Rated R – Papa John’s

I am a staunch defender of the First Amendment which guarantees the freedom of speech and freedom of association. That amendment defends John “Papa John” Schnatter’s right to be incorrect, greedy and to associate with con men like Willard Romney. It also defends progressives’ right to not patronize his business.

John is the founder, chairman and C.E.O. of Papa John’s Pizza. He has been an outspoken critic of Obamacare and supported Romney in the last election. Obviously we disagree on those two topics; however I have to admit that he was part of a sizable minority of Americans who held those views. I have seen estimates of Schnatter’s net worth ranging from $240 to $600 million. Forbes recently pegged it at $293 million to which he commented, “They are fairly accurate.” Using the low end estimate and extrapolating that over a 40 year working career, (which would be laughably conservative considering he will turn 51 this month), that breaks down to $6 million per year. The bad pun is that’s a lot of dough. The reality is that doesn’t resemble the earnings of the vast majority of Americans.

Schnatter appears to have a very large ego. He likes to be the star of his company’s television commercials. He lives in a 40,000 square foot house that features a multilevel underground garage with parking for 22 cars, an elevator and a car wash. By any definition he is not hurting!

But you see he has a problem. He feels that Obamacare is going to have such an adverse effect on his cost of doing business that he needs to take preemptive action now that the President has been reelected. He is cutting the hours of his employees to get under the 30 hour per week guideline prescribed in Obamacare. Keep in mind that the vast majority of said employees work for minimum wages and, of course, are without benefits. By Schnatter’s estimate if he were to comply with the new law it would add about 14 cents to the cost of a pizza. When Forbes, (not exactly a liberal publication), did an analysis their number was under 4 cent a pizza. Confronted with this challenge what is a man whose 2011 compensation was over $2.7 million to do?

I have a solution to the problem. Let’s all stop buying Papa John’s Pizzas. Then poor little Johnny can go out of business and he won’t have to worry about the impact of the increase in marginal cost. Perhaps he can get a minimum wage job delivering pizzas for one of his surviving competitors and lead a carefree life in a house without a giant turntable to facilitate limos turning around on his property. Trust me at those wages not too many of his visitors will be arriving in limos.

All factitiousness aside, don’t you want the person preparing your food to have at least the minimal healthy care that would enable them to see a physician when they are sick? Papa John’s does not deserve your patronage. In all but the smallest of towns there is more than one place to buy a pizza. If you happen to live in one of the rare places where Papa John’s is the only show in town remember that man does not live by pizza alone.

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