Thursday, February 24, 2011
I was in another union for about 11 years at a major transportation company. In this case, the company, many decades before, had decided it wanted to avoid union agitation and, rather than fight unionization, invited the union to represent its employees. Many fellow union members did not like the union. The union “bosses” acted like thugs and the company, over the years, endured several strikes. This left room for Federal Express to start up without paying union wages.
It seems that everyone is saying “unions can be good for the workers” but I think it is time we question the roles unions have played in society. One of the most eloquent critics of unions was the little-known economist Ludwig von Mises from Austria. Below, I list some of the “problems” of unions and inject some of his most prescient criticisms:
1. Unions can gain no improvements in wages, benefits or working conditions that companies would not already be able to provide. If the business was not already successful and earning a significant profit, there would be no interest among union bosses to unionize the employees. In other words, unions would not exist without a strong capitalist system from which to derive dues.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “The union members are not conscious of the fact that their fate is tied up with the flowering of their employers’ enterprises.” – Planning for Freedom p. 91
2. Unions tend to agitate in order to justify their existence.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “Strikes, sabotage, violent action and terrorism of every kind are not economic means. They are destructive means, designed to interrupt the movement of economic life. They are weapons of war which must inevitably lead to the destruction of society.” – Socialism p. 307
3. Unions are a defacto government regulation of businesses.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “The labor unions aim at a monopolistic position on the labor market. But once they have attained it, their policies are restrictive and not monopoly price policies. They are intent upon restricting the supply of labor in their field without bothering about the fate of those excluded.” – Human Action p. 374 - 377
4. Unions put companies out of business. They force employers to raise wages that often put the company in an uncompetitive position. The company has no choice but to close the factory, move to another state or move overseas to remain profitable.
5. Unions support socialist/progressive platforms because progressive politicans want union votes. In return for votes, politicians allow unions the power to coerce businesses. Unions also tend to support bills and legislative measures that raise taxes, give them more power in negotiations and remove consent from employees and business owners. In the case of government unions, the government enables unions to demand benefits and pay raises that are paid by less affluent taxpayers. These “advances” for the working man are merely excuses to launder those tax increases to the union bosses by means of increased union dues. This is re-distribution disguised as a contractual benefit.
6. Unions destroy worker/company relations because they create a “we versus them” attitude. Unions must be collectivist in nature. They need to create a “group think” where union members consider themselves part of a fight or struggle to gain more power over time and skim more profits. Union members are often discouraged from having a stake in the success of the company.
7. Unions often say that they favor the little guy. This is not true; in many cases Big Unions favor Big Business and Big Government. They create crony capitalism where government is used to benefit all parties and restrict competition from non-union companies.
8. Labor unions tend to oppose the introduction of new technologies and more productive machinery. They look for opportunities to create unproductive jobs, duplicate jobs and patronage jobs in order to swell membership and collect more money in dues and pension plans. These actions lower production, raise product prices and harm the competitive position of businesses. Sometimes, in order to use the new highly productive technologies, companies move to “right to work” states or out of the country which reduces local employment.
9. Labor unions take the credit for higher wages and this tends to justify violence and otherwise illegal practices.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “As people think that they owe to unionism their high standard of living, they condone violence, coercion, and intimidation on the part of unionized labor and are indifferent to the curtailment of personal freedom inherent in the union-shop and closed-shop clauses.” – Planning for Freedom p. 153
10. Unions restrict the division of labor. Any improved business process which requires new higher skills from employees is resisted and the company is often forced to provide unproductive jobs for those displaced by division of labor improvements.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “No social cooperation under the division of labor is possible when some people or unions of people are granted the right to prevent by violence and the threat of violence other people from working.” – Planned Chaos p. 127
11. Unions seek the power, through government, to require union membership which is monopolistic.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “The cornerstone of trade unionism is compulsory membership.” – Socialism p. 435
12. The power of unions comes from their government-protected ability to strike which is a method of stopping production and harming businesses and jobs.
a. Ludwig von Mises: “The weapon of the trade union is the strike. It must be borne in mind that every strike is an act of coercion, a form of extortion, a measure of violence directed against all who might act in opposition to the strikers’ intentions.” – Socialism p. 435
b. Ludwig von Mises: “The policy of strike, violence, and sabotage can claim no merit whatever for any improvement in the workers position.” – Socialism p. 437
13. Unions are tied to capitalism and the success of capitalist organizations, yet union bosses routinely propagandize against capitalism. They express false Marxist views of capitalism and use the moral argument against capitalist profits and production improvements. They prejudice union members against their capitalist employers and create discord even in situations where the employers are trying to improve the strength and profitability of the company.
14. When possible or necessary, unions have no problem compelling membership through practices like card check. This puts a union thug behind each voter to ensure that he/she votes the "right" way.
15. Unions have less regard for member rights than they do for maintaining their situation. In many cases grievances are settled in complete disregard for the merits of the case. Union bosses sometimes trade grievance settlements for other “considerations”.
16. Unions have an incentive to keep poor employees on the job and many unions have little regard for whether the member actually does a good job. This destroys productivity, encourages a cynical work ethic and undermines the ability of management to engineer a productive enterprise.
17. Unions tend to squander the money they collect in dues and pension plan payments. This forces them to "buy" politicians who will request bailouts from government to make up shortfalls. The taxpayer is rewarding them for their loss of trust among their members.
18. Union leaders (and many politicians) demand that you never question their motives but always question the motives of the people whose productive and organizational abilities provide the union dues and pension payments. They tell you that their motives are to help people and bring about "social justice" while the motives of corporate managers is to steal money that would not exist but for those very corporate managers. Yet, it is the corporate managers, not the union leaders, who provide the jobs, industrial plants and capital investments that make possible the magnificent products that make our lives better. They tell you that it is proper for them to use force against those corporate managers but improper for anyone to question them about what they do with the billions of dollars they, the union leaders, "earn".
I think that most people who work in a union shop will recognize many of these “problems” with unions.
I’m certain many of them are Tea Party protesters.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Part of the response involves recall efforts of two of the fourteen Democratic state senators who have left the state to avoid a vote on Wisconsin Governor Walker’s budget repair bill which seeks to increase contributions by teachers to their own pension plans and to negate the union’s hold on their membership…this would be a good thing.
The unions have put the targets on their own backs and many union members have noticed the inflamatory language that corrupt national-level union officials have expressed. In Wisconsin, they are attempting to paint themselves as saviors of the middle class…but this is not the full picture. Americans are fully aware of statements made by prominent union officials about the “persuasion of power” (the threat of violence) and “workers of the world unite” (a clearly communist sentiment that threatens to undermine our capitalistic system). Americans are aware that the unions are using member dues to “buy” elections for Democrats in order to strongarm the legislatures to pass measures that would force people to join unions. Americans have witnessed the many comings and goings of corrupt union officials in special private meetings with the President. They know that many unions have squandered pension funds and need taxpayer bailouts in order to make up shortfalls. They’ve witnessed the thuggery and demagoguery of people like Richard Trumka and they are not impressed when they see such people getting wealthy using methods reminiscent of gangsters.
But the real issue, in my opinion, is not that the unions are corrupt and being assisted by a renegade President who cares more about political payback than about the taxpayer. The real issue is what the teachers in Wisconsin are teaching the children.
The first lesson they are teaching is that correct political action is dependent upon a dubious concept known as collective bargaining rights. Because of these so-called rights, the rights of taxpayers to their own money are unimportant. This view implies that principles are fluid and subjective rather than universal and all-inclusive.
What this means, according to this lesson, is that politics is a matter of which group appears to have the most protesters in the street; which group can block the streets, fill up the halls, hold up government institutions and invade the privacy of people in their homes. This is the principle of political expediency. Yesterday, paid protesters were sent to Wisconsin to protest on behalf of teachers; and tomorrow, they may be in another state protesting against a bank or a corporation, going to the homes of corporate executives or protesting on Wall Street to raise taxes on the rich. The only principle that unites these professional protesters is the principle of re-distribution, from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.
The antidote to this lesson is to teach children that proper political principles matter, specifically that rights connote freedom of action for the individual not freedom to plunder for a designated priveliged group. Rights are dependent upon the nature of man not some man's whim or decree or Executive Order. Proper political principles derive from reality and they specify freedom from government control, not the freedom of government to control. There is no right to a blank check to be paid by the taxpayer.
The second lesson that teachers are passing to children is the idea that it is proper for government to re-distribute wealth from the productive to the non-productive. Today the teachers get the wealth; tomorrow, the poor, the next day, homeowners, the next day, another union; the next day a bank owned by a contributor to the President’s campaign fund. The only rights they fight for are the “rights” of people to keep their government benefits. This is a statement of plunder, not a statement of rights.
The antidote to this lesson is to teach that people have a right to their property and no one should cavalierly decide what is “right” to do with the money of defenseless citizens. Teach children respect for the property and rights of others and you’ll not have to worry about an unruly mob threatening the children of politicans or executives in their homes.
The third lesson is that it is acceptable that children ignore the consequences of their actions. According to this lesson, taxpayers will always pay taxes; what is important, is how we spend those taxes to help people who need assistance. But is that really how to promote domestic tranquility or does it create conflict, favoritism, nepotism, bribery and theft? Today, government employees in Wisconsin are the designated "good" people whose suffering we should alleviate regardless of what it does to the citizens who must pay for the teachers' pensions. That middle class parents will become poor because of government overspending is ignored. To insist that students join the teachers in their protest is more than a travesty; it is an effort to create more protesters who don’t understand what they are protesting. To consider this a lesson in civics is more than a bad lesson; it is a crime.
In some circles, ignoring consequences is called evasion or denial. On this issue, the denier is always rationalizing that the problems of government spending are someone else’s fault; the Republicans who are in the pay of the CEOs, or the rich who are conspiring to steal their corporate profits; or the super-rich who throw extravagant parties and pay big bonuses…someone is always stealing the peoples’ money, not the unions or the teachers or the welfare parasites.
The antidote to this lesson is to teach children to weigh all government (collective) actions against a principle called individual rights. If any action taken by government violates the individual rights of one citizen, you must be against it. Sooner or later, that citizen will be you.
The fourth lesson is the use of the "altruism shakedown" scam. This is the Alynsky tactic of wrapping your actions in a “moral blanket”. This tactic teaches children that claiming to be “doing good” is a perfect way to get your opponent to freeze morally. In fact, many of us do not realize that this scam is a deliberate tactic that has been drummed into us since childhood.
The antidote to the altruism shakedown is to focus on the Bill of Rights and refuse to violate the sanctity of individual rights. Fight for the individual and his/her freedom and you fight for yourself. When someone shakes his fist at you or gestures that he will cut off your head if you don’t allow him to bully you, that's the time to stand for your rights. It is time to stand up to the bullies of altruism, the professional parasites paid for and bought by the unions and the President.
Yet, the real travesty is what they are not teaching our children. They are not teaching them that freedom matters. They don't teach them about the joys of anticipating a clean road ahead, unencumbered by government ties and dependency, unencumbered by the oppressive duty to sacrifice for the group. This crime leaves school children with a cognitive gap, the inability to see life and its possibilities as a wonderful adventure made up of clear skys and clear minds full of accomplishment and happiness. For these teachers, the pursuit of happiness is a crime and the only thing their students have to look forward to is supporting these teachers. For this crime, they should be fired from their jobs.
It is time we reckon with the fact that the real victims here are not the teachers who can afford to pay a little more for their own pension plans; the real victims are the students who don’t even know that they are being used in an immoral scheme to fill the pockets of politicians and other parasites. That the people who are paid to teach Wisconsin youth should act in such an irresponsible, shameful, undemocratic and deceptive way only proves how much work remains to be done to rid our nation of the scourge that is progressivism.
If we want that bright clear day for our children, we must do that work. Morality is on the side of the Tea Party protesters. Thanks for being there.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
“I am running for reelection because I believe America’s best years are ahead of us. The United States is blessed with God-given advantages that are the envy of the world. We have the benefit of two oceans, a temperate climate, abundant natural resources, and the most productive land.
We also possess numerous advantages that have stemmed from our deep traditions of freedom that are embedded in the Constitution. No other country has benefited more from a devotion to personal achievement, entrepreneurial energy or scientific advancement. Our country has succeeded because Americans have enjoyed the freedom to unleash their personal energy and ingenuity to create a robust economy and a resilient society grounded in liberty.”
These lines remind me of something the Senator might have written before terrorists crossed one of those oceans and killed about 3000 Americans in protest over our personal achievements, entrepreneurial energy and scientific advancement. Is he living in the past; has he forgotten that those advantages have been slowly undermined by the policies of a President that he has done very little to oppose; a President that he boasts of having worked with on a variety of matters? He seems to think that these principles still hold when, in fact, our President is doing everything he can to diminish those values and turn this once-great nation into a “utopia” of re-distribution.
The Senator is telling us is that we should vote for him because he believes that America’s best years are ahead of us. I too believe that America’s best years are ahead of us but I don’t see people beating a path to my door. I’m sure you believe it too but is that a reason that people should vote on an important position such as Senate of the United States?
According to the Senator from Indiana, we should also vote for him because the United States is blessed with God-given advantages. Perhaps that might be a good reason to vote for God but He won't be running. We need men of principle who understand what it takes to create great government and a great economy, men who do not sell their principles to the highest bidder and do not ask for people to vote for them because of America’s natural advantages. We need to vote for good government not natural advantages.
Senator Lugar continues:
“But as we enter 2011, we know that in many critical areas, the country is off course in ways that threaten our security and prosperity. This divergence has grown during the last two years. The Obama administration and the large Democrat majorities in Congress have increased our national debt, multiplied regulations, imposed a disasterous health care bill on the country, and threatened to raise taxes.
Hoosiers and the entire country have struggled with a national economy that is failing to create sufficient jobs and is encumbered by debt. As one of the few federal elected officials who has managed both a small business and a family farm, I can say with certainty that the stated desires of many Democrats to eliminat the Bush era tax cuts would be especially damaging to job creation because raising these taxes would undercut rewards for productive investments and risk taking.
I stood with Republicans in voting against all amendments and final passage of President Obama’s health care bill. I voted against all amendments and final passage of the Obama financial regulation bill. And I opposed the Obama stimulus package.”
Notice, he didn’t say he voted against the Obama stimulus package. You will recall that Senator Lugar voted for the $192B additional "anti-recession" "stimulus" spending bill in July of 2009. You have to ask him why he thought that this bill, in particular, would provide stimulus to our economy when he voted against virtually every other such bill of the administration. Is this a contradiction or a vote that had a specific “reason” such as an earmark? In other words, is the Senator a man of principle or is he a man of expediency? Is he willing to increase government spending if it will help him get re-elected? Could it have something to do with earmarks set aside about that time to help fund the production of lithium-ion batteries in Indiana? Did Senator Lugar sell his vote? Did he not realize that this spending bill would be just as ineffective as all the others and that the long-term damage to Indiana jobs would be the result? Or was he just giving us smoke and mirrors, sliding through his words, hoping that no one would notice the hypocrisy?
I think anyone in the Indiana Tea Party Movement understands that this is not the kind of person we need as a Senater. We need people who will take a stand against government spending and “investment” of the taxpayer’s dollars. We need someone who will not finesse his language by calling his favorite earmark an “investment” in jobs while at the same time calling the administration’s massive spending bills job killers. We need someone who will say “No” to government boondoggles and insist that investors in Indiana companies, even if they are from Russia, invest their own money. We need a Tea Party Senator not an establishment Republican.
We are still waiting for a candidate who understands the basic principles of republican government, who knows the value of the Constitution; a person who can articulate individual rights in such a way that his or her arguments are clear, principled and can be contrasted to the ideas of the coercive, spend-happy progressives. We don’t need a progressive Republican as Indiana Senator.
Certainly, Senator Lugar is a highly intelligent and skilled politician. And that’s the problem. He has no principles. If what you are rebelling against is a generation of smug, out-of-touch professional politicians, then it is time to vote for an amatuer who will not sell us down the river in return for a few precarious jobs that may last a few months...and who then complains about the administration destroying jobs.
We must reduce spending, cut the budget and get rid of massive waste. Lugar’s business-as-usual bi-partisanship will not accomplish these goals. The progressives want compromise, they want the Republicans to give in on the principles that are at the heart of the Tea Parties; the insistence that coercive government must stop, that re-distribution must stop, that inflationary borrowing and spending must stop.
That is how to increase jobs.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Notice how he is trying to rally all Americans to the cause of freedom and secular government in Egypt. Should we rally around our President and the youth of Egypt? Should we support their aspirations for American-style democracy? Doesn’t it sound so all-American? Certainly, we know that the President supports democratic reforms, true American style democracy and freedom of speech, freedom of association…all that good stuff we can agree about. Right? The opposite is the truth; there is a scam going on here. When the President says “democracy” he means rule by majority and re-distribution, not republican government. And the "majority" in Egypt will eventually become the Muslim Brotherhood who cares not a whit about American style democracy. What they care about is destroying Israel, brutalizing their women and killing “infidels”.
I don’t find it strange that the President is using the same language to describe the Egyptian situation that he used to describe his own election. And I’m not surprised that the President is ignoring the “old people” in the Tea Parties and talking only to the youth of Egypt and America. And it is not surprising that the rioters are expressing hatred toward American capitalism and the West in general. Does this mean that the President is the leader of the rioters? Isn’t he an anti-capitalist cheerleader here in the states? Doesn't he prefer to rule by Executive Order and agency regulation rather than subjecting his policy recommendations to the consent of the people? Isn't he a leader who routinely violates the Constitution and the sanctity of contract which are hallmarks of republican government? Isn’t he the leader who apologized to the world for America’s “arrogance”? One has to wonder how many other riots in the Middle East and Europe the President and his money man George Soros have lined up for us to watch on Fox News?
What do most of the rioters have in common? It is certainly not religion; it is an abiding desire to destroy capitalism. All of the violent jesturing, the loud chants, the anger and vitriol, the threats to cut off peoples’ heads (that means your head and mine) and the beatings are intended to express violent anger at capitalists and what they have done to the people. All of these stupid jestures of anger and playing to the cameras are intended for American capitalist audiences watching from across the Atlantic. They are a threat aimed at America, telling us that they don’t like us for what we have done to the Middle East, which is to provide them with a deep and abiding interest in Egyptian culture and history, Western products, American styles of clothing, computers, cell phones, twitter and Facebook. They have a lot to hate us for.
Yet, I can’t help but think that what is going on in Egypt is partly a response to the Tea Party protests in the USA that have “transformed” politics and thrown the leftists off their stride. Radical groups who thought that Obama could put them over the top in America are now demoralized by the power and capitalist principles of the Tea Party protests. The demonstrations (not riots) of the Tea Party Movement are a direct threat to the left’s plans for a takeover of the capitalist system. The Egyptian rioters want to send a message to the Tea Party Movement in America that they can change any government at any time through their trained and paid riot organizers. These organizers, once they finish turning Egypt into a Muslim theocracy will hop from country to country until they finish off America...their goal is not only to overthrow capitalism but to gain power...consequences be damned. The Muslim radicals get to kill off Israel then they and the leftists can feast on the carcass of America.
And I don’t find it strange that the administration today told Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular organization with no ideology, just a bunch of nice guys who want to feed the poor and hungry. Does this mean that the American government supports the Muslim Brotherhood? You have to wonder why they are trying to lull us to sleep about Muslim radicals. At the very least, you can’t help but wonder at the involvement of the Open Society Institute and American Unions. They have all felt the sting of the pressure coming from the Tea Parties. Put it all together and it is clear that the administration is pursuing a policy that will destroy Israel while at the same time setting up the structure that will eventually kill off the capitalists in America - and I mean "kill" in the literal sense. I'm not surprised, are you?
The organizers of the Egyptian riots are sending the Tea Parties a message that evil can win in the world if it is organized, morally brutish and violent. Why did they have to go overseas to do this? They can’t complain about us here because we’ll answer them with reason…so they’ve gone overseas in order to scare us with the chaos they can create. They know we're watching. I wonder what the honest people in Egypt think about the manipulation of their country by American and British radicals?
If anyone understands the game being played, it must be the Tea Party Revolutionaries.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Dear Senator Lugar,
After reading reports that the administration gave to Russia previously top secret information about the size of Britain's nuclear arsenal as a condition of Russia's signing the START treaty, I wonder if you have changed your position that favored of the treaty.
- Did you know about this betrayal?
- Did you approve of it?
- And if you did not know of it, what is your position on it?
- Can you please evaluate for Indiana voters the impact that this betrayal will have on our highly important relations with Britain and how this impacts their strategic position as well as their safety?
- Is this something you would have approved of?
- If you did not know this, why didn't you?
Your voters want to know.