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29


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 29, June 1, 1997

Permanent, Lifetime Jobs!

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Imagine for the moment you're the chief financial officer of a medium-sized American company, looking to start producing your products at a new facility close to fast-growing markets.
         Your scouts have located a small, semi-autonomous region -- perhaps it lies among the ruins of the former Soviet empire, somewhere on the western shore of the Black Sea. The population is booming, and local officials are anxious to meet with you about your plans.
         You enter the meeting full of enthusiasm. You're going to start up several parallel product lines, you explain. Your computerized management system will allow you to quickly identify any problem areas, responding with a few surgical layoffs, shifting your capital to more productive lines.
         With thinly-veiled hostility, your hosts explain that, here in the People's Republic, the "involuntary termination of an employee" is considered "a legal offense."
         As a "major firm" employing more than 50 people, should you ever propose to terminate the employment of a "substantial number" of workers within a 90-day period, you must file written notice of that intent at least two months in advance with each employee, and at least four months in advance with a large number of government agencies -- a number so large that no complete list can be made available to you at this time.
         Then, a committee made up of your workers, your workers' families, and representatives of any and all concerned government agencies, will start meeting to "decide" whether your proposed "involuntary terminations" are "economically justified" ... defined by whether they're judged necessary for you to "remain competitive with similar businesses in the province."
         At that point, the employer is required to cooperate in any "program" this committee shall devise to avoid the "substantial layoff or termination." For instance, the government agencies will consider "whether there are alternatives to the management decision," including retraining of the workers, and the "development of new products, services or production processes," ... all the way up to examination of the possibility that ownership should be transferred to new parties, or "to the employees."
         You're starting to get a sick feeling in your stomach, but your hosts are just warming up.
         Should any layoffs be permitted, such employees must be offered any available jobs in any "affiliated business" you may own or control elsewhere, and you must pay 50 percent of their relocation costs should they agree to take work with your factory in Ohio.
         Should you commit an "offense" by failing to obey any of these complex requirements, you'll be obliged to hand each laid-off workers three months' severance pay, and to pay 50 percent of the costs of their medical and insurance coverage for a full year.
         Well, you ask -- some perverse instinct moving you to laugh in the face of disaster -- is the ban on "involuntary termination of employment" at least a two-way street? That is to say, are the workers banned from just standing up and walking off the job anytime they please, without giving you four months notice?
         "Of course not," shout your previously courteous hosts, who now appear ready to go for your capitalist exploiter's throat; "That would be slavery!"
         Would you expand your business into such an environment?
         Surprise. The semi-autonomous region described here is not Bulgaria or Moldavia, but the state of Nevada in the very near future, if Comrade Assemblywoman Sandy Krenzer and her Nevada State Assembly Committee on Labor and Management have their way and win passage of Assembly Bill 506, brought forward "in committee" in Carson City on May 19 (so that no individual lawmaker has to admit sponsorship.)
         AB506 contains every one of the provisions detailed above.
         Is it really necessary to reiterate how the notion of the "permanent guaranteed job" destroyed the economies ... and more importantly, the entrepreneurial spirit of entire peoples ... in Eastern Europe over the past 80 years?
         It's tempting to point out that such bills, introduced late in the session, are usually sops to the special interest that wrote them, doomed to go nowhere this year. But socialism is accustomed to gaining ground in small, incremental steps, and provisions this monstrous can be counted on to rise again and again, like the guy in the hockey mask.
         Instead of ignoring this malformed creature, the Committee on Labor and Management should hold hearings, inviting University of San Diego Professor of Economics (and former economic advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev) Yuri Maltsev, and others with first-hand experience trying to disentangle an economy in free-fall from such traps and snares, to explain where they believe Assembly Bill 506 would eventually lead the now-prosperous Nevada economy.


Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.


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