Tales from Liberal-Land: Michigan Edition

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December 13, 2012 by Ish

I love my home state of Michigan, but I really thought we’d be the fifty-seven state (with two more to go) to be dragged kicking and screaming into the daylight on right-to-work… Like Illinois is determined to be on self-defense rights. I am very happy to be able to say I was wrong on that one: Michigan is now the 24th state to legally recognize the right-to-work.

A number of years ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Marko Kloos wrote an essay that I have come to regard as one of the best statements on individual liberty since Thomas Paine, it was named after the old NPR series, This I Believe, amongst of the first items is:

I believe that taxation is equal to forced labor. I believe there is no moral or practical difference between taking the wages of a day or a week from a person to pay for a schoolhouse, and ordering them at gunpoint to spend a day or a week building that schoolhouse directly.

With a mighty tip of the hat to the Lord of Castle Frostbite, I’d like to add a corollary to that:

I believe that compulsory union dues (from non members) as a condition of employment is equal to strong-arm robbery. I believe there is no moral or practical difference between taking a portion of a man’s wages to pay a Union he doesn’t want to belong to, and a mafioso taking a cut of a mom`n`pop store’s revenue to provide “protection.”

I am not anti-union, if employees want to get together and negotiate as a collective, fine. Hell, I’m not even against the idea of a closed shop. I mean, if the employees all agree to it and can somehow convince the employer to agree to it, then all involved should be free to cut off their collective nose despite their face. But in the real world, were unions enjoy significant government protection and favoritism, employers are forced to run closed shops whether they want to or not, and employees who don’t vote for collective bargaining can be forced into unions under threat of their jobs.

I also can agree with one of the common arguments against right-to-work coming from the unions… no, not the punching of reporters in the face or assaulting women and children. But some of the more rational union members point to the tragedy of the commons like “trap” in right to work laws.

Under the Taft-Harley Act of 1947, which is what allows states to go right to work in the first place, employees who opt out of the union are still covered by collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the union. Plus, the unions are required to represent workers who opt out. This arraignment is, not to put too fine a point on it, complete bullshit. Like I said, you shouldn’t be forced into collective bargaining against your will, and thus I support right-to-work. But I also think the unions are right about free riders problem and the unions should not be forced to represent non-members. If you leave a union, you need to bargain with your employer your own damn self… of course, the unions would probably be better at getting this message across if they didn’t throw temper tantrums and beat people up.

If Union membership is truly beneficial, than union organizers should be able to make the case and get workers to sign up voluntarily. They often say that non-union workers earn less money, get less benefits, or other such boogeymen… But, who cares? It doesn’t matter, one bit, to me if union wages are higher, lower, or equal to non-union wages. Compulsory membership in a union is wrong, compulsory takings of the dues from non-members is wrong. Giving workers the choice to join a union or not join, of their own free will, is right.

Aren’t the Democrats the self-proclaimed “pro-choice” party? Not that this applies to what schools you send your children to, which businesses can sell us products, whom banks can loan money to, our toilet’s flushing capacity, our motorcycle helmet use, the light-bulbs we can buy, the soda-sizes we can drink, the amount of salt we can put on our food, whom we can marry, if we can smoke marijuana, not wear seat-belts, partake of video games or movies or books with violent content, exercise our human right to self-defense, civil rights for non-white folk, or… hmm… okay, so maybe they’re not in favor of choice at all.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the party that thinks I’m too stupid to buy my own light-bulbs, also thinks I’m too stupid to decide if I want to join a union or not…

Oh, also, I lived in Lansing for nearly five years and my house was about one mile from the capital building. I attended the Tea Party rallies in 2010 and 2011, I was there for numerous gun-rights protests, gay pride parades, rallies in support of mental health, against Obamacare… I saw dozens of other protests, rallies, speeches, and parades. The State Police never closed the building during any of those. No riot gear was ever deployed. No arrests were made (Well, except for a couple of drunk MSU students at Gay Pride one year. Sparty on, dudes.) But the unions felt a need to get all Battle of the Overpass — with encouragement from allies inside the legislature — in order to protect their power to force people to join. Stay classy, Democrats.

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