I’ll admit that at one point in history, there was a need for labor unions.
I have no problems with businesses turning a profit; one of the ways to do this is to pay the workforce the minimum you can get away with and no more. A man shouldn’t make more in wages than he produces in value to his employer. This is a quantifiable honesty.
In one of the greatest scenes of the book Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden – on trial for running his business the way he saw fit in defiance of ridiculous government mandates – makes a long speech revoking his complicity in the process of being a victim. He tells the kangaroo court:
I work… by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs… Do I wish to pay my workers more than their services are worth to me? I do not. Do I wish to sell my product for less than my customers are willing to pay me? I do not. Do I wish to sell it at a loss or give it away? I do not. I could say to you that… nobody’s good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices – that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the right of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction.
Unions have the sympathetic press on their side and play that up with stuff that sounds good like higher pay for the workforce and better working conditions. But this is fabricated nonsense of the first degree.
Higher wages sound like a good thing, and I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a few extra bucks in a paycheck. But we wouldn’t have that need if Uncle Sam kept his greedy mitts out of our pockets, stealing from the workforce before we even have a chance to make use of the result of our labors. It doesn’t amount to much over the course of a pay period, something that could be offset by a disciplined laborer’s budget. And with the advent of OSHA and any number of bureaucratic meddling agencies, working conditions are pretty good overall – nothing like the days when unions had a purpose.
Of course, I wouldn’t want to suggest that unions are entirely purposeless now. Bureaucrats have to be bought by someone, corruption must be spread to all levels of interest, whining must be vocalized, and threats must be made to competitors vying to edge in on unions’s iron-fisted control of their sheep. Who else is going to demand to get paid while not working, holding up signs denigrating the people or companies that employ them?
Michigan recently became a right to work state in a heartwarming display of freedom versus slavery. The UAW has done nothing but harm to the American automotive industry, and boy how they howled when they lost this particular battle – so much control exerted in the past… gone, poof! And individual freedom had a small victory to add to the win column.
The city of Detroit has become an altogether startling view of the end result of labor unions. One blog post I read accurately compared Detroit to Rand’s Starnesville. And the same fate is playing out in the press as Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July. Detroit’s the go to image for corruption in government, and the population’s abandoning the city isn’t going the help at all. The smart people who could afford to pay their taxes – a city’s source of revenue – have jumped ship and moved out (sixty percent of the population in the last sixty-three years).
This week, the city’s unions challenged the bankruptcy. Among the fluff about key requirements is the real reason the unions are challenging the bankruptcy protection: the law doesn’t explicitly protect retirement benefits for union members. The leading cause of the destruction of the city is whining that they’re not given adequate protection when the money runs out. I’m going to let Hank Rearden address that one too:
… You will and can achieve nothing but universal devastation – as any looter must, when he runs out of victims. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own – I would refuse. I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being’s right to exist. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!
Nothing good has ever come from the collective. Nearly every advance in lifestyle, technology, and health has come from an individual with a vision: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Isambard Brunel to name a few.
Unions have caused decay and corruption in every aspect of life they’ve touched: education, automotive, grocery, bakeries, airlines, the postal service. They have no interest in what’s good for the consumer who ultimately purchases the services the companies exist to provide. With a giant middle finger to the consumers who ultimately funds their existence, they screw over the entity that pays their wages.
Social programs and bloated government bureaucracy aren’t the only ways the American public has paid for FDR’s New Deal. FDR’s administration was highly favorable to labor unions, and Americans are stuck paying for that in addition to the social security Ponzi scheme and a slew of other handouts to the looters and moochers. Products produced with union labor cost more because there’s no free-market competition in these fields. Guess who pays that at the register? Americans are subsidizing the entities that are ripping them off.
Again, Rand sums it up perfectly: Rearden stood… expecting to find a giant – and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step. If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours.