Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Just Love It When A Plan Comes Together


Who says President Obama doesn't believe in free enterprise? As it turns out, the opposite may be true. If by "free" you mean working without compensation and by "enterprise" you are willing to accept the government as your project. Our president is so committed to the concept of volunteerism and its resultant "free" labor that he is out to undercut the private sector's ability to make use of it in favor of a government monopoly. No, No I am not talking about a return to indentured servitude or slavery. I'm talking about interns.

That's right, as Iran is arming with nuclear weapons and Russia is deluding us into disarming ours, as health care reform grows more unpopular and a Supreme Court Justice needs to be replaced...our president has more important matters with which to contend. In the continuing spirit of nationalizing private industry, he is coming after your interns.

From the middle ages until very recently, apprenticeship was the primary method of gaining entry into a professional field. Its modern equivalent, especially in the business community, is the internship. A young person comes to work with and learn from experienced people and in the process acquires practical, real-world experience. The arrangement is often done in exchange for office space, housing or tools of the trade, but usually not for monetary compensation. The experience itself is seen as the most valuable commodity to the intern.

It is an arrangement that is mutually beneficial to both parties. The employer gets an opportunity to inexpensively observe a potential new employee, and the intern gains necessary experience and a possible job offer. Even if the intern does not end up accepting a job with their internship employer he or she will acquire valuable contacts and a letter of recommendation. Who could possibly have a problem with that?

Well, in the unicorn infested world of progressivism and its subordinate politics, internship has been reduced to an unfair relationship that simply provides greedy capitalists with free labor. It's the prevailing view of those with an inflated appreciation of their own "union approved" educations that simply sitting at a desk for 16-17 years is preparation worthy of significant compensation. For you see, they place considerable value on that wonderful "union approved" education they bring to the job.

The unemployment rate for those aged 20-29 is 25% and rising. This is more than twice the national average. There is a reason for this situation. The cost of hiring a new worker fresh out of school is greater than the value they bring to their companies. Internship is a way for these young and inexperienced workers to off-set this disadvantage. If companies are forced, through government regulation, to pay these interns then many of these companies will be forced to give fewer of these young and inexperienced workers a chance.

The mutual benefits to all parties that internships provide have resulted in its increased usage in almost every professional field. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83% of graduating students had taken advantage of internships as of two years ago. In 1992 only 9% had utilized internships. Perhaps it is this very visible and open success that has brought it to the attention of this current meddling administration.

Now, the government is claiming that all this is illegal:

"If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law.” - Nancy J. Leppink, acting director of the department’s wage and hour division

Last year, as New York's Labor Commissioner, M. Patricia Smith led a crackdown on internships. Now, as a federal Labor Department enforcer, she is pressing her attack on a national level. The assertion is that many internships violate the minimum-wage law among others. Could this be true? If so, why has it gone uncontested for so long? The government has criteria for determining whether someone is legally a trainee or an employee.

1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction;
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer's operations may actually be impeded;
5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

By this standard of measurement not only would most internships be classified as illegal, they would likewise be undesirable from the employer's perspective...not that this administration would ever show any concern for an employer's perspective. Therefore if an intern were to be legal he or she would:

1. Have to be essentially doing something the intern had already been acclimated to in school.
2. The training must not be of any benefit to the employer.
3. The intern must do work that does not need to be done.
4. The intern must provide nothing of value for the company and essentially do useless and worthless tasks.

It is obvious that these rules were designed to prohibit internships. This is the sort of thing that only makes sense when looking at it from the point of view of labor unions. They always find it to be in their interest to restrict the supply of labor. This president is nothing if not consistent in his anti-business policies. However in this instance he is also standing athwart one of his most loyal voting blocs: the educated young. Unfortunately, though they may be dependable democratic voters, being unemployed makes them unlikely donors to a candidates campaign war-chest. Unions, on the other hand, donate heavily. It's not a hard choice for a politician to make.

Obama is not standing up for the right of interns to receive compensation. Make no mistake about it, companies are not going to choose to pay their interns...they are going to choose to discontinue the programs and that will mean fewer opportunities and more unemployment for college graduates. Welcome to the real world college kids. It's the change YOU believed in and the change YOU voted for. Now you can either live with it or learn from it.

And yet, if that was all there was to the story I would not have been motivated to write this piece. With this president there is always more. I find it quite amusing that even as his administration is trying to create the illusion of the poorly treated unpaid intern that is being mercilessly exploited by greedy capitalists, that his own organization, Organizing For America, offered internships to help elect him during his presidential campaign...and they are still offering unpaid internships to this day! The summer organizing program does not even offer food, housing or transportation stipends!

From their websites FAQ section:

Is this a paid position?
This is an unpaid position.

Are stipends available to cover food, transportation and housing?
Stipends for food, transportation and housing are not available.

Well, certainly they will not work them too many hours so they can get a paying job to work on the side...right?

How many hours a week will I be working?
Summer Organizers will be required to work 40 hours a week.

Ahh, Democrats. You gotta love 'em. Choosing to work for free is unacceptable when you are only selfishly benefiting a private sector employer and yourself. However it becomes noble to work for free when your employer is the government. Of course when enough people fail to volunteer, as is always inevitable in these schemes, they might do something like force students to work without compensation to repay their student loans. You know, the ones that the federal government just nationalized as a little mentioned part of the health care reform law. It could go a long way to easing the labor shortages that health care reform will create. Don't worry, I am sure it is all just a coincidence and that the government won't be instituting a draft of all these poor college kids who now have no choice but to get their loans from the government.

Did I say draft? Nahh, just call it "redistribution of labor." It'll make you feel better. Isn't it another one of those ironic coincidences that this draft will consist entirely of college students? You will remember that in the last draft it was the college students who were granted deferments. The revenge of the 1960s will soon be complete!