Noilly Prattle: Right-to-work/Left-to-slave

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


      It is remarkable how prescient—or astute—Orwell was when he turned the English language inside out in 1948. I'm thinking of the most recent addition to the ongoing debasement of the language—and possibly, by extension [or vice-versa], of society—the 24th “right to work” bill just approved by the legislature of the great State of Michigan under the rubric of “freedom” of choice. When enacted Michigan will join 23 other States that already have "right to work" laws. You might notice that most of the 23 are in the "heartland" states.

      Well, in this era of global competition, business seeks the lowest common denominator, a race to the bottom of competitive wages. Until wages come up in the developing countries and come down to match in the developed countries, jobs will continue to be shipped to the cheapest labor pools available. 
        So, maybe the worst kept dirty little secret is that if American workers want to be able to compete on a global basis, they are going to have to accept lower wages to keep jobs at home. That is the message of this latest round of “union busting” that has been going on since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. 
        Another inside out term that goes hand in glove with “right to work” is “productivity” meaning more work done by fewer people for less pay. The trend is pretty clear and the handwriting is in the Michigan “right to work” bill.

       Just a thought.

PS: An opinion piece [linked below] by Harold Meyerson on this subject appeared a few hours later in the WaPo citing a study done by economist Lonnie K. Stevans of Hofstra University that found that "states that have enacted such laws reported no increase in business start-ups or rates of employment. Wages and personal income are lower in those states than in those without such laws, Stevans concluded, though proprietors’ incomes are higher. In short, right-to-work laws simply redistribute income from workers to owners."

Meyers concluded that "workers don’t get raises if they can’t bargain collectively, and all the hand-wringing about our rising rates of inequality will be so much empty rhetoric unless we insist ... on workers’ right to form powerful unions."

Harold Meyerson: The Lansing-Beijing Connection 

PS2: Even the most anal-retentive of conservative pundits, the incomparable Charles Krauthammer, understands what's coming down the pike, only he puts a slightly different spin on it. Basically, his attitude is tough shit workers of America, but if you want to work at all, you'll have to accept “competitive” wages. 
Says Charles in an opinion piece in the WaPo 12/14/2012: “For a generation, America had the run of the world. Then the others [the powers defeated in WWII] recovered. Soon global competition — from Volkswagen to Samsung — began to overtake American industry that was saddled with protected, inflated, relatively uncompetitive wages, benefits and work rules. Obama calls [right to work] a race to the bottom. No, it’s a race to a new equilibrium that tries to maintain employment levels, albeit at the price of some modest wage decline.” My emphases.

Charles Krauthammer opinion piece 

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