Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Sanchirico: Incentives For COVID Recovery

The Hill op-ed:  Incentives For COVID Recovery: A Single-Edged Sword?, by Chris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania):

Apparently, for Mitch McConnell, “incentives” are for employees, not employers.

When the Senate majority leader assesses policies for getting the economy up and running, he seems to have very different movies playing in his head depending on whom the policy targets. When he thinks about extending the CARES Act’s enhanced unemployment benefits beyond July, he evidently sees in his mind’s eye the chuckling furtive loafer, feet up on the coffee table, joint a-roll, who’s figured out that he can make more staying home than clocking in.

When he thinks about shielding employers from COVID-related liability – and what this will do to the incentive to safeguard the workplace – the screen goes black-and-white, the fuzzy electric guitars become violins and the camera closes in on the principled homespun business owner willing to sacrifice profits to go the extra mile to insure his workers are safe. ...

To focus so much on “getting people back to work” and so little on keeping workplaces safe is like focusing on getting soldiers out of the trench with only a vague notion of what’s waiting for them up on the field. What matters is winning the battle, not just entering it. Winning will require attacking from many different angles with many different weapons. It will mean incentivizing many different (potentially bad) actors who play many different roles. Yes, it means coaxing the worker off the couch. But it also means coaxing the owner to sacrifice some part of profit to precaution.

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