Showing posts with label Right To Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Right To Work. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2013

What Do They Do?

Someone asked me in comments a while back just what exactly right to work laws do to a state's economy? Well, here's a pretty good summation. Here's the one that jumped out at me.

2) Under right-to-work laws, workers reap fewer gains from economic growth. Supporters of right-to-work laws often argue that they’ll help attract more businesses to a state. Opponents retort that weakening unions will lead to an erosion of wages. (A large Economic Policy Institute study from 2011 found that, after controlling for a host of factors, right-to-work states have lower wages on average than pro-union states.) 

Both arguments might be correct. One careful study conducted by Hofstra’s Lonnie Stevans in 2007 found that right-to-work laws do help boost the number of businesses in a state — but the gains mostly went to owners, while average wages went down. ”Although right-to-work states may be more attractive to business,” Stevans concludes, “this does not necessarily translate into enhanced economic verve in the right-to-work state if there is little ‘trickle-down’ from business owners to the non-unionized workers.” 

So business owners gain, and workers lose. One possible retort is that these states could simply set up new safety-net programs to compensate workers who are hurt. But that leads to another question: Without strong unions in place, who will push for these policies?

So, more business comes to the state but the gains go right to the owners. Paging Joseph Stiglitz!

What continues to amaze me is how the Right, supposedly "classic liberals" influenced by Adam Smith, vociferously fight for more wealthy for the modern day version of the aristocracy. Somewhere Klemens von Metternich is applauding....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No Easy Answers

With the passage of the right to work law in Michigan, it's clear that there are no easy answers to protecting the middle class while also protecting a company's right to make money. On the surface, it seems tremendously unfair to make someone pay union dues. If they don't want to pay, that should be OK, right?

Similar to the health care issue, however, the problem arises when the people that don't pay then free ride and enjoy the benefits of what the unions do for laborers. In many ways, unions are all that is left in this country in protecting the rights of the individual versus the billions of a corporation and, more importantly, from keeping inequality from getting even worse. We have many states in this country that have had right to work laws in place for years. Wages have not gotten better and the owners have reaped the benefits. They've stagnated and gotten worse so Governor Snyder is mistaken when says this will help workers. It won't.

Of course, the larger picture says that nothing is going to help laborers because of globalization. When you spread free market ideals and capitalism around the world, this is what you get: a giant pool of cheap labor. In the long run, this is a good thing but in the short run, people are having to make do with less money and it really, really sucks for most Americans. Further, it has inhibited our growth economically and made the middle class a vapor of what it once was.

There are no easy answers and I know that I don't have them. My initial thought is we need some fresh, new ideas in place of the old and stale arguments being fought out in Michigan right now. I was absolutely appalled to see the fights that had broken out and the violence, largely instigated by the union protesters and supporters. There is no excuse whatsoever for this sort of behavior and it only hurts their cause. It's likely going to be worse until some one or several someones put on their contstructivists caps and start answer some questions.

How do we support these laborers who are unintended victims of globalization, if at all? Just tell them to ride it and out it will get better (which it will, eventually)? Remember, that it stands to reason that if people are making less here that some people are making more elsewhere (more, of course, than the absolute shit they used to make). I'm not trying to diminish the exploitation that goes on by MNC's around the world but we shouldn't ignore how they have raised prosperity in many Global South countries. This doesn't help our own laborers, obviously.

And what of the issue of inequality? No doubt, right to work laws make it worse. This is where the federal government could help by eliminating the avenues of rent seeking that so many of the top earners and private firms take advantage of every day. With the fiscal cliff talks going nowhere everyday, this seems unlikely so our march to look more and more like a Third World country is being realized.

I don't know...I really don't. Honestly, I don't think anyone does and that's the problem.