The $100 Million Payoff

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The $100 Million Payoff, by Douglas Caddy, New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1974, 448 pp., $8.95.

Douglas Caddy, crusading young lawyer and self-appointed apologist for the Republican Party, awoke one fine summer morning in 1972 to find himself representing the original Watergate Seven after they had been apprehended breaking into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. And because that motley crew of miscreants was in the service of the GOP, Caddy's first thought was to demonstrate that the other party was just as bad if not worse. This book is that demonstration.

Caddy quite convincingly presents his case contending that Democratic wrong-doing is more insidious than that perpetrated by Republicans. The domination of Congress by Democrats makes it possible for that party to make its "dirty tricks" legal, and legality is tantamount to legitimacy in the eyes of much of the public. But the author's bias in no way vitiates the book's value to one who has no use for either party.

It is no secret that the Democratic Party and organized labor have been in flagrante delicto since the time of FDR, but Caddy provides the names of who is in bed with whom. Campaign contributions by either corporations or unions are ostensibly forbidden by Title 18, Section 610 of the U.S. Code which reads in part, "It is unlawful for any…corporation.…or any labor organization to make any expenditure in connection with any election," and further, forbids making membership in a union contingent upon the making of contributions to any person, party or cause.

The labor-dominated Congress, however, did see fit to include this proviso in the law: "The term 'contribution' shall not be construed as meaning communications…by a labor organization to its members and their families on any subject or non-partisan 'get-out-the-vote' campaigns." This is the loophole through which annually pours 100 million labor dollars and the document which has conferred a technical legitimacy on the illicit affair carried on for decades by labor and government. For the above-mentioned "communications" are decidedly candidate-specific, with paid union employees regularly assigned to spread the good word about candidates the union favors.

The two most active communicating bodies within organized labor are the Committee on Political Education (COPE) of the AFL-CIO, and the Machinists' Nonpartisan Political League (MNPL), and concerning the activities of these two bodies Caddy says, "Union voter-registration and 'get-out-the-vote' drives, financed by tax-exempt Machinist dues money, aim only at blocs of voters that will support liberal and Democratic candidates."

And candidates eligible for union assistance according to such criteria are not a bit shy about asking for it. Wyoming Senator Gale McGee requested Machinist help in obtaining computer-printed address labels of those of his constituents who he thought needed educating regarding his pro-labor stance, and calculated that the cost would be some $4500. The MNPL happily complied, although the actual dollar expenditure was nearly twice that amount. Nor are the subjects of such education by any means ungrateful. "I owe you everything," Sen. Harrison A. Williams of New Jersey told a convention of labor leaders. "What you want, you've got. I owe you that much."

Myriad columns of figures provide complete justification for Caddy's title ($100 million) as the true value of the "free educational services" performed by the salaried union employees as part of the decidedly partisan educational efforts put forth by the unions' ostensibly non-partisan educational arms. The law is certainly being bent, if not broken.

Caddy is no radical, however; he is apparently incapable of attacking the system that fosters such malleable legislation. With an attitude typical of the establishment conservatism that he represents, Caddy is content to urge that the laws be amended to expressly prohibit those activities that he, with some justification, deplores.

Such an approach falls short of the mark, since in a truly free society, there would be no laws affecting the spending of union or corporate funds for any purpose. But conventional wisdom is quite correct in holding that it would be folly to simply repeal such laws as are now on the books. Caddy and others of his stripe are following this wisdom in urging that such laws need strengthening, and they are right, as long as unions retain the other types of unconscionable power that they have arrogated to themselves down through the decades. But the ultimate solution must be to strip the unions of their illegitimate power, rather than to continue passing laws ad infinitum to protect society against the repercussions that will inevitably follow their exercising it.

The freedom-maximizing solution (as opposed to the disruption-minimizing solutions that are the vogue in contemporary social thinking) would be to explicitly ratify the obvious but ignored fact that unions are essentially brokerage houses engaged in bringing together those persons who wish to rent out their bodies for the purpose of producing some good or service and those willing to pay the rent on them. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes notwithstanding, labor is a commodity. There is no escaping that fact. And as such, labor is entitled to have its prices determined by the marketplace, with no such artificial encumbrances as minimum wage legislation shackling the invisible hand. Labor brokers must have the right to withhold their services from anyone, rentor or rentee, for any reason, and to make the performing of such services contingent upon any factor of their choosing, such as the payment of a fee, establishment of certain working conditions, or the support of a particular political candidate.

But this restoration of power that is rightfully theirs must be counter-balanced by the removal of power that they have usurped—such powers as laws requiring binding arbitration in labor disputes, or forcing recognition of any particular union as sole bargaining agent for the workers in any given industry, and countless others.

Despite its restricted vision, The $100 Million Payoff is a valuable book for clearly describing some serious abuses perpetrated by the Democratic Party and its bed-fellow, organized labor.

Gary R. Shroat is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and is presently attending law school. He has done reviews for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Milwaukee Journal.