High Information Voters

CCP Chairman Brad Smith has penned an excellent op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal titled, “The Dangers of an Informed Electorate,” in which he opines that the left side of the political spectrum appears to want to keep voters in the dark if it means keeping their employers from directly communicating with them regarding political issues and candidates. All of this stems from an information packet sent by Koch Industries to their employees regarding the impending Presidential and congressional elections.

From the piece:

One day you return home from work, go to your mailbox, and find a packet from your employer concerning the coming Nov. 6 election. It includes information about the candidates and a letter from the company president that reads:

“To help you engage in the political process, we have enclosed several items in this packet. For most of you, this includes information about voter registration deadlines and early voting options in your state. At the request of many employees, we have also provided a list of candidates in your state that have been supported by . . . our employee political action committee.

Smith notes that these words are something far less than coercive and threatening and addresses the blatant elephant in the living room: because the information came from Charles and David Koch, it must, by definition, be intended to intimidate employees into voting a certain way. Several of the lefty media outlets Smith mentions even go so far as to suggest that employees should rightly fear for their jobs if they don’t take the subtle hint:

If you’re like most Americans, you probably wouldn’t find these words threatening. But they have many denizens of the anticorporate American left apoplectic. “A slow-motion coup d’état,” says journalist and law professor Garrett Epps, writing in the Atlantic. “A culture of fear” pronounces In These Times, Noam Chomsky’s lowbrow broadsheet. “Ominous,” says the Center for American Progress, a lefty think tank.

Of course this is patently ridiculous for several reasons, which becomes especially clear when reading the actual language of the missive, part of which follows, with Smith’s comments:

The quotes are from a letter sent by Koch Industries President Dave Robertson to the company’s employees. “It is essential that we are all informed and educated voters,” wrote Mr. Robertson. “Our future depends on it.” His employees must be quaking in their boots.

The truth is, corporations have always been allowed to communicate with their employees about political matters via their PACs and in other FEC-limited communications. This is nothing new. The method of communication and the number reached may have increased, but that doesn’t make it any more likely that Koch Industries will begin to behave like thought police, firing those who disagree with impunity. If they haven’t in the past, there’s little reason to suspect they will now.

Second, Koch Industries, it can be argued, is actually providing a service to their employees by providing them with candidate information and encouraging them to vote. Neither Charles nor David Koch will be in the voting booth with any  one of their employees so the idea that these people could be punished for a secret ballot is absurd.

Finally, and at risk of shocking reporters at progressive media outlets the country over, many employees may actually appreciate receiving the information and see it as a sign that their bosses actually care about them, their families, their futures, and the future of their country.Receiving a missive letting one know that the people who write their paychecks have an interest in continuing to do so and have some advice on how to ensure their economic stability, may actually be a welcome note to many people worried about their economic future.

As Smith says:

It should come as no surprise that employees want to know how government policies will affect their employers, and by extension their jobs. One might even argue that business leaders have an obligation to share with employees credible, accurate information on how public policies might affect the company.

Yet those who think corporations are inherently bad want to prevent business owners and managers from providing this valuable information to their employees. It is disturbing, on many levels, that these so-called activists would rather keep employees in the dark than have them get information from the “wrong” sources.

Be sure to check out the great analysis by George Scoville over at The Dangerous Servant.






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