Friday, February 24, 2012

A brief reply to Mr. May, or Blawg War III

As Mr. Gillette points out, Mr. May has a thoughtful post responding to my earlier piece about his attack on Wisconsin and all things holy. It's worth a read. I have only a couple of things to say in response.

Mr. May admits, as he must, that employment laws have costs to employers. But he argues that "taking that argument to its logical conclusion means we should do away with all anti-discrimination legislation because they cost employers money and may, theoretically, result in less employees being hired." I don't think that's right. The argument is that these laws do impose costs, and therefore can theoretically increase unemployment by increasing how much every employee costs an employer on average. So my point is only that it's not silly, as Mr. May said it was, to justify repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Act as a pro-jobs bill.

But that is not to say either that the repeal will create jobs or that all regulations must be repealed in order to have an optimal labor market. Instead, some regulations will be a net gain, some will be a net loss, and some will impose real costs but be worth it for other (e.g., moral) reasons. Ultimately, there's a balance to be struck, and different people will have different opinions on where to strike it. The Republicans are trying to push it one way, and the Democrats are trying to pull it the other way. But neither party can ignore that one of the variables potentially at stake in that push-and-pull is jobs.

Mr. May makes one other argument that I think misses the mark. He says, "One could also argue that an employer could avoid unwanted attorneys fees and costs by not discriminating against the employee in the first place." This is in fact false, simply because there are non-meritorious discrimination claims. In such cases, the employer has no choice but to pay the attorneys fees and costs to fight the claim, even though the employee was never actually discriminated against.

That said, I can see why Mr. May would make that argument because, as far as I know, he has never handled a non-meritorious claim. And I doubt he ever will.


  1. T-Bomb,

    I liked your post on the Wisconsin democrats' blatant attempt to distort the consequence of repealing the law at issue and took the "smackdown" on that point somewhat bitterly because I have a job and typically don't have time to research to the core every point made in my blog. I, like many, typically give some benefit of the doubt that what these people are saying is actually true. But they are lying. A lesson learned. But we did get an entertaining border state blawg war smackdown out of the whole thing. Which by my math is clearly a net positive.

    With respect to your recent point, I would point out that choosing not to discriminate would almost guarantee these Wisconsin employers would avoid paying the compensatory and punitive damages that are at the heart of the repeal legislation and would significantly decrease any risk of defending against a claim. In the end, I thought it was fantastic advice. From Mr. Gillette.

    Keep on blawging.

  2. Thanks Nick, I enjoyed the exchange and will let you have the last word. Just like Papa Bear O'Reilly.


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