Labor

Divide and Conquer

The American Federation of Labor's shameful record on race

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In a speech delivered last month at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder described America as "a nation of cowards" when it came to the subject of race. "If we're going to ever make progress," he explained, "we're going to have to have the guts, we have to have the determination, to be honest with each other."

Last week in Miami, Vice President Joe Biden squandered a perfect opportunity to follow Holder's advice. Speaking before the annual convention of the AFL-CIO, Biden repeatedly flattered the powerful labor organization, yet made no mention of the American Federation of Labor's notoriously racist past. For more than half a century, AFL unions routinely banned African Americans from membership, segregated the few blacks they did admit into inferior Jim Crow locals, and lobbied state and federal officials for discriminatory legal privileges. When the federal government began passing pro-union legislation during the 1930s, it was racist outfits like the AFL that reaped the benefits.

During the early decades of the 20th century, black economic success typically occurred in spite of organized labor—not because of it. As African Americans migrated from the rural South to the industrial North, they frequently secured jobs by working for lower wages than unionized whites or by serving as strikebreakers—"scabs"—when discriminatory white unions walked the picket line. Blacks gained a foothold in Chicago's massive meatpacking industry in 1894, for example, when unionized butchers joined the striking American Railway Union, a whites-only outfit led by future Socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs.

As historian Paul Moreno notes in Black Americans and Organized Labor, strikebreaking and working for lower wages made good economic sense to both the bosses and their new black employees—regardless of racial discord between them. "Owners could be as prejudiced as, or even more prejudiced than, their workers," Moreno points out, "but there was a limit to how much they would be willing to pay for it." As a result, the packinghouses soon employed more blacks than any other industry in the city.

Which didn't exactly please the unions. As AFL chieftain Samuel Gompers declared in 1905: "If the colored man continues to lend himself to the work of tearing down what the white man has built up, a race hatred worse than any ever known before will result. Caucasian civilization will serve notice that its uplifting process is not to be interfered with in any such way."

But the worst was still to come. In 1927, an Alabama contractor named Algernon Blair transported a crew of black construction workers to Long Island, New York to help build a new Veteran's Bureau hospital. In response to the presence of "cheap" and "bootleg" labor in his district, Republican Rep. Robert Bacon introduced legislation that became the Davis-Bacon Act, which required all contractors working on federal projects worth over $2,000 to pay their workers the "prevailing wage"—which typically meant the union wage.

During Senate hearings on the bill, AFL president William Green testified in support, claiming that "colored labor is being brought in to demoralize wage rates." Emil Preiss, business manager of the New York branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (a powerful AFL affiliate that banned blacks from its ranks) told the House that Blair's workers were "an undesirable element of people." The bill's co-sponsor, Republican Sen. James Davis of Pennsylvania, was an outspoken racist, who argued in 1925 that Congress must restrict immigration to "purify the national stream of life, to dry up the sources of hereditary poisoning, and to keep America sound at the core."

President Herbert Hoover signed Davis-Bacon into law in 1931, precisely as the federal government began a public works spending spree that lasted well beyond the Great Depression. As the legal scholar David Bernstein notes in his book Only One Place of Redress, "The only recourse African Americans had in a labor market dominated by exclusionary unions that demanded above-market wages was their willingness to work for less money than the unionists." Davis-Bacon nullified that advantage just when blacks needed it most.

New Deal labor laws had a similar impact. The National Industrial Recovery Act and its accompanying National Recovery Administration (NRA), in effect from 1933 until the Supreme Court unanimously struck them down in 1935, established the practice of mandatory collective bargaining, whereby a union selected by a majority of employees became the exclusive representative of all employees. Since African Americans were barred from most unions, the law drastically limited their economic options.

While many on the modern-day left celebrate such compulsory unionism (if not the racialist character of New Deal-era unions), black leaders at the time took a dimmer view. Sociologist and historian W.E.B. Du Bois (who is nobody's idea of a conservative) declared that, "the most sinister power that the NRA has reinforced is the American Federation of Labor." The Chicago Defender, arguably the country's most influential black newspaper at the time, decried the NRA as the "Negro Removal Act" and "Negro Run Around."

Shortly after the Court eliminated the NRA, Democratic New York Sen. Robert Wagner restored compulsory unionism via the National Labor Relations Act, or Wagner Act, which President Franklin Roosevelt happily signed into law. It's worth noting that Wagner's bill originally contained a clause forbidding union discrimination against blacks, but that clause was dropped at the insistence of the AFL, which then received state-sanctioned monopoly powers.

Indeed, it wasn't until the Civil Rights Movement and the imposition of federal anti-discrimination laws in the 1960s that the AFL and other racist unions finally changed their ways. But those reforms only came after black workers had suffered decades of exclusion and abuse at the hands of organized labor. Too bad Vice President Biden didn't have the guts to mention it.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. Now hear, this, Now hear this, back in a time when pretty much everyone was racist, the labor unions were racist too!

    Please don’t think too much about the fact that most corporations, partnerships and single proprieters at the time were racist as well!

    And please don’t think too much about the fact that for decades unions have been working hand in hand to fight what they see as racism!

    Just remember, back in time when America was really racist, unions were racist too!

    I come back from lunch for this?

  2. Did anyone know that back in that time that Democrats were racist too?

    It’s TRUE I tell’s ya!

  3. Did anyone know that back in that time that Democrats were racist too?

    If you definition of “back in time” means “at any time in the past”, sure, I’ll buy that.

  4. MNG,

    That’s it, my apprentice – feel the snark flow through you! Let these libertarians feel the full power of the Dork Side!

    No longer shall you be called Mister Nice Guy. I shall give you a new name.

    Arise, Darth Nice Guy!

  5. “Raaaaaaaacist!”

  6. How was the prostate massage, MNG?

  7. AFL unions routinely banned African Americans from membership, segregated the few blacks they did admit into inferior Jim Crow locals, and lobbied state and federal officials for discriminatory legal privileges.

    There were economic reasons as well – many blacks were willing to do the same jobs as whites for a lesser wage. Unions excluded blacks for racists reasons, for sure, but that was done after the fact – after they infiltrated a business. When unions imposed their collective contracts upon employers, blacks were left in a disadvantage because employers could no longer pay them a lesser wage – better to pay a higher wage to a white than to risk aggressive actions from the union for hiring non union blacks.

  8. Is Damon Root joe’s replacement?

  9. The big difference is that many of the racist laws and policies unions got enacted are still in place today. Not only that, these racist policies are still considered “progressive” today. Minimum wage, card check, etc.

    Yeah, back then everyone was racist. But everyone else has managed to shed their Jim Crow laws. Unions haven’t.

  10. I hear tell academic institutions were racist back then too! Yes, Harvard even!

    And the military! They made whites and blacks serve in DIFFERENT units!

    More startling discoveries to come…

  11. Please don’t think too much about the fact that most corporations, partnerships and single proprieters at the time were racist as well!

    True. But being racist is not what harmed African Americans.

    Leveraging government to enforce racist favoritism — i.e., protectionism — is what harmed African Americans.

    Unions, because they perceived their membership to be in direct competition with blacks, caused far greater damage to the freedoms and wealth of blacks than did the other villains you name.

  12. “But everyone else has managed to shed their Jim Crow laws. Unions haven’t.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH….

    Whew.. I mean…

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    Because as we all know, no non-white man has ever benefited from the mimimum wage laws or anything else unions have fought for…

    And all the civil rights laws the unions have gone to bat for in the past few decades…That proves how racist they are, they are sneaky racists that pretend to be racists!

  13. “Did anyone know that back in that time that Democrats were racist too?”

    Still are.

  14. “Leveraging government to enforce racist favoritism — i.e., protectionism — is what harmed African Americans.”

    Yeah MikeP, white businesspersons never leveraged government for anything like that protectionism…

  15. Incidentally, MNG, I presume from your feigned indignant attitude that you are for open borders.

  16. Yeah MikeP, white businesspersons never leveraged government for anything like that protectionism…

    Of course they did.

  17. “”Did anyone know that back in that time that Democrats were racist too?”

    Still are.”

    Right on Randall! And you know what I hate about their racism, is how sneaky it is, like how they ran a black man as their nominee for President, and how most black elected officials by far are Democrats, and how 90% of blacks vote for them in just about every election.

    What sneaky bastards!

  18. Funny how liberals are fine with reparations, financially penalizing everyone for the actions of a few people’s ancestors, but willing to excuse much, much more recent racism on behalf of one of constituencies. Gosh, it’s almost as if they were raging hypocrites or something.

    Government-backed unions are bullshit.

  19. I’m not for open borders at all, I imagine most long-timers here know that.

  20. Yea, yell racism when you don’t have an argument. Oh yawn.

  21. MikeP pretty much nailed it with that one. That’s the threadwinner right there. One has the freedom to be an asshole racist in America. It is actually item #1 in the Constitution.

    When you use the government to make laws so you can use your organization’s power to discriminate you have crossed the larger line from just being an asshole to actively stepping on someone’s right’s as an American.

  22. Sheesh…

    The Government doesn’t really “back” unions, they force unions and employers to play by certain rules. Union tactics that were once very successful are restricted under the NLRB just like some employer practices are.

    The NLRB punishes unions all the time.

  23. “Funny how liberals are fine with reparations”

    We are?

    Not me.

  24. MNG,
    [B]ack in a time when pretty much everyone was racist, the labor unions were racist too!

    I thought they were there to protect the worker, and there were black workers – what happened to that?

    Please don’t think too much about the fact that most corporations, partnerships and single proprietors at the time were racist as well!

    Irrelevant. They could have been the most racists, ugliest people, but unless they had some kind of personal problems with money, they would have hired blacks sans unions.

    And please don’t think too much about the fact that for decades unions have been working hand in hand to fight what they see as racism!

    Oh, what a nice story. I am going to tell that to my kid to put him to bed.

  25. “Yeah MikeP, white businesspersons never leveraged government for anything like that protectionism…”

    Yep and libertarian minded folks like you find here are against that too. That is why we are against most of these laws in the first place because they ultimately allow people to utilize the government to trample the rights of others.

    Have you not been paying attention in class MNG?

  26. “Right on Randall! And you know what I hate about their racism, is how sneaky it is, like how they ran a black man as their nominee for President, and how most black elected officials by far are Democrats, and how 90% of blacks vote for them in just about every election.”

    Black Republican Secretaries of state: 2

    Black Democrat Secretaries of state: 0

  27. MNG,
    And all the civil rights laws the unions have gone to bat for in the past few decades…

    Like what? Are you kidding?

  28. “I thought they were there to protect the worker, and there were black workers – what happened to that?”

    And I thought businesspersons were there to sell things to customers, and there were black customers-what happened to that?

    And yet all those “We don’t serve Negro” signs in private establishments…Hmmm…

  29. “Black Republican Secretaries of state: 2

    Black Democrat Secretaries of state: 0”

    HAHAHAHA!

    Yeah, Randall, you got us on those Sec. of States! That sure refutes my nonsense…

  30. “Yeah, Randall, you got us on those Sec. of States! That sure refutes my nonsense… ”

    Takes a big man to admit his own errors. I accept your apology.

  31. MNG,
    The Government doesn’t really “back” unions, they force unions and employers to play by certain rules.

    First, I do not know how can the second thing be better than the first, but nevertheless, it is incorrect – the Wagner act made it mandatory for companies and businesses to deal with unions if these were formed, despite their right to freely associate (including hiring) whoever they wanted. So, a law that trampled over the rights of employers to the advantage of unionized employees IS tantamount to backing up unions.

  32. And I thought businesspersons were there to sell things to customers, and there were black customers-what happened to that?

    And yet all those “We don’t serve Negro” signs in private establishments…Hmmm…

    Racist businesses got racist states to pass laws that made it illegal to serve blacks equally with serving whites, thus allowing no competitor to be more efficient then they and making their racism cost-free.

    Where the hell have you been?

  33. FTG
    It restricts both what unions and employers can do in all this. That’s a funny way of “backing”

  34. Can an employer fire without recourse everyone in a union when a contract is up? Can an employer fire without recourse everyone who votes to join a union? What the fuck do you think the Wagner Act is, but government backing of unions?

    Peddle your delusions somewhere, you disingenuous hack.

    I’m done with union threads. When joe left we experienced a distinct lack of leftists who think never admitting that you are wrong is somehow the same thing as being right. It was a glorious month or so. Don’t feed the delusions, guys. Just walk away.

  35. See, the reason I think Democrats are just a racist as everyone els is because I heard Jesse Jackson say how he wanted to castrate Obama because he said us black folk need to become more responsible. I agree with obama, but I also am sad to admit that Jackson really represents the Democrat’s philosophy.

  36. MikeP

    We could look up some historical sources, but we don’t even need that to prove you are wrong.

    Remember all that stock footage you’ve seen of establishments with “we don’t serve coloreds” and such signs in their windows?

    If that was the law of the land, then wtf were those signs doing up?

    The simple fact is that many establishments simply CHOSE to not serve blacks. That’s right, they turned down their money, voluntarily.
    You’re a smart guy, you could see that coming…

  37. Nutrasweet
    I said there are restrictions on what employers can do.

    And restrictions on what labor unions can do.

    So no, I don’t see the Wagner Act as being a tool of labor.

  38. “When joe left we experienced a distinct lack of leftists who think never admitting that you are wrong is somehow the same thing as being right.”

    You gotta love the alternating amazingly high level of joe hate with the “grudging respect” of the fine old liberal gentleman sparring partner of yester-year…

  39. MNG,
    And I thought businesspersons were there to sell things to customers, and there were black customers-what happened to that?

    MNG, a “tu quoque” is not an argument, worse if it is as ridiculous as the above retort – what happened to the much touted protection that unions gave to workers, if there were black workers? If that protection is being flaunted as one of the benefits of unions, then where is it for those black workers?

    And yet all those “We don’t serve Negro” signs in private establishments…Hmmm…

    Many were posted because the local governments made them mandatory, not necessarily because business owners had some sort of personal problems with money.

  40. I’m with the Artificially Sweetened One. Fuck union threads, yo.

  41. MNG,
    It restricts both what unions and employers can do in all this. That’s a funny way of “backing”

    You’re being disingenuous, MNG – the Wagner act made it MANDATORY for business to deal with unions. Even if that law restricted what the unions could do, it STILL gave an undue advantage to the unions by trampling over the rights of the employers to hire whoever they wanted.

  42. http://www.nlrb.gov/about_us/overview/national_labor_relations_act.aspx

    Go to Section 8, part b

    Those are funny provisions for a union tool…

    It’s amazing how little some people seem to know about what the ACTUAL labor law is, while people have fairly well informed opinions of what it should be I admit…

  43. Nutrasweet
    I said there are restrictions on what employers can do.

    Hold on there, buddy. Much like beating up your little brother is only for you to do, only I get to call him that.

  44. MNG, minimum wages disproportionately harm blacks and other minorities. Did you even bother reading the article. If the going rate is $8 an hour, and a black man decides to compete by offering to do the job for $6, then you’ll hire the black man. Even if you’re racist. This pisses off the white men who wanted $8 jobs, and don’t want to compete with the cheap black man. So the white men get together and get a minimum wage law enacted. So now the racist employer has a choice between a black man at $8 an hour and a white man at $8 an hour. So he choose the white man because he’s racist. And so blacks remain in the unskilled pool

  45. The simple fact is that many establishments simply CHOSE to not serve blacks. That’s right, they turned down their money, voluntarily.

    Indeed, many establishments did — in order to get more money from racist whites. In fact, many establishments would put up such signs, even if they did nothing but echo the law, in order to get more money from racist whites.

    Yet Jim Crow laws existed. If private racism were profitable all by itself, those laws would have been unnecessary.

  46. Hold on there, buddy. Much like beating up your little brother is only for you to do, only I get to call him that.

    That’s beyond the pale, yo.

  47. “If that protection is being flaunted as one of the benefits of unions, then where is it for those black workers?”

    It went the same place that serving the consumer went for racist businesses.

    Racism made all kinds of organizations do stupid things. It’s a pretty irrational thing.

    “Many were posted”

    I notice you were smart enough not to say “most” or “all” Good show…

  48. How about Saccharine?

  49. MikeP
    I agree with what you just said 100%.

    Of course the Jim Crow laws were the worse of the problems.

    I don’t think unions uniquely fought for those though.

  50. Go to Section 8, part b

    Those are funny provisions for a union tool…

    Uh, did you READ the rest of the provisions?

  51. “MNG, minimum wages disproportionately harm blacks and other minorities.”

    Brandy
    I know the libertarian line on minimum wage. And I actually think to some extent its well founded.

    But you can’t deny that while those who may be harmed by minimum wage laws are disproportionately non-white, I doubt you’d want to deny that disproportionately most of the beneficiaries of those laws are also non-white (meaning a disproportionately large amount of people who are paid the minimum wage are non-white).

    So it’s hard to see how it is a “racist” law.

  52. Divide and Conquer is exactly what this article is intended to do to today’s labor.

  53. It went the same place that serving the consumer went for racist businesses.

    Racism made all kinds of organizations do stupid things. It’s a pretty irrational thing.

    You’re obfuscating, again. What happened to the much flaunted advantage that unions give to employees, if blacks (who are employees) are excluded from unions? The point is that you cannot use this supposed advantage when it does not exist.

    BTW, your contention that since everybody was racist, then it was expected for unions to be racist too, so as to justify unions, is absurd.

  54. Sigh. Yes FTG. I’m well acquainted with the NLRA…

    Like this one:
    “to engage in, or to induce or encourage any individual employed by any person engaged in commerce or in an industry affecting commerce to engage in, a strike or a refusal in the course of his employment to use, manufacture, process, transport, or otherwise handle or work on any goods, articles, materials, or commodities or to perform any services”

    or

    ” to picket or cause to be picketed, or threaten to picket or cause to be picketed, any employer where an object thereof is forcing or requiring an employer to recognize or bargain with a labor organization as the representative of his employees”

    Now you are going to magically argue that these are not restrictions on labor unions: abra cadabra!
    Let’s see what you can pull out of your ass…

  55. MikeP,
    Yet Jim Crow laws existed. If private racism was profitable all by itself, those laws would have been unnecessary.

    MNG, THAT is the point that MikeP was making – that there MUST have been more than enough businesses catering to both blacks and whites to make these laws “necessary” from the point of view of racist politicians.

  56. Oh, FTG, you’d be satisfied by nothing less than the unions being champions of civil rights in an age where every other organization was highly tinged with racism, no doubt.

    As to your repeated question, unions give advantages to employees that they represent, and many racist unions did not represent blacks, hence they did not advantage them. I’m not sure what point you think you’ve stumbled into here..

    Of course, there were some indirect advantages: by driving the “going” wage up, all workers gained some, even the ones hired to undercut labor wages got higher than they may not otherwise.

  57. I find MNG’s comments here disturbing. They’re not unlike the complaints I here from black folk still suffering from a slave mentality.

    I was on the bus a few months ago and heard another black man say to someone via his cell phone, “And I just though shit, I guess you just can’t count on the government to take care of you anymore.”

    What was so cool to me about that is that in that morning, I was witness to that man’s Aha. And I smiled and thought great! Another victim of the slave mentality just took a big step towards recovery. It’s like my uncle used to say when he’d hear folks complain about their lot in life, but who were unwilling to do anything about it. He’d say, “Nigger, free thyself!”

    He had a big influence on me.

  58. The unions are not near as racists as they used to be. Nor is Alabama. Many miles have been covered, many miles are still to go.

    Anyone who professes to support both freedom and card-check is a fucking dissembling hypocrite.

    It’s the equivalent of saying “I’m for equality, except for the fags. It’s in the Bible you know”.

  59. “to engage in, or to induce or encourage any individual employed by any person engaged in commerce or in an industry affecting commerce to engage in, a strike or a refusal in the course of his employment to use, manufacture, process, transport, or otherwise handle or work on any goods, articles, materials, or commodities or to perform any services”

    Completely eviscerating an employer’s freedom of association and then handing back a scrap isn’t what I’d call a disadvantage to unions.

    ” to picket or cause to be picketed, or threaten to picket or cause to be picketed, any employer where an object thereof is forcing or requiring an employer to recognize or bargain with a labor organization as the representative of his employees”

    Does this cover picketing that takes place off of the employer’s property? If it only covers picketing that takes place on the employer’s property or picketing that blocks access to the employer’s property, then it’s just reaffirming the employer’s property rights. If you’re going to argue that laws against trespassing are a disadvantage to unions then you might as well argue that laws against assault and murder are too.

  60. MNG,
    I can cherry pick, too. I meant the rest of the provisions – they give the union power over the private property of the employer. The union can say who can do what job or run which piece of equipment, even though it does not belong to the employee.

  61. The Government doesn’t really “back” unions, they force unions and employers to play by certain rules.

    Depending on what those rules are, I think it could be fair to say that the government backs unions.

    If those rules, say, require employers to recognize unions under certain circumstances, require employers to accept collective bargaining terms in certain circumstances, etc., then I would say that, yes, the government backs unions, because it requires the employers to (a) do business with the unions (b) on the union’s terms.

  62. The simple fact is that many establishments simply CHOSE to not serve blacks. That’s right, they turned down their money, voluntarily.

    And here is the deal:
    A business that doesn’t chose to put up that sign over time has an economic advantage over those that do.

    Hence free market capitalism and freedom of association.

    It takes the law and government to enforce those policies (this being the reason that oh so liberal European countries have been able to be more racist overall)

    Even if the majority of clients are racists and would prefer to shop in only white establishments, it is only a short time before they start to notice that clients that are not so racist get the better deals.

    Again, only GOVERNMENT force can continue racism.

  63. Since the AFL was a craft union for the first 50 to 60 years of its existence it isn’t surprising that it would find ways to exclude people. Craft unions are analogous to guilds and guilds by their very nature exclusionary. Why are they so? Well for one thing, they try to drive up prices by being exclusionary. This of course ends up screwing over a lot of people who aren’t in the guild/Union, but that is sort of the point.

    Now, the CIO, which basically emerged from the AFL, before both organizations merged again in the 1950s, wasn’t based on the craft union mentality and I think that is probably one of the reasons why its history regarding race is much less problematic than that of the AFL.

  64. MNG,
    It reminds of me of people bitching about having to join a union to work at a job, as if you have some right to that job. Don’t want to work in a union shop? Don’t apply there. At a non-union shop that goes union? Go work somewhere else.

    I’m cross posting from your comments on the other thread. Will you do as I did, and defend the apparent hole in your logic? You know, the one where workers who don’t like unions can just leave if they want, but workers who don’t like the pay are being oppressed by teh evil corps.

  65. Oh, FTG, you’d be satisfied by nothing less than the unions being champions of civil rights in an age where every other organization was highly tinged with racism, no doubt.

    Don’t pretend to construe what satisfies me, MNG. The point here is that you cannot say on the one hand that unions were wonderful and, on the other, say that they can be excused from being racists because everybody else was.

    As to your repeated question, unions give advantages to employees that they represent, and many racist unions did not represent blacks, hence they did not advantage them.

    Which is the point – you cannot say then that unions are good for employees overall. It is clear they are good for SELECTED employees, which doesn’t make a union better than a guild.

    I’m not sure what point you think you’ve stumbled into here..

    That the argument that unions are needed because they give advantages to *The Worker* over the callousness and profit-seeking of employers.

    Of course, there were some indirect advantages: by driving the “going” wage up, all workers gained some, even the ones hired to undercut labor wages got higher than they may not otherwise.

    What REALLY happens is that the employer cannot receive the economic advantage of workers that are willing to work for less, thus making the cost of production higher than needs to be. This reflects in two things: less workers hired and higher selling prices. The advantage may be for a few workers, plus their union bosses, but to the detriment of the rest.

  66. I think the mere fact that it took active government efforts to enforce segregation illustrates that it wasn’t a market problem. Indeed, since much of what we term Jim Crow and the like were laws created in order to create a permanent economic underclass – in other words, race-based economic regulation was put in place – we see how much the redeemer governments of the South and those that followed recognized the power of the market as a disturber of the prevailing economic order. It is indeed rather odd to attack the market view for Southern segregation in light of the above.

    It is also rather odd when one considers that many of the most successful activities of the civil rights movement were market based ones; how else can one describe the Montgomery Bus Boycott?

  67. guess it must be dinner time now.

  68. But you can’t deny that while those who may be harmed by minimum wage laws are disproportionately non-white, I doubt you’d want to deny that disproportionately most of the beneficiaries of those laws are also non-white (meaning a disproportionately large amount of people who are paid the minimum wage are non-white).

    If you’re going to hire unskilled labor above its market value, would you rather have the black man you don’t know, or your union buddy’s teenage kid? Even if you’re not racist you’re going to go with the latter. While not all union policies were covertly racist, they were ALL “groupist” in that they were all designed to serve the interests of the currently employed group.

    I’ve seen unions try to organize, and it’s often explicitly racist. Here in Silicon Valley there’s often talk of “unionizing” software developers. The excuse is invariably to protect us from cheap brown developers in India. Even licensing proposals, to register engineers with the state or the Fed, is couched in us-vs-them terms.

    Yeah, everyone was racists back in the twenties, and a lot of people are still racist today. But that is no excuse for unions to be given carte blanc [sic].

  69. Even Lefty Spielberg didn’t gloss over in his movie that Mr. Schindler was hiring Jews because they were cheaper than the Poles and better at their work. Only later does he see that he’s contributing to some Uber-Control-Freak’s insane vision.

    The gist of the movie is that Schindler is an amoral person that ironically behaves more morally than the self-proclaimed moral ones.

  70. And I thought businesspersons were there to sell things to customers, and there were black customers-what happened to that?

    The railroads sided with Plessy.

  71. back in a time when pretty much everyone was racist

    Did you go to public school in California?

    The bus companies did not put blacks in the back of the bus. It is the police that boarded the buses in Savanah G. A. and arrested the bus drivers for ignoring the *government law* requiring blacks to ride in the back of the bus.

    Ditto the railroads. Once the trains moved north of the Mason Dixon line the curtains came down and blacks were permitted to move freely about the cabin looking for white women to marry.

  72. TWC-If you want to make the allegation that all, or even most, as opposed to many, of those businesses that discrminated against blacks did so against their will and only because of relevant law, then by all means do so. I’d like to see your evidence. Notice that MikeP, above, FTG both declined to say something so silly above.

    Why do you think the Civil Rights movement felt the need to ask, in 1964, not just for an end to the government laws segregating them but also for a public accomodations measure? Were they mad?

    FTG
    “you cannot say then that unions are good for employees overall.”

    I thought you were going there, but I wanted to give you a chance to step back from the cliff. Because what you just said is about as dumb as saying that “corporations are not good for shareholders overall, but just a select few holders.” Of course, corporations are good to their holders, and unions are good to their workers.

    Of course, when shareholders fight for their rights or to get legislation passed for shareholders rights it benefits all shareholders. Ditto unions.

    “What REALLY happens is that the employer cannot receive the economic advantage of workers that are willing to work for less, thus making the cost of production higher than needs to be”

    This is always funny. Economic efficiency, poorly understood, trumps everything. So if we find, for example, that if a greater portion of owner profits were put into R&D or employee benefits productivity would increase then an owner is morally wrong to continue to retain the previous “less efficient” level of profit?

  73. Domo
    I don’t think it’s a problem for me, as I was just tired of hearing libertarians say what you admit is a logical hole of an argument and had some fun with it. The fun comes from ya’lls strange ass idea of voluntary and freedom, which I don’t share. If you really believe in what you say, then you should tell people who whine about “having” to work in a union environment the same thing I said in that thread. Ditto for the card check thing actually (if you don’t want to sign it, don’t).

    My fundamental starting point is different. I start out with thinking that coercion is OK if it maximizes more people’s “opportunities to exercise autonomy” (freedom) overall.

    I think that since bargaining position imbalances put employees in a tight spot where they often accept less than ideally voluntary terms that it is OK to coerce employers some in order to further the opportunies of employees (because there are so many more of the latter).

    I’m less worried about “union economic coercion” than “employer economic coercion” because 1. every work situation has an employer that you must work, but relatively few have union shops and 2. the union is democratic, employers are not.

    Forcing you to join something you have a say in is less egregious than forcing you to join something you don’t.

  74. “Even if the majority of clients are racists and would prefer to shop in only white establishments, it is only a short time before they start to notice that clients that are not so racist get the better deals.

    kwais
    You’re falling into a common mistake concerning economics. Economics, as some here have pointed out, is not just about money transactions and money profits, but about anything people value.

    Many racists value shopping at racist enterprises. They are willing to pay a premium for it just like a Vegan will pay more to shop in an animal friendly grocery store. They may be paying a bit more than the non-racist, but that’s fine with them, because they are getting value for what they pay for.

    And so the market doesn’t necessarily magically fight racism like you think.

    The civil rights movement knew this when they did not stop at asking for elmination of government provisions, but also asked for protections in the market. They were’nt crazy you know.

  75. If you want to make the allegation that all, or even most, as opposed to many, of those businesses that discrminated against blacks did so against their will and only because of relevant law, then by all means do so.

    It doesn’t matter what their will is. It only matters what is profitable — which, in general, is what is economically efficient.

    I think we would all agree that is economically inefficient to discriminate against customers or workers for superficial reasons. If I am a racist, it costs me to do so.

    But if, through the state, I can impose those same costs on all my competitors, then it doesn’t cost me to be racist.

    My will to discriminate is immaterial in my success in running a discriminatory enterprise. It’s whether I can impose my will on my competitors that determines whether I will be successful running a discriminatory enterprise.

  76. MNG,
    I thought you were going there, but I wanted to give you a chance to step back from the cliff.[Yeah, I see you revel in irrelevance. You don’t have to tell me] Because what you just said is about as dumb as saying that “corporations are not good for shareholders overall, but just a select few holders.” Of course, corporations are good to their holders, and unions are good to their workers.

    MNG, it blows my mind when you compare what I said with a genuinely stupid thing like “corporations are not good for shareholders overall, but just a select few holders.” Of course Corporations are going to be good for THEIR shareholders because these are staking THEIR money on that particular corporation, and not ANOTHER (duh!).

    The issue is with the argument in favor of unions, that they are good for The Worker. If they are good for their workers, it should not be of consequence because, supposedly, and according to Il Duce (who happens to talk ex cathedra), unions ARE GOOD for workers in general – that is, there should be more unions.

    Of course, when shareholders fight for their rights or to get legislation passed for shareholders rights it benefits all shareholders.

    No, it does not. Shareholders have contractual rights – any other privileges that they may receive through legislation either makes their position weaker, or they provoke a moral hazard.

    This is always funny. Economic efficiency, poorly understood [Yes, guys, HE wrote that], trumps everything.

    And NOT poorly understood, it does NOT trump everything? What IS everything, or what do you mean by poorly understood? Your assertion makes it clear you somehow know the difference.

    So if we find, for example, that if a greater portion of owner profits were put into R&D or employee benefits productivity would increase then an owner is morally wrong[Yes, guys, HE wrote THAT one, too. I am not making this up] to continue to retain the previous “less efficient” level of profit?

    Why would his choice have moral implications? It is the owner’s money, is it not? If he wants to use it on chorus girls, it is HIS choice. The issue is limiting his choices through outside, coercive action, such as the unions practice. THAT’S immoral.

  77. “I think we would all agree that is economically inefficient to discriminate against customers or workers for superficial reasons. If I am a racist, it costs me to do so.”

    MikeP, I agree, but see my 6:28 post.

  78. FTG
    Unions are good for workers in the same way that hamburgers are good for a hungry person, if you have one they help you. Every worker would be helped if they had a union, and every hungry person would be helped if they had a hamburger. This is rather simple to understand, I should think.

    As to the other thing, you make my point for me, as you now correctly realize that what makes something morally wrong will have little to do with whether it is economically inefficient. So please don’t say the minimum wage laws are wrong because they are economically inefficient. It makes you look stupid.

  79. And you should brush up on your corporate law.

    Do you mean to say that legislation that empowers shareholder rights, for example by strengthening their hands in Board elections relative to management, is bad for the holders?

    WTF?

  80. Note when I say “this is rather simple to understand, I should think” I don’t mean “this is rather simple to agree with.” That’s not the same thing.

    But you act like you’ve “caught” me in some logical fallacy because I’ve said that unions are good for workers while acknowledging that unions represent their members more than workers that are not members.

    And you have’nt. And what’s the saddest thing is you can’t see that.

    But I’ll be here to explain it to you off and on throughout the nite if you need it.

  81. MNG,
    My fundamental starting point is different. I start out with thinking that coercion is OK if it maximizes more people’s “opportunities to exercise autonomy” (freedom) overall.

    This is nothing more than a variation of “the end justifies the means”.

    Problem is, you cannot valuate the end (the purportedly maximization of opportunities) if you cannot judge how the coercion will affect people’s decisions – this is where the Law of Unintended Consequences enters into play.

    On the other hand, you have a problem because you’re begging the question – you assume coercion WILL maximize opportunities in order to conclude that it is needed. You assume what you conclude. This is a logical fallacy, if you want to know.

    It is also a contradiction – coercion means necessarily LIMITING a person’s actions through force. You cannot say that something that limits a person’s actions (his freedom) will maximize opportunities and freedom overall. What if there is no coercion? Can you conclude that without coercion there will be LESS freedom? I would like to know how that works.

    I think that since bargaining position imbalances put employees in a tight spot where they often accept less than ideally voluntary terms that it is OK to coerce employers some in order to further the opportunities of employees (because there are so many more of the latter).

    This again, begs the question – you ASSUME “less than ideal voluntary terms” (jeez, and a contradiction to boot!), in order to conclude that a person should bargain for better terms. The problem here is that a person accepts terms VOLUNTARILY, the conditions were perfectly ideal for BOTH parties, otherwise the contract would not have been signed. Collective bargaining is just a form of ganging up on an employer to extort better wages that otherwise would not have been offered, but that is NOT voluntary at all.

    I’m less worried about “union economic coercion” than “employer economic coercion” because 1. every work situation has an employer that you must work,

    Bzzzz!! Sorry, you BEG THE QUESTION again – what do you mean by “an employer you must work [for]? Do employees work for someone at gunpoint?

    2. the union is democratic, employers are not.

    This is a non sequitur. What does that have to do with anything?


    Forcing you to join something you have a say in is less egregious than forcing you to join something you don’t.

    You have a funny way of conceptualizing “force”. If you are FORCED to join something, it is deduced that it was without your SAY, regardless of how much “say” you have afterwards, so how can that be less egregious than FORCING you to join where you do not have SAY? Your rights were violated equally.

  82. FTG,

    Well, more to the point, in any workplace unions are clearly bad for some segment of that workplace’s staff. They would – because of talent, drive, etc. – do better on their own than they would in a collective. I will note that along with non-Union employees these are the people who have largely born the brunt of Union violence (well, them and members of competing Unions).

  83. Lord FTG, please tell me where you took Intro to Logic.

    “On the other hand, you have a problem because you’re begging the question – you assume coercion WILL maximize opportunities in order to conclude that it is needed.”

    Of course not. I conclude that “that which maximizes opportunities to exercise autonomy” is a morally correct thing to do. And I think certain coercions on employers will in fact do that, which is what makes them morally good. If they do not in fact do that then of course they are not morally good.

    Where in the world do you see question begging in that? It’s no different than you saying “I think things that reduce coercion are morally good, and I think ending forced collective bargaining will reduce coercion therefore it is morally good.” What you’ve said there would be wrong, but not question begging.

    But then again I seem to understand what it means to beg the question…

  84. MNG,
    Unions are good for workers in the same way that hamburgers are good for a hungry person, if you have one they help you.

    This is ridiculous. This is a terribly bad analogy – a person can perfectly work without having to be on a union. A hungry person and a worker are NOT analogous.

    Every worker would be helped if they had a union, and every hungry person would be helped if they had a hamburger. This is rather simple to understand, I should think.

    No, this is a non sequitur – it does NOT follow that every worker is helped if they had a union.

    As to the other thing, you make my point for me, as you now correctly realize that what makes something morally wrong will have little to do with whether it is economically inefficient.

    No, you nincompoop, you got it all wrong. What you said made NO sense because you were trying to imply a moral choice over an economic choice, but using an example where there could NOT possibly be a moral choice!

    So please don’t say the minimum wage laws are wrong because they are economically inefficient. It makes you look stupid.

    MNG, you knucklehead, the problem with Minimum Wage Laws is that they COERCE people into hiring more expensive labor – the COERCION IS what’s IMMORAL. Making a person choose the less economically efficient choice IS immoral, because it is MEDDLING with HIS property, HIS decisions. If the person makes the choice to hire more expensive people, it could mean a WRONG CHOICE, but not an IMMORAL choice, because it is still HIS choice, HIS money, HIS property.

  85. Forcing you to join something you have a say in is less egregious than forcing you to join something you don’t.

    People don’t have a say in who they work for?

  86. MNG,

    I’m not going to get into your corporation versus union haggle except to note that corporation is to shareholders as union is to union members, not as union is to workers.

    The foundation of most of your argument rests on that flaw.

  87. “It is also a contradiction – coercion means necessarily LIMITING a person’s actions through force. You cannot say that something that limits a person’s actions (his freedom) will maximize opportunities and freedom overall.”

    Sure I can. If coercing person A frees up person B and C to an exent that is greater than the restrictions on A.

    I mean, you think coercion of robbers and rapists is a good thing right?

    “The problem here is that a person accepts terms VOLUNTARILY, the conditions were perfectly ideal for BOTH parties, otherwise the contract would not have been signed”

    Nutty. If I said “I will beat you to a pulp unless you sign this contract”, and you sign it, then it wasn’t voluntary, was it? So the fact that someone signs something or seems to assent to it does not make it ideally voluntary, now does it?

    “what do you mean by “an employer you must work [for]? Do employees work for someone at gunpoint?”

    I mean simply that, by defintion, an employment situation must have an employer and an employee. Hence if, as I believe, employers can usually exert pressure on employees, and, as I admit, so can a union, the latter bothers me less because a person can find more easily a situation without a union than he can without an employer. By definition he can’t find the latter!

    Dude, did you get a Logic book from a friends of the library sale or something? I commend you knowing a little about this stuff, but you know what they say about a little bit of knowledge…

  88. FTG,

    This is a non sequitur. What does that have to do with anything?

    You’d be better to ask whether Unions are democratic in practice, as opposed to in theory. It is perhaps more likely that they are oligarchic (though there are exceptions one must contend in looking at that potentiality), per Michel’s iron law of oligarchy.

  89. “the problem with Minimum Wage Laws is that they COERCE people into hiring more expensive labor – the COERCION IS what’s IMMORAL”

    OK, that at least makes sense. Improvement. It’s the coercion that bothers you.

    So please leave the “it’s economically infefficient therefore its bad” stuff alone, OK?

  90. Jordan
    Calm down. Yes, they do. Both in the case of union-shops and in the case of employer terms.

    That was my point.

    See?

  91. FTG,

    In other words, the notion that Unions are as a rule “democratic” flies in the face of what has generally been observed regarding human groupings of any significant size. Oligarchy seems to be the most likely outcome in part because of the transaction costs associated with decision making in large groups.

  92. MNG,
    I conclude that “that which maximizes opportunities to exercise autonomy” is a morally correct thing to do.

    That is NOT what you said. You said THIS:
    “I start out with thinking that coercion is OK if it maximizes more people’s “opportunities to exercise autonomy” (freedom) overall.”

    That is, COERCION is GOOD if it maximizes opportunities.

    And I think certain coercions on employers will in fact do that, which is what makes them morally good.

    And I have shown you that you cannot value the end result in order to conclude the means (the coercions) were good. You cannot know that because of Unintended Consequences – people CHANGE their behavior when facing incentives or coercions, so you cannot say that, at the end, the result was BETTER than another result sans coercions.

    If they do not in fact do that then of course they are not morally good.

    You beg the question, again. Just because you THINK a *result* is morally acceptable does not mean IT IS, or that the MEANS to achieve it are morally acceptable.

    Where in the world do you see question begging in that?

    In assuming what you want to prove – again, you are assuming MORALLY ACCEPTABLE results when, in fact, you cannot KNOW those results a priori, not when it comes to people’s choices!

    “I think things that reduce coercion are morally good, and I think ending forced collective bargaining will reduce coercion therefore it is morally good.”

    Don’t pretend to construe what I think. I have not said anything like that. I start from the premise that coercion (aggressive behavior) is morally wrong, and that is it – there is nothing else to add.

    Begging the question is a form of circular thinking, where you assume your conclusion is correct, implicitly or explicitly, in your premises. In the case of COERCION, you already assume the results of COERCION are good in order to conclude that coercion MUST be good. That’s circular thinking, that’s Begging the Question.

  93. MikeP, I agree, but see my 6:28 post.

    I saw your 6:28 post.

    And so the market doesn’t necessarily magically fight racism like you think.

    You claim that some people will behave in a racist fashion even if there is a cost. That is true. But many, many more will behave in a racist fashion if there is no cost. Thus the racist proprietors change the law to stanch the market.

    This is an argument for free markets and against government coercion, no matter how you slice it.

  94. Oh, FTG, you miss the point so much in your anti-union rage. You are delightful fun!

    I didn’t say a hungry person is like a worker, I said unions are good for workers in the way that hamburgers are good for hungry people, IF YOU HAVE ONE THEY HELP YOU.

    Seward
    Sorry for the caps, I know you don’t like the shouting, but this man needs help (c’mon, you and MikeP know it, I can tell).

    I am a big fan of Michels and his law. But since I’m simply comparing the relative influence an employee could have on his union (an oligarchy) to his employer (a total dictatorship, at least as long as he wants to continue employment), my point I think stands.

    MikeP
    Yes, you’re correct, my point was that saying that one can’t hold “unions are good for workers” and recognize that any given union has not, or does not, work for the immediate good of every given worker, is not some logical fallacy. I think you get that.

  95. FTG,

    Minimum wage laws are both coercive and they are economically inefficient. Sort of a double barreled problem.

  96. MikeP
    I’m not sure we are disagreeing.

    I think markets do exert a subtle logic that disfavors irrational discrimination (this is partly why market societies have more opportunities for women).

    But I think in places where large majorities share the irrational prejudice upon which the discrimination is based it can take the market a very, very long time to eradicate this.

    And of course I agree that a law of discrimination is far, far worse.

    Let me know where we disagree here.

  97. MikeP,

    Well, since we are roughly as segregated as a society as we were in the mid to late 1960s it seems that government efforts to end such have come to naught. I think this illustrates the limits of government coercion, at least in a relatively free society. People self-segregate in other words.

    Now, in non face to face or casual relationships, people who aren’t your neighbors in other words, people you engage within the marketplace with, well, the marketplace appears to do a very good job of breaking down those sorts of barriers.

  98. MNG,

    I see you also revel in intellectual dishonesty. Ok, I’m game.

    Sure I can. If coercing person A frees up person B and C to an extent that is greater than the restrictions on A.

    And this applies to employers and employees . . . How? because, so far, we have been limiting our discussion to that, not expanding it to kidnappers.

    I mean, you think coercion of robbers and rapists is a good thing right?

    See? I told you – you revel in intellectual dishonesty.

    “The problem here is that a person accepts terms VOLUNTARILY, the conditions were perfectly ideal for BOTH parties, otherwise the contract would not have been signed”

    Nutty. If I said “I will beat you to a pulp unless you sign this contract”, and you sign it, then it wasn’t voluntary, was it?

    Of course not, but I do not know why you bring this up when what I said clearly indicates a voluntary transaction, not an involuntary one.

    So the fact that someone signs something or seems to assent to it does not make it ideally voluntary, now does it?

    I indicated the terms are accepted voluntarily, so I do not know why you keep being repetitious.

    I mean simply that, by definition, an employment situation must have an employer and an employee. Hence if, as I believe, employers can usually exert pressure on employees, [Why do you believe that?] and, as I admit, so can a union, the latter bothers me less because a person can find more easily a situation [sic] without a union than he can without an employer.

    I did not understand what you tried to say. The person can find more easily WHAT situation?

    I commend you knowing a little about this stuff, but you know what they say about a little bit of knowledge…

    There’s a lot of petulance here, MNG, for someone who cannot argue nor write meaningful sentences, like I show above. English is not my mother tongue, and yet I strive to make my writing as clear and understandable as possible – I see that you do not even bother.

  99. Seward
    My point is that if Excessive Profits (or some such nonsense) were demonstrably economically inefficient then that would not make it right to cap them. And I’m sure FTG agrees. And so anyone whose sole argument against the morality of the minimum wage is the bare economic one is not doing much…

    My own thinking about such laws is more complicated than you might think. There are a class of people, folks who employers might have been thinking about employing but who estimate that the money that employing these folks will make them is less than the cost of paying them the minimum wage would be, who are indeed screwed by such laws. But there is a class of people who get payed the minimum wage because of the law who would not have got that high of a wage had the law not been there. They are benefited.

    You have to weigh both in thinking about whether it maximizes overall welfare (the measure of whether it is correct or not, for me, a utilitarian, note it is different than, though of course tied to, what empirically is going on).

    I respect that if your main goal is less coercion, then the minimum wage is indefensible even if the benefits from the latter class are larger than the harm to the former.

  100. Anyway, it is hard to imagine how anyone could argue that Jim Crow, etc. was a “market failure.” The laws enacted by the redeemer governments were put there to halt what was happening via voluntary actions within the marketplace, not to enhance them. Which is why all those vagrancy laws, new restrictions on the right to contract, etc. were put in place.

  101. But I think in places where large majorities share the irrational prejudice upon which the discrimination is based it can take the market a very, very long time to eradicate this.

    Perhaps. But we can be assured that if such prejudices can be enforced via a democratic vote in such places, it will take much, much longer.

    And of course I agree that a law of discrimination is far, far worse.

    So you now agree that allowing unions to enforce explicitly or implicitly discriminatory practices through the state is bad?

  102. MNG,

    I would have less of a problem with either SSI, medicare, or a minimum wage if they were voluntary. Heck, you could even make it a “you must opt out” sort provision. Then people could self-select what they want and modern liberals would also be happy.

  103. “And this applies to employers and employees . . . How”

    Because I don’t assume (talk about begging the question) that an employer in an employment agreement can’t be coercing someone because he isn’t doing what a kidnapper does. This is (one thing at least) that you are missing.

    Dude, we are going to waste a lot less time if you know something about me: I don’t assume that coercion is limited to physical force and fraud. In fact, I think to do so is this begging the question you seem so hung up on. Think about it.

    “employers can usually exert pressure on employees, [Why do you believe that?”

    Sorry, I explained that on another thread. Quick version:
    Employers have more resources than employees.
    They have the “means of production” as well as more wealth usually. They also at least have their own labor. Employees often have no means of production, and you can’t make something out of nothing no matter how much labor you put into it. Those two things mean an employer can wait out most employees fairly easily.

  104. MikeP,

    Well, the fact that we’ve basically given eradicating racism via the state I think illustrates how much steam has been let out of the engine behind such government efforts. Modern liberals basically lost that fight and I’m not quite sure why we don’t realize this.

  105. “So you now agree that allowing unions to enforce explicitly or implicitly discriminatory practices through the state is bad?”

    Oh, please MikeP, I thought we respected each other! I’m not some cheap slut who will agree to such a broad claim without knowing what you mean by it so you can turn around and fuck me! What kind of a girl do you think I am ;).

  106. I didn’t say a hungry person is like a worker, I said unions are good for workers in the way that hamburgers are good for hungry people, IF YOU HAVE ONE THEY HELP YOU.

    And I showed your that your analogy is not correct, because workers are not like hungry people with a hamburger – you CANNOT know if a union actually HELPS a worker.

    (For that matter, one cannot know if a hamburger helps a hungry person. It may help ME, it may help YOU, but you cannot BE the hungry person to know it helped HIM. Only HE knows.)

  107. MikeP,

    Err, “given up.”

    And despite all the rhetoric about Unions coming back, it seems rather unlikely. Americans as a general rule would rather start up their own business than be “organization” people either in a company or a union. I guess that Jeffersonian streak is still alive and well in the American psyche.

  108. “if they were voluntary”

    Dude, that defeats the bills, really. SSI and Medicare are mandatory because they are meant to take care of ANYONE who does something stupid or has bad luck and ends up old and with nothing and we don’t want that person to suffer horribly. If people could opt out, and some did, and end up in that situation, then isn’t the thing defeated?

    And come on, a “voluntary” minimum wage laws would just be freedom to contract. The whole point is that the parties are prohibited from going around that. If they could, what would be left of the law?

  109. FTG
    You are funny man. If only your capability matched your zeal…

    According to you we cannot know if anything helps anything. That’s a hilarious relativism.

  110. Because I don’t assume (talk about begging the question) that an employer in an employment agreement can’t be coercing someone because he isn’t doing what a kidnapper does.[sic]

    This is RIDICULOUS, MNG, just ridiculous. You know the meaning of the words you actually WRITE? Do you know that you wrote “agreement” in the above statement? What do you think an AGREEMENT is?

    “employers can usually exert pressure on employees, [Why do you believe that?”

    Sorry, I explained that on another thread.

    You didn’t. You actually contradicted yourself on that one.

    Quick version: Employers have more resources than employees.

    Irrelevant. Move on, please.

    They have the “means of production” as well as more wealth usually.

    Irrelevant. Move on.

    Employees often have no means of production, and you can’t make something out of nothing no matter how much labor you put into it.

    Move on.

    Those two things mean an employer can wait out most employees fairly easily.

    And?

  111. I mean, you CANNOT know if being forced into a union, or a circus act for that matter, ACTUALLY harms a worker. That kind of thing may harm ME, it may harm YOU, but you cannot know if it harms HIM.

    lol

  112. Seward nailed pretty much @6:55. A union cannot be all things to all people (that it represents.) I belong to a union. When contract time comes some members get sold down the river and others come way out ahead. The union leadership only cares about passage of the contract because it throws in some perks for itself once the contract is passed.

    So a union just determines how it can coax certain seniority groupings to vote yes.

    Look at the UAW. The new guys don’t get the sweet pension deals but the old guys are grandfathered in. Some fucking brotherhood that is!

  113. According to you we cannot know if anything helps anything. That’s a hilarious relativism.

    I can know what helps ME, and how to achieve it. That’s called purposeful action. I cannot know what helps my neighbor unless I ask HIM. I do not go around assuming what can help this person or that person because I am not THEM. I even less assume that what I guess will help them, in fact, WILL help them. That’s arrogance.

    Because we cannot KNOW about people’s wants, we have ADVERTISEMENT, among other tools. If we could *KNOW* people’s needs, producers would not need BILLBOARDS.

  114. MNG,

    Well, charity would deal with the former, as it does today. Indeed, we all acknowledge that neither government program exclusively takes care of anyone when they retire, etc., and it is unlikely that short of bankrupting the federal government that they ever will.

    As for the latter, for most people it wouldn’t matter (we’re talking under 2% to 3% of the population here), and for those who would like to exercise this option it would open the market to people who are less experienced, have poor work histories, etc. Indeed, that is one of the major problems with minimum wage laws; it gentrifies employment. It harms the least employable workers.

  115. FTG
    Are you for real? C’mon, is this Urkobold f*&$ing with me?

    OK, here it is.

    People need stuff to live.
    Employers have more stuff than employees.
    Employers also tend to have the stuff that makes more stuff.
    People can’t just take stuff from other people.
    Since people all need stuff, and since the employer has more stuff and can make stuff himself in ways the employee cannot, he will always have more and can hold out longer for his terms than the employee.

  116. I mean, you CANNOT know if being forced into a union, or a circus act for that matter, ACTUALLY harms a worker. That kind of thing may harm ME, it may harm YOU, but you cannot know if it harms HIM.

    You wrote the word *force* above. Unless we are talking about a masochist, you cannot say that being FORCED to do something cannot harm a person. To force someone means by definition to make him do something against his or her wishes or decisions.

  117. And of course I agree that a law of discrimination is far, far worse.

    MNG, I presume again that you are for open borders.

  118. Anyway, I hope everyone has a fine Friday night. 🙂

  119. The problem is that the Liberal thinks of the worker as well, the worker-a collective entity. Libertarians look at the worker as a single human being.

    It’s why Joe left. He couldn’t grasp that someone was a human being first and then secondarily African-American, a banker, a dad, a stamp-collector, etc. He was so caught up in the group that he thinks anyone who refuses to speak his language is purposefully trying to fuck with him.

  120. Seward
    I understand your objections to the minimum wage law, my point is that IF the wage laws “worked” they would do so because they do not let people bargain around them. So it’s pretty meaningless to say “I would be for it if people could bargain around it.” The whole point of the law is to keep people from doing that!

    As to the SSI and Medicare stuff, we simply cannot and should not count on charity to take care of that stuff. Really. They had charity in the Depression. Lots of it. But the majority of voters fairly immediately saw that this would not be a sufficient and reliable thing they could count on.

  121. MNG,
    People need stuff to live.
    Employers have more stuff than employees.

    Oh, mine . . . Ok. I work at a cement plant, and I don’t care much for the stuff that the plant has, because I cannot put a 145 FT kiln in my living room. This argument is specious, and I am being kind.


    Employers also tend to have the stuff that makes more stuff.

    They don’t *tend* to have the CAPITAL GOODS to produce goods – they HAVE them.

    Since people all need stuff, and since the employer has more stuff and can make stuff himself in ways the employee cannot, he will always have more and can hold out longer for his terms than the employee.

    AND? What’s your POINT, MNG? Just say it.

  122. Employers go out of business everyday and lose all their capital. Get real!

  123. MikeP
    No.

    I said that upthread. Please get to what you are getting at with the open borders thing!

    FTG
    “you cannot say that being FORCED to do something cannot harm a person”

    Argh. Did you forget that I have a differnt idea of what forced includes? It would include a lot of things you call “voluntary” or “agreements.”

    But anyway, of course a person can be forced to do something which does not harm him, but benefits him ultimately. Like interventions dude.

  124. jester,

    I think in some very important ways that the libertarian is essentially the current end-point of anti-nomian romanticism (here in a secular sense) which laid its roots in “America” with the activities of such figures as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. Indeed, it would not surprise me if Emerson and Thoreau were popular (at least at one time in their lives) amongst libertarians.

  125. Seward | March 13, 2009, 7:13pm | #
    FTG,

    Minimum wage laws are both coercive and they are economically inefficient.

    Slavery was the most economically efficient.

  126. MNG,

    And I am suggesting that unfunded government pension schemes have been essentially a failure where ever they have come into being; that failure is illustrated by the sorry state of SSI. So let people opt out of them or scrap them and mandate that they be funded. If the latter, well, one could create a system where choice within the system was significant.

  127. FTG
    You are a delightful trip!

    Of course I don’t mean you want the specific stuff your employer has. He can trade that stuff for money, which can be traded for the stuff you need (food, shelter, clothes) to live. And he has more stuff to trade for that than you do. Trust me!

    And I said my point. Given that you need this stuff to live, and that when you run out you cannot take it but can only get it from consent of one who does have it, then you will have to agree to his (those who have it, which will more often be the employer because he started with more and can make more without your consent) terms to get that stuff or die (since you need it).

  128. Please get to what you are getting at with the open borders thing!

    Isn’t it obvious? Immigration law marks the most egregiously discriminatory abrogation of rights perpetrated by the state today.

    Someone in tune with morality, opportunities to exercise autonomy, and utilitarianism should see that pretty clearly, no?

  129. Seward
    Are you arguing that because social security is often not enough for a poor old person to live off of that it would be better had not had that and instead had what he could have invested?

    I mean, anybody who needs the ss to live has shown they are not a good investor, so they probably would be getting LESS from their own investements than the insufficient funds they do get from ss.

  130. *,

    Well, that depends upon the slave society in question. I’m not one of these people who thinks that would have ended in the New World simply as a result of markets. Indeed, given the threat of state violence required to keep slaves in line it shouldn’t be surprising that violence against the state was a constant theme in the end of slavery across the New World. Even in the British Caribbean it was unsuccessful slave revolts (in old, significant colonies like Barbados and Jamaica) in the first thirty years of the 1800s which were significant spurs to Parliament to first end the slave trade and then end slavery altogether.

  131. It’s 8, I spend time with my daughter from 8-9, so I cannot reply MikeP, let’s just say that is a debate for a whole ‘nother thread and time!

    Take care all, and FTG, please oh please keep reading those logic books! The best is yet to come (for you).

  132. MNG,

    Well, alternatively they simply lacked access to the funds they would have had sans the SS tax; which would include what they contribute and what their employer contributes.

    I mean, anybody who needs the ss to live has shown they are not a good investor…

    Or that they lacked access to the funds that would have led to a higher rate of return than what the government gives them. There are opportunity costs here you are not acknowledging.

    I am also suggesting that unfunded government pension plans have a significant Achilles heel and that many governments have come to realize this in recent decades.

    Anyway, I really must head out the door.

  133. Ok…so pardon my ignorance on this whole thread but what the hell is the big deal? So Biden did not acknowledge the AFL’s racist past?! We are acting like we are surprised and shocked that racism exists. You go to East Hampton, you want to play golf? You better choose the one on the South side! The one in the East does not allow blacks or jews last time I checked. I mean you can get on it if you are not white…but you have to be staff. Point being…private corporations have a right to run their establishments as they see fit as long as they operate within the scope of the laws no? Most of America was built on cheap labor, slavery , and oppression. The point is to move forward and stop living in what was.

    Someone enlighten me please…

    Seward: James Michener’s “The Caribbean” has amazing accounts of how slavery began, was operated, and the gruesome revolts.

  134. Slavery was the most economically efficient.

    Not even close.

    First of all, from a theoretical view, trading is simply more efficient than not trading. The more that can be traded, the more efficient the economy. Holding such a valuable resource as a human’s labor in a pretty-much untradable state is far less efficient than allowing it to be freely traded.

    Is it possible if one could hold title on a human to industrialize the process and farm slaves out to the highest bidder, thus making their labor a tradable commodity? Perhaps, but why would the renter of the labor do that when he had free labor he could rent? After all, the marginal slave would, all other things being equal, rather be free. So free labor clearly underbids slave labor. It is but a short time before industrialized slaves are bought by someone who gives them nominally more freedom to sell their labor cheaper, and finally a matter of time before they become indentured and finally freed.

    Slavery is so fantastically inefficient economically that the state needed to enforce not only title in humans, but also subsidize it through fugitive slave measures and expensive precautions against uprisings. All that subsidy was at the expense of industry and free labor who had to pay those costs while all the advantage went to slaveowners.

    Of course if you believe — as you should — that it is axiomatic that a human owns his own freedom, slavery is wildly, wildly inefficient. Since a person values his freedom above his labor, every slave represents a giant minus sign on the grand accounting sheet of the economy.

  135. So Biden did not acknowledge the AFL’s racist past?!

    Actually, it’s not likely that Talky Joe even knows about it. Lefties are pretty good at ignoring and suppressing information that would undermine their message.

    -jcr

  136. he will always have more and can hold out longer for his terms than the employee.

    Interesting hypothesis, but it’s bullshit, as anyone who ever tried to hire someone and lost them to another employer can tell you. There isn’t just one employer out there.

    -jcr

  137. John C. Randolph

    Aren’t all parties guilty of”ignoring and suppressing information that would undermine their message.”?

  138. Now hear this, back in a time when pretty much everyone was racist…

    Ah, yes, the old liberal Democrat’s trope, every time the subject is brought up. “Everyone was racist back then.”

    Bullshit!! Not everyone was a racist back then.

    Read the stuff from the Radical Republicans from the Civil War to Wilson Administration times. Look at the efforts those people made to advance the prospects of blacks in society.

    Read the speeches of Abraham Lincoln. Don’t rely on the out of context quotes from the old Democrats (and the neo-confederates at lewrockwell.com). These were people who rewrote history to label the Republicans as “Carpetbaggers” and “Nigger-lovers”.

    Yes, the great-grand-children of the people who were lynched by Democrats are now reliable members of that party.

    And yes the great-grand-children of the Democrats who did the lynching are now Republicans.

    But that just demonstrates the fluidity of political labels.

    But then the great-grand-children of the Irish louts who traveled from one construction job or mining camp to another and intimidated by violence the “chinks” and “niggers” and forced them to leave are now respectable policymakers with graduate degrees in planning and public policy and still stand at the center of Democratic Party politics.

  139. The point is to move forward and stop living in what was.

    Cindhi, I guess many disagree with what “moving forward” means. And Biden and his crew believes that the Unions represent “moving forward”

    While many here think that the unions represent backward ugliness like the racism they used to represent (and still do).

    Racism of then, and the racism of today require the same government coercion that the Unions stand for.

  140. But that just demonstrates the fluidity of political labels.

    +1 QFT

    Aren’t all parties guilty of”ignoring and suppressing information that would undermine their message.”?

    +1 QFT

  141. Just getting in, but my 2 cents.

    Um, everyone was racist in the 20s and 30s.

  142. There were progressives back then and then there were individuals and organizations with more “establishment” ideas.

    But, yeah, the overall racism level was way higher then.

  143. Um, everyone was racist in the 20s and 30s.

    Ah, yes, the old liberal Democrat’s trope, every time the subject is brought up. “Everyone was racist back then.”

    This is supposed to justify the Democratic party’s sorry historical record on race.

    Read my comment at 11:18. If you disagree dispute it.

  144. Issac
    I don’t know what your point is. Surely you don’t want to hold the great grandchildren of racists accountable for what their great grandfathers did, right? So what counts is what the Democrats who exist now stand for and represent, and it is that which convinces 90% of African Americans that they are the better of the two parties on the issue of race.

    If you were a racist back in 1880 the Democratic Party would be a welcome place for you, and you would feel most unwelcome there if you were black, yes. But since about 1968 it is a most unwelcome place for racists and a most welcome one for blacks. The other party though, seems to be the one most racists in the present are more comfortable with and most blacks feel most welcome in.

  145. most blacks feel unwelcome in, I meant.

    A black republican meeting can usually be held in a tool shed with plenty space to spare…

  146. Isaac,

    Americans have a shameful history on race. But it was the Democrats who sacrificed a generation of political wins by passing the Civil Rights Act. Meanwhile the Republicans are still using the politics of anti-black (and anti-hispanic) resentment. Not that it’s doing them any good.

  147. This is supposed to justify the Democratic party’s sorry historical record on race.

    How about their current racist activities? Here in California, those pinko racist bastards have managed to bring back segregation by pretending that they want to help minority students’ self-esteem.

    Kids with Spanish surnames get assigned to “bilingual education”, even if they’ve never spoken Spanish in their lives. Anything to keep the Mexicans away from the WASP Liberals’ daughters.

    -jcr

  148. But since about 1968 it is a most unwelcome place for racists

    Oh, not hardly. Racism abounds in the Democratic party. They’ve just figured out a new way to exploit minorities by turning them into a dependent voting bloc.

    -jcr

  149. @Tony

    “the Republicans are still using the politics of anti-black (and anti-hispanic) resentment”

    Powel,Rice, Steel?

    The unions are still being charmingly racist over this side of the pond

    http://www.anarchistblackcat.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2763&star

    Leftism basically puts you in the hands of someone else

    bureaucrats
    Unions
    Politicians

    which can be oK if those people aren’t racist

    if they are, you’re fucked

    Think about the 60s Bus boycotts in the south of the US
    if that was Europe the buses were nationalized and running at a loss

    so the boycott wouldn’t ahve actually done shit
    as the additional losses would be absorbed by the government

    Off course every lefty will tell you that buses should be nationalized

  150. “Oh, not hardly. Racism abounds in the Democratic party. They’ve just figured out a new way to exploit minorities by turning them into a dependent voting bloc”

    here here

  151. MNG

    Let me be clear. I am not talking of today’s elephants and donkeys. Indeed they have their own sins to attone for. But the historical record on where each party tended to stand on race is clear.

    What I want is for Democrats to admit “Our party was racist and it was wrong. The men who ran our party back then did everything in their power to obstruct any progress that blacks tried to make and slandered the white people who helped them. This generation of Democrats has see the error of those policies, apologise for it and we are trying to remedy those ills.”

    I especially want to see the end of the kneejerk “everyone was a racist back then” response every time the issue is raised. It is a lie.

    But this would all be too much like honesty wouldn’t it.

    But it was the Democrats who sacrificed a generation of political wins by passing the Civil Rights Act.

    Tony, I suggest you check the history. The Civil Rights Act was passed because a majority of Republicans supported it, the majority of Democrats opposed it. It would not have passed without the Republicans.

    Up until 1964 Barry Goldwater had supported every previous civil rights measure. LBJ had actively opposed them.

    Political alliances are fluid. Political loyalties are fleeting. In a generation you will likely see a completely different alignment of political coalitions and interest groups. Everyone will pretend that this is the way it has always been.

    It is also worth remembering that this criticism of the labor movement is directed at the AFL. The CIO’s record on race, while flawed and inconsistent, is much better.

  152. MaterialMonkee

    The bus boycotts were directed at city owned bus systems.

    The Memphis Garbage strike (when MLK was assassinated) was directed at the city of Memphis which had grotesquely discrimatory policies against black garbagemen. Being a garbageman was the only city position open to blacks and working conditions were horrendous.

  153. Isaac Bartram

    haha

    you learn something new everyday!

    That’s been one of my standard rants against nationalization for years

    I have many more but I’ll scrap that one!

  154. And please don’t think too much about the fact that for decades unions have been working hand in hand to fight what they see as racism!

    Well into the 1970s unions were blocking the advancement of black members. It took court action to force them to change.

    Barely three is not what one thinks of when one hears “for decades.”

  155. Anyone who divides humanity on the basis of skin color or other physical characteristic is a bigoted idiot. There is only ONE race of humans. That’s the truth! We aren’t Causasians, Africans, Asians…. we’re humans.

  156. “Up until 1964 Barry Goldwater had supported every previous civil rights measure. LBJ had actively opposed them.”

    Right. And after 1964 Goldwater and his party began to oppose these kinds of measures, often in a calculated way to win Southern votes, while LBJ and his party began to champion them, knowing they were going to lose those same votes. Which is what Tony said.

    “What I want is for Democrats to admit…”

    Go look at the 1972 Democratic Convention, when the New Left gave the backhand to the Dixiecrats that the latter never recovered from in the Party.

    And while you are at it take a look at the GOP convention of the same year. The Dixiecrats knew they had a place to go…

    And all of this can be said of unions too. Whatever U.S. unions racist past may, for the past several decades they have, often bravely, championed civil rights measures (as described in the link given in one of my posts upthread).

  157. “Well into the 1970s unions were blocking the advancement of black members. It took court action to force them to change.”

    Issac, I’m not sure what point you think this fact makes. The same can be said of businesses (heck, it could be said of them that well into the 2000’s some businesses are still doing that and courts are making them redress it), the military, universities, etc., etc….

  158. MNG

    None of what you said counters anything I’ve said.

    The kneejerk “everyone was a racist then” is simply not true. Since the 1700s there have been many white people who have championed the rights of black people. Some lost their lives over it.

    Now some of them were obnoxiously paternalistic as the encouraged the African to rise above his savage state and take his rightful place as a free and equal member of society (the implication being that the African would not be equal until then). But this “racism” hardly rises to the level of that expressed by the lynch mobs.

    Your instant kneejerk crack whenever any one criticizes someone you feel the need to defend (for reasons that, frankly, escape me) trivializes their lives just so you can pretend “your people” weren’t any worse than someone else’s “people”.

  159. And as for all the wonderful things that unions are doing now, frankly, I’m not much for giving gold stars and smiley faces to folks who are making no more than token efforts to remedy a situation they pretty much created in the first place.

  160. Issac
    I’m not sure what in the world your point is.

    Yes, the Democratic Party prior to the 1960’s was a more welcome place for a racist to be than the GOP at the time was. I said that upthread.

    I’m not sure what that means for you.

    Since the 1960’s the Democratic Party has been a less welcome place for racists than than the GOP.

    I am sure what that means, say, to the 90%+ of black folks who reliably vote for the former and not the latter. Blacks know that they should cast their vote on where any party is TODAY on the issue of racism. I should think a libertarian would certainly agree with that sentiment.

    Likewise for unions. It’s true that many unions had many racists in our past. My point is simply that this was true for the military, for universities, for churches, for most institutions, back in that time. Do you deny that? But in recent decades unions have taken rather strong stands against racism.

    Yes there were individuals who were not racist then. But you are not making a point about individuals, you are making one about organizations and institutions.

  161. “And as for all the wonderful things that unions are doing now, frankly, I’m not much for giving gold stars and smiley faces to folks who are making no more than token efforts to remedy a situation they pretty much created in the first place.”

    I mean, what in the world are you saying? That contemporary unions, though they act against racism now, should be blamed for what dead and gone union members in the past did?

    WTF? I bet you don’t believe in applying that standard to many other institutions apart from unions…

  162. My point is that you and every other Democrat needs to STFU with the “everyone was a racist” shit. It just isn’t true. Unless you think “everybody” is Woodrow Wilson (possibly the most racist preznit we ever had).

    So from now on when someone brings up some critisism of a favored democrat interest group and you reply “but OMG evaryeone then was a racist!!!!!!” I’ll just reply “shut the motherfucking fuck up already!!!!!, you ignorant slut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.

    Nothing more.

  163. Issac
    You are off the deep end with no floaties my friend.

    Of course “everyone” was not racist. But your point was about organizations, or rather an institution, the labor movement, unions. There were unions that were not racist and there were many that were pretty racist. But as I said, that really was true of pretty much every institution at the time. The military was racist back then. The academy was racist back then. The entertainment industry was racist back then. Big business was racist back then. Government was racist back then.

    What matters now is where these organizations stand today. Hating the Republican Party because it was the party of the North and you are a Southerner would be a crazy thing for a current Southerner to do. That situation has changed decades ago.

    Likewise it would be daft to hate on the labor movement because it was racist a hundred years ago. Or the Democrats. Or the military and the entertainment industry. Etc., Etc.,

  164. So MNG, if a corporation gave each of it’s workers at least one voting share of staock in the company than your issues with the disparity in powr would go away? Each worker would have a say in corporate governance.

  165. Likewise it would be daft to hate on the labor movement because it was racist a hundred years ago.

    I agree. There are many current reasons to despise the “labor” movement today, as anyone who’s had to deal with a union drayer or electrician at any trade show in Vegas, Chicago, or San Francisco can tell you.

    -jcr

  166. MJ
    As a general idea I think that employee stock purchases are a good thing.

    But of course it would be laughable to say my issues with disparity of power would go away by giving each person one share of stock.

    You might be suprised to find that I would probably oppose a law that “made” any corporation “give” away its stock to workers. That’s the holders stock and the corporation has a duty to maximize returns on it. Allowing employees to buy stock is another matter.

  167. “because it was racist a hundred years ago”

    hahahhaha

    hundred years ago?????????????

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5748780.ece

    get over the union masturbation mate

  168. MNG,

    et you argue that any disparity in power between a union boss and union member can be handwaved away by the union member being able to vote on union issues. So why does being able to vote on corporate governance not give a similar pass to a corporate employer?

  169. First word is “Yet”, dammit.

  170. One gets the impression that voting is a red herring. You actually cannot see that a union does not always benefit an individual worker, and you cannot see that an employer is not looking for a reason to screw their empoyees.

  171. I hate to tell you this but way back when Slavics, Greeks, Italians and Anglo Saxons were considered different races. They did not like each other and the bourgoise used this to divide them. The fact that such diverse groups came together to do the ‘wobble’ was at the time considered racial desegregation. They did draw the line it seems with Asians and Africans. That is true and not nice. By the 1950s, the unions needed to change and they didn’t, that is also true.

    What you should note is that private sector labor unions get most of their benefits by restricting people from competing with them. Those restrictions might be racial, No Blacks allowed to dig certain ditches. Or they might be educational, No one without a dental degree allowed to clean teeth for money. FWIW, I think Spengler said socialism is capitalism for the masses.

    Public sector unions need no such restrictions as they can enforce price(tax rates) with the police.

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