Balance of power is an appropriate term. That is what the problems are all about. Just like political partisans, union partisans and business partisans can be just as extreme. Both are just as vulnerable to corruption and greed. It is common to confuse political partisans with labor market partisans. They often line up together.
Unions provide leverage against inequity, but they suffer from the same frailties that all bureaucracies suffer from. These include the bureaucracies found in government, business and special interest groups. After all, ambitious destructive people are found in all bureaucracies.
When people politically confront abuse and monopolistic aggregation of power, they often successfully achieve their founding goals of fairness, equity, profit and legal justice. Naturally, this justifies the action taken. It also triggers a common human emotional response. This response argues for more of that good thing, to the point of extremism.
Following positive progress however, bureaucracies rarely yield power or authority to the new landscape. A bureaucracy begins to hunt for goals which will sustain its own power and authority. A shift is made, to structural preservation. A shift is made, to protect individuals with power. This shift is often shielded by amplifying minutiae into arguments for inequity and distracting the public debate, by demonizing the opposition.
Does this sound familiar? It is the root of bad politics.
Created but never Destroyed
When was the last time you saw a powerful organization voluntarily dissolve, after achieving what it set out to achieve?
The answer is never. The goals can never be reached. Closure is a threat to the life of the bureaucracy, which now has a life of its own.
- Even though doctors are being driven out of practice, insurance companies are leaving entire states and consumers are losing entire services, trial lawyer associations fight tooth and nail to prevent tort reform.
- Even though illegal immigration is a social tax burden and undermines the wage stability of American citizens in the manufacturing and building sectors, the business and political lobbies continue to pressure against enforcement of the law.
- Even though we have a constitutional amendment and a raft of legislation, race baiters continue to maintain their special interest groups by increasing racial tensions and lobbing false accusations.
- The Massachusetts turnpike authority was supposed to dissolve itself years ago, after achieving the goal of building a highway. They floated more bonds to keep themselves alive. This government bureaucracy will need to be forced out of power. It will only be done when the voters get tired enough to fire all the politicians.
- Even though labor protection legislation extends far and wide and business labor ethics have improved dramatically, unions still push for collective bargaining, entitlements and sanctuary for poor performers. There must always be an inequity to be found and fought for, even if it must be created.
Balancing the Scales
Unions are only a single element in a system of checks and balances. To a degree, self regulation will occur naturally; but only if people are free to choose their associations. What an absolutely brilliant constitutional right that is, in both simplicity and effectiveness.
There really is no better choice than the one we have. Without formal trade, no business is bad business. Governments cannot set prices, since it would take a bureaucracy so big, there would be nobody left to produce anything. The fluid of supply and demand must flow freely, to set prices properly. However, without government monetary standards, markets cannot regulate the overall money supply, and control inflation.
- If there were no organized labor to check business, there would be monopoly and abuse of labor. This is why Teddy Roosevelt broke the trusts.
- If there were a pure socialist government, there would be stagnant consumer markets, high unemployment, large black markets and crippling taxes.
- If there were a totalitarian or communist government, the only motivation for progress would be the motivation to climb the ladder of bureaucracy, or move within the black markets. You get poor quality from the products produced within the system. You get a dangerous lack of standards for the products produced illegally. You get low production, starvation and brutal inefficiency.
- If there were anarchy, there would be no laws, no safety standards and the return of clans of power. You would have to discard all business that operate on the efficiency of scale, like energy, telecommunications, national retail, hardware, medicine etc.
Forcing people to associate with any bureaucracy, through collective bargaining, government entitlement dependency, racial quotas and non-compete employment contracts are all artificial barriers to free association. These things do not improve society, they create mechanisms to support bureaucratic power in unions, politics and business, respectively.
It happens in the Consumer Markets
When union producers of a product force selfish fiscal priority over the quality of the product itself, that is a bureaucratic decision. The long term result is the destruction of the system providing the benefit. Read Don Surber's The Delphi Oracle post. You will see what I mean. Consumers, who freely associate with whatever they like, will not tolerate poor attitude being engineered and assembled into their products. My Toyota Tacoma truck is built in Kentucky. I bought it because it does not eat through clutches like my Chevy did. It does not smoke ignition modules, suffer from tailgate electrical fires and spontaneously reset its computer like my Ford Bronco did. My consumer dollar is no longer flowing into union pockets. Are they responsible? I cannot say for sure, but I do not buy those products anymore.
Unions which do not respect their environment, over their constituents, face the danger of extinction. When they take away the right of the worker to freely dissociate with the union, they cover up flaws which accelerate this extinction. When they take away the consumer's right to associate with all manufacturers, through trade barriers, they convince consumers that they do not need to compete with quality. These activities breed resentment and political opposition. You can argue against them all you want. Consumers have deaf ears, deep pockets and they pull voting levers.
The Government does it Too
Teacher's unions are trying every desperate political and emotional gambit they can to prevent people from freely associating their tax money with alternatives. They keep saying it's for the benefit of the children, not just the teachers in the union. They fought mandatory testing in MA for years. They say it is unfair. The statistics are beginning to prove them wrong.
How worse can it possibly be, than the pathetic horrible product they have been peddling for years?
How can you measure quality, when they refuse to let you put a meter on it?
Here is the ultimate hypocrisy. Since tax money is involved, the schools fall under the auspices of government. Therefore, they argue that the first amendment strictly prohibits bringing religious discussion into the schools, even in historical context. In the very same first amendment, the right of people to associate freely is also penned! So, I say, since tax money is involved, the schools fall under the auspices of government. Therefore, the first amendment prohibits the public schools from forcing parents to grind their kids through a single bureaucracy, which is failing them miserably. We cannot force consumer unions to do this, since they are not under the government umbrella. However, the teachers have argued for years that they are!
Does the teacher's union wage their labor battle, by asserting they have the highest quality standards over all other possibilities? No. They wage the battle by trying to take away your constitutional right to free association and consumer choice.
So, Do I support Unions?
The answer is yes! Of course there is a major stipulation. I only support them when their goals include a realistic benefit for the people served by the product. They are the people with the money, not the 'evil' business or the 'evil' government. If people are leaving a union, than the union is no longer serving an equitable purpose, or it has become self-serving; the truth will be exposed by the adjustment of membership. I will not support any organization, union or otherwise, that selfishly chooses to ignore economics, overall social well-being and most important of all, a member's right of free association or the consumer's right of free association.