Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Party of Small Local Government?

I just visited the Michigan GOP website. Republicans say that they “believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.”

So why is it that Republicans in the Michigan State Senate and House of Representatives are putting forward a bill that would prohibit “a county, township, city or village” from adopting “an ordinance or policy requiring an employer to provide an employee with paid or unpaid leave from employment that is not required under federal law or the law of this state”?

You would think that any Party that believed “the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people” would oppose intrusions upon “a county, township, city or village” government that would move the decision-making process farther from “the people”.

I spoke with Rep. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) about this bill and was told that small business owners like himself could not afford to provide ill or injured employees with paid or unpaid time off and that they could not afford to take any chance that  a county, township, city or village might pass such an ordinance. However, he pointed out that the bill does not prohibit employees from negotiating for time off, it only prohibits local government from compelling employers to provide time off.

Let’s put this in perspective. One of the legitimate costs of business is the cost of labor. Laborers should not be expected to work when they are ill or injured. Under the current law, an employer may terminate an employee who fails to work even if their failure was due to illness or injury.

Another part of the legitimate cost of labor is making sure that your employee can afford to live on the income you pay them. Employers who expect their employees to be supported by others, whether they expect friends and/or family members to provide additional support or they expect the government to provide additional assistance are like farmers who expect someone else to feed and care for their horse.

Many low income earners work three to four days to pay for most of a month’s supply of food. The common cold or the flu might leave almost any employee unable to work for a period of three to four days. Should an ill or injured employee go hungry so that their employer can avoid the legitimate costs associated with doing business and earn a bigger profit? Should an employee go to work ill or injured to avoid income loss or even termination?

Ironically, the same employers who find themselves unable to provide employees with time off due to illness or injury are somehow able to provide themselves with time off. Worse yet, they often oppose any program of government that would provide benefits to the low income earners to offset the cost of illness or injury whether it be the payment of medical expenses or food assistance.

But I digress … this is NOT about whether employers should or should not provide ill or injured employees with time off, it is about whether or not people should be empowered to work through the level of government that is closest to them to enact ordinances or policies and whether the Republic Party seems to be suffering from some kind of schizophrenia demonstrated by the inconsistency of their published position on their belief that “the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people” and their demonstrated actions which impose prohibitions on local government and move political power farther from the people and closer to Lansing and Washington.

Click here for House Bill 4229 or click here for Senate Bill 173. Click here to contact Rep. Dale Zorn and let him know that you are disappointing with his decision to cosponsor this legislation.