Overtime Rules and Government by People Who Think They Know Better


Kevin Williamson adds two excellent points to the federal government’s meddling in overtime rules.  Jobs can have benefits that aren’t tangible and for which rational (even very intelligent) people will trade increased money, and work can have motivation beyond filling out a standard workweek

I once tried to hire a very smart young woman graduating from a reasonably good college to work at a small newspaper I edited, where she’d been an intern. She turned me down to work for less money at a big book publisher in Manhattan, where the cost of living is about four times what it is in the Philadelphia suburbs. But her reasoning was solid: She didn’t want to work at small-town newspapers for the rest of her life — she wanted to work for a big-time publishing company, and if that meant being poor for a few years in her middle 20s, she’d rather be poor at 26 than regretful at 35.

This is, you’ll note, a behavior that takes roughly the same shape as saving and investing: forgoing present comforts for the hope of large, meaningful returns in the future. …

… does it occur to no one that an extra ten hours at ordinary pay might be very welcome indeed for a person in an hourly job who isn’t there because he grew up wanting to work in a warehouse outside of Lubbock, Texas, but because he is in desperate need of money? Or that development and advancement are things that happen in jobs that do not require college degrees, too? Or that there are people in this world who cannot distinguish themselves by being cleverer or more creative than the rest of their colleagues but who can distinguish themselves simply by outworking everyone else?

The problem is that we have a political/governing class that really and truly lack imagination and empathy (and that thinks it can sell handouts to people who aren’t inclined to work through the economics).  They want to — and feel they implicitly have the authority to — step into all of our lives and tell us what criteria we can use to negotiate our time and work and every human interaction.