In my recent article on neocons and progressives, I wrote that employers are enslaved by workers unions: “Unions have used intimidation to coerce their employers to pay them more than their labor would be valued in a free and open market [.pdf]. Employers have become slaves of workers, and as a result there are fewer workers, because some employers can’t afford to pay the salaries and benefits that the unions have forced them to pay either through ‘negotiations’ or through legislative force.”
Apparently, it bothers some people to suggest that it is really the unions who do the enslaving of employers, and not the other way around. But I believe in the truth. Emotionalistic rhetoric shouldn’t be used to cover up the true message of those who do not believe in voluntary exchange. In a peaceful and just society, all exchanges, all trades must be voluntary, including the trade between an employer and workers. Employers trade some of their assets in exchange for the workers’ labor.
If a worker doesn’t like the pay that an employer is offering, then the worker should have the freedom and choice to leave and find a better employer. When one says that group intimidation tactics or the armed powers of the state are needed to threaten and coerce the employer to increase the pay, one is thus seizing ownership and control away from the employer.
Of course, it is easier for people to gang up on someone to get what you want, rather than making an effort to find better employment opportunities elsewhere. The latter way is the way of free choice and personal responsibility under the rule of law, and the former is the way of aggression. Economically, the way of aggression, intimidation and legislative force has tended to result in many employers not being able to afford the artificially-higher, non-market-based wages (and benefits and pensions) demanded of them, so they cut jobs. And because of further governmental intrusions into these private economies, employers cut whole branches and plants, and thus thousands of jobs.
But in a system of voluntary exchange, and absence of State-protected privilege, coercion and intrusions, all employers have the freedom to expand their businesses and create new jobs, and workers have the freedom to establish contracts and compete for better wages and a higher standard of living.
So when the collective group of workers and their enablers in government use force and coercion against the actual creators and producers of society, they are really seizing ownership of the businesses against the will of the actual people who worked to build those businesses and jobs-providers. That is as much “slavery” (and communism) as is the income tax and all the other forms of State-enslavement of the individual that are taking down formerly free and prosperous America.
If the people on the left still don’t accept the idea of labor freedom and the sanctity of voluntary contracts, then here is another example, in the context of the immigration issue. As I have mentioned before here (and especially here), and a point of view that most conservatives don’t like, even though I have morality, private property rights and free exchange on my side and they don’t: people who believe in the collective ownership of an entire territory and the collective right of exclusion are thus opposed to private property and voluntary contracts. As Hoppe noted, the right of exclusion is a private right, not a collective or public right.
The immigration issue involves labor and employment. It is also an issue of government central planning and the chaos that causes. As Jacob Hornberger noted just recently, conservatives support the government’s central planning in the immigration issue. (And see Hornberger especially here and here on that.)
The reason that conservatives want the government to be empowered to centrally plan the population and have the control over who is allowed into the territory is that they believe in collective ownership of the entire territory. But if you believe in collective ownership of the entire territory, then you have to admit that, when the collective assumes or seizes ownership and control over the entire territory, then ownership and control over everything within the territory goes with that, including all property, private and public, private industry and the people themselves. It is a system of collective ownership of each individual, his wealth, capital and labor as well.
Of course, such communistic collectivism goes against the ideas of individual freedom and private property. All human beings have an inherent right of travel and the right to migrate anywhere in the world they want, as long as they don’t trespass on private property. And all individuals have a right to establish voluntary contracts with others in labor and employment as well. Private contracts are private contracts, and not for third party intruders to violate or take control over, regardless whether those third party intruders are one’s neighbors, business competitors, or government bureaucrats.
I’ve used this example before, and I’ll use it again. If a Mexican worker sees a job opening available at a Texas business establishment, then he has a right to travel to that business and apply for that job. If the business owner or manager believes that the worker is best for that job, and whose service will contribute to bringing on more customers and thus more profits (and subsequently higher wages for all the workers there, and better service for the consumers), then it is that businessperson’s right to hire that worker, and it’s no one else’s business, period.
But the conservative control freaks and the unions of Establishment workers who want to shut out possible competitive workers all want to get in the way of that private contract between employer and laborer. Economically, this ultimately goes against the interests of the consumers, by forcing the employer to hire less qualified workers who might provide lower quality service.
Morally, this means reduced freedom, reduced productivity, reduction in quality of service, and conflicts amongst the people. That is what socialist central planning has wrought. And always will. Planned Chaos, as Ludwig von Mises would call it. This is a truly immoral way of life that has been destroying a society that really did make great progress as a result of the Enlightenment and the transition from neanderthalish collectivism to individualism and human freedom.
What have been causing the biggest problems with immigration are the welfare state (get rid of it) and the war on drugs (get rid of it). And it is the unions that have been causing their own workers’ unemployment and despair, with their seizure of employers’ assets through intimidation and force, and their enslavement of the business owners.
We need to restore freedom and restore private property, voluntary exchange and contract rights.