February 14, 2004
Letter to the Denver Rocky Mountain News.
Posted at Liberty Post.
Among the hot topics this year is the number of Americans losing jobs because their employers have moved facilities overseas. I want to mention a cause of this trend that is almost never discussed.
If it were merely a due to cheap wages, all our jobs would have gone to Bangladesh years ago. However, this is not the case.
Rather, America is becoming a less and less attractive place to do business. American businesses big and small are caught in a regulatory vise grip that gets tighter all the time. Consider the effects of minimum wage laws, union demands, OSHA and EPA regulations, affirmative action, the Americans with Disabilities Act, age and sex discrimination laws, insurance regulations, health care benefit mandates, etc.
Nothing in life is free. Every regulation has a price. When it becomes too cumbersome to do business in one place, businesses will set up shop in another place. Ironically, it was Lenin who defined refugees as people who vote with their feet. Increasingly, American corporations are voting with their feet and moving manufacturing facilities to places like China and Mexico and customer service facilities to places like India.
Do companies do these things merely because they are disloyal to America? I don't think so. Rather, our government has taxed, regulated, litigated and otherwise harassed businesses to the breaking point. Here is some more irony: A lot of companies find China, one of the most brutal dictatorships ever, an easier place to do business than "The Land of the Free."
Recently, a good friend, age 53, told me a story about the fundamental impact of age discrimination rules. While he is gainfully employed, a lot of people his age are having trouble finding work. He said that the threat of age discrimination suits is making a lot of firms think twice before hiring people over 50. Fire someone over 50 and the risk of being body slammed with a lawsuit is so high that you might as well not hire them to begin with. As my friend says, "The laws that supposedly protect us wind up working against us."
My friend succinctly summarizes what is happening throughout our economy. Laws and regulations that were implemented with only the noblest of intentions are squeezing the very life blood out of the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen. We are every bit as socialist as any of the western European nations we deride as socialist. Unless things change, America's days of economic supremacy will soon be over.
Douglas F. Newman
Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman