Back in the day, the push among those who did not much like the idea of state welfare was to argue that benefits should come through the employer. This was pretty popular in a lot of Catholic worker rhetoric. It is not a stupid idea; businesses pretty much run their own miniature welfare regimes in a lot of cases, providing for illness, vacations and leisure, pensions in old age, compensation in certain circumstances of injury, etc, not to mention wages themselves. If you’re the sort who wants to see benefits like these come through the employer, you’ll probably like what Dorothy Day had to say about that here:
“We believe that social security legislation, now balled as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity…It is an acceptance of Cain’s statement, on the part of the employer. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Since the employer can never be trusted to give a family wage, nor take care of the worker as he takes care of his machine when it is idle, the state must enter in and compel help on his part.”
Day’s complaint was, in part, that if states step in with their own welfare regimes, then employers are free to turn their backs on their employees, refusing them even basic benefits. This certainly doesn’t do much in terms of cohesion among employer and employee, and surrounding community, which is something I would presume you would be worried about if you were generally interested in averting widespread class antagonism. And, further, it doesn’t do much to prevail upon businesses that they do, in fact, have a moral purpose, and that like all elements of human sociality they should perform a positive function toward human flourishing. It allows them to exist in a twilight zone of false moral neutrality, wherein they sometimes weakly protest that they’re generating profit and products which is helping everyone, so we should all hush. (That’s a lie, by the way.)
But, alas, it seems the vision that would have forgone state welfare in favor of responsible behavior on behalf of employers is finally destroyed, and conservatives have killed it. A couple of prime specimens from the last few days include Matt Walsh and Olivia Nuzzi, with the former arguing against employment protections for pregnant women, and the latter arguing in favor of Uber price gouging during, among other calamities, terrorist attacks.
Exhibit A, Walsh*:
“We need to stop crying about our ‘rights’ every time something doesn’t turn out the way we wanted. We need to stop crying ‘discrimination’ every time our employer doesn’t give us the special treatment we desire. We need to stop trying to turn everything into a federal regulation. If you think employers have a moral obligation to accommodate pregnant women — fine. I agree, to a certain extent. But it can’t become a legal obligation.”
“The fact that Uber allowed surge pricing during a hostage crisis may lead you to believe that the company doesn’t care about you, and you would be correct. But Uber does not have a responsibility to care about you. Uber is not a government entity, and it is not beholden to the general carless public during an unwelcome drizzle of rain or even a time of great distress.”