The liberty to exploit children?

Thursday, February 22, 2018 9:23AM

When a beautiful, affluent state like New Hampshire has the highest rate of young people leaving, something is wrong. When businesses cannot attract enough workers to meet demand, something is wrong. I believe that what is wrong is that leaders in Concord are exploiting the people of New Hampshire, particularly our youth.

My father had to drop out of school, but he could build a successful distribution company because the generation before him built highways across the nation. My parents’ generation paid for universities and for research that created the computers and internet that enabled me to found an intelligent robotics company. Each generation lays the foundation for the next.

But now, leaders claim that businesses owe nothing to society. Instead, they want to suck dry the wealth created by our ancestors. The so-called N.H. “Liberty Alliance” supports such candidates. They vote to strip away environmental protections, defund public schools, ignore healthcare needs and cut employee benefits.

Representative and restaurant owner Laurie Sanborn earned an “A” rating from the Liberty Alliance. Her latest bill, HB1762-FN, would allow her to force employees to share tips so that she does not have to pay the difference for low-tipped employees who make less than minimum wage. Worse yet, it would let children work at her establishment, not just for the princely tipped wage of $3.27 per hour, but for free, for up to 10 hours a day!

If Ms. Sanborn’s business is so shaky she needs free child labor to succeed, I suggest she seek help from a good business consultant. Businesses succeed because they offer better products or services than competitors. Has it occurred to Ms. Sanborn that she might hire a better chef, improve her ambience, upgrade her inventory systems or change her marketing? But instead of improving her business practices, Ms. Sanborn wants government to give her the “liberty” to exploit children.

If legislators listened to our successful businesses, instead of Ms. Sanborn, we would be budgeting for better schools to attract workers and their families to live here. If we listened to the companies bringing millions into New Hampshire from around the world, we would be investing in our universities to graduate more students in engineering, software, medicine and bio-tech.

Real liberty promotes opportunity for our youth; it does not exploit them. When New Hampshire learns that lesson, our young people will stop leaving in droves.

Jeanne Dietsch is a candidate for the N.H. District 9 Senate seat. She lives in Peterborough.