Wanting to Have Your Pizza and Eat It Too
Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter received some flak recently for announcing that some of his franchise owners would likely cut the working hours of some employees to avoid having to insure them under Obamacare’s employer mandate. This law requires that the company provide health insurance for each employee working at least 30 hours per week or else pay a $2,000 per employee fine.
Schnatter deserves credit for speaking up. But what is troubling are the responses that imply that Schnatter has no place to complain because his company could easily absorb the expense. For example, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz lambasted the pizza premier, exclaiming: “Health care is not going to break the bank for Papa John’s!”—as if Schnatter the CEO should just shut up and accept whatever additional costs others think his company should bear, so long as his company’s bank is not yet broken.
Later Schultz sneered: “Schnatter lives in a 40,000-square-foot mansion with a 22-car garage. And this guy doesn’t want to give pizza delivery workers health insurance!?”—as if Schnatter personally should just shut up and accept whatever additional burdens others think his company should bear. But Schnatter earned his wealth by starting Papa John’s in a back-room of an Indiana bar and growing it into one of the most recognizable pizza chains with over 4,000 locations. And he did it in a fiercely-competitive industry. The fact that he happens to be particularly successful at working for a living does not mean that others should feel entitled to demand whatever they want from him.
Critics like Schultz essentially want to cut into the rewards of a well-run business—wealth—while simultaneously expecting executives to continue running their businesses as if nothing has changed. But the critics can’t have their pizza and eat it too.