[image: Desert Scene, 2013, JA Van Devender]
Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.
There comes a point when it appears that some kind of boundary has been passed, some elemental milestone has been reached, such that there can be no turning back. When a pilot faces the still daunting task of flying across the ocean, there comes a point, ominously called 'the point of no-return', where he or she knows that they must continue on... their destination lies closer than their origin. It is their point of maximum vulnerability because they are at their farthest remove from any safe landing area.
For no specific reason I got that same kind of prickly sensation last week when the latest ridiculousness was promulgated out of Washington.
An executive order was issued that exempted businesses with fewer than 100 employees from having to institute Obamacare, alias - the Affordable Care Act. This was deemed necessary because the ACA was not... ummmm... very affordable. But, larger businesses were solemnly warned that if they fired people, or diminished their workforces in any way, for the purpose of reducing their total number of employees to less than 100 FOR THE PURPOSE of qualifying for this exemption, then there would be an IRS Hell to Pay.
Now notice the dynamics of this proclamation. First, the exemption itself is a de facto admission of defeat. Small businesses, in aggregate, comprise millions of workers and usually those whose salaries are at the lower end of the spectrum. The only reason why such an exemption, temporary or not, is necessary is that the legislation itself is fundamentally and fatally flawed. If only big businesses can afford to pay it then why in this world aren't there more incentives for big businesses to prosper? The sheer silliness of the position reduces to farce on first inspection. But there is more.
Second. Notice the inherent repudiation of fundamental capitalistic principles. For capitalism to have any chance to work, government must allow the impacts of its own policies to work out through the economic process. Take, for example, the government regulation of automobiles that required that cars sold in the US meet certain safety standards. I don't agree with all of them but I don't think anyone today wants to give up seat belts and air-bags and the collapsable car frames that have saved hundreds of lives. There is nothing wrong with this kind of regulation. However, what had to happen was for the government to get out of the way and let the capitalistic principles of bottom line management phase these things in. Design work had to be done and those manufacturers who did their job well found a way to essentially build cars with these features and after a period of time, wound up selling these improved vehicles at essentially the same price as the ones they sold before. That's the way capitalistic dynamics work.
But when the government specifically denies, or attempts to deny, the economic process its "sorting out" phases, when it seeks to deny business owners and managers the right to make decisions that affect their own bottom line, as a result of government mandated requirements, then government effectively becomes the CEO. It has passed the boundary line from a fundamentally free economy to a socialist planned state.
I am amazed at how little fan-fare the passing of this milestone generated.
And, lastly, the enforcement mechanism itself is perhaps the most clownish of all. Any business that does in fact reduce its work force over the next year or so must certify, in writing, that it has not done so for the purpose of qualifying for the exemption.
In order to save his business, or to preserve its profitability, a manager now has to face a moral choice. Do I lie or not? Or, if because of our stagnant economy, a manager does have to reduce the workforce for reasons even more stringent than the ACA, that manager faces a severe threat of harassment by steely eyed IRS agents looking in every closet for dastardly villains who are shirking their responsibility to pay outrageous healthcare costs for under or non-productive recipients.
At one level it is a direct incentive to perjury and on another it is a vehicle for the government to send its minions into audit/harassment/subordination mode so as to extend its tentacles ever more tightly around the goose's neck... you know, the one that laid the golden egg.
It's a desert out there... it appears to me that the point of no return has been passed. All that can be done is to go forward into whatever dry land lies ahead of us because there is no turning back. All hope for a return to common sense apart from some radical crisis is gone. It may be political, economic of violent... but there is nothing out there in front of us that suggests that a crisis may be avoided.
Let God be true and every man a liar. Such it appears to me.