L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 29, June 1, 1997
Permanent, Lifetime Jobs!
By Vin Suprynowicz
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
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
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.
Next to advance to the next article, or
Previous to return to the previous article, or
Index to return to The Libertarian
Enterprise, Number 29, June 1, 1997.