Letter: Voluntary goodwill vs. coerced goodwill

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Editor of the Reformer,

Lately, I have seen Republicans join the bandwagon of forcing companies to provide paid family leave. While I commend those who have taken the initiative to provide benefits to their employees, such as paid family leave, and those who have decreased their carbon footprint, government coercion is not the answer.

When a company provides a unique benefit or higher than average wages to their employees, they are setting themselves apart from their competitors — other employers competing for skilled labor. Likewise, if a company takes the initiative to implement procedures that make their production more humane, and/or they decrease the amount of pollution during the production process, they stand out to consumers who support such mindful actions.

When a government, whether local, state or federal, imposes regulations that mandate any arbitrary "good will" action on businesses, the businesses that are just staying afloat will be forced out of the market. Many of the marginal businesses are local mom and pop establishments.

Vermont prides itself on having, a mainly locally run, mom and pop economy, yet legislators are regulating mom and pop companies out of business.

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In addition, when the government enforces actions that would have created goodwill with consumers and/or employees, the mandatory actions no longer creates good will and employers who might be demonstrable people seem no different than any green or social champion in the public's eye.

Let's take an extreme example. One restaurant owner is racist but is currently not allowed to refuse individuals of color in their establishment. Imagine you are of a minority that this owner dislikes. With the current laws, you won't know that that person is biased against you when you patronize their restaurant. The owner continues to operate their business profiting off of those they despise. If an owner could refuse anyone for any reason even if the reason is hateful and immoral, they will quickly be ousted as a hateful bigot, and the patrons will dissipate to the point where they can no longer operate their business, or they will start reflecting on why they repel business and change their ways.

Government cannot adequately force moral changes in individuals and will inevitably cause unforeseen consequences. Let the changes happen at an individual level and the consequences will be less severe and widespread. Lead by example, and if your business is growing and attracting quality employees and consumers, then other companies will follow suit. Having the government force other companies to enact the same policies as your company doesn't make you a good and righteous person. It makes you a bully.

Tyler Colford

Jacksonville, March 7


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