(Page 3 of 8)
Close the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, and HUD. Then eliminate three fourths of all regulations.
John Stossel’s show Stossel airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Fox Business Network.
End Age-Discrimination Laws
If I could press a button and instantly vaporize one sector of employment law, I think I’d pick age discrimination.
Its beneficiaries are among those needing least assistance. The main cash-and-carry effect of age-bias law is to confer legal leverage on older male holders of desirable jobs, such as managers, pilots, and college professors, who by threatening to raise the issue can extract ampler severance packets than might otherwise be offered them. Much legal talent is wasted in the resulting exit negotiations, which seldom seem to rouse the ire of critics of gaudy executive pay, golden parachutes, and so forth.
It blatantly backfires on those it tries to help. Once cut loose from the old job, those same buyout recipients find it harder to land the next high-level job because of the perception that older hires are more likely to need buyouts not far down the road.
It generates pointless avoidance mechanisms. Ask your HR director about the costly stage in layoff strategy known as “age-balancing the RIF” or about the many small-talk questions you’re not supposed to ask at job interviews for fear of seeming interested in the subject (“I notice you’re a veteran. Which war?”) or about the brain-cracking legal headaches that arise from the premise that (at least in some situations) the design of pension plans is supposed to take no notice of age.
Its intellectual basis is lighter than helium. Race, sex, sexual orientation, and disability each form the basis of a major identity politics movement. But really: “ageism”? It’s one thing to abridge liberty to expiate the national guilt of antebellum slavery, but can anyone keep a straight face in proclaiming persons of late middle age a historically oppressed class?
Please, I want to see this law repealed before I’m too old to enjoy it.
Contributing Editor Walter Olson is the proprietor of Overlawyered.com.
Get Out of the Way
Policymakers should stop worrying about job growth. Instead, they should focus on eliminating economic policies that impede economic efficiency—runaway entitlements, a horrendous tax code, excessive regulation, impediments to free trade, and more—and let the job situation fix itself.
Jeffrey Miron is the director of undergraduate studies and a professor of economics at Harvard University. His most recent book is Libertarianism, from A to Z (Basic).