Dead to Your Brethren

by Henry on March 10, 2009

“Matthew Yglesias”:http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/matthewyglesias/~3/550003555/the_chamber_mobilizes.php today

I’m probably not breaking any news if I tell you that American business really hates unions and, thus, really hates the Employee Free Choice Act. Thus, even though John Boehner is trying to destroy the American economy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is squarely focusing its fire on pro-EFCA Democrats. Your typical business executive would rather let the world burn, or see his children fed to a pack of wild boars, then see a union form at his firm. And it makes a certain amount of sense—businessmen appreciate the value of class solidarity. If you run your company into the ground, you get a nice severance package and another job at another company. But if you let your company be unionized, you’d be dead to your brethren. An attack on one is an attack on all, and they all stand together on this point.

“Adam Smith”:http://geolib.com/smith.adam/won1-08.html, 233 years ago:

We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people.

{ 11 comments }

1

Pete Gaughan 03.10.09 at 11:11 pm

Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate.

If the citation didn’t tell us, we would still know that this was written long before the age of professional sports.

2

Antti Nannimus 03.11.09 at 2:00 am

Hi,

Yes, and it has been ever so. In fact these observations don’t go nearly far enough. Our masters in every organizational sphere, including the schools, military, unions, churches, government, media and business, all conspire at every opportunity to protect their privilege at the expense of the powerless.

Power to the people.

Have a nice day!
Antti

3

Helen 03.11.09 at 2:08 am

Employers not forming unions is a complete myth. Where I live (Australia), if you’re looking for the old cliche of “unions running the country”, The Australian Medical Association would be at or near the top of the list. Add to that the Law institute, the various Chambers of Commerce and other employer unions, oops, sorry, organisations. The Dentists – sorry, can’t think of the name of their peak body – are responsible for the teeth not deemed to be part of the body for public medical purposes. The AMA only let public medical care through after a struggle.

4

Righteous Bubba 03.11.09 at 2:08 am

Thus, even though John Boehner is trying to destroy the American economy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is squarely focusing its fire on pro-EFCA Democrats.

While I hope the Chamber of Commerce fails utterly and embarrassingly, the opposite of hating one bill isn’t fealty to John Boehner.

5

johnston 03.11.09 at 2:28 am

Helen: “Employers not forming unions is a complete myth… The Australian Medical Association… Law institute… Law institute”.

Not so much with the labour unions there, eh?

6

andrew 03.11.09 at 4:07 am

What about those “taxpayers unions”?

7

Zamfir 03.11.09 at 9:55 am

What about those “taxpayers unions”

Yes, that would be great improvement, if taxpayers were to group together in organizations of people with similar interests, and use that to influence decisions of the government. Then political arguments could be solved by official representatives of those unions.

There might be a problem if different groups have different views and interests, but we could solve that by giving them influence according to the number of their supporters.

But that seems unworkable in practice. You would have to measure, officially, the number of supporters of each taxpayer’s union every few years, meaning you would have to ask every person in the country which union they support. That can’t be an economic way to decide matters.

8

Tracy W 03.11.09 at 10:47 am

Your typical business executive would rather let the world burn, or see his children fed to a pack of wild boars, then see a union form at his firm.

What we can tell from this is that Matthew Yglesias really hates business executives.

And incidentally, if you run your own company into the ground, who is there to pay you a new severance package? I can understand getting a nice severance package having run someone else’s company into the ground, but I have my own company and so I am deeply interested in the idea of getting a large severance payment if I run it into the ground.

9

Mitchell Rowe 03.11.09 at 12:45 pm

Tracy W
Your problem is that you can only screw up a little bit. If you could screw up a lot, then you would be eligible for a bailout.

10

Barry 03.11.09 at 1:16 pm

Or rather, if you’re running a small business – fail there and you’re screwed.. If you’re running a larger business, which would more prone to unionization, you’re much better off.

11

Christopher Colaninno 03.12.09 at 2:07 pm

“If the citation didn’t tell us, we would still know that this was written long before the age of professional sports.

Professional athletes are underpaid if you judge them by their ability to generate income for their employers. Several major sports organizations have successfully locked out their players in recent years and it’s pretty clear that every major American sports league pays their players a lower percentage of the profits then they would if players were compensated in line with money they bring in to the team.

I think you’re mistaking the few teams that deviate from the larger collusion to keep costs down as evidence that athletes are overpaid, when in fact all you’re seeing is certain teams have a short term horizon and are simply paying players what they’re worth to the team in question. The players are far and away the most value added part of a sports team.

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