Generosity and Regulations
by Gilles d'Aymery

October 11, 1996

       <<Between the strong and the weak, between the rich and 
         the poor, between the master and the servant, it is 
         freedom that oppresses and the law that emancipates.>>

How not to like Jack Kemp? He is such a wonderfully gregarious man. He talks with his heart and his soul, embracing the American people, especially when they are the poor and the trodden ones. You can feel his empathy. You can see the power of his convictions and his indomitable will to lift the living conditions of the poorest among the poor within our inner cities and rural communities all the way into the American dream. Jack Kemp would make a potent preacher.

Now, how does our preaching politician propose to reach his goals? Philosophically, he strongly believes in unleashing the creativity of the people. If only allowed to be creative, the American poor would produce miracles, lifting themselves to the Promised Land of middle-class-man-woman-and-children-ship. Practically, two barriers keep the poor from achieving their legitimate dreams, the true American dream of the Pursuit of Happiness: Taxes and regulations, both imposed by a reviled government he wishes to abolish for the most part (Department of Education, Department of Energy, Commerce Department, Labor Department, etc.) once he becomes its head either in 1997 or in 2001. Cut taxes, he says, and leave more money in the pocket of the hard-working poor (mostly who, by the way, do not pay any). And overturn, he adds, all those bureaucratic, almost socialist regulations that stifle our economy. How can we, he continues, assail businesses with so many regulations? Government should not order but only recommend social actions and let them be voluntarily implemented by businesses. So, Jack Kemp is against the minimum wage, would have voted against the Family Leave Act, etc.. You cannot force regulations upon Business, he argues. Business needs to make money. Regulations, as well as taxes, are an impediment to profit. There is no regulation that is worth its name but for that of the market (which is a Natural Regulation, compared to the bureaucratically-imposed regulations). He believes in the enlightenment and generosity of business owners, shareholders and corporate boardrooms. Give people free reign; let them make money and the entire society will profit. Jack Kemp is definitely a believer and he should have gone into the business of beliefs. He should have been a preacher.

Meantime, there is one thing called reality, and other things called facts.

Reproduced below is an 1850 internal regulations of a company located in Chaumont, France, that might serve as a reminder of the consequences that the type of beliefs Jack Kemp so gregariously embraces had in the past and would have in the future on our society:

Internal Regulations
Fixing Working Conditions of White-Collar Workers

  1. Devotion, cleanliness and punctuality are the strengths of a successful business.
  2. Our company having considerably reduced working hours, white-collar workers will only have to be present from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM during weekdays.
  3. Prayers will be said each morning in the main office. White-collar workers will be under the strict obligation to attend.
  4. The dress code must be quite sober. White-collar workers will not wear colorful clothes. Neither will they wear stockings, except if they are properly darned.
  5. Coats and overcoats will not be worn in the office. However, when the weather is particularly harsh, scarves, mufflers and skullcaps will be allowed.
  6. Our company put a stove at the disposal of the white-collar workers. Coal and wood will have to be locked in the trunk designated to this effect. So that they can heat themselves, it is recommended to each member of the personnel that they bring four pounds of coal each day during the cold season.
  7. No employee will be authorized to leave the office without the permission of the manager. The calls of nature are however authorized. Thus, to attend to those calls, personnel will be able to use the second part of the yard. Of course, this space will have to be kept in perfect order.
  8. It is strictly forbidden to talk during working hours.
  9. The thirst for tobacco, wine or alcohol is a human weakness and, as such, is forbidden to all personnel.
  10. Now that the working hours have been energetically reduced, lunch is still authorized between 11:30 AM and noon but in no case will work stop during that period.
  11. White-collar workers will provide their own quills. Upon request a quill sharpener is available from the manager.
  12. A senior worker, designated by the manager, will be in charge of the cleaning and responsible for the cleanliness of the main office as well as the managerial office. Juniors and the younger workers will arrive at the manager's office forty minutes before the beginning of morning prayers and will stay after closing hour to proceed with the cleaning. Scrubbing brushes, brooms, floorcloths and soap will be provided by the management.
  13. The new wages have been increased as follows:
    Young (up to 11 years old): $.50 - Juniors (up to 14 years old): $1.45 - Employees: $7.50 - Seniors (after 15 years in the company): $14.50.
The owners acknowledge and accept the generosity of the new labor laws, but expect from the personnel a considerable increase in productivity to compensate for these almost utopian conditions.


Published October 11, 1996
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