Monday, June 22, 2015

Elizabeth Bunn vs Builderism

ActionNetwork.org decided to send me this e-mail from the AFL-CIO...

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Friend,

Too many workers fear retaliation from their employer for speaking out about dangerous working conditions. A lot of workers remain silent, but Kimberly King—who worked at the Lear Corp. auto parts plant in Selma, Alabama, where she made seat cushions for Hyundai cars—couldn’t take it anymore.

Kimberly was diagnosed with asthma for the first time in her life and a doctor’s visit found high levels of toxins in her blood that could be from the chemicals she was exposed to at work. Turns out, Lear Corp. had been cited multiple times by the federal government for violating health and safety laws.

Kimberly decided to speak out. She joined a community delegation to ask Hyundai to protect workers who build parts for their cars. But she ended up being fired and sued by Lear Corp. for standing up. Hyundai has the power to step in and require Lear to do the right thing.

Sign the petition now to demand Hyundai take action to ensure safe working conditions and fair wages for Kimberly and other workers who build the parts for their cars. We’ll make sure your petition is added to the others being delivered to Hyundai on the day of action workers are holding next week.

Toluene Diisocyanate, or TDI, is the chemical that may be making workers at the plant ill. The chemical is used to make the foam in many car seats. Researchers say isocyanates like TDI are among the leading causes of workplace-induced asthma.

This is no way for a global auto parts manufacturer to be treating its very own workers. That's why auto parts workers and their families are organizing a day of action on June 25, 2015. We can’t do this without you and working families everywhere.

Click here now to demand that Hyundai protect workers at Lear and other companies that provide parts for their cars.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth Bunn
Director of Organizing, AFL-CIO

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Not exactly sure how I ended up on this list.

After reading the e-mail I immediately searched for and found the "unsubscribe" link.  But... I didn't click it. It's not like I receive daily e-mails from ActionNetwork.  Plus, I suppose I derived some utility from the insight.  At least Elizabeth Bunn gave me a good excuse to share this chart...



Yeah

I'm tempted to sign the petition.  Because... solidarity.  For poor people in developing countries.  Like China.

Except, thanks to unions, China's no longer a developing country!  Right?  The cost of labor in China has skyrocketed.  So this makes it a lot less likely that Lear would move its factory to China.

What about Africa though?  Right now Elizabeth Bunn is doing her hardest to make Africa look more attractive to Lear.  And I could help out by signing the petition.

Maybe this petition will be the tipping point that will send manufacturers to Africa?  Probably not.  I wouldn't be surprised if union participation has to increase a bit more before Africa starts looking good... enough.

In theory, Bunn is supposed to represent the best interests of American union workers.  The question is... what's in their best interest?  Is it for Bunn to petition Lear to move its factory to Africa?  Or is it for Bunn to petition to eliminate barriers to entry?

If barriers to entry are eliminated.... then, logically, workers like Kimberly King would have more employment options.  How many more employment options?  I have no idea.  But it's a given that making it easier to start a business will ensure a larger supply of businesses.  It's also a given that no two employment options will be equally beneficial to workers like King.

Is it really a difficult concept that it's in the best interests of workers that they have more, rather than less, employment options?  When there's a smaller supply of employers... then employers will have the upper hand.  When there's a larger supply of employers... then workers will have the upper hand.

What, if anything, does Elizabeth Bunn do to help ensure that there's a larger supply of employers?  What percentage of its resources does the AFL-CIO allocate to making it easier to start a business?  Imagine if the AFL-CIO allocated 100% of its resources to making it easier to start a business!!  Wow!  How awesome would that be?  What would that e-mail look like?  Maybe something vaguely like this...

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Friend,

There's more than one way to attach an epiphyte to a tree.  Up until now, we've endeavored to improve working conditions and compensation by trying to coerce business owners.  This strategy has backfired because, well, many jobs simply left the country.  Unfortunately, we're not omniscient.  We just don't know where the tipping point is.

It's time for a new strategy.  We're going to endeavor to improve working conditions by trying to make it easier for people to start a business.

Right now it's very difficult and costly to start a business.  The barrier to entry is extremely high.  There are so many regulations designed to benefit workers that every business has to hire an army of lawyers.  As a result of our good intentions, we've inadvertently erected a huge barrier to entry... which has massively reduced employment options.

If we can help tear down the barrier to entry... then workers will have more employment options.  More employment options means more competition for labor.  This will be immensely beneficial for workers.

Not only will this strategy benefit workers... but it will also benefit consumers.  Eliminating the barrier to entry will help ensure that consumers have many more products to choose from.  Businesses will have to compete harder for both workers and consumers.  With our new strategy the interests of workers and consumers will be perfectly aligned.  

Even with consumers firmly on our side though, this will be an uphill battle.  Any preexisting business greatly profits from the reduced competition that results from the existence of a very high barrier to entry.  But, with your help, we can win this battle.  Securing a lasting victory for competition will usher in a new era of prosperity and progress.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth Bunn
Director of Organizing, AFL-CIO

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Perhaps a bit of history will help...

Every colonist gets more land than he can possibly cultivate. He has no rent, and scarce any taxes to pay. No landlord shares with him in its produce, and the share of the sovereign is commonly but a trifle. He has every motive to render as great as possible a produce, which is thus to be almost entirely his own. But his land is commonly so extensive that, with all his own industry, and with all the industry of other people whom he can get to employ, he can seldom make it produce the tenth part of what it is capable of producing. He is eager, therefore, to collect labourers from all quarters, and to reward them with the most liberal wages. But those liberal wages, joined to the plenty and cheapness of land, soon make those labourers leave him, in order to become landlords themselves, and to reward, with equal liberality, other labourers, who soon leave them for the same reason that they left their first master. The liberal reward of labour encourages marriage. The children, during the tender years of infancy, are well fed and properly taken care of, and when they are grown up, the value of their labour greatly overpays their maintenance. When arrived at maturity, the high price of labour, and the low price of land, enable them to establish themselves in the same manner as their fathers did before them. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

America!  With high wages!  Without labor regulations!  It was stupid easy to start a business (farming).  And it was stupid easy to employ people.  The high wages reflected the fact that it was stupid easy to start a business and employ people!  There was a larger supply of employers... which meant that workers had the upper hand.

What about England?

It frequently happens that while high wages are given to the workmen in one manufacture, those in another are obliged to content themselves with bare subsistence. The one is in an advancing state, and has, therefore, a continual demand for new hands: The other is in a declining state, and the super-abundance of hands is continually increasing. Those two manufactures may sometimes be in the same town, and sometimes in the same neighbourhood, without being able to lend the least assistance to one another. The statute of apprenticeship may oppose it in the one case, and both that and an exclusive corporation in the other. In many different manufactures, however, the operations are so much alike, that the workmen could easily change trades with one another, if those absurd laws did not hinder them. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

England!  With absurd laws!

What about America now?  Absurd laws!  If you need some clues here's the most recent/relevant article... 'Employee' Label Would End Uber as We Know It.

I blame people like Elizabeth Bunn.  Good at organizing, bad at understanding.  I can't really blame her though.  Just like Hitler, she's a victim of the system.

Watch...

Politicians aren’t experts, Mr. Laffer said. “They give a speech and if anyone boos, they change their speech,” he explained. “They’re living, breathing polls and that’s the way it should be.” - Patricia Cohen, Nelson D. Schwartz, Matchmaking Season for Republican Presidential Candidates and Economists
In sober truth, whatever homage may be professed, or even paid, to real or supposed mental superiority, the general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind. In ancient history, in the middle ages, and in a diminishing degree through the long transition from feudality to the present time, the individual was a power in himself; and if he had either great talents or a high social position, he was a considerable power. At present individuals are lost in the crowd. In politics it is almost a triviality to say that public opinion now rules the world. The only power deserving the name is that of masses, and of governments while they make themselves the organ of the tendencies and instincts of masses. This is as true in the moral and social relations of private life as in public transactions. Those whose opinions go by the name of public opinion, are not always the same sort of public: in America they are the whole white population; in England, chiefly the middle class. But they are always a mass, that is to say, collective mediocrity. And what is a still greater novelty, the mass do not now take their opinions from dignitaries in Church or State, from ostensible leaders, or from books. Their thinking is done for them by men much like themselves, addressing them or speaking in their name, on the spur of the moment, through the newspapers. I am not complaining of all this. I do not assert that anything better is compatible, as a general rule, with the present low state of the human mind. But that does not hinder the government of mediocrity from being mediocre government. - J.S. Mill, On Liberty

Popular/Opinion = Shallow

Elizabeth Bunn is a product of shallowness.  This is because our education system is a product of shallowness.  Elizabeth Bunn did not read either the Wealth of Nations or On Liberty in high school.  She should have.  But she didn't.  As a result, she has a shallow understanding of the true source of prosperity and progress.  And she votes accordingly.  So does the majority.  The logical result is an abundance of absurd laws.

How do we break this vicious cycle?  J.S. Mill's solution was weighted voting...

But (though every one ought to have a voice) that every one should have an equal voice is a totally different proposition. When two persons who have a joint interest in any business, differ in opinion, does justice require that both opinions should be held of exactly equal value? If with equal virtue, one is superior to the other in knowledge and intelligence—or if with equal intelligence, one excels the other in virtue—the opinion, the judgment, of the higher moral or intellectual being, is worth more than that of the inferior: and if the institutions of the country virtually assert that they are of the same value, they assert a thing which is not. - J.S. Mill, Considerations on Representative Government

This is a catch 22 solution though because obviously the majority would not vote for weighted voting.  Tax choice is another catch 22 solution.  It only has 81 likes on facebook.

What are the chances that a solution will be discovered anytime soon?  Can you even imagine what a deep culture would look like?

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