Government shouldn’t micromanage business
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (Agence France-Presse) - September 10, 2019 - 12:00am

Once the government dictates businessmen on how to run their enterprises, trouble begins. Once the policy of protection of labor is used to oppress and destroy capital, investors flee. In the end, it is the people who suffer.

Excessive taxes are imposed. Labor policies are anti-business. Too many inspections and interventions destroy free enterprise. Management prerogatives are not respected. Management is seen by government bureaucrats as oppressors and exploiters of labor. Valid outsourcing agreements are branded as labor-only contracting. Business is treated as enemy of the state.

Investors fold up and transfer to other economies and more friendly governments. Job opportunities are lost. Capitalists have many options where to position their ventures. Workers have to migrate in search of dirty, difficult, dangerous, deceptive, and degrading jobs in alien territories. Families are broken, marriages are shattered. The foundation of the whole nation is weakened. The people suffer.

It was the great Thomas Jefferson, the famous author of the American Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution's Bill of Rights, who once wrote, following John Locke, that the best kind of government is one that governs least. He meant, of course, that government should not interfere in the private affairs, transactions, contracts, and relationships that don’t involve public interest, or matter to national concern. To Jefferson, the only primary concern of the State and of the government is foreign affairs, justice, and national defense.

Secondarily, public health, public education, and social welfare may be added. On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton, one of the trusted men of US President George Washington, believed that government should intervene on behalf of the people. He said that government should tax business so that there shall be enough resources for public welfare and social services.

We can say then that Jefferson's philosophy is the foundation of Republican ideology while Hamilton's is the core of Democrat ideology. The GOP, the party of Trump, the Bushes, Reagan, and Eisenhower advocate for a smaller and weaker government that doesn’t interfere in private transactions. They thought that free enterprise is better than a controlled economy. They want management and labor to negotiate for terms and conditions of employment sans the intervention of the government. The Democrats, the party of Obama, Clinton, Kennedy, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican), believe the government should be actively interfering in the relations between labor and capital.

Having laid down those principles as premises, I believe I have the heart of a Democrat but the mind of a Republican. I think that, in the context of today's Philippine economy and labor relations, what our country needs is a Republican model. I believe that government should respect the business sector to manage its own affairs with the least interference from the State.

The prerogative to hire and fire, to discipline, and to lay down policies should not be taken away from the employers. The right to outsource services by legitimate service providers should be respected by government. The DOLE, NLRC, and the courts should stop disabling our business sectors by one-sided and biased judgments, which are “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.”

Protection of labor should not be abused so as to destroy or oppress capital. Government should trust and respect the business sector, in the same manner that business funds the government and obeys its laws. This is the only fair and square modus vivendi.

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