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Your (Belated) Monday Message: Alan Grayson's latest "Mickey Mouse" idea

Dear friend,

I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day holiday, but should vacation be enforced by the government?

You may remember Congressman Alan Grayson as the camera-loving Florida Democrat who became a YouTube sensation after he was hammered in a nationally-televised interview for proposing a bill giving Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sole power to decide for himself when private sector employees earned “unreasonable” paychecks and to confiscate the money -- and claiming such authority could be found in the Constitution.

Think of him as Joe Biden without humility, weighty intellect or quiet restraint.

Well, now he’s back with yet another economically illiterate bill that once again has the federal government micromanaging the business practices of private employers.

His newest power grab, H.R. 2564, The Paid Vacation Act, forces every private business in America with more than 100 employees to give everyone a free week of paid vacation. That government mandate increases to two weeks in subsequent years.

You may reach his office at 202-225-2176 to let him know what you think of forcing expensive new mandates on struggling employers during a recession.

You don’t need to conduct a study to see what havoc such laws wreak on the economy because they are already in force countries like France, where then-ruling Socialist Party lawmakers long ago instituted “free vacation” proposals like Grayson’s. 

In case you’re not aware, France suffers from higher unemployment, slower job growth and a slower economic recovery than the United States.  The shortages of jobs have even led to deadly riots in Paris.

Even more disturbing than Grayson’s belief that the same people who brought us the IRS, Indian reservations and the Hurricane Katrina response are fit to centrally plan the economy is what inspired him to propose the legislation. 

Grayson tells The Politico he got the idea for the bill while visiting Disney World, and deciding the government should let everyone join him.

“There’s a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation,” said Grayson.

Really.  He decided to try and force struggling employers to lose more money in a recession because he thinks the government should make sure we all spend more time in a children’s amusement park.  Again, he can be reached at 202-225-2176.

While I’m sure we’d all like a free week at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” most people realize not only is his scheme “goofy,” but it would push already high unemployment even higher and thwart economic recovery.

It’s also a little troubling when a member of Congress looks to a fictional cartoon mouse for economic policy.  No word yet as to whether he’ll file banking reform legislation based on an old episode of “DuckTales.”

Actually, the inspiration for this slump towards socialism may be a bit more cynical than Grayson’s stated desire to ride in oversized teacups at someone else’s expense.

Grayson represents the Orlando area, where the local tourist-reliant economy is taking a quite a hit in the current recession.  Coming up with some way to get more people to visit vacation spots would be a nice way to buff those re-election credentials.

So just how do you get more people traveling and pumping money into tourist havens when the economy just doesn’t allow it?  The best and proven way would be to lower taxes and curb government spending, and then grant regulatory relief.

But that’s hard.  It also prevents you from buying really cool stuff with other people’s money and you can’t take personally credit for it.  That’s why you just threaten employers with the force of government if they don’t pay for everyone to have a free vacation.

The tourism industry is already on board. Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski tells The Politico the U.S. Tour Operators Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association are both on board. Other tourism and, unsurprisingly, labor groups are expected to sign on in the coming days.

As you can imagine, while dictating “free vacation” policies to an entire nation would drive down productivity and economic growth and spike unemployment as more struggling employers are pushed into bankruptcy, all that “free” vacation money would work out quite well for a few tourist havens. 

At least for a little while.

As Margaret Thatcher brilliantly pointed out, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.  While Grayson’s socialist ideas may do a passable job of redistributing other people’s wealth to his district for the short term, the large-scale economic rot will eventually spread to Orlando as more and more employers are forced out of business by the rising costs of regulation.

Few industries bear the brunt of economic slump worse than the tourist industry.  Foreclosure, unemployment and “underwater mortgage” rates are often higher in hurting communities like Orlando and Las Vegas.

But while any possible short-term spike may help in the current economy, Grayson’s socialist policies will leave the Orlando area reeling as the national economy looks more and more like the French model he seeks to impose by force – high unemployment, little innovation, large job losses, frequent strikes and deadly riots and even slower recovery to downturns.  It also thwarts efforts underway in many tourist-reliant communities to diversify the employment base and create jobs that aren’t as easily buffeted by economic spikes and slumps, hurting residents in places like Orlando.

The Society for Human Resource Management has already responded with a warning that “a one-size-fits-all, government-imposed mandate is not the answer,” The Politico reports.

National Small Business Association also warns of indirect consequences, pointing out companies will realize a few employees over the 100-employee mark will burden the company with massive personnel costs – and simply stop hiring.

Now I’m not sure whether Grayson looked at a country where workers spend more time turning over burning cars than turning out products and said to himself “we can do that,” or whether he gets his ideas from a talking mouse who wears a shirt with no pants, but both lead to economic suffering for all Americans, including his own district.  If you’d like to know which, you may reach his office at 202-225-2176.

Real prosperity comes from an economy where employers, entrepreneurs and innovators are free to create widespread wealth and jobs without government interference.  Economically underperforming European socialist states – or fantasylands inspired by children’s fiction – are no place to come up with more already-failed policies that compound human suffering by forcing more and more currently struggling employers out of business.

With optimism,

Donny Ferguson
Director of Communications
Libertarian Party
Donny.Ferguson@lp.org

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