On my ambivalence toward unions

September 24, 2012

One of many nail “bombs”, allegedly left by Philadelphia Construction Union workers to sabotage deliveries to a non-union Post Brothers construction site.

My support for unions ends where their anti-competitive activities begin.

I often claim to champion the rights of the individual against leviathan aggregations of power. So a friend of mine was taken aback when I expressed an ambivalence, if not an aversion, to labor unions. Our first conversation on the matter ended abruptly, but we have recently revisited the issue. Here are my thoughts.

For this blog’s purpose, I won’t challenge the workers’ claimed right to keep their jobs while forming unions, even though I do consider that technically to be a violation of free association. Technically, employment at will should mean that either the manager or the worker can break off the work arrangement at any time for any reason. Technically, contracts containing anti-union “yellow dog” provisions ought to be enforced when signed by informed, consenting adults. However, I do recognize, and I’m sympathetic to, the disparity in bargaining power between workers and managers. Therefore, I’ll tolerate this minor deviation from principle and avoid balancing the fate of the great masses of working people on mere moral-philosophical technicalities. After all, the existence of unions is not what concerns me most. I’m more concerned with what unions do after they’ve formed.  Read the rest of this entry »


Links for January 17, 2011: “An American Conversation” on Tucson, Drug Prohibition, etc.

January 16, 2011
  • Reason.tv once again lives up to its name.

  • On January 5, 2011, a gang of gun-wielding thugs rampaged into a private residence and killed a grandfather of 12. My question is: Were the killers inspired by violent “drug war” rhetoric, or were they simply crazy? It is time for an American Conversation on the tragedy in Framingham. Raids like this are conducted over 100 times each day across America. Yes, people die.

  • Vodpod videos no longer available.

    ANN COULTER: I have one statement for you: the welfare state. No, people can not do whatever they want to do and live however they want to live, as long as Ann has to pay for it, when they can’t hold a job and raise their own kids and buy their own food and pay for their own rent. You get rid of the welfare state and we’ll talk about people sitting home and shooting heroin all day, but right now, oh, and now I have to pay for their health care!

    JOHN STOSSEL: So because we have a social welfare system, we have to give up these other freedoms?

    ANN: Yeah, as long as Ann is paying for it.

    Ann Coulter is a little more forthright than the average prohibitionist. Her argument is that since the government is forcing her to pay for something, then it might as well be what she wants most of all, which is to bastille her fellow citizens when she disapproves of their private, personal conduct. If she weren’t forced to pay for something, she might then be open to not paying out of her own pocket to imprison people who have committed no crimes against her or others.

    If Ann doesn’t want government health care money and living expenses to go to drug addicts, then her solution is counter-productive. Even prior to ObamaCare, the only people in the United States of America who have been constitutionally entitled to state-funded health care have been prisoners. Her argument, essentially, is: “I don’t want to pay for drug addicts’ health care food, room, and board, but I love throwing them all in jail, where I’m guaranteed to pay for all of their health care, food, room, and board. It is more important to Ann that we throw drug users in jail than it is that we save Ann’s tax money.”

    That is the logic of prohibition. For more hemming, hawing, evading, and stammering, see part 2:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    You can decide for yourselves whether the logic of prohibition wins the day. Read the rest of this entry »


  • Links for May 17, 2010: The Real Drug War, Fiscal Irresponsibility, Fun with Gold, others….

    May 16, 2010
    1. But despite all the anger the raid has inspired, the only thing unusual thing here is that the raid was captured on video, and that the video was subsequently released to the press. Everything else was routine. … Raids just like the one captured in the video happen 100-150 times every day in America.

      According to Montgomery, when the couple’s neighbors inquired about the raid, they were told that the SWAT team had merely conducted a drill, and no shots were fired. When neighbors learned from the family that this was a lie, they began writing to the department and the Daily Tribune to demand answers. When the couple discovered the police had videotaped the raid, they requested a copy of the video. Montgomery said in her email that the copy they were initially given had no audio, and the incriminating (to the police) portions of the video had been removed.

      On February 23, the Daily Tribune published its first story on the raid. The paper made its own request for the SWAT video, which the police department initially denied. On April 20, Jonathan Whitworth pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. He wasn’t even charged for the minor amount of marijuana in his home (marijuana for personal use has been decriminalized in Columbia). He was issued a $300 fine. On April 27, the Daily Tribune made a formal request for the video, which it received on April 30, with full audio and with no visuals removed.

      This is the war on drugs: Blatant terrorism, shameless deception, and desperate cover-ups. It happens in cities across the nation every day. I’m ready to end this madness whenever you are.   Read the rest of this entry »


    Links for Febrauary 20, 2010: Can Socialized Medicine Beat a Faux Market?, SEPTA gripes, others….

    February 21, 2010
    Health care Systems

    Where does our Frankenstein's Monster health care system fit on this map?

    1. Little Alex in Wonderland | Honest Statism Beats a Fake ‘Free Market’ Every Time

      “The point, Welch said, is not that a socialized system is better than a private system.  The point is that their honestly socialized system is better than our socialized corporate system masquerading as a ‘private’ one.”  —- An idea I played with a while ago, after having watched Michael Moore’s SiCKO during the summer of 2008 (SiCKO has opened me to the possibility that a [sic] socialized health care may even be better for us than the congressional-industrial complex that apparently controls health care in this country today.”). It’s good to see Matt Welch at Reason.com on the same page. Boy, this commentating stuff is easy! I still don’t buy the claim, made later in the article, that the public option would be self-financing, but perhaps there is something to be said for the “competition” it would create.

    2. The Christian Science Monitor | Greenspan the libertarian

      Good to see the Christian Science Monitor cross-posting from the Mises Institute blog! The post endeavors to set the record straight on “Greenspan the libertarian”, but it is very poorly titled, and was so in the original post.

    3. Lost Liberty Café | SEPTA… and a Gun

      I was wondering myself why SEPTA has no competition. Other busses are apparenlty legally allowed in Philadelphia, but may be thwarted by regulations and union activities. See Section 9-403 of Philadelphia’s municipal code for more on Philadelphia’s bussing regulations. Read the rest of this entry »


    links for 2010-02-02

    February 3, 2010
    1. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation | Federal Labor Board Rejects Frivolous Teamster Union Charges Against National Right to Work Foundation

      Workers do not all speak with one voice.

    2. Huffington Post | Bacteria Linked To Feces Found In Nearly Half Of Fast Food Soda Fountains

      News Flash! This just in! Didn't think the air you breathe could get any grosser? Well it can. Whenever you smell a fart, that's, like, butt-air going up your nose. Think about that. I'm never breathing again.

    3. Daily Reckoning | Stimulus in a Real Depression

      Another argument against stimulus. Read the rest of this entry »