Staples Fails To Defend Itself Against Obama Attack On Moral Terms

by | Mar 2, 2015

Obama did not build Staples, nor any other profit-making company offering value to its customers and employees. Yet he’s the one with life-or-death control over all companies. His moralistic tone of “shame” shows how he really believes it.


Several years back, President Obama made the infamous statement, “You didn’t build that.” He was referring to his belief that private enterprises don’t create anything profitable or great without at least some help from the government. Therefore, they really don’t own what they earn. Talk about a rationalization of trillion-dollar proportions.

Now he’s going after the office supply store chain, Staples.

Office supply retail chain Staples reacted this morning to comments from President Obama in response to the company reportedly cutting part-time hours and threatening to fire workers who worked more than 25 hours.

During an interview with Buzzfeed, Obama appeared upset with reports that some in the company were blaming Obamacare for the strict hour restrictions.

“[W]hen I hear large corporations that make billions of dollars in profits trying to blame our interest in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, shame on them,” he said.

By what right, or concept of justice, does a man who has never created any product, service or job his entire life lecture those who do?

What does Obama count on when he moralizes or lectures those upon whom he depends for the funding of his programs? And why does he keep getting it? Not just Obama, but others in power who share his ideology that private businesses exist not for their own sakes, but to serve the government?

Think of Obama as a fundraiser. Instead of having to persuade others to give to his programs, or even utilize moral guilt as an incentive, Obama has something most fundraisers do not have: The use of government force.

Why do many people admire Obama — or even quietly tolerate him — for what he does, when all he does is shake people down? Even if you think the government has a right to shake businesses down with regulations, taxation and unfunded mandates (Obamacare is a gigantic one), then why is this an accomplishment? Give any one of us the power of federal prisons, federal agencies and the military, and we could do the same thing.

In what universe is this moral, admirable, or an accomplishment of any kind?

The people who started and maintain a profit-making company like Staples do not have the power of prisons, executive edicts or government guns. Nothing they do is through force, unless they curry favor with the government to obtain subsidies or relief from rules that other companies do not get. But then again, government could and should have stayed out of the private sector completely, in which case private businesses would not have the opportunity to curry favor with the government. They would only concentrate on profits, which requires them to concentrate exclusively on their customers and employees.

Obama and politicians like him claim to care about workers and employees. Yet without the business to provide the jobs, the workers and employees suffer. It’s in the rational interest of a company to treat an employee as well as possible. Ask anyone satisfied with their jobs (many are), and they will tell you. If the government imposes a mandate on a company that the company cannot afford — and would have provided it they could have afforded it — then the government does that employee no favors by harming the company’s ability to function.

When Obama says, “Shame on you,” for a company attempting to act in its own self-interest, in the face of still more government regulations and taxes imposed on it, he’s really saying: “I don’t care what the facts of business are. Your first job is to help people.”

It’s insane, unjust and uneconomic. Yet we keep assuming it’s supposed to work, and that it’s morally superior.

Let’s look at how Staples responded to Obama’s thundering moral condemnation from his high throne of government:

But Obama’s characterization of the company did not sit well with the company that provides thousands of jobs to Americans.

“Unfortunately, the president appears not to have all the facts,” Mark Cautela Sr., the Public Relations Manager for Staples said in a statement to Breitbart News. “The initial story was misleading as our policy regarding part-time employees is more than a decade old. It predates the Affordable Care Act by several years.”

Cautela asserted that the company offered competitive wages in the retail business and offered good benefits for company employees.

“We are very proud of our associates and offer competitive wages and benefits,” he said. “Staples is a leader in helping associates build a secure future.”

Cautela reminded the president that Staples was recently recognized by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for helping employees plan for retirement.

“Staples also offers many opportunities for hourly associates to advance into full-time and management positions,” he added. “It’s unfortunate that the president is attacking a company that provides more than 85,000 jobs and is a major tax payer.” [reported at 2/11/15]

True enough, but you have to challenge Obama on his moral premises to really have any effect. Obama isn’t simply citing facts (or falsehoods). Obama is using the bully pulpit. He’s challenging businesses morally. He’s basically saying, “Shame on you for putting your business interests first.”

Quite frankly, Obama is just like any emotional abuser. He preys upon his victims not just with force, but by tearing them down morally. He uses shame and guilt to weaken his victims, and then cashes in with the physical coercion later. Government does this on a much more lethal scale than any lone wolf mental abuser could ever hope to accomplish. And, unlike most physical or mental abusers, government is never held accountable for what it does to its victims.

Let’s look at some facts. Health insurance is expensive. It’s getting more expensive all the time, and the available evidence shows that since Obamacare passed, health insurance is getting still more expensive. (I know my premiums are skyrocketing.) If you really care about people being able to obtain medical care and medical insurance, you’d take steps to make it more affordable, not less affordable. This could be done in any number of ways. The unifying principle would involve deregulating and opening up the marketplace. It would also involve requiring people to purchase medical care on their own, or with the help of charity. But the legal entitlement, at least after a certain phase out period, would stop, and once people knew this they would start to act like consumers in the marketplace like they do with many other things, including food.

Obama did not build Staples, nor any other profit-making company offering value to its customers and employees. Yet he’s the one with life-or-death control over all companies. His moralistic tone of “shame” shows how he really believes it.

Disappointingly, Staples challenged Obama not on moral terms, but on factual disputes. Factual disputes matter, but Staples shouldn’t let Obama get away with his claim that they owe their employees anything other than what they’re contractually able and willing to provide them. Obama is issuing edicts daily from Washington (even turning Obamacare on and off as it suits his whims) and then morally condemning his victims for the effects of his own actions.

It’s his victims who should be morally condemning him.

Shame on us — the great majority of us — for not calling Obama on what he’s doing to the diminishing remnants of private enterprise in our once thriving economy.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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