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What we pay is none of Obama’s business

The president’s new rules for overtime will be another unnecessary intrusion into the relationship between employer and employee. Enough of this dictatorship.

  • Longboat Key
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Surely every business owner and CEO in America groaned, moaned and probably cursed Tuesday morning, June 30, when they read or heard about Barack Obama’s blog post issued at 9 p.m. the night before on the Huffington Post website. It was another Obama fiat. 

Said the dictator:

“We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve … This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year.”

It wasn’t just a plan. The Obama pen — more dangerous than the mighty sword — had already instructed the U.S. Department of Labor to change the regulations (and by extension, change codified law) governing overtime pay. By king’s fiat, the man who has no clue how free-market capitalism works — nor does he care — is injecting still more government coercion and tentacles into every business’ business.

Before you know it, your business will be required to pay time-and-a-half to salaried employees who work more than 40 hours a week and who are earning up to $50,440 a year. That more than doubles the previous trigger for required overtime — for employees earning below $23,660. What’s more, the Labor Department is writing rules to create an inflationary index for that $50,440. It will go up every year.

Let’s be clear about this: 

We’re in the camp of the vast majority of employers. They believe in fair and just compensation. And they believe this because it would not be an exaggeration to say most of them probably experienced the opposite at one time in their working lives. They worked in low-wage jobs and worked extra hours without extra pay because they saw that effort as the path to success. They made a choice. 

And likely, the vast majority of these employers also believe that when they ask employees to work more than 40 hours in a week, those employers understand and accept the obligation to compensate those individuals fairly for that additional time.

Sure, there are always dirt bags — employers who abuse employees. Just as there are dirt bags in every segment of society, e.g. politics.

But here is where most of American employers disagree with Barack Obama: What business owners pay employees is none of Obama’s business. It’s none of Congress’ business. It is none of anyone’s business — with one exception. And that exception is the employer and employee.

When you dissect employment and jobs down to their essence, they are simply this: An agreement, a contract, between two individuals: employer-employee.

When an individual accepts the terms, responsibilities, duties and compensation of a job, that is all that is needed. That agreement stands the same way any contract does in a buyer-seller market transaction. In this case, the employer and employee can choose to sign or not sign. If they sign, they are pledging to stick by the agreement. If one side violates the pact, redress in the courts is available. 

That’s the way the market works. There is no need whatsoever for any government bureaucrat, congressman or president to get in the middle of that agreement.

Here’s what Obama is unable to accept, either out of ignorance or ideology: That the agreement between employer and employee is one of choice, not force. No one is coercing any employee to work a job where the employee believes he is abused. He has the freedom to leave.

Nor will Obama accept the simple, inviolable concept of supply and demand and the resulting effects on pricing. Ha! Just about anyone not in the top 1% of earners likely would say he isn’t earning what he deserves. But what someone thinks he deserves and what the market will bear are two different things. The market rules. 

In Obama’s world, he rules.

In a labor marketplace where Obama and Congress have not intervened, supply and demand automatically regulate wages and employer behavior. The supply of labor dictates a job’s value. In the same vein, every employer is incentivized to pay market rates or more. If he pays less or abuses employees, he loses. Word of misbehavior spreads and his business suffers, eventually to the point of failure. There is no need for government intervention. The market always punishes bad actors. 

All of the above is why the new overtime rules must be stopped. Enough. Enough of this dictator.

But where are the defenders of free enterprise?

They are not in Congress. Peruse the websites and recent press releases of Florida’s U.S. senators and congressman and woman representing the Gulf Coast. They are full of the typical feel-good pablum, touting their heroic efforts to protect veterans, senior citizens and the environment. But not a one of them made a peep last week about Obama’s latest reach into every business in America. 

Rare is the day when any of them lifts a finger to keep the federal Leviathan from spreading its poison into the one area of society that keeps this country going: private enterprise.

So here’s an appeal to you — business owners and CEOs: 

We know many business owners and CEOs shy away from speaking out, from putting their beliefs on a letterhead, in an email or text. Public retribution for stating your views could damage your business. Indeed, everyone remembers what happened to the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich; he lost his job for making a contribution to a group opposed to legalizing gay marriage in California.

Nonetheless, we urge you to call your congressman; call your U.S. senator; call Gov. Rick Scott. Urge them to take legislative steps to stop Obama’s latest intrusion into your businesses and the livelihoods of you and all of the people who choose to work with you. And while you’re at it, tell them — those senators and congressmen — to stay out of your business as well. 

Laissez faire! Leave us alone! 

Get out of our lives. No one — absolutely no one — is smarter, more moral and more just than a free market governed by the self-interests of individuals. No one. Not even King Obama.



Sen. Bill Nelson – 202-224-5274

Sen. Marco Rubio – 202-224-3041

Rep. Vern Buchanan – 202-225-5015


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