Friday, October 23, 2015

Faith in the System

“Workers’ compensation systems grew up at a time when employers did not care about their employees. If one got hurt, you cast him aside and brought in the next immigrant to fill that job. Now companies are competing to be a best place to work.”
Corporate America’s unforgivable new swindle: Leveling workers’ compensation to nothing
And I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that Bill Minick honestly believes that. In the end, I think, that's the issue. People like Minick sincerely believe that organizations like the Texas business chamber really either want to, or have to, look out for their employees, or risk making their businesses non-viable. And I’m sure that Minick really does think that his schemes - even the ones that allow for employers to force employees to sign waivers against their rights to legal redress, or bear their own medical costs, are better for employees in the end.

And, that is at the root of any number of issues, this being just one of them - the cynics shield themselves with the sincere. Want to cast yourself as an upstanding business beset by unaccountable employees and scheming personal injury lawyers? Someone out there has drunk deeply of that Flavor-Aid and will convince themselves that they're doing the Lord’s work by shifting the burden. The fact that they, and you, stand to cash in is purely coincidence. And when you manage to screw somebody?

They’ll pause reflectively, and tell critics: “This is a difficult situation, it sounds like. There’s no occupational injury system that we’ve found yet that will provide perfect results in a 100 percent of cases.”

But if I’m an employer, I don't really care about perfection - what I care about is that all of the errors result in care being denied when it is called for, rather than being paid for when it isn’t. And if that means calling in the wife of the anti-workers’ compensation campaigner, whom I’m fairly certain will declare that the worker doesn’t need treatment, I’ll do that. Because, you know, “The whole deal is just kind of silly, like most of these deals are — people looking for free money.”

Whether people being compensated for on-the-job injuries constitutes “free money” is a subject of intense debate. But it’s unlikely that someone who thinks so is honestly interested in seeing their employees made whole at their expense. In a market were labor is actually scarce, and therefore valuable, working people have the leverage to walk away from bad deals - or the bed deals that others have had to suffer through. And under such circumstances, companies would have compete on working conditions. But we don't live in a tight labor market. And so I suspect that Minick’s faith will turn out to be misplaced.

No comments: