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There’s a Real and a World of Difference Between Chosen and Coerced

Here’s a open letter to Cafe Hayek commenter Ron Warrick:

Mr. Warrick:

Commenting on my argument that government-mandated paid sick leave harms most workers who do not now have this fringe benefit, you rhetorically ask “Employers who provide paid sick leave are harming their employees?”

No, of course not.  But your question does not begin to undermine my argument.  Your question springs from the faulty premise that contractual terms that are good for – and are chosen by – some people are thereby good for all people.

Suppose the government mandates that all houses that are sold must have at least three full bathrooms.  And suppose also that, in response, I point out that this mandate harms all home buyers who prefer not to spend money on so many bathrooms.  Would you interpret my response as implying that home sellers who, in the absence of this mandate, find willing buyers for homes with three or more full bathrooms thereby are harming their customers?  I suspect not.

If my suspicion is correct, you should reconsider your insinuation that an argument against mandated paid leave implies that voluntarily bargained-for and offered paid leave is harmful.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030