12.21.2012 0

Villain of the Week

By David Bozeman — The Hall of Fame includes Big Oil, Big Pharmaceuticals, big, sugary soft drinks, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Nabisco (makers of the artery-clogging Oreos), Hostess and far too many other institutions and products to name here.  The latest inductee is “Papa” John Schnatter, the pizza mogul who suggested that employee hours may be cut in some locations to avoid the dictates of Obama-care.

Anyone who watches regular TV has seen Schnatter, the affable, telegenic star of his company’s commercials.  Before the election, he told a business class at a Florida college that compliance with the new law might force a cut in hours, shifting some employees from full to part-time status to avoid raising pizza prices by about 14 cents each.

Schnatter is now, of course, evil and greedy and petty.  After all, what is 14 cents?  Predictably, boycotts have already been urged, leading Schnatter to state his case on the Huffington Post late last month. He very gently — and non-ideologically — stated that Papa John’s, far from cutting jobs and hours, is, in fact, planning to add stores along with 5000 new positions worldwide in 2013.  However, many locations are independently-owned franchises, i.e., small businesses that set their own hours and hiring standards.  Schnatter added that corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores would continue to receive coverage as they have since 1984.  That pretty much settles it, right?

Wrong.  Among the reader comments:  “He just added three new cars with the savings”; “Greed”; “The American people will destroy your company:)”.  Yes, a smiley face adorned that last threat.  Another site referenced his “cheaptitude,” and yet another informed us that Schnatter owns a 40,000 sq. ft. mansion and a 22-car garage.

According to Ezra Klein, writing online for The Washington Post, the Obama mandate is cheaper than Nixon’s proposed plan, which would have required employers to pay for 75 percent of employee’s coverage.  The Clinton plan would have required about 80 percent (and thus, apparently, the under-employed should be grateful and not complain).  Klein conceded the difficulty of explaining Obama-care’s complexities, but, basically, if you employ fewer than 50 people, you’re in the clear.  More than 50, the cost of providing coverage is relatively cheap.  In fact, he adds, “it’s a better deal than [Papa John’s] could have expected.  Or than it probably deserved.”

If it’s so cheap, why don’t companies just go along and avoid the backlash? The larger truth is that the left’s goal is not to make health insurance affordable but rather to impose a one-size-fits-all standard on which every American is dependent.  Employer-provided coverage is only a mandated surrogate for what they hope will follow — single payer health care.  The Obama plan was never the ultimate goal, it is only a starting point from which greater control and uniformity will ultimately proceed.

Republicans, at one time, half-heartedly proposed greater competition and health savings accounts owned by individuals and portable from one job to another.  These and other measures, of course, were drowned in the left’s cacophony that too much money is spent on health care and too many Americans are uninsured.  The problem, lest you didn’t know, is not affordability, it is greed.

Another liberal site proposed that Papa John could put his profits to better use — the capital he is putting into expansion should be spent on employee health coverage. It bears repeating, company-owned stores will continue to provide benefits.  The locally owned stores don’t necessarily enjoy the same advantages.  And besides, shouldn’t it be their choice?

The Obama sycophants are not amenable to reason, as they are fueled by emotion.  Schnatter’s guy-on-the-street common sense threatens their passion, thus he must be castigated.  He stated that he is “cool” with the fact that full-time workers in America will receive coverage, but “we’re all going to pay for it.  There’s nothing for free.”

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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