Economics

Meyerson: U.S. Should Adopt German Capitalism (and Unemployment?)

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The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson opens up his latest column with almost unseemly relish. "So what kind of capitalism shall we craft?" he writes. You can almost see him rubbing his hands together, perhaps warming them over a flaming copy of Capitalism and Freedom.

And then, as columnists do, he answers his own question: The German kind of capitalism. "In Germany," he writes, "manufacturing still dominates finance." And here, as in Germany, "corporations should be made legally answerable not just to shareholders but also to their employees and community."

One way to do this? Why, the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, of course, which will bring our workers the same conditions as those in Germany by letting unions organize workplaces without a secret ballot. Never mind that unemployment in Germany has hovered around 10 percent for over a decade. That "jobs crisis" we're currently experiencing? That's pretty much a permanent condition in Germany, thanks in large part to the kind of union-oriented, make-stuff-not-deals capitalism they practice. But Meyerson doesn't feel the need to mention that stat while trumpeting that "the German model focuses on stakeholders, not shareholder. Worker representatives sit on boards of directors, unionization remains high, income distribution is more equitable, social benefits are generous."

More on card check here, here, and here.

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  1. the German model focuses on stakeholders, not shareholder.

    But if people who have no reason to have a voice in what’s going on actually have no voice in what’s going on, that’s TOTALLY UNFAIR, MAN.

  2. Nations with bigger safety nets sure seem to have more unemployment.

    But I’m betting unemployment seems a lot less scary when you get a decent stipend, health care and rent is covered…

    I used to call such a thing “free time.”

  3. Germany also has no minimum wage. Balances it out in a really weird way…

  4. So what kind of capitalism shall we craft?

    Somehow, I think anything this dink would create wouldn’t qualify as capitalism.

  5. But I’m betting unemployment seems a lot less scary when you get a decent stipend, health care and rent is covered…

    So you’re saying that increases unemployment and welfare area actually a feature, not a bug eh?

  6. Isn’t capitalism, by definition, you know, NOT crafted?

  7. Val, getting paid to sit on your ass at home can be pretty sweet. It’s even sweeter when the money is taken by force from actual productive people. That’s what MNG is trying to say.

  8. MNG beat me to the right answer.

    Speaking of A.N.S.S.E.R., anybody going to the rallies next weekend?

  9. Worker representatives sit on boards of directors, unionization remains high, income distribution is more equitable, social benefits are generous.

    That soooo sounds like some kind of -ism, but I don’t think it starts with a “C”.

  10. “It’s even sweeter when the money is taken by force from actual productive people.”

    Yummmy, money taken by force from the productive is actually GREENER than money from those friggin’ lazy parasites.

    Smells better too.

  11. JW, why are you so afraid of new ideas from Germany? The Russians never were.

  12. You know, Germany isn’t in this crisis with us right now. Their structure kept them from having all kinds of problems like we’re having.

  13. Don’t worry Xeones, the Productive People (aka Randian Supermen) had their monthly meeting yesterday (at the Marriott), and I didn’t see you there.

    Again.

  14. MNG, did you see John Galt there or is he still hanging out in that cappichino bar trying to convert the beatnicks?

  15. So what kind of capitalism shall we craft?

    Don’t you mean kraft?

  16. Shut the fuck up, lonewacko.

  17. I don’t go to Germany very often. But France? I couldn’t imagine France without a transportation strike. Or a student strike. That’s my total fave, a STUDENT strike. as in “Oh yeah! I’ll show you. I ain’t going to school today.” “I dare you to try to teach me something.”

    Actually student strikes are an important part of a French education. Call it learning by doing, if you will. And it’s a skill ever French er, worker, needs. From Monsieur Le Boulanger to Madame La Sex-Shop Cashier.

  18. reinmoose, that is tantamount to blasphemy here. What I can’t figure out is how my German cousin’s new Mercedes 4 door gets 52 mpg while whistling down the autobahn.

  19. Is he saying that we should kraft werk?

  20. Dude
    Galt was there. The company where he was working on a new electric powered car motor couldn’t get a loan and went belly up. He was working the bar.

    I tipped him big.

    He just shrugged.

  21. The dude makes a hell of Long Island Ice T.

  22. You know, in the not so distant past, the Germans found a way to keep all those good Aryan people employeed while getting rid of several pesky underclasses all at the same time.

    Just sayin . . . .

  23. someone,

    Back in that time I thought even the underclasses were fully employed? They were just starving them to death like the LiberPublicans want to do to everybody now.

  24. What I can’t figure out is how my German cousin’s new Mercedes 4 door gets 52 mpg while whistling down the autobahn.

    A diesel engine they’re prohibited from using in the states? I’m just guessing, mind you.

  25. If you’re someone who believes that businesses cannot be trusted so X activity should be taken over by the government, why would workers doing X activity need a union to protect them? I mean, doesn’t the government have only your best interests at heart. Why would it pay you any less than you are worth or give you any worse work conditions than it could possibly provide?

  26. I am not really a pro union kind of guy, but it seems like two things occurring: there is some wrinkle to this legislation that I don’t see, other than the increased ease with which employees can form unions, or there is some sort of pathologically stubborn dislike of unions in this journal.

    There is too much legal authority and clout in the current union structure, and it has a potent negative effect on many businesses, especially in manufacturing, but at the same time there is a stunning disparity in the balance of power between an un-unionized employee and an employer.

    I think that there is a balance that is necessary, and is currently out of whack. Increasing the ease with which a group of employees can unionize is not going to change that balance. Attacking this one piece of legislation distracts from the more fundamental flaws in the system. Unions should be allowed to negotiate, strike, and picket, and employers should be allowed to hire and fire. That is all the balance the system needs, and if it is off kilter the laws should address monopolies in labor and employment. This antipathy toward card-check addresses none of this disparity.

    Chemist took econ one
    does not see the strong allure
    of five seven five

  27. the Germans found a way to keep all those good Aryan people employeed while getting rid of several pesky underclasses all at the same time

    And they had a clever name for it: “No Jews Left Behind”.

  28. brotherben –
    it was sarcasm/snark. Germany’s in some pretty deep shit themselves, as I understand it.

  29. jester,

    The right people might not always be in charge of the government, so protections for the workers must be put into place so they will be protected even when the wrong people are in charge.

  30. That soooo sounds like some kind of -ism, but I don’t think it starts with a “C”.

    Yes it does – “communism’.

  31. Ah yes, the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as the Arbeit macht frei Gesetz in Germany.

  32. Everyone here who wants a job in manufacturing, raise your hand!

  33. So what was the last big technological or cultural innovation to come out of Germany in the post-WWII period? Ditto for the rest of Europe.

    Not to say that they’ve been stuck in the 50’s but rather that Europe simply does not innovate anymore. They’re rather good at making well built old stuff but they really haven’t come up with anything game changing in a long, long time.

    No, wait, I was wrong. Europeans did invent reality TV.

    In the leftist future, we to will become just as dynamic and innovative as the Europeans. 20-30 years from now people will be looking towards America for radical innovations in low-cost, cruel and vapid entertainment instead of all this yucky technology and vulgar mass art.

    I just can’t wait to be sophisticated.

  34. Reinmoose. My snarkalert has a virus. But it would surprise me to hear of any country that isn’t on the verge of circling the crapper economically with the markets as upside down as they are.

  35. I am not really a pro union kind of guy, but it seems like two things occurring: there is some wrinkle to this legislation that I don’t see, other than the increased ease with which employees can form unions, or there is some sort of pathologically stubborn dislike of unions in this journal.

    It’s really all about coercion. The EFCA doesn’t make it easier to form unions, so much as it makes it easier for unions to spead into shops where they aren’t really wanted. The people against it know and assume that there will be fraud and coercion. The people BEHIND it know this too – which is why they want it. The only people apologizing for it seem to be lighthearted believers in the goodness of human nature…

  36. Reinmoose,

    I am all for supporting the workers but I believe with my long Arts and Science education career I would be more useful to society by contributing in other ways. Like examining the effects of unrestrained CorporateGreed on the downtrodden and developing policy solutions along with wellness programmes for the victims.

  37. Of course. The right people. That’s all it ever takes.

  38. “I mean, doesn’t the government have only your best interests at heart. Why would it pay you any less than you are worth or give you any worse work conditions than it could possibly provide?”

    Yeah jester, because advocates of unions never push for public unions! In other news, what color is the grass in your world?

  39. So it’s been confirmed? TofuSushi is Lonewacko, right?

  40. I am not really a pro union kind of guy, but it seems like two things occurring: there is some wrinkle to this legislation that I don’t see, other than the increased ease with which employees can form unions, or there is some sort of pathologically stubborn dislike of unions in this journal.

    Demcracy (50% plus one vote) is evil regardless of whether or not it’s a government or a “voluntary” organization that has direct impact on who gets to work, when they work, and where they work.

    Collective bargaing per se is not an issue with libertarians.

  41. “Val, getting paid to sit on your ass at home can be pretty sweet. It’s even sweeter when the money is taken by force from actual productive people. That’s what MNG is trying to say.”

    Vielen Dank, Idioten.

  42. I am not and have never been OLS/LW. That missing space was an accident.

  43. Shannon Love, aren’t the europeans big on advancing nuclear powerplant technologies? Transportation as well is much more advanced than the U.S. Fuel mileage averages for big trucks is nearly double that of america.
    They may not do a lot of huge new things, but they do old things much better.

  44. I mean, why would union support equal Total Trust in the Government? WTF?

    Ramsey
    What gets me is all the Chicken Little stuff about the bill. If the bill passes all you have to do is say “no” to someone. Oh my God, the horror? I mean, how could the average American employee ever get the gumption to do that?

    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.

    That’s something these guys throw out whenever en employer doesn’t like anything else about their work, but somehow it never occurs when it comes to unions.

  45. Nah, domo, TofuSushi is jes’ spoofin’.

  46. Everyone here who wants a job in manufacturing, raise your hand!

    I’ve got one, thanks. And my division of the company has only laid off one employee this year!

    So far…

  47. Is he saying that we should kraft werk?

    Maybe they could build some sort of trans-Europe express.

  48. “That missing space was an accident.”

    But the missing space WITH the Double Capitalization?

    Come on…

  49. whew. Apologies, my raw fishy bean curded friend.

  50. Right on MNG @ 12:27pm!

  51. “I mean, how could the average American employee ever get the gumption to do that?”

    And they accuse us liberals of coddling paternalism…

  52. Ramsey —

    I agree with most of your sentiments. However, antipathy towards card-check (at least by me) is one of principle. It’s a bullshit undemocratic way of making a decision. Secret elections are the way to go; if there are concerns (on both sides) about that process getting corrupted, then put stronger safeguards on it. No need to throw the voting baby out with the bathwater.

    Although, to be fair, I would guess that many who whine about card check are not motivated by adhesion to a democratic ideal. They just hate unions. Evidence: those who whine about it are often not the first to leap to their feet in defense of direct democracy in any other context.

  53. But the missing space WITH the Double Capitalization?

    The double capitalization was intentional. It is traditional when making fliers for getting the word on The Man out to the workers.

  54. MNG, I think jester’s point is that there’s a contradiction between believing that the government usually best serves people’s interests while simultaneously believing that there would need to be a union to protect those interests from government incursion.

    But if the government must take over whole sections of the economy, I’m not sure what choice people in those areas have. I’m sure that physicians in countries with NHC don’t strike for the hell of it.

  55. Ramsey: Unions aren’t just groups of people. They have rights given to them by the Gov that forces companies to bargain with them. Employment is not a right. You are not forced to work for anyone and no one forces you to work for them. If you aren’t being treated right then quit and join a competitor or become a competitor. This is not fantasy land. We are equal under law not by ability.

    –reread your post and it seems like you are taking both sides of the issue, so maybe you agree with this?

  56. “…social benefits are generous,” is a completely separate point from the one about “crafting” a German style capitalism via increased union influence (focus on stakeholders, not shareholders).

    We could let the market rip and have generous social benefits.

  57. 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.

    So you are alright with a disparity in bargaining power when it is a worker vs. a union boss, but totally abhored by it when it’s a worker vs. a corporation. Nice gaping hole in your logic.

  58. “so much as it makes it easier for unions to spead into shops where they aren’t really wanted. The people against it know and assume that there will be fraud and coercion. The people BEHIND it know this too – which is why they want it.”

    That’s silly. I don’t “know and assume” there will be fraud and coercion. Fraud and coercion are illegal.

    Are you saying because unions have at times used fraud and coercion that we must assume they will and have such assumptions built into the law?

    Because you know, at times gun owners use incredible deadly violence against victims. In fact, they do this much, much more than unions engage in fraud, violence and such.

    So you’re for some laws to head this off, right? I’ll send you Sarah Brady’s email…

  59. Union membership and therefore monies are down. It all about revenue maximization.

    Card check works like those petitions. Hire someone outside a storefront to gather signatures. Most the people sign without really understanding what they sign.

    “Do want to save whales?”

    “Why sure I do.”

    “This petition will end the evil whaling industry.”

    “OK. Where do I sign.”

    The petition just signed really is after X shipping company that manufactures ships which some of its clients use as whalers.

  60. “What gets me is all the Chicken Little stuff about the bill. If the bill passes all you have to do is say “no” to someone.”

    Because in the current system, all you have to do is say “yes” or “no”. The difference is that neither the employer nor the union knows who said “yes” or “no”, so they can’t pressure the individual concerned. Incidentally, I’m against all forced unionizations (and count unionization by an employee vote in that category), so I would be perfectly happy to scrap the whole system, period.

  61. domo,

    The scare term you use, “union boss”, is also a worker, not The Man. He is on your side of the bargaining table.

  62. “You are not forced to work for anyone and no one forces you to work for them. If you aren’t being treated right then quit and join a competitor or become a competitor.”

    Exactly Adrian! If you don’t want to work at a place where you will be represented by a union, you are totally free to quit and go work another place. Thanks for your support.

  63. Shannon Love, aren’t the europeans big on advancing nuclear powerplant technologies? Transportation as well is much more advanced than the U.S. Fuel mileage averages for big trucks is nearly double that of america.
    They may not do a lot of huge new things, but they do old things much better.

    You need to be very careful when making these kinds of comparisons.

    I remember during the 70’s and 80’s when feminists were pointing out how enlightened the soviet union was because most doctors were women.

    Then I went to Russia, many times in the 90’s. What I found was: The medical profession was very low on the totem pole. Women in the professions were very, very low on the totem pole. So woman became doctors, because men took “worthy” positions somewhere else. Of course, key surgical positions and hospital administrative positions remained in the hands of important people (i.e., men).

    The European model of transportation is driven by cultural concerns, not technology. There are some benefits from the European model, but their system would fail utterly everywhere in the US except very dense metropolitan areas.

  64. 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.

    MNG is on to something.

    Don’t like the conditions and pay where you work? Don’t like that your job is a non-union job? Go work somewhere else where you do like them and/or is unionized.

  65. “So you are alright with a disparity in bargaining power when it is a worker vs. a union boss, but totally abhored by it when it’s a worker vs. a corporation. Nice gaping hole in your logic.”

    Except that the corporashunz are always TEH EVIL! And union bosses would never exploit their power to less-than-noble ends. Ever.

  66. Oh my gosh. Belive me folks, I’m one of the few non-Socialists in Germany, in fact I’d consider myself being a market anarchist. But reading this mountain of shit, called the “comment section” to this article, just makes me sick. Just abolish US-Socialism first. Without the US-Socialist laws (Fair Housing Act, Community Reinvestment Act etc) in financial sector, the current world economic crisis wouldn’t had happen in the first place.

    So don’t worry about the EUSSR in general and Germany in special. Make the USA a role model for the world again by ending th wars (on terror, on drugs etc) and restoring a free market economy und civil liberties and everything will be fine.

  67. “The petition just signed really is after X shipping company that manufactures ships which some of its clients use as whalers.”

    Ah, ah, ah, Jester, not so fast! Someone might actually know something about labor law around here!

    Like that the NLRB regularly polices this kind of thing (you are aware that Gisell cards, or the dreaded card check, is a legal method of unionizing right now, right?) and has often thrown out any deceptive practices by unions. This will still be the case if such a law passes.

  68. 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.

    That’s funny

  69. So you’re for some laws to head this off, right? I’ll send you Sarah Brady’s email…

    red herring. I’m against this law, and against those that give special rights to union bosses.

    That’s silly. I don’t “know and assume” there will be fraud and coercion. Fraud and coercion are illegal.

    If fraud and coercion aren’t assumed, why would signing a petition be likely to yield different results from a secret ballot?

  70. MNG: Why would u be represented by a union? A job is a contract between you and your employer, is the union your employer?

  71. kinnath,

    I cannot believe that you really fell for that Capitalist Big Drug Industry Propoganda about the most enlightned system ever to be implimented in the world.

  72. ‘So you are alright with a disparity in bargaining power when it is a worker vs. a union boss, but totally abhored by it when it’s a worker vs. a corporation. Nice gaping hole in your logic”

    domo, it’s about as big as your gape (meaning anyone who thinks workers who don’t like conditions should just leave BUT thinks union-shops somehow destroy the freedom of an opposed worker to do the same thing) I should think…

  73. I’m confused here. Is MNG joe?

  74. “Exactly Adrian! If you don’t want to work at a place where you will be represented by a union, you are totally free to quit and go work another place.”

    Except that the union can go there too, and if they get a majority in an election, they can unionize the entire plant with the threat of government action behind them. The point I’d like to try and make is that the government has no right to force an employer to deal with a union if they don’t want to.

  75. “Why would u be represented by a union? A job is a contract between you and your employer, is the union your employer?”

    So a corporation, or an LLC or a partnership can’t sign a contract? I hate to tell you this but a corporation represents a collection of people?

  76. Just read cowboy capitalism–written by a German economist. This is an old idea totally dissected in that book.

  77. “there is a stunning disparity in the balance of power between an un-unionized employee and an employer.”

    Care to support that with facts?

  78. @Episiarch
    With their army of Mensch-Maschinen.

  79. “I’m confused here. Is MNG joe?”

    I’m the New Joe.

    The New and Improved Joe.

    The Joe of your chilling Nightmares.

    No more Mr. Nice Joe.

  80. Warty, our combined Kraftwerk joke was lost in all this stupid arguing. What are you guys arguing about again? Civil unions? Union vs. Confederacy? Union-Pacific Railroad?

  81. Warty,
    MNG and joe are two separate people. Joe left, because he got pissed off that so many people here won’t give Obama and any associates of his the benefit of the doubt in all things political, economic, and social. MNG didn’t.

  82. I say we strike a deal. The unions can have the check card and companies can fire anyone, on the spot, who tries to unionize their workplace.

    Sounds fair.

  83. economist,

    MNG just broke down under intense questioning ad admitted that he is joe.

  84. Jerry, well done! At least someone is paying attention to what’s actually important.

  85. MNG: Why couldn’t a worker refuse to be represented by the union? Is the union looking out for its own workers or for all workers?

  86. “there is a stunning disparity in the balance of power between an un-unionized employee and an employer.”

    Just the same power relationship between producers and consumers of a particular good or service in any highly competitive market.

  87. “”there is a stunning disparity in the balance of power between an un-unionized employee and an employer.”

    Care to support that with facts?”

    I’ll take a shot.

    The average wealth of the average employer is higher than the average wealth of the average employee.

    The employer may need the employer’s labor to produce something (but he can at least use his own labor combined with his capital to get somewhere), but the laborer needs the employer’s capital more (all his labor in the world can’t make something from nothing). Since the laborer needs it more, and also starts out with less, the employer can simply hold out longer and for better terms.
    You’re welcome btw.

  88. Marco, to address your concerns, read the mountains of shit — i mean, comment sections — under, like, every other article. Folks around here are agin’ those things too.

  89. “Is the union looking out for its own workers or for all workers?”

    So you know the union has a legal duty to represent the best interests of ALL it’s workers, and there have been lawsuits where unions have had their asses handed to them by members when the union did not do this, right?

  90. The scare term you use, “union boss”, is also a worker, not The Man. He is on your side of the bargaining table.

    So Ron Gettlefinger is just another line worker making $40/hr. right…

  91. My customers have a very unequal power relationship over me. They can go to 10 other restaurants if I raise my prices. The result: our profits are all kept down to the minimum. BY GOD, WE NEED TO FORM A UNION OF RESTAURANTEURS TO MAKE SURE THOSE DAMN FATCAT CUSTOMERS DON’T SCREW US OVER!

  92. Epi
    We will be arguing Confederate Unions soon.

    You know the way Lee looked at Jackson. If only they lived in more progressive times…

  93. THE WORKERS MUST OWN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION!

  94. lol, poor old employees just trying to survive while management has all the power. just let the government assign us all jobs at the same pay. problem solved.

  95. “So Ron Gettlefinger is just another line worker making $40/hr. right…”

    Ron Gettlefinger can be voted out of all power by a majority of workers.

    That can’t be said for anyone’s boss that I know of…

    “I’m against this law, and against those that give special rights to union bosses.”

    Huh? You mean the law must assume violence and fraud on the part of unions, because there are instances of unions engaging in violence and fraud, and must make provisions to limit it while it is POTENTIAL, but the law can’t assume violence on the part of gunowners, because there are instances of gunowners engaging in horrible tragic violence, and can’t make provisions to limit it while it is still POTENTIAL?

    WTF?

  96. Exactly Adrian! If you don’t want to work at a place where you will be represented by a union, you are totally free to quit and go work another place. Thanks for your support.

    SOCIAL CONTRACT!

  97. Whatever they’re talking about, Epi, it’s boring. Fuck unions. They’ll be made obsolete by robots anyway.

  98. where’s that candle makers union piece…

    i know it’s fake

  99. “Everyone here who wants a job in manufacturing, raise your hand!”

    Not me. Worked in a steel fabrication shop 30 years ago. Terrible way to make a living.

    Also, I hear people say that we can’t let the Detroit auto makers fail because we’ll need those factories and workers in case of a national emergency. My thinking is that if the US is in such dire straits that it needs to commandeer the Detroit auto factories, then it can simply nationalize American factories of Nissan, Toyota, et al. I mean if were at war, wouldn’t you want the better factories and better workers building the machines of war?

  100. Now let’s see, why do the employers have access to capital…?

    Oh, yeah, it’s probably because somebody (or somebodies) invested in their business to create that capital. And they expect it to turn a profit. So apparently they can’t just sit on that capital playing with their handlebar mustaches and waiting for the starving and downtrodden workers to come to them. They actually have to get something productive done.

  101. If you don’t want to work at a place where you will be represented by a union, you are totally free to quit and go work another place.

    So I’m not free to change from one non-unionized workplace to another (or that ability is totally insufficient to protect me), but my ability to change from a unionized workplace is enough to protect me if I disagree w/ the union. Got it.

  102. Epi,

    We’re talking about The Union of the Snake.

    What the hell was that song about anyway?

  103. Ich bin,
    I live in constant fear of a resurgence of Japanese militarism in which they will activate the small explosives that they hide in all of the cars they produce to cripple our economy and TAKE OVER!!!

  104. “THE WORKERS MUST OWN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION!”

    Everyone is missing the issue.

    Of course government coercion is wrong. Man has natural liberty and a government, aka a collection of men should not impose on that.

    Collections of men should not be used to coerce one man to bargain with a group of other men.

    But collections of men should not be able to compel others to protect another man’s claim to own something either.

    Only under a proper anarchism will men be free of such coercion.

  105. domo, it’s about as big as your gape (meaning anyone who thinks workers who don’t like conditions should just leave BUT thinks union-shops somehow destroy the freedom of an opposed worker to do the same thing) I should think…

    I suppose. Except, I don’t oppose the freedom to unionize. I oppose the coercion to join. I suppose now you’ll go on about the “free-rider problem.” Which isn’t really a problem, since unions existed long before membership became mandatory.

  106. jsh,
    But WHY WOULDN’T YOU WANT TO WORK IN A UNION SHOP! It’s not like you’re ever planning on leaving that job and thus not getting the benefits of seniority, right? It’s not like you have any ambition or want to get paid for actual job performance, right? So why do TEH UNIONS terrify you so much?

  107. It’s entirely laughable, the german financial system did pretty badly during this crises as well (especially the public banks which belong to the so called “Bundesstaaten”, something like the states in the US).

    Our unemployment is horrible (and for most people it takes really long to get new jobs), our labor productivity is much lower than in the US, our GDP/capita is about 20% lower than in the US …

    The essential problem with german version of capitalism is that it is unable to adopt to changes really fast, because it is so heavily regulated. Eg. the computer and internet impacted german GDP-numbers much later than the US. Structural changes take much longer, that means, that the thesis, that we have more manufacturing is probably right, but it is a pretty big disadvantage. When the next new technology comes along, we will miss it, yet again.

    Most Germans however don’t see it that way, and if you mentioned America, everyone was horrified: “american conditions” in German political discurs means: everybody has to work three jobs, just to survive and the people are left dying in hospitals if they don’t have enough money (not to mention, that german medical system is in deep trouble as well and would look even worse, if the cooperations would not earn most of their money in the US).

    However, you can give cancellor Merkel some credit for not totally running wild right now: they bail out the failing banks, but they did not nationalise them and didn’t engage in to weird of a “stimulus”, but we have the same discussion you guys have about GM with Opel and “Schaeffler Gruppe” (and of course, we banned tax heavens!).

    That’s my to cents from Germany. Please, please, please, don’t introduce German comfort-style capitalism in the US. It will make you and us all poorer down the road.

  108. KC,
    We pwn every left-anarchist troll that comes to the boards. Go ahead. Bring it on.

  109. “So I’m not free to change from one non-unionized workplace to another (or that ability is totally insufficient to protect me), but my ability to change from a unionized workplace is enough to protect me if I disagree w/ the union.”

    Well, turn it around friend.

    That’s my point.

  110. Warty, we’ve moved on to Duran Duran now. Courtesy of jester.

  111. All the production facilities, operating capital and customers don’t mean a god damned thing without the workers. IMO a lot of owners lose sight of this for a variety of reasons, Greed being number one on the list. An organized workforce brings a balance to the power. The trick is maintaining the balance equitably for both sides.

    I believe the Obama administration is able to pass things like this with the blessings of the folks because companies have been taking advantage of the employees at every turn for a long time. The perception is that the govt. is the only recourse left to swing the pendulum back towards balance.

  112. That’s silly. I don’t “know and assume” there will be fraud and coercion. Fraud and coercion are illegal.

    No, they are not illegal. Unions enjoy a protected status when it comes to violence that occurs in a strike. Federal law (Wagner Act) trumps state law.

    Union violence is far more common than all their trumpeted rehashes in song and story of the few instances of management violence.

    The reason is that unions DO NOT take from the bosses, like they claim, but they take from OTHER WORKERS. Who gets their tires cut, get beaten, and killed during strikes–the bosses? Hardly, it is other workers, who do not share the class consciousness that the unions profess, and so are prime targets for liquidation for the sin of being willing to work at rates set by the market, rather than by union bosses.

    Unions better the conditions of SOME WORKERS over the market rates at the expense of OTHER WORKERS. Even Karl Marx opposed unions, because he was enough of an economist to know that unions CANNOT permanently improve the lot of the workers.

  113. “I oppose the coercion to join.”

    What coercion? Just go to a non-union job.

    Isn’t that the standard libertarian answer when an employee doesn’t like something about their job? Why is it not now?

  114. Are you really from Germany, Daniel, or can you just not post in proper English and you wanted to throw out a red herring?

  115. Daniel: It doesn’t matter what you say. Statists don’t care about facts.

  116. Shorter libertree
    Unions have done and still do bad things, therefore we need to assume they all will do this and the laws we have on the books against the bad things are not enough.

    Hey libertree.
    Gunowners have done and still do bad things, therefore we need to assume they all will do this and the laws we have on the books against he bad things are not enough.

  117. Huh? You mean the law must assume violence and fraud on the part of unions, because there are instances of unions engaging in violence and fraud, and must make provisions to limit it while it is POTENTIAL, but the law can’t assume violence on the part of gunowners, because there are instances of gunowners engaging in horrible tragic violence, and can’t make provisions to limit it while it is still POTENTIAL?

    The freedom to own a gun was condsidered to be necessary to maintain freedom from tyranny – which is why there is an amendment about it. The case for card check vs. secret ballot is many orders of magnitude less compelling. You make a decent logical argument, but fall a bit short. That’s the tough thing about argueing by analogy.

  118. MNG,
    It’s coercion because BY FEDERAL LAW if the union gets a majority in the election, then the employer MUST recognize the union. And in non-right to work states, the first order of business for the union with its newfound power is to push for a closed shop.

  119. If I, as an employer, employ 20 people, and 11 of them want to unionize, why should the other 9 people have to join them?

    What unionization (in a government supported form, not in principle) attempts to do is to create conditions that are similar to full employment (0 to near 0 unemployment), but artificially.

  120. Duran Duran? If we’re gaying out, we might as well just have done with it and go to the Pet Shop Boys.

  121. “Even Karl Marx opposed unions, because he was enough of an economist to know that unions CANNOT permanently improve the lot of the workers.”

    You give ol’ Karl too much credit. He mostly feared that skilled workers unions would undermine the dictatorship of the proletariat.

  122. economist

    It is as wrong to compel a man to support another man’s claim to property as it is to compel a man bargain with a group of men.

    Men have natural liberty. Collections of men, aka the government, threaten this.

  123. brotherben: welcome to the real world where what you feel does not make something real.

    people are valued based on skills and productivity. the people at the bottom are at the bottom for a reason.

  124. Reinmoose,
    I would like to rephrase your question: If you are an employer and 11 of your 20 employees want to unionize, why should you be forced by law to deal with the resulting union? Why can’t you say “Well, you’re demanding wages that are twice the market rate and that would screw me over royally, so you can either take what I’m offering or leave.”

  125. What coercion? Just go to a non-union job.

    The coercion is against the employer and his right to choose whoever he wants to employ. THAT coercion.

    Isn’t that the standard libertarian answer when an employee doesn’t like something about their job? Why is it not now?

    It is the LOGICAL answer when it comes to choosing jobs. The issue with unions is different, since unions tend to wedge themselves into an entirely voluntary relationship between employer and employee.

  126. Economist – yes, that too. But still – an attempt to create an artificial shortage of labor, no?

  127. He must recognize the union. And he must “bargain in good faith” with it.

    That’s all. He can refuse all of their wishes actually.

    “If I, as an employer, employ 20 people, and 11 of them want to unionize, why should the other 9 people have to join them?”

    Well, if the 11 and the employer sign a contract stating that hires will be union then I guess you don’t have an issue, right?

    The real answer, historically, is that the law was passed to keep the 11 and the 9 from killing each other. The Wagner act was passed to rationalize the labor strife that was engulfing the nation before it was passed. Employers had to give a little, but so did unions (some of their most effective weapons like secondary boycotts were chucked).

  128. “I oppose the coercion to join.”

    What coercion? Just go to a non-union job.

    Isn’t that the standard libertarian answer when an employee doesn’t like something about their job? Why is it not now?

    Look, we both assert the same logical hole in each others argument.

    For my part, the worker has an agreement with the employer to exchange labor for pay: if the terms aren’t acceptable to either they can leave. The union makes no such offer: they say pay me dues, and I’ll try and get you a better deal. You are saying if I don’t want that, not only will I not receive the benefits of unionization, but then the union is going to interfere with my existing agreement with the employer and say I can’t continue to work there? that is coercion.

    So what’s your excuse? You are a good debater, you turn it around quick – but you’ll have to answer your own deficiencies to present a truly strong viewpoint.

  129. KC,
    I guess it depends on what you mean by “forcing others to support another man’s claim to property”. If it means expecting people not to steal my car, break into my house, or seize my shares in companies that I’ve invested in, then we have a problem. If, on the other hand, you are referring to some sort of stateless anarcho-capitalism, then I guess we could talk, though I’d still think that you were completely out of your mind.

  130. “the people at the bottom are at the bottom for a reason.”

    Yeah, yeah. Adrian, I’m going to take a wild stab that you are not in the $250,000 a year class.

    So what’s your reason for being there? Not bright enough, productive enough, hardworking enough?

  131. west end girls rules.

  132. What FTG said

  133. “Exactly Adrian! If you don’t want to work at a place where you will be represented by a union, you are totally free to quit and go work another place.”

    Utter bullshit. Try getting a non-union job welding together a 60-story skyscraper.

  134. Right on joe! Speak truth to power!

    Why aren’t all of these Capitalists out working instead of posting here?

  135. you’re right, not there yet. but I’m doing everything to get their on my own. Not trying to bring the line down to me like you are.

  136. economist

    Does not the state take our tax money to fund a police force which ultimately protects some other person’s claim to own something?

    Today I passed an apartment where the sheriff was evicting some lazy person who I guess did not pay their rent.

    I should not have to pay to supply the muscle for that apartment owner.

    Or to support the courts that enforce the contract on which the whole thing was based.

  137. MNG,
    Since “bargain in good faith”, like most other terms in federal legislation, sort of like “reasonable accomodation”, is a flexible term that can mean whatever one person (usually a government regulator in charge of enforcing the legislation) wants it to mean, I don’t consider the language of the Wagner Act to be much protection.

  138. “Utter bullshit. Try getting a non-union job welding together a 60-story skyscraper.”

    I hate to tell this to you, but you don’t have a right to whatever job you want under the conditions you want.

    If you want to do that but all the opportunities are union ones, tough titties. Go wash cars or something.

  139. “you’re right, not there yet”

    yeah, that’s what all the lazy unproductive unintelligent persons say. “I’m almost there.”

  140. “The employer may need the employer’s labor to produce something (but he can at least use his own labor combined with his capital to get somewhere), but the laborer needs the employer’s capital more (all his labor in the world can’t make something from nothing). Since the laborer needs it more, and also starts out with less, the employer can simply hold out longer and for better terms.
    You’re welcome btw.”

    The employer assumes the risks and with risk comes reward. That doesn’t mean there is an unfair disparity.

    I’m a worker. I make a shit load of money. So does my employer. So what?

  141. I’m not joe.

    I’ve argued with joe.

    I meant “I’m the new joe” in the figurative sense.

  142. KC,
    So are you arguing that the apartment owner has no right to evict a lazy tenant, or just that they have no right to tax you for the resources to do it? Because, like I said, I would flatly disagree with you on the former but be willing to talk about the latter.

  143. “The employer assumes the risks”

    Employees assume no risk? What are you talking about?

  144. unproductive

    What’s MNG’s post count?

  145. “If you want to do that but all the opportunities are union ones, tough titties. Go wash cars or something.”

    MNG, if someone inserted “non-unionized corporations” where you put “unions”, you would be indignant about it.

  146. “The coercion is against the employer and his right to choose whoever he wants to employ. THAT coercion.”

    Ohhh, so the coercion is aimed at the employer. OK, we can talk about that, but can we stop with all the “unions are destroying the freedom of the employee” bullshit? If you believe half the bullshit you say then you can’t mean that…

  147. And so it comes full circle.

    Every. Damn. Time.

  148. MNG, I see you getting peppered here, but I’d love to hear how you avoid getting hoisted on the petard we both share.

  149. What have I, What have I, What have I done to deserve this?

  150. Hakuna Mitata, the whole circle of life and all that

  151. MNG,
    I hate to tell this to you, but you don’t have a right to whatever job you want under the conditions you want.

    Interestingly enough, I said almost exactly the same thing to you (that people are not entitled to a job) and you replied with a silly retort like “Yeah, Yadda Yadda, twaddle twiddle”. Are you back-pedaling now?

  152. Dudes, gotta run. Lunch.

    “The coercion is against the employer and his right to choose whoever he wants to employ. THAT coercion.”

    Warty
    I’m more valued by my employer than you are, probably because I am more productive, intelligent and hard-working than you. He gives me lots of time to fuck off. I guess I make the brave investors that fund his innovation more profits than you do yours. The market has spoken.

  153. Poor showing, he’ll have to make a new agreement with his boss if he hopes to fill joez shoes.

  154. MNG: Don’t be jealous bro. I understand that you don’t have it in you and need to bring others down to your level. I’d do it too if I had what you had.

  155. “So are you arguing that the apartment owner has no right to evict a lazy tenant, or just that they have no right to tax you for the resources to do it?”

    The latter.

    What’s mine is mine. Property owners cannot take it to enforce their claims.

  156. MNG,
    The Wagner Act and related legislation harms both the freedoms of both employers and employees. But most prominent figures in labor don’t give a shit about the freedoms of the employer. But I don’t give a shit what they give a shit about, so I mention both.

  157. I hate to tell this to you, but you don’t have a right to whatever job you want under the conditions you want.

    Agreed.
    Ich Bin – you have no more right to a workplace that is not unionized than MNG has to a workplace that is unionized. It’s how the union is created, enforced, etc. that is at issue, not their existence entirely.

    MNG –
    don’t a lot of your arguments come down to the same-ol social contract bullcrap that democracy-as-a-virtue people always go back to?

    “If you don’t like government roads, you don’t have to drive on them”
    “If you don’t like your state’s policy on whether or not you can smoke in your house, move”

  158. Well, KC, I still think you’re unrealistic, but I’m sorry I called you a left-anarchist troll.

  159. He needs to work on his nastiness, I’d say. Not a good joeplacement yet.

  160. In Soviet Russia, the lunch eat you.

  161. MNG,
    Ohhh, so the coercion is aimed at the employer.

  162. Warty,
    MNG doesn’t have the “you guys suck and I’m awesome” air down. He occasionally acts like his opponents actually have valid points and aren’t idiots/racists/generally unpleasant people to be gainsaid and dismissed. He has a long way to go before he can replace joe.

  163. Liberty is the only realistic thing.

    The Democrats use coercion to take from me to support someone’s claim to a doctor.

    The Republicans use coercion to take from me to support someone’s claim they need a police man to take drugs away from their neighbor.

    The Libertarians use coercion to take from me to support someone’s claim to property.

    It’s all the same.

    Anarchy is the only true path to liberty and liberty is the only realistic thing in this world of lies and coercion.

  164. Warty,

    This by far is the gayest shit there is.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JARax3VTPdQ

    In a very un-Dieter Fassbinder way.

  165. Warty –
    he can still make it. He needs to come back after lunch and launch into the people that are still discussing this, which will be almost nobody because we’ll all have moved on to a new thread. Then he should declare victory over the entire thread, emphatically, because nobody is around to argue with him but weaklings and trolls.

  166. KC: Doesn’t the apartment owner pay for police too? How do you know that your dollars went for that and not for protection of you?

  167. Ohhh, so the coercion is aimed at the employer. OK, we can talk about that, but can we stop with all the “unions are destroying the freedom of the employee” bullshit?

    If there is a previous voluntary transactional relationship between employer and employee that is suddenly being affected by the presence of a union, then both employer and employee are being affected. The coercion may be directed towards the employer, but by having to “bargain” with a collective entity by force, the employees that did not agree with such arrangement are being affected in their right to voluntarily trade with the employer. So YES, their freedoms are at stake.


    If you believe half the bullshit you say then you can’t mean that…

    I have been civil with you, I expect the same from you.

  168. “If you don’t like your state’s policy on whether or not you can smoke in your house, move”

    You know, if you change a few words, like “state’s policy on whether or not you can smoke in your house” to “the rent the landlord charges” or “the wages the employer pays”, you can come up with a statement that will almost certainly raise cries of indignation from the left.

  169. MNG made diced flesh of you all. I hope you do not cross him another time.

  170. KC,
    You might want to change your handle. I’m fairly certain Kropotkin was a communist.

  171. TofuSushi,
    I tremble in fear at the thought.

  172. “If you want to do that but all the opportunities are union ones, tough titties. Go wash cars or something.”

    So you’re saying it’s fine that the union holds a monopoly on all the skyscraper jobs? Really??? Que bono?

  173. jester – what what, in my asshole?

  174. Let him pay for his own muscle if he can convince anyone to do that.

    But let no one take what is mine for that.

    Bah, the Democrat can say that maybe I will use the doctor he forces me to pay for for someone else too.

  175. Best you should. I doubt that MNG has unleashed the full power of his keyboard. Beware the caps lock key!

  176. “Employees assume no risk? What are you talking about?”

    The incontrovertible fact that the employee assumes no risks.

  177. Kropotkinian believed in mutual aid, but voluntary aid.

    He saw that systems of private property was based on coercion too.

    The first things states do is hand out property titles and use the police to enforce the claims of those that have them against those that do not.

  178. MNG,
    Employees assume no risk? What are you talking about?

    He’s talking about the employees not having to pool their capital to produce something that may NOT sell in the market. The employer (or owner) assumes that risk. The advantage for the employee to be on a salary is that he gets the benefit of receiving an advance payment on the results of production without having to wait for those results to be consumed. Like house builders, for instance: they get paid for their job to build a house without having to wait until the house gets sold to be able to enjoy their money.

    Of course, workers could WAIT until goods are sold – if their time preference was low enough, to enjoy a much higher return of their work. But since they can enjoy a lesser return RIGHT NOW, they have that added benefit from the arrangement. This was shown by Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk, as part of his criticism of Marx – Marx contended that wage earners were not receiving the full value of their work, instead, part of it being pocketed by the capitalist. Bohn-Bawerk showed that this was pure nonsense, that by receiving a wage NOW, workers would not have to wait until the fruits of production entered the market and exchanged at market value. The added benefit is that the RISK is MINIMIZED since workers get paid EVEN IF goods are NOT SOLD or take longer to sell.

  179. Go ahead and see what you can put in there, I can take it!

  180. “But let no one take what is mine for that.”

    “The Libertarians use coercion to take from me to support someone’s claim to property.”

    What about your claim to property, which is obviously meaningful to you judging by your first comment? I’m playing devil’s advocate btw, interested in your opinion.

  181. I’m still waiting for labor activists to clamor for the workers to take their share of the losses when companies do poorly.

  182. TofuSushi | March 13, 2009, 1:29pm | #

    Best you should. I doubt that MNG has unleashed the full power of his keyboard. Beware the caps lock key!

    once again I compliment you on your biting self parody!

  183. Yeah, what FTG said.

  184. Each man is responsible for what he calls “his” property.

    If a man calls something his against another man, he cannot compel me to aid him in his claim.

    Let him look to himself and I will do the same.

    Anything else is something which is not Liberty.

    It creates a state with coercive powers to regulate each person’s claim to this or that. Unacceptable.

  185. I’m still waiting for labor activists to clamor for the workers to take their share of the losses when companies do poorly.

    Obviously, that is not going to happen. However, the lower risk for the employee is not being seen by people like MNG because the hardly understand economics or something as profoundly fundamental and basic as time preference. Once one understands Time Preference, then many human decisions and activities become clear and understandable.

  186. I’m still waiting for labor activists to clamor for the workers to take their share of the losses when companies do poorly.

    bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing

    This is succinct and correct.

  187. “I’m still waiting for labor activists to clamor for the workers to take their share of the losses when companies do poorly.”

    In the interest of fairnes, that does sort of happen. My company is holding back raises for two quarters due to O&M concerns. And no bonuses this year either, which sucks because I’ve historically used them to pay my property taxes and home improvemnts.

  188. People are naturally social.

    They will voluntarily get along and divide up things in just ways if there is no state.

    Only gangsters need more gangsters to convince people that something he calls his is his and they have to help him make it so.

  189. 90% of “anarchists” won’t make it past the first black eye.

  190. I used to work at a court (nothing big mind you).

    The majority of what the government did was property law.

    It’s the raison d’etre of government.

    To defeat government we will have to defeat legal property as well.

  191. I hate to tell this to you, but you don’t have a right to whatever job you want under the conditions you want.

    MNG accidentally writes the truth.

    If you want to do that but all the opportunities are union ones, tough titties. Go wash cars or something.

    Again, MNG accidentally writes the truth.

    The purpose of the modern union is not to negotiate with management, but to THWART COMPETITION FROM OTHER JOB SEEKERS.

  192. “They will voluntarily get along and divide up things in just ways if there is no state.”

    Right, because people in Somalia get along so well with each other?

  193. “I’m still waiting for labor activists to clamor for the workers to take their share of the losses when companies do poorly.”
    Actually, I don’t really want this to happen, since most of my income is my wages, but it was more a counterpoint to the “give me my fair share” meme.

  194. “I’m still waiting for labor activists to clamor for the workers to take their share of the losses when companies do poorly.”

    Would that be anything like the unions giving concessions repeatedly to various employers during tough times?

  195. KC: I suppose I would be likely to agree with you in a philosophically principled manner. I believe that taking a stand against all coercion and aggression is logically consistent and morally noble.

    I think, assuming an unrealistic voluntary-association-and-action only land, that a commonly accepted appreciation for property rights would be most beneficial. Of course, if it were “pure” it would only include strictly voluntary contracts.

    I venture to guess that you would argue that the most beneficial situation would be a voluntary communism, with no property rights contracts.

    Liberty is a prerequisite for either situation, so perhaps we’re on the same page.

  196. This guy is a moron and so are some of you.

    Decline in real GDP over past 4 quarters:

    Germany: -1.6%
    US: -0.2%

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/02/22/the-us-didnt-cause-the-world-recession/

  197. Economist

    At least they are free from government domination.

    No one says freedom should be easy.

    SugarFree

    I think I can give better than I would get. It’s part of why I take the views I do.

    Physical prowess, the ability to defend what I call mine, is an unequally given but just as important resource as intelligence.

    It’s not right that we should have a government to make up for people who can’t fare in either area.

  198. brotherben,
    Yes, the same ones they bitch and moan about constantly and call theft and extortion.

  199. The purpose of the modern union is not to negotiate with management, but to THWART COMPETITION FROM OTHER JOB SEEKERS.

    Again – this creates artificial labor scarcity and reduces churn, leaving the unemployed to be unemployed longer and with fewer prospects (particularly for the unskilled). This is why countries with heavy union-favoritism think unemployment benefits are so great and important – because you might be on them for 5 years.

  200. KC,
    Mostly I was pointing out that it is somewhat problematic to claim that “natural sociability” will lead to peaceful anarchism.

    And as libertarians, we support freedom from the initiation of force by others. In anarchist paradises like Somalia, there’s rather a lot of that going on.

  201. ecconomist, I’m a bit hazy today. Who is doing the bitching?

  202. Reinmoose,
    You obviously don’t understand what we intelligentsia understand:

    TEH CORPORASHUNZ ARE TEH EEEEVVVVIILLLLLLLL!

    THEY WILL STEAL YOUR CHILDREN, BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSES, AND MAKE YOU SLAVES!

    EEEEEVVVVILLLLL!

  203. brotherben,
    The unions, when it becomes clear that they have to make concession or else their host will go out of business, in which case everyone is screwed.

  204. economist, thanks, and by the way, I love your use of the word “host.”

  205. JB,
    I’m not a moron. My mommy just says I’m speshal.

  206. brotherben,
    I thought it was a nice touch.

  207. Tyler
    Yes, you see where I am coming from.

    Something like the fourth and fifth sentence of your posting would be the goal.

    People would work it out.

    The alternative is to have the government gangsters work it out for everyone.

  208. This is why countries with heavy union-favoritism think unemployment benefits are so great and important – because you might be on them for 5 years.

    Nothing pisses me off more than people that express great admiration for the way other countries do business even though they have never stepped outside the US.

  209. KC,
    I’m disinclined to believe that “people would work it out”. Given that most would likely say “I don’t want to do any work, but you must give me half of everything you make because they are natural resources and I have an equal right to them”, such a society would break down into rule by gangsters anyway. I’ve always believed that the best thing to hope for in government is relatively benign gangsters/despots/”leaders”.

  210. I admire anarchists for the purity of their beliefs and agree with them on many points. But I am not an anarchist myself. I don’t believe anarchy would be sustainable. Unless it is a true Hobbesian bloodbath, voluntary agreements of non-aggression and trade would spring up. Eventually these agreements would be so interlocking and complex that division of labor will dictate farming them out to a third party, and further that third party will be given some power to settle disputes and competing claims.

    That’s a government.

    Anarchy is empty of an organizing principle to settle disputes impartially and without force that might lead to a cycle of retributive violence. Nature abhors a vacuum. Anarchy will collapse in on itself and a properly limited government from the beginning would probably be preferable to what the churn of anarchic human interaction would produce. (Namely, warlords.)

  211. NutraSweet,
    Of course, I should be supporting the anarchists. After all, I hope one day to challenge Naga Shadow as Supreme Warlord of all the earth.

  212. I had a bot-fly once. In my leg. So I understand the parasite/host relationship. Luckily, it wasn’t an endangered species so I was able to evict it with no government intervention.

  213. As adrian pointed out, feelings aren’t facts. Here are the facts as I feel them. As a way to maximize profits for the shareholders or the owner(s), companies pay the least wages and benefits possible. The disparity between workers wealth and owners wealth was basically unchanged in the 20th century until about 1973. Then the gap started widening and is at a point where workers demand change. Unfortunately for the Owners, the workers decided to vote for governmental representation that will force the change through legislation.
    I make no bones about it, I am on the side of the workers. I voted for Obama and am not uncomfortable with his willingness to “share” my egalitarian leanings.

    As for the owners that payed shit wages and no benefits to the point that your employees are having the government share your wealth? I guess that was also one of those risks you took.

  214. One of the useful functions served by joe was that he could keep a thread going for hours, and never seemed to have to leave to do anything. MNG, on the other hand, let’s all sorts of crap, like work, eating, spending time with his family, and watching TV distract him from posting, which lowers thread endurance.

  215. SugarFree,

    Don’t forget invasions from organized armies. That’s a major issue for a stateless society. If the government can do one thing well, it’s organize an effective army.

    Of course, in order to defend themselves from such a threat, the anarchists would have to abandon their principles.

    Bummer.

  216. Ah, brotherben, but from whence does the government derive the right to redistribute wealth?

  217. I also know that there are a great many undereducated, unskilled and unreliable workers that are demanding the same high wages and good bennies. That brings a whole different set of problems into the equation. Not all live by the choices we make in life.

  218. And around and around we go.

  219. Well, I’m going to pull an MNG and take my lunch now.

  220. “As adrian pointed out, feelings aren’t facts. Here are the facts as I feel them.”

    Um… huh?

  221. economist. The truth is, I have no clue. But I know that a lot of voters are demanding it and congress and the potus are willing to deliver. My point is simply that happy workers don’t generally turn on their employers.

  222. I voted for Obama and am not uncomfortable with his willingness to “share” my egalitarian leanings.

    After spending my entire adult life working to climb out of poverty to achieve an upper middle class lifestyle, I am extremely uncomfortable with Obama’s leanings.

    I make no bones about it, I am on the side of the workers.

    My advice to said workers is simple, grow some balls and deal with it. I did.

  223. I think you can look at the big airlines recently to see that unions can act as co-conspirators with reckless self-serving management and end up effectively killing the host. And ultimately harming the workers they’re suppose to represent.

    It’s also interesting to see how many workers choose to stay on after they’ve been ‘raped’ by management.

  224. But I know that a lot of voters are demanding it and congress and the potus are willing to deliver.

    The purpose of our constition is to ensure that what the majority of voters wants means jack shit.

  225. Tyler,

    Good point. I was really only dealing with internals.

    By the way, the novel Salt by Adam Roberts is a very interesting look at an anarchist society having to deal with exterior invasion. Two societies, one an left-anarchist artist commune and the other a rigid rule-bound theocracy are stranded on a planet with very few natural resources. The book is mostly about how each side tries to adapt to the harsh conditions of the planet and the radical different approaches to warfare both have.

  226. Tyler, just a play on words. Perception is reality when it comes to politics and how people vote. folks voted for marxcism lite. in my opinion, because they felt that the “evil rich” are outta control and the government has to rein them in.

  227. MNG is, of course, full of shit. Arguments for and against the right of workers to unionize are completely irrelevent to the specific issue of CardCheck, which does not address those issues.

    If workers want to unionize they may do so just as easily through secret ballot as through card check. Everybody votes yes and they’re looking for the union label. Again: if enough workers wish to unionize, of their own free will, they may currently do so via secret ballot.

    Card Check is ONLY useful to a union in those cases in which they lack a majority of the vote and need to know who the hold outs are (who do not wish to be known as hold outs — obviously in a secret ballot there is nothing to stop the willing from announcing their vote choice to others if they so choose) so that they may be targeted for intimidation/coersion.

    That is the ONLY advantage to card check. Period.

    This was brought up earlier in the discussion and MNG slid past it with some bullshit about how “just because unions might have done so in the past…”. The purpose of card check is so they may use coersion. The purpose. The only advantage. The only reason MNG is so hot for it. To maintain otherwise is lying bullshit.

  228. Damn you, Katie M-W! Damn you! I agree with you! Meyerson and whole “let’s go back to the New Deal when everything was cool!” crowd are so last century! Manufacturing is the new agriculture, and has been for the last thirty years. An ever-shrinking percentage of the workforce will produce more and better goods for the rest of us–farmers, service workers, posturing pseudo-intellectuals, et al. It’ll be good! Just don’t plan on retiring for the next ten years.

  229. brotherben, maybe they paid shit wages because there is a glut up available employees. Workers, and I am one, tend to forget about supply and demand. They just remember that they need a job and money to buy stuff. I have a co-worker who doesn’t want the government to allow immigration because an immigrant was willing to work at her last job for 10 grand a year less than she made. But in the same vein she doesn’t want companies to go overseas. She fails to realize, despite my attempts to educate her, that the companies go overseas because that is where the labor force is. If we allowed them here the company and it’s taxes would stay as would most of the jobs with a few accents sprinkled around the office. Instead of taking a pay cut and keeping her job, she wants the government to keep immigrants out and companies in, regardless if it makes any sense for the company to stay. Profit be damned. She needs a job that she likes at the wage she wants.

    Unions may survive in the short term making demands for unrealistic wages and benefits, but in the long term they may drive away their own opportunity for employment. If government elected by these same midguided principles acts to protect them, they must use force to do so. We are all less free when that happens – we are taxed and/or regulated for someone else’s benefit and to our detriment.

  230. Yes, people deserve to get what they vote for. But are there, or should there be, limits to what the majority can force on or from the minority?

    People hate the “evil rich” no doubt about that. But should they be thrown in jail or stolen from? What is the point of the Rule of Law?

  231. My take is that ownership is mostly in the form of stocks and stockholders have trusted some pretty shitty management over their wealth.

    I doubt the management at the big 3 auto makers was trying to squeeze the most productivity of its workers. It was more worried about some bonus benchmark that had nothing to do with their own performance.

    The problem with these really huge companies is that they their managers think they are so big that they can do whatever they want and by sheer measure of market share they will be okay.

    The problem is that it isn’t even their wealth really at stake. It’s the wealth of millions of stockholders that’s at stake.

    Everyone gets so worked up by how much money the management have received where they should really be concerned at how much wealth they have destroyed.

    If a company overpays its management, employees or gambles on not cutting costs to maintain market share. So be it. But if they lose. Game Over.

  232. “Men have natural liberty.”

    I find this statement strange and I don’t know exactly what it means.

    And the statement, “Liberty is the only realistic thing,” doesn’t clear it up for me at all.

  233. I doubt the management at the big 3 auto makers was trying to squeeze the most productivity of its workers. It was more worried about some bonus benchmark that had nothing to do with their own performance.

    With all the jabbering the Obama administration is doing about re-regulating industries, no one is addressing the real problem — it is nearly impossible for the people that own a company (i.e., shareholders) to fire the people that run the company (i.e., the board of directors).

    The recent financial collapse would not have happened if shareholders had timely and accurate information regarding the state of the company (transparency) and the authority to change the direction of the company (power over the board).

    Now, these reforms would not prevent the body of shareholders from succumbing to a common delusion which lets the board destroy the company. But with these reforms the stockholdes would truly be responsible for whatever disaster occurs. If the company tanks, the stockholder take in the shorts . . . as they should.

  234. Jay J,

    Do you think and act for yourself? Do you have a free will?

    To me it’s pretty logical, like how a line is the shortest distance between two points. This is what makes liberty “natural”

  235. But I won’t defend the “Liberty is the only realistic thing” nonsense…

  236. Nick, the glut of employees is due to the loss of millions of production jobs to overseas markets. The companies shifted manufacturing to other countries to maximize profits, as is their choice and even their responsibility to the shareholders. The result is millions of folks out of a good job that required no more than a high school diploma in a very meager job market for their education and skill set.

  237. Tyler,

    Acting for myself would not mean that I have free will. The latter is complicated, but I don’t doubt that in some uninteresting sense that I “act for myself.”

    I’ll even go as far as saying that acting for myself is “natural.” And I’ll even grant that if I had free will, that this would be “natural.’

    But none of this speaks to liberty. My feeling is that once we go about disambiguating the word “liberty” and explaining what we mean when we say men naturally posses it, we will find we don’t have very much to say (acting for ourselves and such).

  238. “Worker representatives sit on boards of directors”… umm, didn’t we get rid of that in 1945?

  239. The result is millions of folks out of a good job that required no more than a high school diploma in a very meager job market for their education and skill set.

    I put my wife and kids throught three years of poverty to get a college degree. I have very little sympathy for anyone that won’t make the same committment.

    Learn or die.

  240. kinnath, I can appreciate that and I certainly respect it, but not everyone has your strength and drive and intellect. The companies were looking out for themselves. A lot of people feel that it is in their best interest to let the government look out for them since the company didn’t. That’s how it is for now and like all things, it will cycle the other way eventually.

  241. “Unions may survive in the short term making demands for unrealistic wages and benefits, but in the long term they may drive away their own opportunity for employment.”

    Are you shittin’ me? No fuckin’ way.

  242. kinnath, I can appreciate that and I certainly respect it, but not everyone has your strength and drive and intellect. The companies were looking out for themselves. A lot of people feel that it is in their best interest to let the government look out for them since the company didn’t. That’s how it is for now and like all things, it will cycle the other way eventually.

    If they don’t they should expect to live with less. The hangers on will look for ANYONE to “look out for them,” right up until there is nothing left to steal. They’ll take everyone down with them in the process. Isn’t GM just about the most perfect example of that ever?

  243. kinnath, I can appreciate that and I certainly respect it, but not everyone has your strength and drive and intellect.

    Too fucking bad.

    They have no right to expect the government to tax my income and send part of it to them so that they can live a better life than they can accomplish on their own.

  244. “The result is millions of folks out of a good job that required no more than a high school diploma in a very meager job market for their education and skill set.”

    Then let them buy stocks.

  245. Lest everyone think I am a totally heartless bastard, I should make it clear that I am not opposed to a safety net. I more that willing to pitch in a few nickels of each dollar I make to ensure that kids don’t starve when someone looses a job.

    But income redistribution to “normalize” everone’s station life is complete and utter bullshit.

  246. “I put my wife and kids throught three years of poverty to get a college degree. I have very little sympathy for anyone that won’t make the same committment.

    Learn or die.”

    I agree. I did the poverty / education thing too. Worked well.

    I was in a political science class and this welfare mom was saying that she was single and had a kid so she was owed an education. I stood up and asked — now that I have worked my way up from poverty to a point where I can finally pay for a university education, why should I have to pay for yours too? Because you got pregnant out of wedlock?

    She never liked me after that.

  247. Wouldn’t someone with egalitarian leanings want a policy that benifited everyone equally? A union benefits only those in the union.

    It rises costs for everybody else.

    Their extra wages and benefits have to come from somewhere- and it’s not just on the employer, that cost is on every consumer of the product or service the employer offers.

    There are only two consistent “egalitarian” solutions: socialism and free markets. One fails, one works, and it works damn well.

  248. If at least Meyerson gave due credit. What he writes is just an old idea that was in the air at least 15 years ago. I read the same thing at that time in the book whose link I put below. I was interested by the idea, made some research about it and… abandoned the idea. It simply doesn’t work the way they say.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000HWYMPK/reasonmagazinea-20/

  249. As I’ve said before…
    When the workers control the means of production, the workers produce worthless junk and then force people to buy it by banning all competition.

    I’d much rather have consumers control the means of production. By way of price signals.

  250. Tyler, they all fail eventually. The one regarded very loosely as capitalism is in spectacular failure right now.

    Unions are simply a tool to even up the power struggle.

    kinnath, see, it’s just the size of the safety net that we disagree on.

  251. kinnath, see, it’s just the size of the safety net that we disagree on.

    Not really, there is a substantial difference between a safety net and a hammock.

  252. Tyler,

    Since you’re the only one that took up my argument, I’ll just say, before I have to run, that I am probably a “liberaltarian.” That puts me in a weird position, but one where Brink Lindsey and Will Willkinsin would see me as in an emerging group that needs to be paid attention to in order to spread confidence in free markets, free minds, etc.

    If I were designing a society from scratch, there would be no minimum wage, outlawed drugs, prostitution would be legal, employers could decide whether or not they wanted unions on their property (though employees could obviously assemble if they wanted, and ask for better working conditions, higher wages, etc, but the property owner could also fire them), and people could engage in any non-coercive sexual behavior between adults they wanted in the privacy of their own homes.

    But there would no doubt be a government. I am bothered by the necessity of some kind of coercion that comes with even a minimal state, but I see no other way. I do wish, however, that anarchists wouldn’t act so confident (zealous, even) about “natural rights,” and wouldn’t need to seek a crutch from weak and unwarranted philosophical assertions. So I’m really not a communitarian, just more of a pragmatist… in the loose sense of the term.

  253. brotherben: you still are going by your feelings. Facts are unions lead to less jobs by raising costs/decreasing capital and thus lead to less investment and less progress. The way to progress is getting the most out of every unit of work. That is why we use machines to farm and build things. Yes people lost jobs but we progressed with each machine put in place. Your union argument would be against mechanization. Do you see that? The world is not fair. We cannot prop up high-school graduates making 60k a year. The money must come from somewhere and the cost is slower progress. If people want to work at the same level as a worker in a 3rd world country they need to move there live here at the same level. Once again this is not fantasy land.

  254. should be an “or” in 2nd to last sentence.

  255. Jay: how is what you stated not libertarian (or capitalist/objectivist)?

  256. Hmm, a power struggle? I might agree that the government does tend to favor big businesses with its legislation, therefore creating a misbalance of powers. Your real enemy might be corporatism, not capitalism.

    And how about the Federal Reserve, which pumps capital into sectors of the economy like the housing market (made possible by “housing for all” legislation), artificially inflating them, resulting in a misallocation of resources that ends in collapse? Sounds like a problem of monetary interventionism, not capitalism.

    Anyway, looking at these problems which are creations of government intervention, do you think that the correct balance would be to just introduce new legislation, favoring a new special interest group? Or maybe we could say “enough is enough” and try real capitalism without the influence and special treatment of one group over another. We’ve been trying the “countervailing powers” capitalism since FDR, maybe even before, and it certainly is a mess.

  257. Jay J,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject, it does make sense to me from a pragmatic point of view. The only reason I didn’t take the discussion further was that if you don’t really care for a priori reasoning, then it’s obvious why you have a different concept of “liberty” than I do.

  258. Adrian,

    Objectivism is about justifying certain social relations through particular “philosophical” arguments, and if there is one thing I am not, it is an Objectivist.

    As for the way social relations should be arranged, I would, in my hypothetical society, have central banking, public schools, drug companies would have to be truthful about what they’re selling (in other words, I wouldn’t leave this merely to tort law) and there would be social benefits rivaling Europe in their generosity.

    I trust that it is becoming clearer that though I have some strong libertarian leanings, I am not a full-fledged member…

  259. Tyler,

    Fair enough.

  260. In a perfect world, people are content with what they have. They don’t start shitting out kids while working for minimum wage. They don’t buy anything but a house on credit. They get educated to a level that will allow them to earn what they desire.

    In my perfect world, employers understand a sense of social responsibilty. They pay good wages and insurance is affordable to every employee. Yes it’s their money and they can do with it what they will. The more wealth you have, the more social responsibilty you have. Without this, the burden for the poor falls to the government and we all know where they go for the money.

    That is exactly what is happening right now. I do wish it wasn’t this way, but the wealthy have failed society and the government is trying to fix.

    Like all things the government does, I believe they will completely destroy what is left of the economy in trying to fix it.

    Yes in my perfect world, their is more than enough for everyone to have plenty. I am willing to let the government try to force that balance. Damn the consequences.

  261. yeah, i’d say so as well.

  262. brotherben: you have it all backwards. The lazy, unproductive, unwilling and ignorant have failed society. The wealthy and/or productive are the only thing keeping us afloat. Jealousy can not be the base of a moral claim.

  263. brotherben: put another way, would you rather have the top 1 million commit suicide or bottom 1 million? yes you have to choose.

  264. The top. seriously.

  265. “Objectivism is about justifying certain social relations through particular “philosophical” arguments, and if there is one thing I am not, it is an Objectivist.”

    I’m no Objectivist either, but I think that if you were talking to one they would tell you that your assumption about the point of Objectivism is off-base.

    I think it’s more individual-centric. Like a way to justify “selfishness.” We might see that as pertaining to social relationships (mainly, that the Objectivist is an arrogant bastard), but they would say it’s more about self-fulfillment, reality, and ethics. And yes, that this philosophy can justify capitalism, which is a net benefit to everybody in the end anyway.

    Correct me if I’m wrong…

  266. Yes in my perfect world, their is more than enough for everyone to have plenty. I am willing to let the government try to force that balance. Damn the consequences.

    You have an active fantasy life. The consquences are that someone shoots you from behind a tree for trying to enforce your fantasy on the rest of us.

  267. “The top. seriously.”

    Remember the Start Trek episode where the gang landed on a planet where all of the grownups had died?

    Bonk, bonk, bonk on the head!

    Is that really what you want?

  268. brotherben, I know that CNN and the NYT say that it’s the fault of the rich why we’re in this mess. But please look into the possibility that maybe it was the government’s fault, you might learn something.

    I recommend mises.org, but the key is to think for yourself.

  269. As for the owners that payed shit wages and no benefits to the point that your employees are having the government share your wealth? I guess that was also one of those risks you took.

    And now that the government is forcing my employer to “share the wealth”, my employer is off-shoring jobs like mine like it’s going out of style. So instead of a shit wage (which was actually a pretty good wage), people in my industry are now facing the prospect of *no* wage. Thanks a lot, asshole!

    Now hear this – the fact that my employer is a lot richer than I am doesn’t necessarily mean I’m poor. And that holds true whether he’s a hundred, a thousand or a million times richer than I am.

  270. Tyler,

    I think I see that many Objectivists see their philosophy as endorsing less than it actually does. In other words, showing that individual selfishness can be a good thing, etc. is what they think it does, but Ayn Rand actually had a very syllogistic line of reasoning, the point of which was to crudely prove hat her moral system was the only one the rational person could accept. And she was contemptuous of other philosophical ways of imagining social arrangements.

    Now I understand that in principle, her contemptuousness could be separated from her philosophy, but a certain glib streak seems to run through both.

    As for reality, I don’t think one or another philosophical systems have the market cornered on it, and I don’t think “existence exists” yields anything interesting at all.

    As for justifying Capitalism, it depends on what we mean by justification. If we mean that we crudely prove it such that to deny the conclusion is to deny 2+2=4, then no, I don’t believe Objectivism justifies capitalism. Of course this is a high bar, since no other philosophical system justifies any social arrangement this crudely. The problem seems to be that Objectivism claimed to do just that.

    If we aren’t trying to crudely prove Captialism, then we should probably look to other sources for strength. I’m no expert, but maybe Nozick would be a good place to start.

  271. The top. seriously.

    Sorry man, I really can’t start at the beginning. Hopefully you’ll be curious enough to pick up a book from the other side of things and give it an honest intellectual reading.

  272. kinnath, I’ve heard people suggest the same fate for folks like Maddoff and the late Ken Lay and others.

    randall, I never got into star trek. sorry.

    tyler, delusion is much more satisfying. I haven’t watched cnn for many years and don’t read the nyt.

  273. I think that Hayek does a better job at justifying capitalism than Ayn Rand. He used arguments that could make sense to anybody, not just strictly Objectivists.

    Hint: He doesn’t just rely on strict egoism that turns most people away forever

  274. Somebody suggest reading material for me that explains how the market would be perfect without any government influence.

  275. I’ll look into Hayek. I indirectly know a man named Chandran Kukathus, who has done allot of work on Hayek. Professor Kukathus has written for Reason Mag before (and been on a couple of episodes of Philosophy Bites on the internet).

  276. brotherben: von mises, rand, hayek. But government is needed to protect property rights.

  277. I make no bones about it, I am on the side of the workers.

    Does that include the workers that are going to have 70% and more of their income taxed away in certain high-tax jurisdictions after the Obama tax increases?

    As for the owners that payed shit wages and no benefits to the point that your employees are having the government share your wealth? I guess that was also one of those risks you took.

    Jeebus H. Is getting robbed just one of those risks that people who have nice cars and live in nice houses take? Is getting shot in a drive-by just one of those risks that kids who live in bad neighborhoods take?

    What an intellectually and morally vacant thing to say.

  278. One other question with two parts.

    How do we completely extract govt. meddling from the marketplace?

    How do we get everyone to exercise personal responsibility?

    To do both fixes the problems from the top down and the bottom up.

  279. R C Dean, If the employer, due to simple profit maximization, pays a low wage without benefits, he risks the employees relying on the government to make ends meet. It has nothing to do with theft. Unless you want to look at the employers substandard wages as theft of services.

  280. Unions are a protectionist racket. As such they shrink the economy. If you love oligarchs then by all means encourage unions.

  281. brotherben: von mises, rand, hayek. But government is needed to protect property rights.

    Also contract enforcement.

    There are certain minimal “regulations” necessary for markets to function. Theft has to be illegal, for example. However, in a libertarian society those regulations tend to be simple rules that can be uniformly enforced.

    As opposed to rules that micromanage the economy and attempt to game the system in favor of certain classes or constituencies. Which is mostly what we have now.

    i.e. A libertarian will argue in favor of liability for damages due to pollution – under the broad simple rule that you must compensate others for damage that you do to their lives or property, but against government mandates specifying how pollution must be controlled or to what specific levels it must be contained. The latter often tends to be used to unjustly harass specific industries that are politically unpopular, or direct funds to specific companies that produce the specified pollution control technologies mandated by the government.

  282. Yeah, yeah. Adrian, I’m going to take a wild stab that you are not in the $250,000 a year class.

    So what’s your reason for being there? Not bright enough, productive enough, hardworking enough?

    What does this even mean? Doctors and nurses don’t “produce” and, unless you’re a specialist, don’t make over 250G. So these people don’t count as bright, productive or hardworking because they don’t hit some arbitary yearly salary standard? This is such an odd statement.

  283. I work with a German guy (from Berlin) and he said the German attitude toward America’s current 7 percent unemployment rate would be, “What’s the big deal? We have some cities where the unemployment rate is 22 percent. That’s in normal times! Seven percent would be considered ‘full employment’!” he laughed.

  284. I suppose now you’ll go on about the “free-rider problem.”

    There is no “free rider” problem, because there’s no reason to assume that all of a company’s workforce should be unionized. Heck, there isn’t even a reason to assume that all of the employees for a given task, like welding (for example), need to be unionized. A company can hire union and non-union welders to work side-by-side if it wants to. “Free rider” is a fraudulent argument put forth by unions in order to convince those voting for the union to coerce those not voting for it.

  285. The disparity between workers wealth and owners wealth was basically unchanged in the 20th century until about 1973.

    That must be why the Carnegies were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and so were their workers.

  286. The recent financial collapse would not have happened if shareholders had timely and accurate information regarding the state of the company (transparency) and the authority to change the direction of the company (power over the board).

    Absolutely not true. More information (transparency) is worthless in the governance of a large public company with many thousands of shareholders. Look up “rational apathy”. It will explain why what you want can’t happen no matter how complete and accurate the company’s reports are.

  287. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.I still see demand for all types of professionals and jobs posted on specific employment sites –

    http://www.linkedin.com (networking)
    http://www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
    http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

    I see 100K, 150K and 200K jobs. Things are changing, don’t be afraid to participate.

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