North Dakota is a business-friendly state filled with folks whose work ethic has been touted as amongst the best in the nation. Additionally, North Dakotans are fairly rugged in relation to weather strife – they regularly endure more weather trauma in a single winter (typically with relative good cheer) than most folks do in a decade. It is a rare day that the winter weather interrupts life in North Dakota…most days it just dictates the number of layers one wears or the amount of time the car needs to warm up. As such, a person would be hard-pressed to say that North Dakota is not a great place to be in business despite the occasional severe weather implications.
Today major interstates are closed and no travel is advised by government officials at the local and state level. Schools are closed, businesses all across the area are closed or postponing opening times and citizens are staying at home and off the highways in the interest of keeping themselves and others safe.
Yet there are always some businesses who, despite no travel advisories and the increased risk involved in travel in such conditions, still expect folks to come into work despite the peril. And make no mistake folks, I am not talking essential service businesses who are located in the heart of town where roads tend to be cleared faster and blowing snow is somewhat minimized – businesses whose employees live a hop, skip and a jump away (albeit, with some of the drifts out there today there may be few who could hop, skip or jump anywhere absent a snowmobile). Oh, no…I am talking non-essential service businesses some who operate outside the city proper.
I have talked about this before in my blog (see Safety and security is everyone’s responsibility) . This type of irresponsibility drives me crazy. After the fact we can all complain about them and wag our fingers at their disregard for their employees’ well-being, but it makes no difference as they repeatedly put their bottom line before employee well-being. Frankly it just pisses me off that they get away with this behavior and I want to see an end put to this type of reckless business behavior.
Indeed, I do believe I have the solution. Thankfully the legislature is still in session…so I propose a new law – The Responsible Business Act of 2011 (to be more commonly referred to in committee discussions and after the passage of the law as the Stupidity Tax).
The goal of the act will be to provide incentive for positive business behaviors that are employee friendly, show investment in the local community and that promote designated community and state goals. Under this legislation businesses could receive a tax break for implementing different types of employee friendly policies like flexible leave, subsidized child or elder care, support of continuing education, etc. The legislation would also reward community contributions such as allowing employees to participate in community cleanup days, sandbagging or other volunteer efforts. Most importantly for today’s discussion it could place a valuation on strong closure policies tied to state travel restrictions. This legislation would allow businesses’ positive choices that evidence an appreciation of employees, communities and state directives to positively affect their bottom line. It would be great for employees, great for communities, great for the State of North Dakota and great for businesses – what is not to love? It is all based on positive reinforcement of smart business practices.
You may ask why it will be nicknamed the Stupidity Tax then if it is so great all around…well, think about it…the businesses who don’t feel a need to do any of the positive measures associated with the measure will receive no tax break whatsoever. They will find it difficult to compete with the businesses who are receiving tax breaks. They will have to bear the cost of their inattentiveness to the directives under the legislation by bearing their full tax burden absent any deductions. Oh, yes…I forgot to mention that to best reward those responsible businesses who participate tax rates will need to go up – so not only will irresponsible businesses pay more than responsible businesses – they’ll pay more than they did before (this is how we will help pay for the outgrowth of their lack of responsibility and care in regard to employees, local communities and the state). Hence, a business would have to be downright stupid to not take advantage of the tax breaks available by implementing these measures – hence the Act’s nickname – Stupidity Tax.
This country has a long history of taxing behavior or activities that it deems problematic. It likewise has a long history of providing incentives for positive behaviors it wants to reinforce. What I am suggesting is hardly revolutionary. What I am suggesting really is just good business sense when it comes right down to it.
Now, some may argue that this will make the state seem less business friendly, but I disagree. This law will enhance the relationships the businesses have with their employees, the communities they operate within and the State of North Dakota. This is the type of business that we know (from successful business models) that endures. This is the type of business that we want in North Dakota and this legislation will help deliver a whole new business climate – one that, on days like today, respects the no travel advisories and puts employees’ well-being before a day’s profit.
All in favor of a Stupidity Tax say “Aye!” We have room for many things in North Dakota, but stupidity isn’t one of them…especially when it has the potential to result in harm to our citizens.
Day six hundred and twenty-five of the new forty – obla di obla da