THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
By Dr. Charles Ormsby – June, 2010
There are no special workers’ rights.
There are only human rights. Workers have them and so does everyone else.
Seems simple, doesn’t it? Everyone has the same rights.
Rights must be consistent. You can’t have a right that violates the rights of others.
Again, pretty simple isn’t it?
Unions don’t have any rights that their members don’t have individually. Nor do companies have any rights that their shareholders don’t have individually. The principles are the same.
It is simple: Only individuals have rights.
People can exercise their individual rights, based on mutual agreement, through voluntary associations (e.g., unions, corporations, or fraternal organizations), but the nature of those rights doesn’t fundamentally change.
To grant organizations special rights, rights that their members don’t already enjoy as a consequence of being human, would merely encourage individuals to join such organizations merely to acquire new rights and powers that they could then use to gain advantages over others who are not as well connected.
Special rights for organizations would be tantamount to gang rights. Gangs don’t acquire special privileges merely because they represent many individuals. Neither do unions or corporations.
It’s easy: If you grant special rights to organizations, they become gangs. That explains a lot!
These concepts are fairly simple and not difficult to understand.
Rights represent freedom of action. They fill both space and time. If you have a certain right at a certain place and time, others cannot have the same right (a right that conflicts) at the same place and time. Therefore, when one individual or in this case an organization is given special rights, it necessarily infringes on the rights of others.
In the case of unions, the damage to others and to society as a whole is immense. And the damage is accelerating and cumulative … with the potential of destroying our freedoms, our economy and the American way of life.
Let’s consider a few of the core distortions of legal rights in our labor laws and explore their consequences.
First, it is important to recognize that when a union is granted the exclusive right to represent the employees of a company or governmental entity, it unavoidably violates the rights of current or potential employees who prefer to negotiate for themselves or through a competing organization. Workers lose the right to sell their skills and labor to willing employers.
Employers (private or public) are also disenfranchised. They lose their right (derived from the just rights of those they represent) to tap the labor market for willing workers who could make their products better and more competitive.
Finally, the consumer loses the opportunity to purchase better products and services at more attractive prices. While this does not constitute a loss of rights per se, it nevertheless represents a loss of prosperity or standard of living.
All of this sounds very theoretical, so let’s look at the real life implications.
Consider the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The American shoe industry, clothing industry, auto industry, steel industry, furniture manufacturing, ship building, electronic parts manufacturing and assembly, and on and on … are now primarily performed on foreign soil.
Even aircraft manufacturing has now largely evaporated. A quarter of a century ago a high percentage of the aircraft parts used by Boeing to assemble commercial aircraft was manufactured here in the U.S. Now over 70% of aircraft parts and assemblies used by Boeing are manufactured outside our borders.
Here is the big picture: Over 50% of our economy was based on manufacturing in 1965. In 2004 it represented less than 10%. We are well on our way to 0%. There are some valid arguments why some reduction makes economic sense, but nothing that justifies this level of erosion.
Why did this happen?
A major reason is that unions, exploiting the legal advantages given them by our labor laws, pushed labor costs (salary & benefits) to uncompetitive levels. In recent years this trend has been accelerated by excess taxes and federally mandated benefits (pushed heavily by unions) related to hours, overtime, family leave, etc.
Even though the loss of nearly all our manufacturing base is devastating, it only begins to tally the total impact of negating the principal of equal rights for all Americans.
Public sector unionism is now approximately a half century old. With initial inroads in New York City in the late 1950s under Mayor Robert Wagner and then propelled by the unionization of federal employees under President Kennedy in 1961 (via an executive order), unions now dominate public employment at all levels of government. In 2009, for the first time, public sector union membership outnumbered private sector membership.
Having wreaked havoc in the private sector, unionism has metastasized to a host that can’t escape by outsourcing or going overseas. Government is also a host that does not depend on efficiency for survival and one that can suck resources by force from the rest of society. Government can also trade its largesse for union political support.
Yes, government is the perfect host and partner for unions. With government as its partner, unions can take maximum advantage of their expropriated rights.
They can insist on work rules that lead to low productivity.
They can demand that competence not be measured nor made a factor in compensation or retention.
They can threaten work slowdowns (is that possible?) if salary or benefit increases do not meet their demands.
They can demand time off, health benefits and pensions that will lead us into bankruptcy.
And they can conspire with the government to ensure that their desires are fulfilled through promises of campaign contributions, campaign support, and votes.
The cartel is locked in place: Politicians stay in power and unions retain their special privileges.
In the short run, the taxpayers are gouged and those depending on government services are shortchanged. In the long run, if the situation is not corrected, disaster is assured.
The biggest losers are our children.
Union advocates must smile when they say, “It’s for the children,” because the children pay for this insanity in numerous ways.
Over 95% of children are forced to attend government schools. The debacle of government/union education is well documented and requires no elaboration (See “Inside American Education, The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas,” by Thomas Sowell).
While their children’s education is neglected, both parents (also under educated as a result of their government schooling) are over-taxed and must hold full-time jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
After years as latchkey kids and a vacuous K-12 education, they “graduate” and are sent to “college” using government grants and loans. At college, their first mathematical task is to learn how to deal with fractions. Failing that, they enter a workforce where there are fewer and fewer private sector jobs because of the aforementioned taxes, regulations and union muscle.
Assuming they can read or have the intellectual capacity to listen to the news, they find out that union salaries, benefits and pension liabilities are bankrupting the government, so taxes must be raised. Of course, they are invited to vote for Democrats who will shield them from tax increases by raising taxes on “the rich” (thus further destroying entrepreneurship and jobs), and by issuing more government debt (thus driving society even further into bankruptcy).
TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. It is all down hill from here.
The piper will be paid and the price will be very steep: Default, expansion of the money supply, rampant inflation, economic disintegration, depression, world wars, poverty, disease, and death.
Will it happen this year? In a few years? A decade? More? Will we just experience an ever-deepening economic decline, or will our fate emerge from a sudden crash?
Only a liar will tell you he or she knows for sure. But a slow and constant decay is probably the least likely scenario. People anticipate the course of events and, as our economic problems deepen and become more obvious, a rapid shift of mass psychology is likely. In any case, our final state – a very unpleasant one — is an unavoidable result.
If we don’t dismantle this evil cartel and eliminate the abrogation of human rights and corruption that our labor laws enshrine, economic disaster will eventually follow.
November 2010 may be one of the few chances we will have to avoid the abyss.
Will you join the fight? I hope so.
Do it for your children. Do it for your grandchildren. They are ALL depending on you.