Once upon a time, people lived in tribes that were self-sustaining. They hunted and gathered for food, built and maintained their own shelters, etc. Then people became specialists and they used their skills, and the products and services that they provided to barter for what they needed. The parties negotiated amongst themselves to figure out what a fair exchange was that they would both be content with.
Eventually, currency was developed, so that there was a universal mechanism for you to receive in exchange for providing your skills and experience and for you to use for the other products and services that you needed — and wanted — to live upon. This required parties to negotiate the amount of currency to be exchanged for labor, skills and experience.
These evolutions all make sense. What doesn't make sense is the most recent step in that evolution here in the U.S. Regardless of the specialization of your skills, many people believe, or at least act, as if they are owed a job. Moreover, the legislative actions of government seem to support that.
Businesses that have employees, regardless of size, have to contend with myriad rules and regulations which range from having to put up ridiculous labor-law posters in their place of business to document firings for fear of being sued for discrimination. They also have to pay a minimum wage, regardless of the skills and experience of the worker — a minimum that is increasing in many states and is the subject of potential legislation at the federal level.
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Now, Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed the next legislative hurdle — forbidding employers to "discriminate" against potential employees because of their credit score. She has introduced legislation that would ban using credit scores in the hiring process.
Credit information can help employers evaluate decision making, risks of theft and embezzlement (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates employee theft costs $20 to $40 billion a year), and more. Hiring the right people is critical for business, especially small business, where one employee may have a substantial impact on the business. Many people, however, argue that asking for credit scores is "not fair." One issue, they say, can tank a credit score and create a blemish on a record. Well, I can make the same argument for college transcripts and GPAs. Messing up on one midterm can turn a good grade into a bad one. Should employers not be able to access those records too? How about references? One bad falling out with a previous employer could cause him to give a bad recommendation. Should that be disallowed? I mean, that's all "personal" information as well.
I am not advocating for or against using credit scores for hiring. No one piece of information is the be-all-end-all. Employers should look at the full scope of candidate information and make a decision regarding their organization. Is it lazy for an employer to ding someone based on a credit score alone? Absolutely. But organizations that have poor hiring practices don't end up with the best employees and pay a price for that. There's a mechanism in place to take care of the issue built into the way business works — we don't need it to be legislated. And that's the issue. We have to stop with the overregulation — or risk destroying the foundation of our country.
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Job hunting is a two-way street. Employers make job offers, but prospective employees have the full power to accept or decline any offer. If you as an employee have two job offers, one from a company that has a great credit rating and one who has some blemishes on their history, should you, as an employee, be liable for discriminating against the employer whose credit is shakier and taking the other job? Of course not.
Plus, if you don't like a firm's hiring practices and don't want your credit score evaluated, then you don't have to go through the application process there. If the firm is too rigid in its evaluation and that makes you uncomfortable, there's a good chance that you wouldn't be happy working for them in the long term.
The reality is that no business owes anybody a job. A job is a privilege, not a right. However, by consistently granting "rights" to prospective and current employees and making it more cumbersome to have employees, we are creating disincentives for businesses to start, to grow and to hire. That's against the key tenets of what makes America great and certainly will not grow the economy.
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Now, you may argue about certain groups being disadvantaged. I do not disagree. However, the answer to helping out those citizens is to help them gain more skills and to increase their value so that they can participate in the barter process we now call work-for-hire in a meaningful way. Rewarding individuals for lower skills or background or penalizing businesses by not allowing them to approach hiring the way that they deem fit creates new problems without solving any problems.
We have to stop regulating decisions between two parties or we are going to destroy any semblance of a capitalistic system that has led our country to be the world economic leader. Instead of demonizing businesses, let's look to the way that the private sector can be incentivized to continue growing and hiring more people in better jobs. We all need to preserve that — it's an incentive that helps us all.
— By Carol Roth
Carol Roth is a CNBC contributor, a "recovering" investment banker and author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." Follow her on Twitter