Unions? No!

Mar 12, 2018

A friend and I recently had a conversation about unions. We both had mixed feelings. She had never been in a union but she had worked for a law firm that specialized in union clients. While I used to think they were a good balance to corporate power, but in recent years I have changed my mind.

I now think unions (especially government unions), in their street protests are bad. (the fuss about the Wisconsin ones a few years ago almost sent our Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, to the White House!) Actually only too often street protests for whatever cause often change a democracy into a full-fledged socialist state (or fascist one or an Islamic religious dictatorship). Socialism, especially “democratic socialism,”’ is touted to bring “peace, love, and harmony.” In practice, it has only to often brought war, hate, poverty, famine, concentration camp cruelty, and yes, the Holocaust.

Every Age has high points and low points. The Modern Age is no exception. Socialism, fascism, and radical Islamic rule (never forget Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini, and in a non-violent version Mahatma Gandhi were National Socialists and were immensely popular, as were Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Chavez, and Castro!) All of these rulers, once they got into power, wanted the state to be firmly in charge of literally everything from handguns to the climate!

Without doubt, it is the unique tragedy of the Modern Age that so much harm came from such high hopes and good intentions.

My friend is also a big fan of public buses and passionate about Amtrak.

I went to high school on the city buses and streetcars in Dayton Ohio. The fare was modest. So far as I knew the bus company was a private business, made a profit, and paid taxes on that profit.

No more! In almost every city in America, public transportation is heavily subsidized. The fares have skyrocketed and the service has shrunk. Despite those subsidies, the average fares only make up half the total cost of the transportation services.

I know. I know. The argument goes public transportation keeps auto traffic down, save gasoline, and help in our fight against global warming. Tell that to Southern California drivers! Or, for that matter rush hour drivers anyplace where people persist in ignoring the benefits of global warming.

In the past, I would have agreed that unions have mostly played a positive role in American society. According to the conventional left-liberal clergy story, capitalists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan fleeced American workers, dominated women, enslaved blacks, murdered Indians and destroyed native cultures in their insatiable desire to get richer and richer.

I’m not so sure of all that now. Slavery was abolished in a Civil war that took 500,000 lives including my great-grandfather. The economy did grow rapidly, immigrants from Europe came en masse, and the US fast became the wonder and the leader of the free Western world. We became famous worldwide for rich opportunities and great prosperity. The robber barons did get filthy rich but the workers too were paid three times the wages common in Europe for the same work, In other words, wealth did trickle down.

Getting back to the public transportation story, apparently what happened is the bus drivers got smart, formed a union, and led street protests demanding a raise in pay and better pensions, and fewer hours driven. Fair enough you say.

Multiply that by all government workers, (this includes teachers,  professors, bureaucrats, administrators, trial lawyers to take care of the courts, media types to cheer from the sidelines, Ivy league professors to write bestselling books about it and then join as highly paid consultants in Democratic (and some Republican) administrations, and celebrities from Hollywood and New York to enhance their popularity—the very heart and soul of the left-liberal clergy which is now using that street protest strategy more and more.)

Do all this and you have what we have today—inflated prices, printing press money, higher wages for some, (especially for do-good work opportunities for the high-IQ and talented in education and healthcare), but deepening poverty for average and below average minorities and women, spending crises (futile attempts to solve Modern social problems by Agricultural Age charity), soaring deficits in the attempts, and massive national debts. It leads to the unique tragedy of the Modern Age, socialism where the government tries to control everything.

Admittedly some of these individuals (administrators, professors, capable minorities, etc.) do benefit, but all do suffer in an economy based on street protests instead of rational and traditional free market trade. Street protests may or may not help capable minorities and women but they also result in declines in economic efficiency. Is it sustainable? What happens when you run out of money and rich people to borrow it from? Of course, there is always China and the filthy rich in the world?

In other words, street protests do work for social goals, but they are questionable for economic ones.

For instance the current protests against Trump’s regulatory policies, especially in environmental causes, and for rises in minimum wages are counter-productive. They may get what they want but the price will be higher than proponents imagine. Not only will all citizens pay higher prices for fast foods, and pretty much all grocery foods. This will also mean higher inflation, more inefficiency, fewer profits, less progress, more printing press money, more government borrowing, and higher deficits and national debts. In short, we may be fast turning into a giant version of Venezuela, or even heaven help us, Cuba or North Korea.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/ President, Hawkhill

P.S Looking for gift for people have everything but who cares about ideas, devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian. I suggest you buy, give, and read yourself one of my recent books (cheap and, in my opinion, good reads!)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some splendid ideas on science, religion, capitalism, and democracy streamed free on YouTube.

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