THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 697, November 18, 2012
Tribal chieftains, kings, ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, and
union leaders are mere parasites, scavengers, bottom-feeders who take
advantage of the common individual's simple, commendable desire to
improve his or her place in life and build a better future for his or
her children. Those virtues the criminal scum label "selfishness" and
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
A friend of mine from England, who came to the States to fulfill a childhood dream—to become a stockbroker—used to tell me the story of a British manufacturer. At a point in history when the net contribution of a factory worker in that country—the amount of value he added to the materials he started with—was negative, the desperate owner decided to introduce an interesting concept: profit sharing.
The idea was not new; at the end of each accounting period, if the company's profits had increased over the previous period, some part of that increase would be added to each worker's base salary check. It was a great deal. The amounts were often non-trivial, and if profits decreased, there was no provision to reduce the size of the workers' paychecks.
Nevertheless, the boss had an astonishingly hard time selling it to the union leaders. They had been taught for generations that the size of the pie—the total amount of wealth in any economy—could never increase. Economic life, then, consisted of a constant struggle to increase the size of your slice of pie at the expense of everyone else, or at least to prevent exactly the same thing from being done to you.
If this profit-sharing operation worked as described, the union leaders argued, something had to be wrong with it. It had to be a trick of some kind, a confidence scheme cooked up by pointy-headed intellectuals to take advantage of honest but unsophisticated workers. (It may help to understand that during this period, one of the most serious complaints that labor could bring against management was that it was asking them to do "unfamiliar work" or to work with unfamiliar tools.)
Finally, however, after a great deal of noisy bargaining and wrangling, the skeptical union leaders were persuaded to give this profit-sharing thing a try—for a year—at the end of which a vote would be taken as to whether to make it permanent or to drop it altogether.
When the year-long experiment had concluded, management and labor got together to talk about the profit-sharing program. It had been an exceptionally good year. Driven by each worker's self-interest, production was up, and so were sales and profits. "And your workers," asked the factory owner, "didn't they make quite a lot of extra money?"
"That they did," the union leaders admitted.
"So you're going to vote to make profit-sharing permanent?"
"No," said the union leaders. "We are not."
"But why, if everybody concerned made out well, why?"
"Because the real world doesn't work that way," said the Sons of Ludd. "It has to be some kind of trick. We just haven't figured it out yet."
Some things never change.
Yesterday, it says here, impelled by a strike by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (and undoubtedly by the prospect of attempting to comply with Obamacare, a plan written to accomplish nothing else but the total destruction of private capitalism), Hostess, the company that makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Wonder Bread, and my personal favorite, Hostess Cupcakes, announced it would cease production and go out of business, ending the employment of more than 18,500 hundred individuals, and shut down 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes, and 570 bakery outlet stores, across the United States.
The company had given everybody plenty of warning. The Teamsters, representing more union laborers at Hostess than the Bakers, wisely decided not to go along with the strike, but keep their jobs, instead. Two things you don't do during a depression: go on strike or raise taxes.
What must ordinary members have thought, when they were ordered out on strike, despite those warnings, ultimately ordered to lose their cars, their homes, their children's educations and the braces on their teeth—while their leaders, being employees, not of the corporation, but of the union, would be keeping their jobs and benefits, no matter what?
Happy Thanksgiving, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Don't worry, soup kitchens are really nice these days. Your families will enjoy the outing. Maybe Obama will come and give you a speech. Happy Thanksgiving, as well, to the leaders of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Having double-crossed the Teamsters, you'll be looking over your shoulders for the rest of your miserable lives.
"Love is hate." "Freedom is Slavery." "War is peace." These are not merely the Orwellian slogans of Big Brother statism, but of anyone who demands that you believe whatever he tells you, instead of "your lying eyes", as a local radio talk show host—and staunch advocate of labor unions—is fond of repeating. Workers who have allowed union leaders to persuade them to destroy their jobs—defeating the entire reason for organizing unions in the first place—should have taken those leaders out, instead, and hanged them from the nearest lamppost.
Unions are corporations, nothing more and nothing less. At best, they are brokers in the labor market; at worst, they are nothing more than brutal extortion gangs, undistinguishable from the Black Hand. Nevertheless, unions have been given special immunity by corrupt left wing politicians—who lust untidily for the votes they can deliver—to the laws that, for better or worse, govern other corporations. That immunity must end immediately, and along with it, the immunity— artificial personhood and limited liability—given to corporations by corrupt politicians who want the contribution money they have to offer.
I was reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time, when unions conspired with these corrupt politicians to obliterate American railroads. Even then, I understood that ordinary individuals, members of the Productive Class, everywhere on Earth, at every time in history, are prey for those unwilling to work for a living, and who would substitute brute force for the qualities of basic decency and worthiness.
Tribal chieftains, kings, ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, and union leaders are mere parasites, scavengers, bottom-feeders who take advantage of the common individual's simple, commendable desire to improve his or her place in life and build a better future for his or her children. Those virtues the criminal scum label "selfishness" and condemn.
We who approve of and share that simple desire—and possess the ability to communicate ideas like that to others—have a lot of work before us, no matter what unions may do, or who gets elected to what office.
Was that worth reading?