11A139 The "Right to Work" by Jim Davies, 11/4/2011    

This is one of those quite simple subjects that have been made extremely complex by government intervention.

Does each of us have the right to work, when "work" is defined as the exchange of labor for money or other valuable considerations? - of course not! No exchange can possibly be compelled, in a free society. We certainly each have the right to offer our labor in exchange, but have no recourse at all if the offer is rejected, for otherwise the employer would be under coercion. If an offer is rejected, we can try offering to someone else, or offering it at a lower price, or modifying the offer in some other way - and eventually, in a free market, it will be accepted, for there is always a price at which anything will clear. Thus, in a free society, unemployment is impossible.

Ron Paul's campaign site clarifies that he favors "right to work laws" and at first sight that might be taken to mean he favors compelling employers to accept offers of labor, contrary to their wishes. But it's not so; the name has been mis-applied because of the government intervention that empowers unions to "negotiate" terms and then break them with impunity.

What he means is that, in the prevailing situation where unions have immunity from the ordinary obligations of contract, a person has a "right" to enter a work contract whether he is a Union member or not. Actually that too is a mis-nomer, for no law can ever grant a right. They grant only privileges. So this ZGBlog is really about Ron Paul's promise to support a legal privilege to enforce a labor contract contrary to the wishes of one of its parties. I hope you're still with me.

Now, in a free society, I'd question the sanity of any employer who enters a contract to hire only members of a particular union. He would be placing himself at the mercy of a monopoly of labor, on which he heavily depends for survival. But then, in a free society, some people will make silly choices; and they will have to live with the consequences of those choices. Freedom includes the rights to fail, and to be stupid and irrational.

Friedrich Hayek had it right: "... once special privileges have become part of the law of the land, they can be removed only by special legislation." Hence, "right to work" laws. They are a band-aid, a temporary fix to ward off the malodorous effects of government, while we await its termination.

Ron Paul has endorsed that band-aid, and as such I applaud his decision. As he says, "forcing workers to pay union dues just to get or keep a job is wrong." Outlawing that is by no means ideal, however. The ideal would be to repeal all the laws that grant privilege to unions. Too bad that the campaign web site doesn't mention that, for it's the root issue.

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