if he or she earns over $23,660 per year and performs certain “white-collar duties”.

Last week President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post, taking several victory laps to celebrate the baffling Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and Obamacare, the passage of new trade agreement authority, and “America’s steady progress” under his guidance.  And he proposed that the income threshold for exempt employees should be doubled to $50,400.  If unchallenged, the revision would take place in September.

This move is consistent with the administration’s ongoing battle against free-market principles.  While the President focuses on “fairness”, his policies totally disregard the timeless and proven practices that made American commerce and our standard of living the envy of the world:  innovation and progress through competition, operational freedom, and the right to earn and keep profit and property.

The false promise of more pay for the same or less work might appeal to the short-sighted.  But history proves that those who wish to achieve and succeed don’t want government-proscribed limits on their ability to earn.  Measuring a key employee’s worth by hours of attendance only – disregarding talent, knowledge, creativity and other qualities –  is shallow, if not condescending.     Raising the exemption threshold will undoubtedly push wages downward and restrict upward mobility for entry-level employees.  It is disingenuous to suggest that such a move will put more money in any employee’s wallet.  Employers, mostly small businesses, will not be able to absorb the estimated $9.5 billion annual cost without defensive strategies.

To win and keep customers, businesses must be competitive.  Those who provide the best products and value for their customers, and make an acceptable profit, are the winners.   These companies know that they can’t execute a winning strategy without top-quality employees, and they aggressively compete for the best.  If they fail to acquire and retain quality employees, they will rapidly drop out of the market.  Just as employers compete for the best employees, workers compete for jobs from the best employers.  It is a self-correcting system.

The traditional American business model is a win-win-win.   Well-run companies enjoy growing market share.  Their customers get the products and services they want at the best prices.  And their employees are fairly compensated and fulfilled.  Any attempt by government to mess up that formula is at best naive, and at worst manipulative pandering.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Hey big brother, I know you’re out there somewhere
If we don’t get our thing together, big brother will be watching us
He ain’t gonna get me, are you gonna let him get you?
He’ll never get me, he’ll never get me, no!

Hey Big Brother – Rare Earth

 

Check out this AWESOME video of a great and somewhat forgotten 70s jam band – RARE EARTH – in concert before a humungous crowd at Ontario Motor Speedway in 1974.

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