In his all-too-brief Austin Powers fez-wearing role, Will Ferrell is dropped down the villain’s secret chute into a pit of fire, where he intermittently cries for help and pleads “I’m still alive, only I’m very badly burned.” He would know what it is like to be a business owner under President Obama.
American entrepreneurs — especially small business owners — face a nearly impossible, labyrinthine landscape. In addition to an already-struggling economy, tight credit, and global competition, they face a federal government bent on spreading red tape and killing jobs.
This week has brought more of the same attacks from the Obama administration. The president’s friends in the Department of Labor and the supposedly “independent” agency known as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have thrown a one-two punch designed to stop companies from warning their employees about the potentially harmful effects of joining a union.
The first effort came from the Department of Labor. The DOL is rolling out a new rule that would conveniently change legal definitions so that a company would have to disclose almost any payments to advisers, attorneys, and others who educate them on union issues (employers are already required to disclose payments to individuals who directly talk to employees). This massive invasion of privacy is intended to get employers — especially small business owners — to forgo seeking assistance and simply capitulate to union organizing drives.
Then came the bombshell from the NLRB. I’ve been warning anyone who would listen that the NLRB was out to do what the Employee Free Choice Act could not: force more employees into unions. The board’s proposed rule changes would speed up union votes so that voters have less time to learn about the consequence of unionization, hand out personal information so that union activists can find workers at their homes, and institute electronic voting so that labor bosses don’t have to worry about those pesky “private ballot” protections anymore.
Throw in an Environmental Protection Agency that wants to regulate our every breath and ration energy. Toss in the 800-pound gorilla, socialized healthcare. And, just for good measure, remember that tax rates are set to go up after 2012, making it more difficult to earn a living and retain capital to invest in new, job-creating ventures.
This is truly outrageous. The question now seems to be not so much “Who is John Galt?” but “Why didn’t he pack up sooner?” Why would anyone in their right mind start a business in America or hire more employees in this business environment?
Maybe it’s time to heed the pleas of Ferrell’s Austin Powers character when he begs, “Can someone call an ambulance? I’m in quite a lot of pain.”
Brett McMahon is a spokesman for the Free Enterprise Alliance’s Halt The Assault campaign.