More than 650,000 people have fled California since Gavin Newsom took office, many returning to the Dust Bowl homelands their forebears abandoned for the coast. The Democratic governor has called reports of an exodus “greatly exaggerated,” though inaccurate may be the better word: only 600,000 Jews fled Egypt. More than 200 companies ditched California in his first thirty months in office and, much like Newsom’s ex-wife, they’re heading for Trump country. Ever the optimist, Newsom says the solution to population depletion is to guarantee abortion up to the moment of birth. He’s even offered tax breaks to companies that relocate from pro-life states.
Newsom’s efforts are doomed to fail, according to Stephen Soukup, a veteran financial analyst and publisher of The Political Forum. “There’s no way anyone is going to pack up and move to California where the business climate is so hostile,” he says. “Aside from Planned Parenthood, no one is saying, ‘abortion is the key to my business.’” If only Newsom had picked up a copy of Soukup’s book, The Dictatorship of Woke Capital, he’d have known Big Business would preempt him.
A week before Newsom announced the tax-breaks-for-vacuumed-wombs scheme, Tesla rolled out all-expenses-paid abortion tourism as its latest employee perk. The luxury vehicle maker, fresh from relocating to Texas, assured the public and prospective workers that it would dig into its well-capitalized coffers to fly members of the “work family” to greener pastures to terminate their pregnancies.
The press has always been fascinated by the benefits dangled by Fortune 500 human resources departments, which is why the abortion perks gave Elon Musk his only positive headlines in the wake of his bid to take over Twitter, that playground of neurotic sophists and preening bullies. Abortion is only the latest innovative offering: HR consultants convinced industry titans that without pet health insurance — the hottest HR perk of 2017 according to the New York Times — they might fail to attract the Myers-Briggs empaths best suited to oversee the blood-diamond divisions.
Multinational corporations arbitraged everything they could arbitrage once they found out workers in East Asia would work for pennies on the dollar. For decades an MBA could earn a seven-figure bonus and status as a business visionary just by saying, “What if we fired everyone here except for us?” Our oligarchs look out at the twenty-first century landscape and weep, for there is nothing left to cut. Luckily, some pioneer saw that mere arbitrage is shortsighted: Why not target future generations? They started with employer-sponsored egg freezing, in which an employer kicks in a bedroom door and blubbers, “I don’t think I’m ready for a baby.” The press hailed it as freedom. Abortion benefits were inevitable if only because the concept of the company store has returned stronger than ever.
The robber barons of yesteryear had the honesty to charge workers their entire paychecks to buy basic necessities. Today’s conglomerates don’t stop at the paycheck. They want your time and your family. It started with free lunch deliveries to replace expense accounts. Then executives realized it was cheaper to move chefs in-house, the better to make sure employees never left their desks. Why stop at work hours — don’t they owe you their leisure time, too? On-campus DJs and yogis and mindfulness experts abounded. Silicon Valley HR reps gave guided tours of their campuses to show business reporters how the most brilliant and innovative minds in our meritocracy could be tricked into working ninety-hour weeks if they could access napping pods in between jaunts to the hottest Asian fusion-food truck and onsite bocce ball tournaments and climbing walls. Such world-class amenities mean the world to bachelors fresh from universities-cum-resorts, but they do nothing for parents trying to wrap up their day so they can listen to a toneless recorder recital.
Control an employee’s cost of living and you can control the appetite for more. A double-income-no-kids employee will be satisfied with her wage so long as she can afford to travel to exotic locales and weekly excursions to restaurants started by the seventeenth runner-up on season 23 of Top Chef. Her Instagram envy can be managed so long as it focuses on the sunsets of Bali and the scallops of Seattle. There’s no telling what will happen if she ponders her high school nemesis posing with a handful of children. She might get ideas.
It takes only one look at baby formula and tuition to cause erstwhile happy workers to feel suddenly underappreciated. The rat race is no longer about keeping up with childless friends from the class of ’08, but parental peers who graduated in 1998. Researchers act mystified at the 6 percent pay bump fathers receive over their childless male peers. The answer is clear to anyone with eyes to see: We panic and ask for more. The dad-gap is portrayed as evidence of injustice, though I’ve yet to meet a wife who objects. You almost suspect that this statistic is trumpeted around the media because a powerful interest group objects to paying wage slaves.
Executives may complain about the lackluster work ethic of younger generations, but they silently thank the gods — namely Moloch — the young lack the ambition to start families. Such initiative might one day cause a worker to ask for a raise. Your employer isn’t interested in your reproductive rights; it wants to keep costs down. Do you know how expensive it is to insure a family?
The company-store milieu cultivates dependence among workers who believe they aren’t serving some publicly traded for-profit company; no, it is a family. Outside observers mock the vocal minority of six-figure Disney and Netflix employees who claim they feel unsafe because wrong-think has occurred on their platforms. It is worth considering that since the day they signed on, HR has guaranteed their meals and their leisure. We should forgive the workers — who have already forsaken their families and progeny for the sake of corporate needs — when they expect employers to satisfy their spiritual, which is to say political, desires.
Companies were once able to do this painlessly — say, throwing the rainbow flag on an Oreo — but workers are catching on that CEOs will not sacrifice backwoods tax rates for Newsom’s late-term abortions. When Georgia passed a heartbeat bill in 2019, then-Disney CEO Bob Iger threatened to withdraw from the state on behalf of his workforce. He trusted the Chamber of Commerce to deal with Republican lawmakers. Georgia didn’t back down — though a federal court has thus far blocked the law — and that peach logo still appears on numerous properties. The episode no doubt influenced Florida governor Ron DeSantis when he smacked down Disney’s courageous campaign to allow kindergarten teachers to expose their wards to sexually explicit material. A corporation may threaten exodus, but, when push comes to shove, there’s no way it will serve itself up to Newsom’s California.
Other lawmakers should take note of the empty threats in Georgia and Florida, while at the same time taking measures to protect the workers and American families victimized by corporate cost-cutting measures masquerading as political enlightenment, particularly now the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The twenty-first century company is fond of telling workers, “We are family here.” But it aspires to be a particular type of relative. Your employer does not want to be your baby daddy. It wants to be the deadbeat who drives you to the clinic and reassures himself that he is noble by going Dutch on the abortion. The woman will feel empowered, like she has some skin in the game, if she shells out cash to have her womb evacuated. If he’s feeling generous, he may even give the mother a few days of leave to overcome the numbness, but not enough to grieve.
HR departments were established as a cheap alternative to paying labor attorneys or accountants to beat back unions and systemize hiring and pay. Civil Rights pushed middle managers who didn’t just wield videos that told Tom which racial slurs are appropriate — none of them, it turns out — into the first line of defense against litigation. Globalization elevated them into the C-suite, where they helped management figure out which blue-collar jobs should be outsourced — all of them, it turns out.
If no one steps in to stop it, HR will return to its roots. It is only a matter of time before the hottest perk in the Fortune 500 becomes an in-house abortionist within the HR department. His job description will combine the jargon of corporate America with the euphemisms of the abortion industry. I can picture the LinkedIn profile now: “Chief Rightsizing Officer of Our Corporate Family.”
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s July 2022 World edition.