Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Milton Friedman backs no unions - or all unions!?
Milton Friedman said (in 1980) that unions added 14% to the wages of their members but reduced wages 4% for everybody else. He might have added that unions raise the wages of employees in similar non-unionized firms by threat of expanding unionization -- which of course results in even more union (informally) empowered employees squeezing everybody else.
Going by Uncle Milty, we either need no unions at all or all unions. The (virtual) effect of the latter can be achieved by centralized bargaining (everybody working similar jobs under one contract with all firms) -- practiced in such “inefficient” economies as Germany (which manufactures eight times as many motor vehicles per capita as the US) -- and practiced all over continental Europe and all over the world from French Canada to Argentina to Indonesia.
Bernie rarely shouts about unions. Why is it that upper middle class progressives lose sight of the main counterweight, the average person’s economic and political mainspring: labor unions?
What are we prepared to do?
How about an all out effort to make union busting a felony -- starting with the most progressive states? Not only is unfairly strangling the labor market the most economically -- and socially -- damaging species of market warping -- but firing folks who want to collectively bargain is the most pernicious way of achieving this most pernicious result.
The legislation can be sold as a simple matter of freedom: once folks in an old fashioned union Hell states see freedom-to-bargain in a nearby healthy labor market states (last poll I saw said 50% wanted to join a union) they will wake up and ask why they cannot enjoy the same non-loaded-against-them labor market for themselves.