Notes From Babel

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised…

with 2 comments

…but I was quite disappointed that E.D. Kain chose to engage only the noisy and debatable points about public sector unions rather than the serious and systemic ones.  I have been writing about these problems at great length here, and have shared them with E.D. in another forum.  E.D. is generally a very forthcoming writer and thinker, but when it comes to an issue so deeply enmeshed in the liberal agenda, he can’t bring himself to consider the serious arguments against public unions—even though his recent post purports to do just that.

I appreciate the left’s political angle in the union debate.  As the argument goes, unions work as a countervailing power to corporate economic and political clout, and are thus the only practical hope for securing some semblance of a middle class.  I don’t necessarily accept the premise, but there’s lots of interesting topics to unpack and discuss there.  At any rate, I do agree we’re facing a Middle Class Problem generally.  (But then again, when are we not?)

But this is no excuse for question begging.  Let’s put it another way.  Consider the following argument:  “Crony Capitalism is justified because it is a countervailing political and economic force to that of the Thuggish Labor Unions.”  Is not your first reaction to resist the despicable premise of Crony Capitalism as vile and anti-democratic, whether or not it is somehow “balanced out” by another vile and anti-democratic special interest?  And is not your second reaction to wonder whether we can simply mitigate the influence of both of these vile and anti-democratic special interests? 

This is my problem with the left, particularly those who profess open-mindedness, “no labels,” and aversion to politics as usual.  Though a conservative, I have expressed concern over the forms individualism and corporatism have taken in contemporary America.  There are reasons for this, partly due to government’s dual tendencies toward secularism and expansion, and partly due simply to human nature.  But there are some of us on the right who really are concerned with such problems, and would even concede there’s something to the necessity of unions as a countervailing force against corporate influence.  But to meaningfully advance labor’s concerns requires an acknowledgment of some of labor’s serious systemic problems, particularly those in the public sector. 

So I am disappointed that E.D. has chosen to eschew talking about those problems in favor of taking sides in favor of a special interest group in favor of a political agenda.   This is why he has chosen to willfully ignore the deeper problems with public unions as they relate to the integrity of our system of government itself.  Now that E.D. has apparently put himself in the service of political causes rather than political thought, serious debate on these tough questions simply gets in the way of the accumulation and wielding of power for the benefit of the special interest group du jour.  To that end, one must waste no time with stubborn conservatives and libertarians—not while the middle class is suffering so.

Again, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m still disappointed when even the most thoughtful among those on the left pretend these kinds of deeper problems don’t exist.

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Written by Tim Kowal

February 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

2 Responses

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  1. “Consider the following argument: ‘Crony Capitalism is justified because it is a countervailing political and economic force to that of the Thuggish Labor Unions.'”

    Turning the argument around like this is instructive. The other day some friends who are union members ignored the obvious economic unsustainability of public-sector unions when the topic came up and launched into attacks on what they saw as corporate malfeasance (some valid, some not). In reaction, I thought, “So, two wrongs make a right? That’s your argument?”

    Jeff Parks

    February 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    • That’s basically the argument. And thus far it seems like union supporters are standing on it.

      Tim Kowal

      February 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm


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