Stephen Carter via Glenn Reynolds

The man in the aisle seat is trying to tell me why he refuses to hire anybody. His business is successful, he says, as the 737 cruises smoothly eastward. Demand for his product is up. But he still won’t hire.

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t know how much it will cost,” he explains. “How can I hire new workers today, when I don’t know how much they will cost me tomorrow?”

He’s referring not to wages, but to regulation: He has no way of telling what new rules will go into effect when. His business, although it covers several states, operates on low margins. He can’t afford to take the chance of losing what little profit there is to the next round of regulatory changes. And so he’s hiring nobody until he has some certainty about cost.


  1. Don:

    Now Warren, we all know he's just a greedy capitalist. This only proves how selfish he is, thinking of his bottom line rather than the "greater good" :^).

  2. eddie:

    This doesn't make sense to me. If uncertainty makes the marginal new hire not worth hiring, doesn't that same reasoning apply to the marginal current employee? Aren't the future costs of your existing labor force just as uncertain as the future costs of your potential newly hired labor force? And if that uncertainty is keeping you from hiring new staff, wouldn't it also lead you to reduce your existing staff?