Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

November 20, 2012

The cost of Obamacare seriously threatens businesses and jobs

It is a simple concept: A business is an organization that provides products or services that it believes people need or want, and if it provides good quality at a fair price it should succeed. Some businesses are single-person entities, but most employ a few people or as many as thousands of people to perform tasks related to the production and sale of its products or services, and in return for their labor they receive agreed-upon compensation that enables them to buy things from other businesses like food, shelter, clothing and other needs and wants. It is what makes America run.

Since leftists don’t understand the way businesses work, they view them with suspicion and not infrequently seek to punish them for doing things they must do to stay in business. They sometimes even seek to punish businesses when they don’t do things the left thinks they should do, but which have no business-related function.

When you combine the left’s abysmal understanding of business operations with its compulsion for government solutions to every perceived problem, and add in the habit of implementing solutions without fully considering the repercussions, the stage is set for mass chaos.

Case in point: The ominous effects of Obamacare on employers, particularly small businesses, have been discussed since health care reform was just a poisonous glimmer in the leftist mind. But despite the ample economic reasons for why this health care reform was a bad idea, the left still doesn’t get it: Obamacare raises operating costs for businesses that implement the plan, and when costs rise, businesses must raise prices and/or cut expenses to offset the increase. Higher prices discourage customers, who either find a better price from a competitor or just buy less of that product or service. Both put businesses at risk.

But the left freaks out when companies opt to protect their customers and themselves from the harmful effects of higher prices when they focus on the biggest expense most businesses have: employee costs.

Because the left’s solutions are poorly thought out, they fail the common sense test and therefore fail to persuade people to accept them on their merits. The left then resorts to forcing its ideas on us. President Barack Obama’s manic effort to replace traditional energy with “green” energy is a prime example of an idea that people rejected because they saw that it couldn’t work. Nevertheless, the Obama administration declared war on coal and oil production to force us to use inadequate wind and solar energy because they arrogantly believe they know what is best for the rest of us.

Since Obamacare increases health insurance costs, often doubling them, businesses have to decide how to offset those costs. They can cut expenses, raise prices, or some combination of the two. Those who can’t justify increasing prices and can’t cut enough other expenses must look at employment expense, and reduce full-time staff below the threshold level through staff reductions and/or reduce full-time employees to part-time hours. Even companies that decide not to implement Obamacare must pay a $2,000 per employee penalty.

But despite the fact that rising employee costs are the problem, the leftists reject staff and hour reductions as unfair; believing the money to cover the enormous costs of Obamacare will simply appear out of thin air. Thus, when the Papa John’s pizza chain said it must raise prices or reduce employee hours to get expenses under control, the left suggested boycotting Papa John’s: To convince the company to do nothing about increased employee expenses, the lefties propose that people buy their pizza from a competitor. Only the left would react to an employer trying to stay in business by boycotting it.

Other chains also are boycott targets for the same reason: Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s and Applebee’s.

Obamacare’s anti-business and job-killing requirements are not the only reason the left proposes a boycott; a business that doesn’t spend its money according to leftist dogma also may be attacked.

A self-identified liberal website urges liberals to “bring these people down,” referring to a list of “fast food joints” that the website owner dislikes because of how they use their own money: Chick-fil-A, Cinnabon, White Castle, Waffle House, A&W, KFC, Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, IHOP, Arby’s, Chili’s, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Hardee’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Wendy’s and Outback Steakhouse.

All of these businesses deserve our support, and at least one organization supports businesses targeted by the left’s loony idea. Rebooting America organized a Papa John’s Appreciation Day last week.

One employer who owns about 100 restaurants nationwide decided to pass on the costs to his customers along with reducing employee hours. He plans to put a 5 percent surcharge into effect to help offset the increased cost of health insurance and also to help customers see the harmful unintended or unadvertised effects of foolish, ill-considered policies like Obamacare.

In order to fix a health care problem that required only a little tweaking, our intrepid leftist government instead tried to revamp an entire economic system and created a myriad of other serious problems. What’s really scary is that the worst is likely yet to come.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

 

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