‘Right-to-work’ means freedom and choice – Jeff Jacoby – Townhall Conservative

‘Right-to-work’ means freedom and choice – Jeff Jacoby – Townhall Conservative.

SOON — PERHAPS AS EARLY AS TODAY — Gov. Mitch Daniels will sign legislation making Indiana the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state. Labor unions angrily oppose the change, but their opposition has no legitimate or principled basis.

Labor unions vehemently oppose right-to-work laws. What principled reason can they have for doing so?

State right-to-work laws, authorized by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, are not anti-union. They are pro-choice: They protect workers from being forced to join or pay fees to a labor union as a condition of keeping a job. In non-right-to-work states, employees who work in a “union shop” are compelled to fork over part of each paycheck to a labor organization — even if they want nothing to do with unions, let alone to be represented by one. Laws like the one Indiana is poised to enact simply make union support voluntary. Hoosiers can’t be required to kick back part of their wages to the Republican Party or the Methodist Church or the Animal Liberation Front; the new measure will ensure that they don’t have to give a cut of everything they earn to labor unions, either.

Most Americans regard compulsory unionism as unconscionable. In a new Rasmussen survey, 74 percent of likely voters say non-union workers should not have to pay dues against their will. Once upon a time, labor movement giants like Samuel Gompers, a founder of the American Federation of Labor, agreed. “I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty — the principles of voluntarism,” declared Gompers in his last speech to the AFL in 1924. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.” Those words can be seen chiseled on Gompers’s memorial in Washington, DC.

But far from rejecting compulsion, Big Labor now fights tooth and nail to defend it. And no wonder: Unions have long since squandered the affection of the American public. In the years right after World War II, more than one-third of the US workforce was unionized; now the union membership rate is just 11.8 percent, and most of those members are government employees. In the productive economy, Americans continue to flee from organized labor. Last year only 6.9 percent of workers at private companies belonged to unions.

So as a matter of by-any-means-necessary expediency, it is easy to understand why Big Labor long ago embraced what liberal scholar Robert Reich (who served as Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor) dubbed “the necessity for coercion.” In order “to maintain themselves,” Reich said in 1985, “unions have got to have some ability to strap their members to the mast.” Or, as Don Corleone might have put it, to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

But is there any ethical reason — any honorable basis — for the union shop?

Great labor leaders once championed freedom and choice. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion,” insisted Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor.

Labor and its allies are ruthless, and usually quite effective, in beating down right-to-work bills. Indiana will be the first state in more than a decade that has succeeded in banning labor contracts that oblige all employees to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. (A similar bill in New Hampshire last year was vetoed by Governor John Lynch.) No-holds-barred vehemence in defense of principle might be understandable. But what legitimate principle are the unions defending?

To hear them tell it, they only object to “free riders.” Labor leaders claim it would be unjust to allow employees to avoid paying for the unions that negotiate benefits on their behalf. “There’s always going to be a certain amount of the population that will take something for free if they can get it for free,” says Nancy Guyott, head of the Indiana AFL-CIO.

That’s not a principle, it’s a shameless pretext. Unions demand monopoly bargaining power — the right to exclusively represent everyone in a workplace — and then insist that each of those workers must pay for the privilege. This is the “principle” of the squeegee-man who aggressively wipes your windshield when you stop at a red light, then demands that you pay for the service he has rendered you.

By the union’s “free-rider” logic, shouldn’t all voters be forced to subscribe to a daily newspaper, since all of them benefit from its journalism? And shouldn’t every company be compelled to support the Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on behalf of business whether individual firms ask it to or not?

The passion with which Big Labor fights right-to-work helps explain why so many Americans have abandoned unions. The labor movement was born in freedom and choice. That’s not what it stands for anymore.

And We Wonder – Tea Party Nation


Image by SS&SS via Flickr

And We Wonder – Tea Party Nation.

Liberal economist Robert Reich is all over the internet these days explaining that our economic problems would end if banks extended more credit to Americans of modest means. There’s the path to prosperity – take on more debt.

And Congress has recently moved to legalize internet gambling in order to generate government revenue. Debt and gambling – this plan gets better.

A liberal friend sent me a link to a piece that advocated mandatory unionization of all working Americans. Debt, gambling, and unions – because it worked so well in Detroit.

President Obama finally got into the debt ceiling negotiations this week, demanding $600 billion in new taxes. Debt, gambling, unions, and taxes – that’ll put the “gee” in GDP!

And he proposed a standard for fuel efficiency that no car can meet. Debt, gambling, unions, taxes, and no driving – look out, China! We’re back!

The President also announced some convoluted public/private partnership with 11 of our largest corporations. Here’s how it works: we give them billions to invent things we don’t want and they take it. Debt, gambling, unions, taxes, no driving, and malinvestment – heart, heart, smiley, winkey, LOL, whatever that stuff means.

What else…oh, yeah, he wants to get rid of ATMs. Debt, gambling, unions, taxes, no driving, malinvestment, and no cash. I’m thinking Nobel Prize #2.

Treasury Secretary Geithner said we must shrink the private sector in order to grow the public sector. Debt, gambling, unions, taxes, no driving, malinvestment, no cash, and more government. Take that, Arthur Laffer!

And finally, ex-czar Van Jones is back in the news, announcing the country is not broke because you still have some money; he is forming his own Tea Party to take it from you. So there’s the whole plan – debt, gambling, unions, taxes, no driving, malinvestments, no cash, and communism.

And we wonder why our economy is in the ditch.

These are the same guys who tell us we need to increase the debt ceiling. They want us to co-sign for a few trillion of new loans so can keep spending money they don’t have on things we don’t need. And their plan to pay it back? Debt, gambling, unions, taxes, no driving, malinvestments, no cash, and more government.

Not only does this insanity make sense to liberal economists, but they warn that if we don’t let them borrow more money, there will be bad consequences. Really? Worse than the collapse of the dollar and interest rates with a comma in them? Here’s a consequence, Mr. Bernanke: everything you have tried has failed; go lay by your dish.

Van Jones is half-right. The nation is not broke; it is our government that is broke. Not because we don’t give them enough money; we will give them $2.6 trillion this year. It is because the twitterin’ wieners on Capitol Hill spend $1.4 trillion more than that. If we gave them $10 trillion they would spend $15 trillion – and it would still be still be your fault that kids can’t read. Because you are a greedy racist, that’s why.

There is no reason to pass another debt ceiling authorization; we already have one. And if the one we have doesn’t mean anything, then why bother with another one?

On second thought, Van Jones is right – the federal government is not broke, it owns almost $6 trillion of land. Put it on E-bay, with no reserve. Can’t bear to part with it? My son didn’t want to sell his Mustang dragster either, but he had bills to pay. Man up, Geithner.

If the IRS can force Green Bay Packer legend Fuzzy Thurston to sell his Super Bowl ring to pay his debts, we can sure as hell force President Obama to sell off a few million acres to cover his golfing and Michelle’s trips to Africa and the lunacy that is the Obama EPA.

So what will you give up, Mr. President – trees or tree-huggers? You’re pro-choice, so make one. And leave our old Packers alone, you heartless Bear-loving Blagonad.

“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.