Reason Roundup

Harris Wants to Ban Right-to-Work Laws, Chooses Union Endorsements Over Worker Well-Being

Plus: life after ISIS, Kansas says state constitution guarantees abortion access, and more...


Kamala Harris wants to make absolutely sure that we know she's an authoritarian. Fresh off announcing that as president she would override Congress to get her way on gun policy, the Democratic senator from California and 2020 presidential hopeful said she would use executive power to push for bans on state laws she opposes, too.

Speaking to a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) gathering on Saturday, Harris spoke of the need for "banning right-to-work laws" that nearly half of states have enacted and how, as president, she would use both her "bully pulpit" and "executive authority" to accomplish that.

Right-to-work laws are often framed by Democrats as an anti-worker policy. In fact, all they say is that employees can't be told to join a union or pay union fees as a condition of employment. They're still welcome to do so; they just have to make that choice for themselves.

In the topsy-turvy world of Harris and other Democrats, however, giving workers options is no good. If elite forces in Washington think workers would be better off joining unions, then they're just going to override the will of individual employees and state governments across the country. Do as they say! Or else! For your own good.

Sure, some low-income workers might think their hard-earned dollars are better spent on securing immediate material well-being for them and their families. But Harris thinks their dollars would be better off with a massive and bloated international organization that can help her presidential campaign. I mean, have you seen SEIU's massive mansion across the street from the White House? How could any group so swampy be wrong?

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted yesterday:

Right to work is a bugbear to union leaders because it crimps their finances for political spending, and Ms. Harris is eager to get the endorsement of the SEIU and other major unions. Her first big policy proposal, unveiled in March, would have the feds give teachers across the country an average pay raise of $13,500 a year. That payoff to the teachers unions would cost federal taxpayers some $315 billion over 10 years, not including what states would have to contribute to qualify for these Harris Grants.

The big story of the 2020 campaign so far is the Democratic Party's lurch to the left, and Ms. Harris's pitch against right to work is evidence that her goal is entrenching union power rather than assisting workers.

Several years ago, Reason ran a series of articles on whether libertarians should support right-to-work laws. Here's Shikha Dalmia making that case that yes, "right to work laws are indeed libertarian." Meanwhile, contributors Sheldon Richman and J.D. Tuccille make a libertarian case against right-to-work laws, arguing that they interfere with freedom of contract, here and here.


  • In the 1990s, life in Syria's Remote Provinces "was generally simple and uneventful," writes Hassan Hassan, a native of the area:

The state's presence was minimal, and villagers sustained themselves through farming and remittances from relatives working in the Persian Gulf. Even in retrospect, nothing in those days indicated that my home province would become the main transit hub for jihadists moving from Syria into Iraq after the 2003 invasion, or the site of the Islamic State's final battle as a caliphate.

Now Hassan struggles "to connect images from my past with the reality of today," he writes in The Atlantic. Read the whole thing here.

  • In which the Associated Press pulls every linguistic trick possible to avoid saying who shot at and wounded three children—an Oklahoma cop. Thankfully, the kids are expected to be OK.

NEXT: Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Hello.

      Harris is the worst.

      1. Seriously, is it a surprise to anyone that this awful bitch is just awful? She’s not even a good feminist. She got where she is by being Willie Brown’s chew toy.

    2. We need to talk about the soft authoritarianism of no spoiler expectations.

      SPOILER ALERT! should be sufficient. We’re not an equality of outcome outfit. If you didn’t watch when it aired, why should everyone else that did have to tiptoe around you?

      That being said, if the Battle of the Bastards was better, it was only because Ramsay Bolton was such an interesting character. The Lord of Whitewalkers may be less so because he never says anything. Maybe best battle evar!!!

      It’s rare when you’re looking forward to something and it exceeds expectations. The new Avengers flick apparently did that. I think this did, as well. Before that, in pop culture, we might need to go all the way back to when people were looking forward to the next Beatles album, and it was Sgt. Pepper.

      1. SPOILER ALERT: Sgt. Pepper’s is overrated.

        1. I think you just evened it out. Now it’s rated just right.

      2. I’m not sure what I think of this final season. The battle was well done. But I feel like they tried to do too much with the show and now are rushing to finish it up. We’ll see what they do with the last few episodes.

  1. Kamala Harris wants to make absolutely sure that we know she’s an authoritarian.

    But you can trust her with power because [voice trails off]

    1. Pens and phones seem to get bigger every time someone new moves into the White House.

        1. Phallocentrism!

    2. The night is dark and full of terrors.

  2. …as president, she would use both her “bully pulpit” and “executive authority” to accomplish that.

    Her pander dial goes to 11.

  3. The Kansas Supreme Court says a right to legal abortion is embedded in the state’s constitution.

    At least some right is embedded in some constitution somewhere.

    1. It is usually one that appears nowhere in the text.

      1. Too true.
        If it says “shall not be infringed” there is no limit to the restrictions.
        If it is not even there, it means up to and including murder.

    2. They said because the constitution allows for the pursuit of happiness. Who knew killing babies could make someone sp happy.

      1. If it applies to abortion, it should probably also apply to a bunch of other stuff too. How are doing drugs and hiring prostitutes, for example, not part of the pursuit of happiness?

        1. Yeah, I’d like to see how they twist and turn to say there’s a compelling state interest, narrowly tailored by the narcotics and prostitution laws, that goes far beyond that in abortions—even though narcotics were legal and abortions illegal at the time that provision of the constitution was enacted. They say the provision now encompasses stuff its drafters didn’t specifically intend. Nothing about meeting of the minds there. Kind of like when you write a legal document, it must be a feeling you capture, rather than the facts you mean, which can change subsequently.

      2. That would just mean that attempted abortion is a protected right, just like if punching me in the nose would make you happy, you can pursue punching me in the nose.

        Actually succeeding (in either attempt) causes externalities that obstruct my (and the baby’s) pursuit of our own happiness.

        I, for one, find not being dismembered alive to be such an obvious goal that it shouldn’t even need to be mentioned.

        Alternatively: we should abolish capital punishment and sentence people to abortion instead, using the method in common use for all late (ex: 80th trimester) term abortions.

      3. If killing babies makes progtards happy, so it’s legal, then it should be even more legal for me to slaughter progtards at will. As beating dirty hippies and slaughtering progtards is truly joyous.

        Just try walking around someplace like Seattle or SF with a cattle prod and randomly shock those hippie shitbags. You can’t help but enjoy yourself.

  4. If Harris had any chance of being elected this might be a concern. However, she like Beto, Warren and Booker, has already flamed out and everything she is saying is nothing more than an attempt to get some oxygen back into her campaign which is dying fast. With Biden now in the race, her campaign will fall even farther into oblivion.

    1. She could always end up someone’s running mate.

      1. Is Willie in the race?

        1. Horton?

    2. The problem isn’t that she’s likely to be elected. The problem is that she’s normalizing some of the other candidates, who are just as batshit crazy, but a little better at hiding it.

      The Democrats are busy moving the Overton window, and they’re doing it deliberately.

  5. In which the Associated Press pulls every linguistic trick possible to avoid saying who shot at and wounded three children…

    A police blotter was quoted verbatim. Redactions were not necessary. Journalism happened.

    1. I see what you did there, and I enjoyed it.

      The article leads with “The injuries sustained by three children… were not lift threatening”

      A little further down:

      “My 4-year-old daughter was shot in the head, and she has a bullet in her brain, and my 5-year-old has a skull fracture,” Hill said. “My 1-year-old baby has gunshot wounds on her face. My 2-year-old wasn’t touched with any bullets.”

      So they could have written “Oklahoma Police Shoot 3 small children in the head while pursuing suspected robber”

      Or “Police shoot baby in the face, two toddlers in the head. Robbery suspect apprehended.”

      “Not life threatening” is a nice way to lead off “has bullet in brain”.

  6. “The Kansas Supreme Court says a right to legal abortion is embedded in the state’s constitution.”

    Excellent news.

    I’m sure conservatives will seize on the fact that technically the word “abortion” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the document. But that’s a silly objection. In fact, any Constitution that includes the words “liberty” or “right” inherently protects access to abortion care.


    1. Living constitutions don’t require words.

  7. “Kamala Harris wants to make absolutely sure that we know she’s an authoritarian.”

    As long as she’s not authoritarian when it comes to immigration or reproductive rights, she’s still better than any Republican. And yes, that includes Rand Paul.


  8. Judge Andrew Napolitano: Trump venal and corrupt

    In a scathing op-ed and accompanying video published Thursday, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s efforts to cover it up showed a clear pattern of criminal behavior.

    1. Have you signed the impeachment petition? We need to remove the Con Man with the #TinyMushroomDick from office ASAP.

      1. No, but I will check in later to see in the Peanut Gallery has turned on their favorite libertarian judge and recognized the Dotard’s criminal behavior.

        Nahh, just kidding. They love their authoritarian jackboot Trump.

        I also see that illegal immigrants are pouring in at a 15 year high. Can the Con Man just work on that instead of traveling around campaigning and lying full time?

        1. “illegal immigrants”

          Please don’t use that alt-right white nationalist term. We Koch / Reason libertarians call them “undocumented immigrants.”

          1. Immigrants are persons who have legally entered this country, following the appropriate laws and regulations.
            You are correct that the criminal border crossers should not be called immigrants regardless of any adjectives, including the word undocumented.

          2. This is kinda like watching two chat-bots go at it.

            1. Automated ass kissers is better. The question is who’s going to go French first?

        2. “No, but I will check in later…”

          Don’t bother turd. You are universally despised for good reason.
          Go someplace and die where you won’t stink up the place.

        3. You’ve never quoted Napolitano in your life. He also isnt a favorite of libertarians. He is actually laughed at a lot. You dishonest shitbag.

          1. I like the judge.

            But I think he’s wrong on this one. Not because “Trump Great!: though.

            I think this report is a Rorschach test, allowing people to read any of their preconceived notions into it as they please. But I don’t see Trump conspiring and obstructing justice like a paranoid criminal. Nor do I see him as pure as the driven snow.

            What I do see is the top executive looking at an investigation that he knows to be off-base and out of control, and none of the people in charge are managing it – or more bluntly put, doing their jobs. The investigation was supposed to get to the bottom of Russian meddling in the election, and resolve questions of Trump campaign involvement. Well, they resolved that last question pretty early on, but kept working to set up people for process crimes and try to extort testimony against Trump. Anyone with authority over that investigation should have had some pretty pointed questions about why things were dragging on for years after the needed information was in hand, and why the focus of the investigation was never really Russia, but first the Trump campaign and then investigations into supposed obstruction by the Trump White House -with side trips into campaign finance for some reason – that inexplicably required raiding Trump’s personal lawyer’s offices.

            Yeah, I’d say the President should have been asking pointed questions about why that investigation was running unsupervised and what can be done about that.

            Of course, this touches on exactly why we needed the independent counsel law – so that the president would not have control over investigations that might target him. But it also touches on the reason that the law was allowed to die… that the investigation is about a person and not a crime – just a blank check to root around looking into a small group of people with the intention of finding something you can take to court – even absent any allegations of criminal activity.

        4. Well, if it isn’t our resident pedophile piece of shit. How was your last NAMBLA meeting asshole?

          No one cares what you think, and we want you gone. You kiddie raping commie scumbag.

      2. The funny thing is, according to Wiki:

        MoveOn started in 1998 as an e-mail group,, created by software entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the married cofounders of Berkeley Systems. They started by passing around a petition asking Congress to “Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation”, as opposed to impeaching him.

        1. That is funny. They are pretty much doing the opposite of what they were founded to do.

          1. Well, the opposite of what they were nominally founded to do, anyway. It’s not like they were ever actually non-partisan.

    2. Got to get his friend and neighbor Ralph Fucetola to work on Nap.

  9. More bad economic news.

    Shares of Burger King’s parent fall after earnings miss

    The economy is so bad people literally can’t afford to eat.


    1. Or people have better options than eating BurgerFink’s shitty food.

    2. What’s worse, that people can’t afford to eat or that our poor have a serious problem with obesity?

    3. What is worse, the price of gas is so high that the ‘poor’ people who ‘can’t afford to eat’ also ‘can’t even afford’ to drive to the fast food they ‘can’t afford’.

      1. I’ve seen them walk through the drive through in my neighborhood.

        1. I’ve seen them walk through the drive through in my neighborhood.

          Those aren’t poors, those are addicts

        2. The McDonald’s next to Gonzaga University campus has a walk up window. Although the students aren’t generally fat fucks.

    4. I heard this was caused by a shortage of cats at their Venezuelan franchise.

  10. “Nudging people to happiness”. Another way of saying “manipulation”.

    1. They call it “libertarian paternalism”.

  11. Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke proposes $5 trillion climate change plan

    As libertarians we’re naturally skeptical of politicians proposing trillion-dollar plans. But I think we should make an exception when it comes to climate change. The planet will literally become uninhabitable in 12 years if we don’t let Democrats take charge and fix things.

    1. Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke


      1. Dude jumped into a Presidential race that now has over 20 candidates in his own party looking to grab the brass ring, several of them with darker skin colors and/or vaginas, and he doesn’t have Biden’s decades-long political history or memeable personality.

  12. re: the “libertarian case against right-to-work laws” – It’s worth noting that both those articles (from 2012) oppose RTW laws as an interference in the right to contract between a company and a union. That line of argument starts from the highly questionable assumption that the contract between the company and the union was voluntary and uninfluenced by other government regulation.

    Regardless, I don’t see it as a very strong argument that the union’s contract should be allowed to unilaterally trump the employees’ right to contract.

    1. It also includes in the “contract” individuals who are not part of the contract.

    2. Seems to me that the right to work laws wouldn’t be necessary if the real problem were addressed. The real problem being all of the special powers and privileges unions get by law. If unions didn’t have their special legal status, I would oppose the right to work laws. It’s not inconceivable that an employer would choose to contract with a union rather than with individual workers for labor.

      1. Yes and no. After eliminating the special powers and privileges that unions get by law, I think you might be in a new space with a moral hazard that employers and union leaders might collude to the workers’ detriment. A closed-shop rule arguably makes such collusion easier by making it harder for the employee to go elsewhere.

        1. I guess it’s not obvious to me that employers and unions should be preventing from colluding in that way.
          And I don’t think it’s a significant danger. Unions have been declining for a long time with their special protections in place, and without right to work laws for the most part.

          But, the world we live in has special privileges for unions, and they probably aren’t going away, so I’m ok with RTW.

  13. There’s this thing called moral hazard, and, no, libertarian capitalists aren’t the most callous people in the world for noticing it at work:

    “As the SSA notes, “applications and award rates are both near historic low levels.” Since 2014 the number of disabled workers receiving benefits has declined by 260,000. This retrenchment may seem paltry, but by our calculations it has saved the disability trust fund about $3.7 billion this year.

    The main reason for the decline is that better economic opportunities have attracted workers who had filed for disability after losing jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of disabled in the workforce hit a trough of 4.5 million in January 2014 but has since grown by 1.5 million. The labor-force participation rate for disabled working-age men has climbed to 38% from 30%. This suggests that for many Americans disability had become another form of unemployment insurance.”


    “The Falling Disability Rolls”

    The point is that people go on disability when it pays better and is easier than moving somewhere else in the country and getting another job. The obvious implication is that cutting disability wouldn’t have left these people to wander around aimlessly in circles until they finally died of exposure and starvation. Rather, they would have made the tough decisions necessary to find work. Providing incentives for people to go on disability as a form of unemployment insurance is evil and cruel. Pointing out that these social programs are contributing to people’s misery by shielding them from making necessary tough choices is the opposite of evil and cruel.

  14. Is it me or is it both arrogant and unwise to say you’re gonna use Executive action to put people and states in their proper place?

    Geez, Kamala. We get it. You like to, erm, dominate.

    1. Well it’s hard to get people’s attention when Liz Warren is promising to break up Amazon, Google, and Facebook, forgive all student debt, and throw Donald Trump in prison every other day. I mean, what’s she have to do to get noticed, pose in Playboy? Beat up a Nazi at a statue rally? And Bernie that other old white guy are still sitting on top of the polls. It’s not fair!



        1. Add free bacon and you have my vote!

          1. I was at a 7-11 on Saturday, I was gonna buy the bacon, but then I saw the expiration date was April 16. I took it to the counter and told the owner/manager. I told him every bacon package in the place was past its expiration date. I go back into the 7-11 this morning, saw the bacon rack and checked. They were all still dated April 16. I took them all up to the counter.

            I’m a libertarian. I don’t want to call the health department!

            Anyway, more bacon isn’t always a good thing, especially if it’s past its expiration date.

            1. The 7-11s in your area must be vastly different than they are here. I would never even consider buying meat that wasn’t in the form of jerky at a 7-11.

      2. Maybe Bernie will offer Lizzie the VP slot. But only if she agrees to a threesome with him and Mrs. Bernie.

    2. I wonder what the proper role of Congress really is to limit executive power? Ideally passing laws would be enough, but we’re at the point now where passing a law to restrict the Executive is almost impossible because of the veto threat. It’s hard to imagine that the Founders imagined a scenario where Congress could cede power by a simple majority vote, but require a super-majority to limit the Executive from vetoing the very attempt to claw back the power that was Congress’ to begin with.

      It was once quipped by Reagan that the nearest thing to eternal life is a government program (paraphrased). It seems that ceding power to the Executive is quite similar in nature.

      1. Uh… we already have laws that limit executive power. We just ignore them.

        We had a constitution that said that only congress could declare war. But we ignored that.

        So we made a law that said a president had to notify congress if he was going to start military action – and seek approval or terminate such actions if approval is not forthcoming.

        Remember how Obama went to congress before bombing Libya? And remember how he got approval to continue that action? And remember how he got approval before expanding military action into another …. do we even know how many? 7 countries? More?

        Yeah, don’t wrack your brain. You don’t remember because it didn’t happen. He didn’t even get a sternly worded note from congress either.

        If you have a nation of laws (not men), but you ignore those laws…. what exactly do you have?

        1. “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”
          ― Lysander Spooner

          1. We like to say “what would Jefferson think of …”

            Spooner died in 1887, and he was already saying that.

            “What would Spooner say if…”?

            I’m gonna go with “Told ya so!”

    3. I’m afraid that’s just how it’s going to be after Obama and Trump.

  15. I would love to see SIEU’s massive mansion across the street from the White House. What’s the address?

    1. She probably confused SEIU with AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO has a large building across Lafayette Square. The SEIU is at Dupont Circle.

  16. Yes, Kamala Harris is a commie ass hat

  17. Yeah, Kamala Harris is definitely the scariest one of the lot. Basically the Democrats’ version of Rick Santorum. Give her any real power and she would be terrifying.

    1. More terrifying than Bernie? Man… every election just gets more and more depressing.

      1. That’s a tough call. Bernie is more of a true believer, which is more dangerous, I think. Harris is just your usual politician trying to find which way the wind is blowing.

  18. ” Meanwhile, contributors Sheldon Richman and J.D. Tuccille make a libertarian case against right-to-work laws”

    Of course they did.

    1. I don’t know where they get the “freedom of contract” angle, but I can offer an anecdote.

      My inlaws live in the working-class hinterlands of flyover country. Most of the good jobs are in shipping or energy. They are union jobs.

      So when they graduated from high school, most of the inlaw-dudes had a tough time, bouncing around menial, dead-end jobs. They were waiting for their turn to get on at one of the good, union jobs.

      But the union controls the jobs. You’d think that a company would control their own hiring, but they don’t. Not in that part of union country anyway. The union contract says you have to join the union before they can hire you. So the union gets to decide if you can work at the good jobs. And they have exactly zero incentive to put “is a good employee for the company” on their criteria list. So it is about who you know and how well connected they are. Eventually, they mostly got on with the union shops – and they make pretty good money for folks who can barely read. They have boats and 4 wheelers and snow-mobiles and $40k (or more) trucks.

      They wait in line for promotions that are based mostly on seniority, and for cushier jobs that go to the guys who have been around longer and are on the “in-group”.

      But it is OK, because once you are in, you are pretty much in. You have to screw up pretty bad to lose your job – like drugs or other criminal activity bad.

      So I’m not exactly sure where “libertarian” enters into that. I mean, sure, the only government action is protecting those union jobs from replacement which forces the employer to accede to more union demands than they otherwise would. But other than that “right to work” laws just prevent other people from coercing you into joining their group and paying their dues.

  19. Why is this a surprise? The completely mislabeled liberals don’t believe in freedom of choice. Want healthcare? You will buy what they demand you buy. Save for your retirement? Not until confiscation of 12.4% of your gross income in a tax and spend Ponzi scheme. Decide whether you want to join a union? You are too stupid to make that choice for yourself.
    Unfortunately they are not fiction, they are the real Borg. You will be assimilated.

      1. “test”

  20. “Dump the running mate? SF tech exec funds campaign to elect vice presidents separately”
    “David Blake wants voters, not the presidential candidates, to choose the country’s next vice president. He’s put up $1 million of his own money to try to make that happen.
    The San Francisco tech executive’s website went live in March, and his team already is collecting signatures to change the way Americans pick the country’s presidential backup….”

    1. OK, the link is killing the post.
      It’s from the SF Chron.

  21. The Kansas Supreme Court’s dissenting opinion, beginning on p. 115, pulls no punches:

    “Reading today’s majority opinion is a follow-the-white-rabbit experience. One is left feeling like Alice, invited by the Queen to believe “‘as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'” Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass 100 (1899). Indeed, the story told by the majority is a strange one. In it, all the luminaries of the western legal tradition—from Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone to Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson—would celebrate and enshrine a right to nearly unfettered abortion access. In this imagined world, the Liberty Bell rings every time a baby in utero loses her arm.”

    Fortunately, Ballotpedia tells that two of the abortion fanciers on the court will face the voters in 2020 (unless they retire), giving the people of Kansas the chance to decide if they want to be complicit in what their Supreme Court is doing.

  22. “Kansas says state constitution guarantees abortion access”

    No wonder they think that all we are is dust in the wind.

    Carry on, wayward son clingers.

  23. […] “Kamala Harris wants to make absolutely sure that we know she’s an authoritarian,” says Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason. […]

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.