2019-03-15 03:56:15

New York City has long been known for its iconic skyline and culture of entrepreneurship. But optimistic small business owners may soon find that the Big Apple is no longer a place where they can pursue the American dream.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest legislation would make his city the first in the nation to require that businesses with five or more employees offer two weeks of paid vacation time per year. While progressives are lauding the plan as a step forward for workers’ rights, the reality is that this one-size-fits-all mandate is a move that will shackle the city’s small business sector and harm the very workers it’s supposed to help.

In his announcement speech, de Blasio described mandatory paid vacation as a part of his goal to make New York “the fairest big city in America.” But this foreboding phrase highlights the exact kind of problematic thinking that has become the hallmark of the de Blasio administration — thinking motivated by a desire to achieve intangible goals rather than focus on the real needs of New Yorkers. It’s no wonder that his speech barely mentioned the business owners who would be directly affected by this change.

In his blind rush to pursue progressive policy, de Blasio has forgotten that the concept of fairness is entirely subjective. In a system where the government’s goal is fairness, who gets to decide what “fair” looks like? For many, a man like de Blasio, who ousts homeless people from subway trains and takes daily taxpayer-funded SUV rides to the gym, is not a good judge.

De Blasio’s proposal is just the latest in a long line of regulations that’s slowly crushing the city’s private sector. Faced with mandatory paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage, small businesses are already being forced to implement massive changes with almost no warning. Many haven’t been able to make changes fast enough to stay afloat.

This has led many businesses to lay off employees and raise the price of their products. Others, struggling to spend so much on labor, have been unable to make a profit and have been forced to close altogether, resulting in the unemployment of the very same workers the minimum wage was meant to help.

Adding mandatory paid vacation will just increase the burden, showing again how disconnected from reality de Blasio really is. In 2017, 300,000 residents of New York City were employed at businesses with 20 to 49 employees — well under the maximum 100 employees needed to mark them as a small enterprise. Life for these workers hasn’t become fairer. Instead, these regulations have merely forced entrepreneurs out of business and cut employee hours or destroyed jobs entirely.

In the end, de Blasio’s self-defeating “mandatory vacation” policy is just another addition to a municipal government that’s becoming increasingly draconian in its quest to control every aspect of New Yorkers’ lives. Meanwhile, the city is losing the mom and pop culture that once made it famous, and its reputation as a place where startups could thrive. Instead of cultivating a growing cornucopia of artisan shops and street foods, de Blasio’s government is doing its best to ruin what the city is known for: entrepreneurship, social mobility, and the chance to make your own life.

Rachel Tripp is a Young Voices contributor and former New York City resident.

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