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Dogbrain
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05 Aug 2008, 8:36 am

Speckles wrote:
Okay, I'm still confused about Libertarians being opposed to unions.


Most "libertarians" in the USA are actually plutocrats. That might help remove your confusion.

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Aren't unions really a form of company? The sell a resource, labour, and dictate what conditions must be present in order to buy the resource.


You win the prize--almost. This is what unions COULD be if not given government favors. The problem is that both unions and business corporations are immoral. Neither of them wants government to shut up and go away. Both of them want to abuse the power of government for their own ends. However, since trade-unionism had a large influx of marxism in its background, it often gets the short end of the propaganda stick when libertarians talk.

Under an ethical and consistent libertarian philosophy, workers have exactly the same rights to come together and form a "corporation of labor" to sell its members services as would some rich guy have to finance a conventional corporation. These corporations of labor would even have the same right to negotiate exclusive contracts the same way that conventional corporations have the right to negotiate exclusive licensing deals.

But that would require actual rationality on the part of people who call themselves "libertarians" but are actually plutocrats.



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05 Aug 2008, 2:59 pm

Dogbrain wrote:
slowmutant wrote:
It seems to me that Libertarianism has no legally mandated concern for others, which great if you're a douchebag.


It's also great if you're not a fascists goon. I ALREADY HAVE concern for others. Why should the damnable government FORCE it upon me?


right on. Can people not see that it's actually doing the exact opposite of helping people in need as well? Actually, I've seen cases where in welfare offices, people were turned away for being the wrong skin color, not disabled enough, too white, too black, too old.

Those people will not be getting any form of help. Not very many charities at home because rich people think it's the government's job.

Levees in New Orleans were not "fixed". They were restored to it's original messed up setting. :(



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05 Aug 2008, 11:27 pm

@dongiovanni

No, I'm definitely a capitalist; I dislike communism for many of the same reasons I'm coming to dislike libertarianism. They're both utopian philosophies, and both use waaay to many "No True Scotsman", "False Dichotomy", and "Red Herring" arguments. Anyways, if you want to see a bunch of good anti-Libertarian arguments, check out the Critiques Of Libertarianism website. It's probably a good idea to look over it if you want to try to take on AG. I've personally almost given up talking with him on this subject - I've yet to see him change his mind about anything, and trying to keep up with the sheer volume of his posts, as well as reading up on his obscure references, is just too exhausting and time consuming.

@AG

I apologize for the potential hurt caused by the comment above, but I do mean it. While other topics can be enjoyable to discuss with you, I've come to find discussing libertarianism with you somewhat un-enjoyable. I'm hesitant to keep posting in this thread at all, as I do not have the time or inclination to put up with another nitpicking war of attrition. I suspect I'll just give up after the next exchange, as I dislike the amount of hostility I'm feeling trying to talk to you on the subject.

Anyways, I found your rebuttal fairly unconvincing. One, I do not care that there is some faction of liberalism that thinks some watered down form of union might be ok. I know that Orwell has implied that the formation of unions is a bad thing in discussions of the industrial union, and he is the one who I addressed the post to. I'm tired of your repeated bait and switches; your tendency to do this is one of the reasons I addressed the post to Orwell in the first place, as I have a reasonably clear idea on where he stands on the subject.

Two, how is a contract between a union and a company preventing a company from hiring other people any different then a contract between a land-lord and a tenant preventing the tenant from having other people live in the apartment? Or a contract between a water company and a municipality preventing the municipality from hiring a different company for the next fifteen years? Or any contract that prevents one party from doing anything?

Powerful unions are a wonderful example of the free market, and in the past have created great dividends for their shareholders, i.e. union members. Government enforcement and regulation have killed most of them, but in a truely free market they would florish. And just like any other company, they would seek to maximize the benefits to their shareholders. As their shareholders are the poor and lower middle class, that means the most profitable action would be to advocate for the redistribution of wealth. Which leads people right back to socialism when you think about it.

Anyways, I would really like to hear Orwell's minarchist views on the subject, in addition to your own. Why are unions, and their attempts to maximize the profits to their shareholders, any different then any other company? Why is their attempt to limit the liberty of a company any different then a company's attempts to limit the liberty of it's employees?


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06 Aug 2008, 12:15 am

Speckles wrote:
@dongiovanni

No, I'm definitely a capitalist; I dislike communism for many of the same reasons I'm coming to dislike libertarianism. They're both utopian philosophies, and both use waaay to many "No True Scotsman", "False Dichotomy", and "Red Herring" arguments. Anyways, if you want to see a bunch of good anti-Libertarian arguments, check out the Critiques Of Libertarianism website. It's probably a good idea to look over it if you want to try to take on AG. I've personally almost given up talking with him on this subject - I've yet to see him change his mind about anything, and trying to keep up with the sheer volume of his posts, as well as reading up on his obscure references, is just too exhausting and time consuming.

Hmm... interesting, I am checking out that site as well. It interestingly references David Friedman, an anarcho-capitalist for a few of the critical writings on libertarianism(I knew there was a reason I liked the guy). I didn't think I made a *lot* of obscure references. Like, in the last post, I referred back to things that were taught in basic to intermediate economics classes.

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@AG

I apologize for the potential hurt caused by the comment above, but I do mean it. While other topics can be enjoyable to discuss with you, I've come to find discussing libertarianism with you somewhat un-enjoyable. I'm hesitant to keep posting in this thread at all, as I do not have the time or inclination to put up with another nitpicking war of attrition. I suspect I'll just give up after the next exchange, as I dislike the amount of hostility I'm feeling trying to talk to you on the subject.

Interesting, perhaps that is because this is the only topic that I actually tend to attempt a position on. Most battles do end up as nit-picking wars of attrition it seems. Also, I tend to be pretty hostile in general.

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Anyways, I found your rebuttal fairly unconvincing. One, I do not care that there is some faction of liberalism that thinks some watered down form of union might be ok. I know that Orwell has implied that the formation of unions is a bad thing in discussions of the industrial union, and he is the one who I addressed the post to. I'm tired of your repeated bait and switches; your tendency to do this is one of the reasons I addressed the post to Orwell in the first place, as I have a reasonably clear idea on where he stands on the subject.

Ok, I think my rebuttal was sufficiently thorough in order to establish the libertarian case against unions. Perhaps you find that unconvincing, however, it does get to the point. Well, um.... how is this a "bait and switch"? You originally stated: "This thing that confuses me about that video, and Libertarianism in general really, is how that kind of thinking will naturally lead to unions. But most libertarians appear to be opposed to unions, which seems highly inconsistent. I just don't see how someone can be for personal liberty and against both government regulation and unions." My response included the fact that there was a faction that agreed with you, however, that the libertarian complaint is that these unions would not exist without legislation maintaining their existence, therefore they are not a legitimate function of a free market. The issue is perhaps that I never actually take an incredibly clear position in the first place with well-defined positions or anything like that at all, but rather tend to pick and choose the positions I argue while hedging somewhat.

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Two, how is a contract between a union and a company preventing a company from hiring other people any different then a contract between a land-lord and a tenant preventing the tenant from having other people live in the apartment? Or a contract between a water company and a municipality preventing the municipality from hiring a different company for the next fifteen years? Or any contract that prevents one party from doing anything?

Because the union does not already exist as an independent agent. Unions are created when a group of employees that are already hired choose to band together for higher wages. Many times employers try to prevent unions and historically they have even designed employment contracts to prevent unionization. The issue is that because the union is created outside of the contractual deal created by the employer, and under the current system is protected rather than maintained by market forces, they are not libertarian. Libertarians would also argue that unions would not be maintained by market forces under many circumstances for a simple reason: they increase the burdens on the employers as opposed to a free labor system, and thus if given a choice employers will choose free labor, and freedom of association gives them the power to choose free labor.

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Powerful unions are a wonderful example of the free market, and in the past have created great dividends for their shareholders, i.e. union members. Government enforcement and regulation have killed most of them, but in a truely free market they would florish. And just like any other company, they would seek to maximize the benefits to their shareholders. As their shareholders are the poor and lower middle class, that means the most profitable action would be to advocate for the redistribution of wealth. Which leads people right back to socialism when you think about it.

No, actually government actions have historically been to promote labor, such as with preventing yellow-dog contracts and other actions to allow for unionization to occur more often. Heck, a major growing point for unions was during the New Deal and WW2, both of which are far cries from laissez-faire. Not only that, but before and after that time, unions have typically held lower rates of participation, even though labor laws are generally set up to promote labor interests. Not only that, but really, just be serious, if labor unions were really a market phenomenon, then why wouldn't all classes of people have them? Finally, no, actually labor unions would only act for some of the poor and middle classes, as their interests end up in their own wallets. Labor unions are believed by some economists to reduce the wages of non-union workers, and to some extent employment rates as well, some have even argued that union promotion of the minimum wage, is done for profit as opposed to the interests of the minimum wage workers.

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Anyways, I would really like to hear Orwell's minarchist views on the subject, in addition to your own. Why are unions, and their attempts to maximize the profits to their shareholders, any different then any other company? Why is their attempt to limit the liberty of a company any different then a company's attempts to limit the liberty of it's employees?

The reason being that unions are not likely to exist without depriving the freedom to associate of employers. The issue is that companies do not contract with the union, and do not have to associate with them. Employees however, choose to associate with their employers, so therefore both sides are in agreement on this.



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06 Aug 2008, 9:29 am

@Speckles: Most of my prior post still stands. Unions, in and of themselves, could certainly emerge in a free-market environment, and should be free to do so. I personally don't think that unionization is a good idea, but that doesn't mean it should be banned. The issue comes in with the current constitution and goals of many unions, which do actively seek to limit freedom of association for employers and workers. Example: the entire music industry in the US is dominated by a single powerful union (AFM) and no one may work in that field without belonging to the AFM. Well, what if I don't want to join a union? Then I can't get a job. My freedom of association has been abridged. And just try being a teacher without joining the NEA. Many of my teachers through high school were anti-union, but forced to join NEA anyways. Many of them were conservatives and pro-lifers who didn't approve of the NEA taking their money and giving it to Democratic candidates or pro-choice lobbying organizations. But they had to join anyways, otherwise they couldn't have gotten their job. That is a huge abuse of power on the part of unions, and it is exploitative. Also, there are government protections of unions (such as the banning of the blacklist) that give unions an edge in their dealings.

Basically, I think unions should be allowed to form voluntarily. I also think employers should have the right to choose who they hire for what position and why. If an employer wants to blacklist unionizers, let them do so. Let people who don't want to join a union work on the basis of whatever agreement they make with their employer. If workers want to join together in attempts at collective bargaining, let them do so, but I doubt, in a truly free-market economy, that unions would gain much ground because, quite simply, they tend to harm workers' overall welfare. They hurt the labor force in general for the benefit of their members, but if they are unable to enforce labor market monopoly power than they have very little power to benefit their own members, since scabs will always be willing to strike-break.


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06 Aug 2008, 9:46 am

On a side-note, I can see corporate formed unions arising, simply because these can be an effective means of organizing worker interest for the corporation and workers to work together, however, such an idea is very different from an independent union, such as the ones I think you refer to.



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07 Aug 2008, 7:30 am

Orwell wrote:
Basically, I think unions should be allowed to form voluntarily. I also think employers should have the right to choose who they hire for what position and why.


And unions would be allowed to negotiate for exclusive hiring contracts just like employers can negotiate exclusive licensing agreements for their products, right? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

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Let people who don't want to join a union work on the basis of whatever agreement they make with their employer.


Do not prohibit them by legislation from so doing, but interfering with a contractual agreement entered into by the union and the employer would be needless and anti-libertarian government meddling in a private affair.



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07 Aug 2008, 9:13 am

Dogbrain wrote:
Orwell wrote:
Basically, I think unions should be allowed to form voluntarily. I also think employers should have the right to choose who they hire for what position and why.


And unions would be allowed to negotiate for exclusive hiring contracts just like employers can negotiate exclusive licensing agreements for their products, right? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Quote:
Let people who don't want to join a union work on the basis of whatever agreement they make with their employer.


Do not prohibit them by legislation from so doing, but interfering with a contractual agreement entered into by the union and the employer would be needless and anti-libertarian government meddling in a private affair.

OK, if a corporation agrees to an exclusive agreement whereby they will only hire workers from a particular union, so be it. I have no problem with that, as the corporation is still retaining their freedom of association if they choose to draw their workforce out of that particular pool of labor. I'm not sure if we're disagreeing here.


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07 Aug 2008, 2:13 pm

Orwell wrote:
OK, if a corporation agrees to an exclusive agreement whereby they will only hire workers from a particular union, so be it. I have no problem with that, as the corporation is still retaining their freedom of association if they choose to draw their workforce out of that particular pool of labor. I'm not sure if we're disagreeing here.


What would you think of the following:

Employer: We want to hire anybody.
Union: We want you to hire only union members.
Employer: We want to hire anybody.
Union: If you don't agree to hire only union members, we won't work for you.
Employer: We will only hire union members.

The only "coercion" employed here was the free market choice on the part of a seller of labor (a union) to not sell the labor of its members to a particular potential customer. Thus, you would have no problem with this, right?



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07 Aug 2008, 2:43 pm

Dogbrain wrote:
What would you think of the following:

Employer: We want to hire anybody.
Union: We want you to hire only union members.
Employer: We want to hire anybody.
Union: If you don't agree to hire only union members, we won't work for you.
Employer: We will only hire union members.

I don't see any issue here. Workers (or organizations of workers, voluntarily formed) have the right to choose not to work somewhere just as much as an employer has the right to choose whether or not to hire someone. However, I will add an alternate ending to show you another possible outcome here.

Employer: We want to hire anybody.
Union: We want you to hire only union members.
Employer: We want to hire anybody.
Union: If you don't agree to hire only union members, we won't work for you.
Employer: We will refuse to hire any union workers and we will fire any workers who join a union. We will also compile a list of union workers so that we and other companies know not to hire them.

Quote:
The only "coercion" employed here was the free market choice on the part of a seller of labor (a union) to not sell the labor of its members to a particular potential customer. Thus, you would have no problem with this, right?

I have no problem whatsoever with the scenario you presented, so long as the workers in the union were not coerced into joining. How do you feel about the alternate ending?


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07 Aug 2008, 3:31 pm

Orwell wrote:
I have no problem whatsoever with the scenario you presented, so long as the workers in the union were not coerced into joining. How do you feel about the alternate ending?


It's the employer's own throat he could be cutting, so I have no problem with it.

However, what is to stop the employer from turning around and hiring union-busters, while paying off the police and government to look the other way, as actually happened in the real world?

That's the problem with libertarianism--it still requires people to be angelic. They have to eschew violence and fraud for it to work.



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07 Aug 2008, 4:03 pm

Dogbrain wrote:
It's the employer's own throat he could be cutting, so I have no problem with it.
How would he be cutting his own throat in the matter?

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However, what is to stop the employer from turning around and hiring union-busters, while paying off the police and government to look the other way, as actually happened in the real world?

What is to prevent the destruction of the law in any society? You are arguing that something illegal can be done, how can anyone respond to something like that? I mean, union-busting tactics including illegal action continue to this day, I think however, nowadays the development of society means that a higher focus must be made by the company to maintain it's public image, not only that but greater globalization allows for companies to escape their unions a lot more easily. Heck, we could also ask what prevents unions from attacking employers and their protectors from the actions of angry union laborers?
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That's the problem with libertarianism--it still requires people to be angelic. They have to eschew violence and fraud for it to work.

Why does it require people to be angelic? Your own criticism only provides a problem if people refuse to follow the laws. How is breaking the law in libertarianism different than breaking the law in any other system?



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07 Aug 2008, 10:55 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I mean, union-busting tactics including illegal action continue to this day, I think however, nowadays the development of society means that a higher focus must be made by the company to maintain it's public image, not only that but greater globalization allows for companies to escape their unions a lot more easily.


AG, this sentence makes no sense, and sounds like a verbose smokescreen. What exactly is "the development of society" supposed to mean? As far as I can tell, it's meaningless in the context of discussion.

And using PR as a reason for corporations completely ignores the fact that corporations generally have more money then unions - they can spend far more money distorting the facts to people at large, or even outright lying then a union can. It's very much a plutocratic argument, ignoring the effect of money on controlling the public understanding.

It's also completely ignoring the fact that without regulation, companies have no reason to report on what they are doing at all. It costs a lot of money monitoring production, and slows everything down. Plus, why should companies have to share their secrets with the world at large? How dare they be forced to reveal 'trade secrets' that happen to be embarrassing and potentially fraudulent? Really libertarianism gives fraudulent a great smoke shield.

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Quote:
That's the problem with libertarianism--it still requires people to be angelic. They have to eschew violence and fraud for it to work.

Why does it require people to be angelic? Your own criticism only provides a problem if people refuse to follow the laws. How is breaking the law in libertarianism different than breaking the law in any other system?


Because in libertarianism is all about removing laws isn't it? It claims that people will behave better in the absence of regulation, in other words be angelic. Which is problematic because that is just manifestly untrue. Also, it's not his only criticism.

Edit: @Dogbrain thanks for bringing up plutocracy, that makes most libertarian arguments make more sense.


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07 Aug 2008, 11:48 pm

Speckles wrote:
AG, this sentence makes no sense, and sounds like a verbose smokescreen. What exactly is "the development of society" supposed to mean? As far as I can tell, it's meaningless in the context of discussion.
Smokescreen? What I mean is that we live in an age where information and image are very important, probably more so than prior ages due to the relatively high diffusion of information, and the relatively high level of wealth and thereby economic choice of individuals within a society. The phrase isn't meaningless, it can have sense attributed to it, you simply refuse to give it any import.

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And using PR as a reason for corporations completely ignores the fact that corporations generally have more money then unions - they can spend far more money distorting the facts to people at large, or even outright lying then a union can. It's very much a plutocratic argument, ignoring the effect of money on controlling the public understanding.

The major issue is that information can impact the public understanding, but it cannot control the public understanding and it cannot destroy publicly available information. To be honest, I have not ignored anything, you merely overstate your position. Especially given that corporations do not just have actions, they have tactics, the latter leaving a much bigger impact.
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It's also completely ignoring the fact that without regulation, companies have no reason to report on what they are doing at all. It costs a lot of money monitoring production, and slows everything down. Plus, why should companies have to share their secrets with the world at large? How dare they be forced to reveal 'trade secrets' that happen to be embarrassing and potentially fraudulent? Really libertarianism gives fraudulent a great smoke shield.

Um... ok? Where does the problem come in? Not only that, but corporations are going to monitor production anyway, every dollar's worth of bad product that goes out leads to much more significant losses in profit later on. Why should companies share their secrets? I don't see how this has an impact on anything, especially given that a lot of truths come out because companies either cannot prevent them from coming out, or because companies have a need to differentiate themselves from other companies by showing good information.

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Because in libertarianism is all about removing laws isn't it? It claims that people will behave better in the absence of regulation, in other words be angelic. Which is problematic because that is just manifestly untrue. Also, it's not his only criticism.

Umm... libertarianism is not about removing and maintaining certain laws at the same time. The argument I was arguing against still doesn't make sense in context and your defense of it fails for that reason. If you argue that libertarianism invokes angelicalness for it's arguments on regulation, then you really don't know a lot of libertarian arguments on regulation. Libertarians tend to argue that people will self-regulate based upon self-interest, not because they really give a s**t about other people, so I still do not see the argument.



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08 Aug 2008, 8:21 am

Dogbrain wrote:
Orwell wrote:
I have no problem whatsoever with the scenario you presented, so long as the workers in the union were not coerced into joining. How do you feel about the alternate ending?


It's the employer's own throat he could be cutting, so I have no problem with it.

And I think, depending on the power of the union, it's the unions that are cutting their own throats. It just depends on how strong the union is and their ability to maintain solidarity.

Quote:
However, what is to stop the employer from turning around and hiring union-busters, while paying off the police and government to look the other way, as actually happened in the real world?

In a libertarian world, the government would be too weak to intervene on either side. And of course the employer will try to hire strike-breakers, just as the unions will attempt to enforce a strike.

Quote:
That's the problem with libertarianism--it still requires people to be angelic. They have to eschew violence and fraud for it to work.

No. I actually always perceive laissez-faire capitalism (which is mostly what I associate with libertarianism) to assume humans to be greedy and selfish. That's why capitalism works. Ideally, libertarianism would also involve the rejection of violence, but that is true in any system. If, in our example, either side turned to violence (as occurred in the early days of unionization) then whichever side "started it" would be liable to criminal penalties. Then, of course, you just have the difficulty of figuring out who started it.


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08 Aug 2008, 8:27 am

Orwell wrote:
In a libertarian world, the government would be too weak to intervene on either side. And of course the employer will try to hire strike-breakers, just as the unions will attempt to enforce a strike.


So, in a libertarian world, the government would be too weak to prevent organized violence against its own citizens. That's what a strike-breaker is, after all, a type of mercenary soldier. A scab is not a strike-breaker. A strike-breaker is hired specifically to engage in acts of organized violence against a union. If such a "libertarian" government is so weak, what is to prevent someone simply setting up their own feudal government? Other would-be feudal warlords? How well does competing warlordism work in establishing and perpetuating liberty in the real world?

Quote:
Quote:
That's the problem with libertarianism--it still requires people to be angelic. They have to eschew violence and fraud for it to work.

No. I actually always perceive laissez-faire capitalism (which is mostly what I associate with libertarianism) to assume humans to be greedy and selfish. That's why capitalism works. Ideally, libertarianism would also involve the rejection of violence


In other words, it requires that people be angels.

Quote:
whichever side "started it" would be liable to criminal penalties.


But you said the government would be too weak to impose criminal penalties--if it's too weak to combat strike-breakers, it's too weak to impose criminal penalties on anyone wealthy enough to hire strike-breakers.