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Papa John's Manifesto

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Papa John's Manifesto


Recently, statements were attributed to Papa John's regarding its opposition to Obamacare and it was disheartening to learn about the callousness in which the company treats its employees.  There are a variety of political ideologies and views in America, but the company's clamor about having to provide more of its employees with affordable health care touched a nerve that cut across vast swaths of our political spectrum.  This is not a case where people who are too lazy to go out and look for a job seek a government handout to support their idleness.  These employees are not the 47% of the population that allegedly pay no taxes and freeload off the rest of us that Mitt Romney does not care about.  These are members of the 53% who by all accounts pay taxes and are employed.  These are the people that Romney supposedly cares about.  Papa John's employees work hard to make the company profitable so that its millionaire CEO John Schnatter can have a mansion accented with every imaginable luxury (a Louisville-area estate so nice, that even Romney was taken aback by its opulence).  A lot of his employees make around minimum wage and Schnatter is concerned that he might have to raise the cost of pizza eleven-fourteen cents so that they can have access to health care in one of the wealthiest nations on Earth.  With all the deals, specials and coupons that are a hallmark of the franchise pizza industry, most people do not even know how much a full-price pizza from Papa John's costs.  The average consumer would not notice an increase of fourteen cents or care if it meant making health care more accessible for hardworking families.       


This is not a situation of a company with painfully thin profit margins that is struggling to stay afloat, let alone expand.  Papa John's owns or franchises approximately 4,000 restaurants and plans to add another 1,500 in the next six years.  The juggernaut pizza franchise finds the prospect of increasing its number of total locations by nearly 40% to be much more appealing than providing the very people who will make this growth possible with affordable health care. As the company increases its market share, the money funneled to the CEO, executives and large franchise owners through salaries, bonuses and stock options will proliferate; that is the point of expansion.  The money is there, Papa John's simply does not want to use it to provide affordable health care to the backbone of its enterprise.  The company is currently giving away two million free pizzas in a football season promotion.  For further proof, one need only turn to CEO John Schnatter, who proclaimed, "We're not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry.  But our business model and economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare."  The deflection of accountability notwithstanding, this translates into: Our business model is ideally suited for providing affordable health care to our employees, we simply do not want to.  


If required to provide affordable health care to its employees, Papa John's has no intention of absorbing the costs by reducing its profit margins.  It wants no responsibility for the welfare of the work force that makes its continued success a reality.  A lot of these employees are probably living near the poverty line and Papa John's would rather keep them on Medicaid (if they qualify) and pass the burden of providing health services to its hardworking, underpaid employees on to the Government at the taxpayers' expense.  Even more unfortunate, Papa John's most likely leaves employees that do not qualify for Medicaid, even those with young families, to fend for themselves.  Franchise owner Judy Nichols of Texas, suggested that she would rather terminate employees to keep her staff numbers under 50, than provide them with affordable health care.  The solution to this issue is not to demote an employee to part-time or terminate his employment.  The answer is: let him earn it. The last thing people struggling to make ends meet need is to be fired because the government is apparently, albeit slowly, starting to recognize health care to be a fundamental right, similar in nature to K-12 public education.  The callous position of the company appears to be systemic, starting from the CEO and working its way down to the franchise levels.       


Stepping away from Papa John's for the moment, its objectionable position is a microcosm for a broader issue that needs to be addressed. 


Comfortable: The New Standard for the Middle Class


Throughout history, members of the oppressive class have always feared the masses and for good reason.  The power they hold over them is tenuous and often maintained by an illusion of dominance sprinkled with a healthy dose of false promises, idle threats and misinformation. They know they are hopelessly outnumbered and even a strong military state must draw a significant amount of its force from the general population.  This dynamic creates rampant insecurity among the oppressive class; they are aware of their limited ability to withstand an uprising.  One of the most baffling attributes of this phenomenon is the premise that: the masses, collectively, want what the aristocracy has.  This faulty assumption has created untold amounts of grief and suffering.  There is a myriad of theories as to why the oppressing class continues to repeat this mistake, perhaps their lust for power and wealth renders them incapable of viewing the world through the eyes of people not consumed by greed.


 For the most part, the masses do not desire an extravagant lifestyle defined by wealth and excess. Sure, there are exceptions, but the average person simply wants to be comfortable.  He wants to be able to provide his family with adequate food, clothing and respectable shelter.  She wants to shield her kids from the ugliness of destitution that too many children in this wealthy nation have experienced.  Parents want their kids to have a decent education that will allow them to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society.  The standard of living that the common people will accept as comfortable is relatively modest.  For millennia, the oppressive ruling class has failed to realize this simple fact and opted to impose less than desirable living conditions on its subjects.  What constitutes less than desirable living conditions is subjective, but one constant in this power dynamic is: the working class is subjected to a standard of living that is below the respective society's definition of comfortable. 


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Hello, I am submitting a manifesto that I wrote in response to Papa John's comments regarding Obamacare and the overarching issue of affordable health care and entitlement to a livable wage in our country. I hope you publish it. -RWH
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