The Chamber of Commerce and other powerful trade organizations are fond of using the term “job killer” to denigrate virtually any proposed legislation or regulation that protects workers, consumers, or the environment. They claim that costs of prevention and compliance drain monies that otherwise would be used to create jobs.
Sort of true, but not really
Technically, perhaps they can make a case: If one assumes there’s a fixed pot of money marked “for wages, salaries, and benefits,” and the costs of complying with pesky labor, consumer, and environmental protections must come out of that pot, then I suppose the regulations can be called job killers.
But one does not have to be a corporate accountant to know that organizational budgeting doesn’t work that way. The costs of social responsibility can come out of other buckets of money as well.
Instead, take a look
In any event, in the interest of fair play, let’s consider an alternate list of job killers:
Executive salaries — Exorbitant executive salaries and accompanying perks surely kill jobs, especially when the high pay isn’t merited due to poor performance. A mediocre CEO earning $300,000 is just as good as a mediocre CEO earning $1 million, except that with the $300,000 CEO, there’s another $700,000 left over to hire more workers.
Bullying managers — Workplace bullying increases employee attrition, absenteeism, and health care costs, while driving down employee morale and productivity — all of which have negative bottom line impacts. In the U.S., the significant majority of workplace bullying is perpetrated by managers and supervisors.
Health care costs — Attempts to create affordable, quality health care for all are continually thwarted by corporations, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies that lobby Congress and state legislatures and form political action committees to reward their friends in elected office.
Demanding stockholders — Stockholders who pressure corporations to post sky-high profits rather than reasonable ones are, in essence, drawing from monies that could be used to hire workers and pay them a living wage.
It’s not quite so easy
Okay, I admit, it’s more complicated than that. The business, labor, and regulatory climate in the U.S. is multifaceted, to say the least. Fixing unemployment and a huge earnings gap, among other things, requires more than serving up competing bullet points.
But if we’re even going to consider the claim that safeguarding workers, consumers, and our planet kills jobs, then at least let’s look at other major factors that curb job creation and preservation.