Republicans getting all up in private businesses’ business

You know how Republicans are always all “let the market work,” and stuff? How they think government should stop regulating and just let the free market work its magic?

Well, it turns out that that rule doesn’t apply when a Republican thinks he can score some cheap political points. Consider two recent examples from the Scott Brown operation.

The first comes from Scott Brown himself, who took it upon himself to chastise Whole Foods Market for choosing not to buy certain seafood. Now, if one were a Republican, surely one would think that a private business like Whole Foods should be free from government interference or pressure to buy pretty much whatever fish it damn well pleases, and that its decisions about what fish to buy should be driven by the demands of its customers and its own decisions about how it chooses to operate its business.

But Scott Brown thinks he knows better. Indeed, Scott Brown thinks he knows what’s in the heads of the management at Whole Foods:

“I’m concerned that your decision has more to do with political correctness than with sound reasoning,” wrote Brown. “Aside from being based on uncertain science, this decision will hurt Massachusetts fishermen and their families at a time when they are already struggling to survive under onerous government regulations.”

Now, I’m no expert on Massachusetts fisheries.  But, fact is, neither is Scott Brown.  And in any event, that’s really not the point.  The point is that Whole Foods is a private business, and Brown’s decision to lecture it about how it chooses to operate seems distinctly at odds with his more general theme that businesses should be free to participate in the market however they think best.

The second example comes from Brown’s friends at the Mass. Republican party.  This email just arrived in my inbox:

Yesterday it was revealed that even as Professor Warren runs television ads bemoaning high college tuition costs, she is the beneficiary of an interest-free education loan financed by Harvard University…. That sort of sweetheart deal adds insult to injury when you consider student tuitions have already made Professor Warren a multi-millionaire.

Harvard is not exactly a business (it’s a nonprofit), but it’s certainly a private institution.  And again, one would think that Republicans would want to leave it to the judgment of private educational institutions how best to compensate their employees.  But no – when it comes to a private institution’s decision to include interest-free education loans as part of a faculty member’s benefits package, it’s a “sweetheart deal.”  In fact, it’s worse than that: the MA GOP’s email says that people should complain to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (which, of course, Warren created) over the loan, thereby actually inviting government intervention into a private institution’s decisions about how to compensate its employees. That is so amazing that I’m going to write it up separately.

For now, the point is simply that Republicans think that private institutions should be entitled to manage their own affairs, except when they think there are cheap political points to be scored. Duly noted.

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2 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Cheap GOP political points - Beacon Hill edition

    For the budget debate in the House of Representatives this week, the GOP has an amendment to require all businesses to enroll in a federal program called E-Verify that purportedly determines whether their employees’ immigration status authorizes them to work. Under federal law, this program is now entirely voluntary, and for good reason: the electronic databases E-Verify uses for information are inaccurate and outdated and there is no system in place for employees to correct erroneous data. To make E-Verify mandatory nationwide would impose start-up costs on businesses of $2.6 billion.

    Just in case anyone might miss the point that this E-Verify amendment is about scoring a cheap political point against immigrants, the GOP has another amendment. This one would make the state stop burdening businesses with their silly regulations.

  2. From the 41st Senator...

    “You should buy this stuff even if you don’t want to!”

    Sound like a mandate to anybody else?

    I know, I know, Brown isn’t suggesting it should be a law; he’s “only” trying to bully the supermarket into doing what he wants. Not quite the same thing but the parallels are striking…

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Fri 28 Nov 12:40 AM