Will Minnesota employers be hit with a “bad boss tax”?

TakeAction Minnesota, a hard-left pressure group that is funded in large part by labor unions, announced a new policy proposal ostensibly aimed at helping low-wage workers. According to In These Times, which covers labor movement news, TakeAction is proposing a so-called “Bad Boss Tax” to be introduced in the Minnesota legislature next year. Excerpt: "It’s developing the framework for a bill that it hopes will be introduced in 2015 by state legislators who have worked with the network in the past. As conceived, the 'bad business fee' legislation would require companies to disclose how many of their employees are receiving public assistance from the state or federal government. Companies would then pay a fine based on the de facto subsidies they receive by externalizing labor costs onto taxpayers."

In These Times reports that "the force behind the bad business fee idea is TakeAction’s parent organization, National People’s Action", and that "TakeAction Minnesota’s plan is one prong of a larger national effort." The fact that this is being driven from an out-of-state interest group is interesting, considering TakeAction and its allies routinely attack national conservative groups for allegedly meddling in state affairs.

Despite the lack of an actual detailed policy proposal, it’s clear that even as an abstraction the "Bad Boss Tax" is poorly conceived and self-defeating. Among other things, the TakeAction tax would incentivize employment discrimination, encouraging companies to avoid employing poor workers or single parents, instead favoring students or teenagers living at home.

Ironically, it also stigmatizes the very people (and the public aid programs) it purports to help, making enrollment in programs a badge of shame. And enforcing the tax would require a massive bureaucracy, with endless opportunities for invasions of privacy, personal data breaches, and abuses of power. But for ideologues involved in the endless pursuit for greater government power, those are apparently risks worth taking.

And in a final bit of irony, while railing against employers for paying low wages, TakeAction itself pays its interns no wages. The unpaid interns presumably toil away in the glass house from which TakeAction throws stones.

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