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The Angels Made Me Do It

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Preferring to extract conclusions from her personal experience, San Francisco restaurateur Jennifer Piallat explicitly rejects the use of a “barrage of statistics” to analyze the consequences of legislation that mandates paid sick-leave for employees (Letters, July 30).  And in Ms. Piallat’s experience, legislation mandating paid sick-leave improves firms’ performances.  The anecdote she offers from her own restaurant is that, since the legislation went into effect, employees no longer report to work while sick and, hence, no longer infect fellow employees with their ailments.

I don’t doubt the truth of Ms. Piallat’s account.  But it begs the question: why did she not offer paid sick-leave to her employees on her own?  If paid sick-leave increases her restaurant’s bottom line by, as she says, improving her staffs’ performance, why did she wait to be forced by politicians to adopt that policy?

Perhaps she just didn’t think of doing so, or perhaps she’s a poor businesswoman.  Whatever the reason, Ms. Piallat’s personal experience is hardly justification for substituting the business judgment of people who specialize in winning political office for that of people who specialize in actually running businesses in competitive markets.

Donald J. Boudreaux