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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The perfect as the enemy of the good


And with this Daily Article from Mises.org, the remaining Lew Rockwell-sponsored site leaves the blogroll:
One area where many otherwise-correct free-market thinkers and libertarians stumble is in the area of right-to-work laws, now gaining considerable popularity across the nation. These laws come in a variety of forms, but in most cases a state that adopts right-to-work laws makes it illegal for employers to require union membership as a condition of employment. So far, twenty-four states have adopted these laws and the state legislature in Missouri has plans to make that state a right-to-work state sometime early next year.

Right-to-work laws are attractive to some because they help undercut the monopoly powers granted to labor unions by government. They also appeal to the more pragmatic minded because of the distinct improvements in economic growth. A recent study by the National Institute of Labor Relations Research found that, over a ten year period, states with right-to-work laws experience significant growth in manufacturing output and GDP compared to non-right-to-work states. This is, of course, the result we would expect from diminishing the power of government-created monopolies such as those granted to labor unions.

But utilitarian concerns aside, free-market advocates must ask whether these laws are the right way to reduce government power, and whether they satisfy the moral and ethical criteria at the root of free-market and libertarian thought. Is it right to restrict the freedom to contract in order to counteract existing restrictions on that same freedom?
Libertarians - boldly answering the question nobody asked. Indeed, with that starting point (people are free to contract, period!), one may ask whether it is right to prohibit trade in slave-manufactured goods in order to counteract laws granting chattel rights in human beings? The libertarian, hogtied in his logic trap, can only answer one way: no, no and a thousand times no!

The author acknowledges, as he must, that unions operate ab initio from a government-granted privilege: if employees can form a collective bargaining unit, the employer cannot refuse to bargain with them. Since there will always be more people looking for jobs than people with jobs to give, it's pretty easy to predict that in an unhampered market, unions simply would not exist in their current form. They'd be specialized guilds, company unions or labor pools.

Right-to-work takes the government's thumb off the scale--if you don't want to join the collective, you don't have to as a condition of employment. In other words, it's a law that rolls back the interventions of another law. And consequently, unions are pretty scarce in right-to-work states.

I'm not necessarily anti-union; I've encountered some top-notch union labor. I've also seen the scum of the earth hanging around union locals. And, I've seen plenty of stupid, greedy, shortsighted employers.

The bottom line is the world is just too complicated and has too many novel situations and too many wildly differing viewpoints for some Grand Unified Theory of Everything to apply every single time. For that matter, how does a libertarian regime stay libertarian? Does it have to pass a law outlawing people getting together and passing laws? Why isn't a law just a covenant that a group of people agreed would run with the land instead of everybody drafting contracts with everybody else? What sort of long-term investment is even possible in such a situation? Wouldn't the libertarians still find themselves marking out borders and patrolling them with machine guns to keep the non-libertarians from stealing their stuff?

Lew could have garnered a lot more influence and respect for his Mises Institute just sticking with praxeology. But apparently this crew just can't help themselves, so they lurch into political debate for which they are not at all equipped, even as they hilariously and scrupulously avoid any meritorious debate on genetics, race, community, human sexuality or culture.

There is one area where Mises.org's frantic clampdown on discussion--as where the topic at hand might venture too near the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of Unthinkables--has never taken place: abortion is the one controversial topic that the site's sponsors have always made sure gets a full, comprehensive and open airing.

Some possible substitutes for Mises.org could be Cafe Hayek, Wolf Street, Robert Murphy's blog or David Stockman's Contra Corner.

10 comments:

Scotsman said...

Mises.org has always had a nutty side to that that at times rivaled Lew's own site.

I seem to recall a hilarious exchange between yourself and a young author of a 'Let Children choose their parents' article. Apparently in libertoonville, 6 year olds have enough the mental capacity to decide between their actual parents and a child molester who has alot of toys.

Kakistocracy said...

The supple contours of a magazine model have no allure quite like infinite-degree abstractions.

Atomized libertarians would spend their days sawing theoretical sawdust as a collective opponent marched into their borderless, privately contracted land. Thereupon to slaughter the males and distribute the females as chattel claims to valor or patronage.

And thus libertarianism sullenly retreats back into the imagination of autists. The end.

Northern Refugee said...

Kakistocracy:

You use your mouth prettier than a $20 dollar whore.

Bob Wallace said...

I was banned from LRC about ten years ago by writing on another site about IQ differences between different ethnic groups, and my archive of over 200 articles was destroyed.

By the way, Robert Murphy is a mental case.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I get the impression Lew is trying to thread the needle between his white, Catholic social circle and the atheist Jews who are probably his main funding source.

DdR said...

I used to obsessively go to mises.org and lewrockwell.com on a daily basis.

I also frequented meetings at FEE up in Irvington. Lew, Ron Paul and others were regular guests (this is between 2005-06).

Initially mises.org opened up my eyes to what was so wrong with the U.S. and the world. It introduced me to a unified theory on what would bolster American society and its economy again.

Based on what I learned, I would argue with friends, family and girlfriends about how their Weltanschauung was wrong. Man that did not help win friends, and I lost one girlfriend 'cause of it.

I also joined the Free State Project and seriously considered moving to New Hampshire. I got a job offer and everything and almost moved there.

Long story short I tired of the authors' writings after a while. First lewrockwell.com was just too anti-war, and its incessant harping on anything military or socialist-related became annoying. If you go there today, the message has not changed.

I haven't been to mises.org in years. While I think that what Mises and Hayek wrote about are very interesting and should be applied by governments, I think Lew and his crew have gone off the deep end in terms of condoning an anarchist society, led by a guy called Hoppe.

Ultimately, some countries are better off than others because of their human stock. I had thought this for quite a while based on my own observations, but that would be RACIST, thus I grasped on to another theory that said that it's the fault of too much regulation.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Hoppe seems at least willing to acknowledge that anarcho-capitalism means a lot of "tolerance" and compulsory association goes up in smoke. He also seems mostly checked out, retired and concentrating on his Property & Freedom Society and his younger wife and her resort on the Bosporous. Which I'd say is a good set of priorities.

I think I've got a post around here on the blow-up between the paleo's and ancap's at the Claremont Institute.

Kakistocracy said...

Ultimately, some countries are better off than others because of their human stock. I had thought this for quite a while based on my own observations, but that would be RACIST, thus I grasped on to another theory that said that it's the fault of too much regulation.

This is a point that should be empasized for its rarely-stated ubiquity. By vast majority, people do not take the position they believe, and certainly not publicly. They take whatever permissible position is closest to what they believe. And they do this even when the gulf between the two is a chasm. Once thereupon settled, they begin the often uncomfortable process of rationalizing away their cognitive dissonance.

Though uncomfortable or not, it's a process far more appealing than standing alone on the periphery suffering spite from the herd.

No one wants to be hated, ostracisized, and unemployed. And so however much space opens between the zeitgeist and observable reality, we may be assured that the majority will reconcile it in favor of the former.

What range between 1 and 10 am I permitted to believe? 5.5 to 5.7? Well then 5.5 it is, and I'm passionate on the subject!

Anonymous said...

One thing these open borders/libertarian types never mention is that almost all State and local governments have some kind of residency requirements for employment. if it is "evil" to have such requirements for a nation, how come they are not howling about these requirements for local governments?

Anonymous said...

I will admit to having briefly toyed with Anarcho-Capitalism when I was younger and more impressionable. Ultimately, my B.S. detector kept ringing whenever the Ancaps gave glib, unsatisfactory answers to challenging questions, after which they'd treat the objection as solved and move on to their pet obsessions. Getting deeper into History was the last straw, as it became clear that most Ancaps were utterly clueless in that field.

If it was B.S., I will in fairness say that I'm somewhat grateful for the exposure nonetheless. Most people adopt a political affiliation without ever asking the fundamental question, "What are the proper ends of government, and why is government the only effective means to those ends?" The Ancaps' answer- "There are no proper ends to which government is the only effective means"- is, of course, totally wrong, but it forced me to abandon a lot of lazy preconceptions.

Hoppe is, for all intents and purposes, an ultra-legitimist Monarchist, though he'd surely not admit it. A political order based on "pure private property" is really just a silly way of describing a Monarchy or Aristocracy in which succession is rigorously governed by strict laws of inheritance that are scrupulously upheld, even against popular acclamation or political considerations. His description of his preferred "Anarcho-Capitalist" order bears a suspicious resemblance to an idealized high medieval feudalism.