Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Holy Crap!!!

Via Instapundit, we are directed here. There are more problems with this than I can think up right now, but here goes.
The Patriot Corporation Act has not gotten the attention that I would hope it would. But, basically it says that if you play by the rules, if you pay decent wages, health benefits, pension; do your production here; don't resist unionization on neutral card check, then you will be designated a "Patriot Corporation" and you will get tax advantages and some [preference] on government contracts.

First, the government gets to define a "patriotic corporation" by that corporation's adherence to certain policy preferences of Obama's (and others, to be fair). Let's assume for a minute that a corporation in, say, Virginia, makes widgets and employs 50 non-unionized workers, at $15 per hour, but doesn't have a pension plan, opting instead for an employer/employee 401K plan that produces better benefits than a typical pension. That corporation is not a patriotic corporation, according to the formulation laid out above. Not even if it sponsors a Little League team, grants generous vacation and health benefits, gives money in all sorts of community outreach programs, etc., just because it doesn't permit a union--that its employees apparently don't need, because if they did, they would work somewhere else. And nowhere in this "patriotic corporation" explication (and I haven't read the whole act, so sue me) is any mention of whether my hypothetical widget corporation makes the best widget in the whole wide world. Oh, and that "neutral card check" things makes it so no one in the union has the right to a secret ballot when voting on issues -- meaning that every person knows what everyone else's vote was.

Second, I thought the Democrats were against defining things as patriotic or unpatriotic by virtue of the various policies espoused by people. Recall John Kerry shouting "don't question my patriotism" when questioned about his various "plans" to save us from ourselves? A good number of my lefty friends believe that dissent is the highest form a patriotism -- isn't granting government benefits to corporations because they conform to set policy prescriptions the exact opposite?

Third, this whole notion is eerily fascistic -- government control of the private means of production and all that. Since when does a corporation need to be "patriotic" to serves its customers and employees well? Sure, it would be nice if every company gave to the poor, provided high wages for its employees, and had apple-pie bake-offs every Friday -- but isn't that between the corporation and its employees (and yes, I know all about child labor laws and the like -- you folks know what I'm on about here)?

What's truly objectionable to me, speaking as the libertarian/anarchist that I am, is that the government gets to select certain corporations and grant benefits to those corporations without any regard to the quality of the work performed or to be performed. This is wrongheaded, stupid, and counterproductive.

Of course, as Instapundit says, "THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE RE-ELECTED, people would want the government to start rewarding and punishing companies based on how "patriotic" those companies were. And they were right!"

UPDATE: With his usual concise prose, Thomas Sowell examines what I think I'm describing much more articulately and cogently.