After six and a half years in office, President Obama has finally proposed something that could actually benefit me. I mean, I already had health insurance. I'm a legal citizen of the United States. I paid off all of my student loans without government help. I paid off my house without government assistance. I don't have a pension with General Motors. And I'm not a gay member of the military--so until now, the President has done much for me.
But last week, the President rolled out his proposal to change Federal overtime rules. As someone who averages 56 hours of work at week here at the Radio Ranch I was intrigued. My salary is well above the current "exempt" threshold--but it would be below the limit the President is looking to set. Suddenly visions of an "overtime pay" line on the twice monthly pay slip were dancing in my head (as was a new budget that featured even more retirement investment and maybe an even earlier start to our "Golden Years").
But then, our old friend Economic Reality set in. Since President Obama and his economic policy advisors never spent a day working in the private sector in their lives, they don't know how companies are going to handle his new "gift to the middle class". I now there is already a tersely-worded draft email on someone's computer at the corporate offices that will be sent out the very second President Obama signs the executive order changing the rules telling me (and my fellow "exempt" employees) that there is to be UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ANYONE WORKING ANY OVERTIME WITHOUT PRIOR AUTHORIZATION FROM EVERY LEVEL OF MANAGEMENT. And that such overtime should be incurred only in instances of extreme emergency.
Those 15 to 20 hours that I work above 40 each week would then have to be assigned to a much-lower-paid and less-experienced part-timer (which are getting harder and harder to find nowadays)--if we are even allowed to hire another person. A more likely scenario would be a directive to just cut back on what I do during the day. No more coming in super early to gather info on overnight incidents or to write My Two Cents. No more coming in on weekends for updates or to newsgather for Monday morning. Just work 5-1 every day and if we miss something major--well, those are the new rules.
As much extra time off having a strict 40-hour work limit would give me--I still wouldn't enjoy it. What President Obama and his theoretical economists don't understand is that for some of us, there is more to working than just collecting a paycheck. There is also the satisfaction of achieving certain levels of quality. I put in the extra time because I want our listeners to have as much news every day as possible, or to enjoy this opinion piece every morning or to get severe weather or traffic updates at all times of the day. Nobody holds a gun to my head to get me to come in on Sunday afternoons or to be here until 1:00 am on Election Night. I WANT to be here--and it doesn't matter if I'm getting time and a half for that or not. And I'd be willing to bet that many of the people the President believes are being "short-changed by a loophole in the law" feel that same way.
Although I admit--I wouldn't be opposed to that. I'm just not getting my hopes up.