Unions Vs. Right To Work

Excellent piece from Harvard economist Robert Barro in moday’s Wall Street Journal.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

How ironic that Wisconsin has become ground zero for the battle between taxpayers and public- employee labor unions. Wisconsin was the first state to allow collective bargaining for government workers (in 1959), following a tradition where it was the first to introduce a personal income tax (in 1911, before the introduction of the current form of individual income tax in 1913 by the federal government).

Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state—or even across states—can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.

In fact, labor unions were subject to U.S. antitrust laws in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which was first applied in 1894 to the American Railway Union. However, organized labor managed to obtain exemption from federal antitrust laws in subsequent legislation, notably the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

Remarkably, labor unions are not only immune from antitrust laws but can also negotiate a “union shop,” which requires nonunion employees to join the union or pay nearly equivalent dues. Somehow, despite many attempts, organized labor has lacked the political power to repeal the key portion of the 1947 Taft Hartley Act that allowed states to pass right-to-work laws, which now prohibit the union shop in 22 states. From the standpoint of civil liberties, the individual right to work—without being forced to join a union or pay dues—has a much better claim than collective bargaining. (Not to mention that “right to work” has a much more pleasant, liberal sound than “collective bargaining.”) The push for right-to-work laws, which haven’t been enacted anywhere but Oklahoma over the last 20 years, seems about to take off.

The current pushback against labor-union power stems from the collision between overly generous benefits for public employees— notably for pensions and health care—and the fiscal crises of state and local governments. Teachers and other public-employee unions went too far in convincing weak or complicit state and local governments to agree to obligations, particularly defined-benefit pension plans, that created excessive burdens on taxpayers.

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com

 

Unions Vs. Right To Work

Excellent piece from Harvard economist Robert Barro in moday’s Wall Street Journal.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

How ironic that Wisconsin has become ground zero for the battle between taxpayers and public- employee labor unions. Wisconsin was the first state to allow collective bargaining for government workers (in 1959), following a tradition where it was the first to introduce a personal income tax (in 1911, before the introduction of the current form of individual income tax in 1913 by the federal government).

Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state—or even across states—can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.

In fact, labor unions were subject to U.S. antitrust laws in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which was first applied in 1894 to the American Railway Union. However, organized labor managed to obtain exemption from federal antitrust laws in subsequent legislation, notably the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

Remarkably, labor unions are not only immune from antitrust laws but can also negotiate a “union shop,” which requires nonunion employees to join the union or pay nearly equivalent dues. Somehow, despite many attempts, organized labor has lacked the political power to repeal the key portion of the 1947 Taft Hartley Act that allowed states to pass right-to-work laws, which now prohibit the union shop in 22 states. From the standpoint of civil liberties, the individual right to work—without being forced to join a union or pay dues—has a much better claim than collective bargaining. (Not to mention that “right to work” has a much more pleasant, liberal sound than “collective bargaining.”) The push for right-to-work laws, which haven’t been enacted anywhere but Oklahoma over the last 20 years, seems about to take off.

The current pushback against labor-union power stems from the collision between overly generous benefits for public employees— notably for pensions and health care—and the fiscal crises of state and local governments. Teachers and other public-employee unions went too far in convincing weak or complicit state and local governments to agree to obligations, particularly defined-benefit pension plans, that created excessive burdens on taxpayers.

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com

 

Could Medicare Mandate Case Undo ObamaCare?

Looks that way as the Washington Times points out in Monday’s editorial.

Amplify’d from www.washingtontimes.com

Otherwise free people suffer “direct, tangible harm” when forced into a government medical system. That’s the argument in a Feb. 11 brief in a court case with direct ramifications for Obamacare. The plaintiffs protest that citizens must enroll in to collect Social Security benefits for which they paid a lifetime of taxes. The tangible harm is caused because hampers their ability to secure – with their own resources – the best health care available.

The three plaintiffs in Hall v. Sebelius, including former House Majority Leader , Texas Republican, all want to continue private arrangements for health care rather than enroll in . They don’t want their taxes back; they just want to forego the benefits. Government said they must collect those benefits if they want to receive Social Security checks.

Last year, Judge ordered the government to show what statutory or duly enacted regulatory authority allows it to make such demands. The government failed. The judge also ordered plaintiffs to show how the requirement hurts them. They succeeded. Brian Hall, for instance, no longer has access to his health savings account into which he paid for years. The same goes for John J. Kraus, who wasn’t allowed to continue in the Aetna Health Fund Plan that would have “covered his and his wife’s health care expenses for the rest of their lives.” This coverage provided greater flexibility and choice than .

The constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate could be implicated here. On Feb. 22, D.C. federal district Judge Gladys Kessler cited preliminary rulings in Hall v. Sebelius to conclude that the mandate is allowable. If Judge determines the disputed government authority was created out of thin air, it would weaken the foundation of Judge Kessler’s strange decision. The bottom line is government can’t be allowed to compel citizens into economic activity.

Read more at www.washingtontimes.com

 

Senator Orrin Hatch: Health Law ‘A Dumb-A** Program’

You think Senator Orrin Hatch wants to be re-elected? You betcha (sorry Dana Milbank). Hatch is coming under tremendous fire from voters back home. One of the most recent polls has Senator Hatch in a dead heat with Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

Late last week at an event sponsored by the Utah State University College Republicans, Hatch was asked on his views of the new health care law. Let’s just say he pulled no punches.

The Hill reports:

During at an appearance at an event sponsored by the Utah State University College Republicans, Hatch was asked whether he thought the nation’s healthcare system needs serious reforms. He acknowledged that states have different problems when it comes to healthcare, but called the federal law Democrats passed last year a “dumb-ass program” that will not solve them.

“Every state has different demographics, every state has different problems,” Hatch said, according to a Utah Statesman report published Monday. “It’s good to allow them to work out their own problems rather than a one-size-fits-all federal government, dumb-ass program. It really is an awful piece of crap.”

Hatch apologized for swearing, according to the Statesman. Hatch explained that “he does not swear often. He said he is passionate about the health care debate and would repent for using the words that he did,” the Statesman wrote.

Hatch’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill.

Could Medicare Mandate Case Undo ObamaCare?

Looks that way as the Washington Times points out in Monday’s editorial.

Amplify’d from www.washingtontimes.com

Otherwise free people suffer “direct, tangible harm” when forced into a government medical system. That’s the argument in a Feb. 11 brief in a court case with direct ramifications for Obamacare. The plaintiffs protest that citizens must enroll in Medicare to collect Social Security benefits for which they paid a lifetime of taxes. The tangible harm is caused because Medicare hampers their ability to secure – with their own resources – the best health care available.

The three plaintiffs in Hall v. Sebelius, including former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, all want to continue private arrangements for health care rather than enroll in Medicare. They don’t want their Medicare taxes back; they just want to forego the benefits. Government said they must collect those benefits if they want to receive Social Security checks.

Last year, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ordered the government to show what statutory or duly enacted regulatory authority allows it to make such demands. The government failed. The judge also ordered plaintiffs to show how the requirement hurts them. They succeeded. Brian Hall, for instance, no longer has access to his health savings account into which he paid for years. The same goes for John J. Kraus, who wasn’t allowed to continue in the Aetna Health Fund Plan that would have “covered his and his wife’s health care expenses for the rest of their lives.” This coverage provided greater flexibility and choice than Medicare.

The constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate could be implicated here. On Feb. 22, D.C. federal district Judge Gladys Kessler cited preliminary rulings in Hall v. Sebelius to conclude that the mandate is allowable. If Judge Collyer determines the disputed government authority was created out of thin air, it would weaken the foundation of Judge Kessler’s strange decision. The bottom line is government can’t be allowed to compel citizens into economic activity.

Read more at www.washingtontimes.com