VOICES: Free market incentives work better than government mandates

As the state’s leading business advocate, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce represents Ohio’s 318,000 employers across the state of Ohio. Our mission is to aggressively champion free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans.

Over the last few years, we have seen government mandating one-size-fits-all solutions that do not take into account the individual needs of a business, region or industry. At the same time, there are many examples of how free market incentives have proven to be more effective.

In Ohio, the legislature has sought to create hiring quotas on certain types of businesses that would require them to hire union contractors. This proposed legislation limits the labor pool available to fill open jobs for these businesses, which can hurt productivity and exclude potential employees. When government attempts to dictate how employers must operate, it is picking winners and losers, which hinders the free market’s ability to work.

Another example of a government mandate overreach was the Biden Administration’s recent attempt to mandate all businesses with over 100 employees to require employees be vaccinated or be subject to weekly COVID testing. This policy would have perverted labor markets as employees who did not want the vaccine would have chosen to work only for companies with under 100 employees.

On the other side of the mandate coin, the Ohio Legislature tried to mandate companies not be able to require their employees get the COVID vaccine. But, companies know better than government how to keep their workplace safe, and their employees and customers will reward or punish them based on their decisions better than a heavy-handed government. That is why the Ohio Chamber believes free market incentives are the best approach.

When the government stays out of the way, employers are able to implement incentives to attract and keep employees. For example, some businesses now offer in-house child care or pay for student loans to attract staff.

Businesses need to have the same flexibility to choose incentives that work the best for them. Ohio companies want to do what is right for their employees, customers and business. However, they don’t need to be micro-managed by the government telling them how to best run their business.

Steve Stivers is the President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

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