If you wonder why many business people are walking away from business today, look no further than the case in which a trucking company has been told it must employ alcoholics to drive its trucks, but the company is also responsible if one of them gets drunk and has an accident.
This is the Catch-22 that the federal government has thrust upon Old Dominion Freight Line. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says Old Dominion violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it removed a trucker from a driving position after management found out he had a drinking problem, so the EEOC has sued the company. Why would anyone stay in the trucking business with that sort of liability?
You might remember the story I had not long ago about Ronnie Bryant, the coal mine operator who announced at a public environmental meeting that he was backing out of plans to open a coal mine. In the comments underneath that story, there were multiple other people who said they had either gotten out of business for similar reasons or who were in the process of getting out. Business people are tired of being handed impossible regulations and contradictory rules. They’re tired of being treated like borderline criminals or suspect at best.
How long can a society survive when its government does its best to destroy the engine of commerce in the society? Wealth isn’t a static thing. It has to be created constantly, and the federal and state governments are making it more and more difficult to create wealth. A society that’s not creating wealth is one with declining living standards and angry people. Sadly, most people in this country have been so brainwashed into accepting the various rules and regulations that they support the actions that are destroying their own society.
If you’re a company, what do you do? You do everything in your power to weed out the drunks before they get behind the wheel of your truck — and hope you don’t get caught for “illegal discrimination” as you weed them out — or you simply turn someone loose with an expensive truck that can kill dozens of people very easily under the right circumstances. When an idiotic policy such as this results in a death and an inevitable lawsuit, everyone will blame the company for “not caring about the public.” But the company can only comply — and pay off the inevitable lawsuits — or go out of business.
More and more people are deciding it’s not worth doing business in this environment. I don’t blame them. The saddest part is that as the economy continues to fall apart in the future — as good people refuse to operate in these conditions — politicians are going to call it a market failure and say it’s evidence they need to plan more from the top down.
The market isn’t isn’t failing. The market does an excellent job of regulating this sort of thing on its own. The free market really works. We ought to actually let the market do its job.