That’s not a good thing!
Normally, the closure of a business operation or division is not grounds for a celebration, but in this case I am going to make an exception. At midnight on December 31, I not only drank a toast to the new year, but also to finally getting all my business operations out of Ventura County, California.
Never have I operated in a more difficult environment. Ventura County combines a difficult government environment with a difficult employee base with a difficult customer base.
What follows is a description of discouraging punishments that California imposes on people who want to build anything that meets needs and serves customers. It makes for sad reading. (It includes information about how Obamacare/Pelosicare contributed to his need to get rid of his business.
I won’t quote it all (not even the Obamacare part) because what intrigued me most was his description of his employees and customers.
A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing “safe” harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.
Ask anyone in the recreation business where their most difficult customers are, and they likely will name the Los Angeles area. It is impossible to generalize of course, because there are great customers from any location, but LA seems to have more than its fair share of difficult, unruly, entitled customers. LA residents are, for example, by far the worst litterers in the country, at least from our experience. Draw a map of California with concentric circles around LA and the further out one gets, the lower the litter clean-up costs we have. But what really killed it for me in Ventura County was the crazy irresponsible drinking and behavior. Ventura County is the only location out of nearly 200 in the country where we had to hire full-time law enforcement help to provide security. At most locations, we would get 1 arrest every month or two (at most). In Ventura we could get 5-10 arrests a day. In the end, I found myself running a location where I would never take my own family.
He also adds an update:
Wow, reading this again, I left out so much! An employee once sued us at this location for harassment and intimidation by her manager — when the manager was her sister! It cost me over $20,000 in legal expenses to get the case dismissed. I had an older couple file a state complaint for age discrimination when they were terminated — despite the fact that our entire business model is to hire retired people and the vast majority of our employees are 70 and older. And how could I have forgotten the process of getting a liquor license? I suppose I left it out because while tedious (my wife and I had to fly to California to get fingerprinted, for example), it is not really worse than in other places — liquor license processes are universally bad, a feature and not a bug for the established businesses one is trying to compete with. We gave the license up pretty quickly, when we saw how crazy and irresponsible much of the customer base was. Trying to make the place safer and more family friendly, we banned alcohol from the lake area, and faced a series of lawsuit threats over that.
I can come up with a lot of theories why California developed such a horrible culture, but I can’t think of one that would simply blame “bad people” making bad law and bad regulation. However California’s ruling class developed into such destructive, toxic, morons, the cause and effect must go the other way. These people in Ventura County and especially from L.A. learned to be rude and to feel entitled from the way the legal environment shaped them to think of themselves as more deserving than anyone else, especially more deserving than any business or property-owner.
In Ludwig Von Mises’ classic work Socialism he writes about how “social insurance” make people mentally sick:
To feel healthy is quite different from being healthy in the medical sense, and a man’s ability to work is largely independent of the physiologically ascertainable and measurable performances of his individual organs. The man who does not want to be healthy is not merely a malingerer. He is a sick person. If the will to be well and efficient is weakened, illness and inability to work is caused. By weakening or completely destroying the will to be well and able to work, social insurance creates illness and inability to work; it produces the habit of complaining—which is in itself a neurosis—and neuroses of other kinds. In short, it is an institution which tends to encourage disease, not to say accidents, and to intensify considerably the physical and psychic results of accidents and illnesses. As a social institution it makes a people sick bodily and mentally or at least helps to multiply, lengthen, and intensify disease.
I think this point can be generalized. The person who thinks his employer is his potential piggy bank—who wants to find some reason for grievance in order to become better off and not need to labor—is being warped by his government. People raised in that environment are going to be costly to deal with in every way imaginable. These laws, regulations, and practices are making people “neurotic,” or worse.
And it is the objective of liberals to spread that environment over the whole country.