Think for a moment what it means to not be a “right to work” state. It means that a worker can be forced to join a union as a condition of getting a job. It means that the only sliver of capital a worker might otherwise own–the blood, sweat and tears he might devote to gainful employment–is not even his. Is this the sort of liberty envisioned with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?
It’s not amazing that 24 states, counting Michigan, are now right to work states. What is amazing is that so many still aren’t, and that so many ever tarried down this peculiar path of worker oppression before. (See article).
Of course, Emperor Obama, owing much to the UAW, the largest private sector (in name, if not reality, when the government bailouts are considered) union, visited Michigan earlier this week to advise against passing the right to work legislation. But here’s the beauty about the extant federal system–he was powerless to prevent it happening. But don’t be surprised if he and his union buddies don’t cook up some nullifying federal legislation. Obama owes a huge debt to the UAW. Don’t think they won’t be coming to collect. If I were Michigan, I’d say bring it on. The federal government is broke. There won’t be any more federal government rescue funds for the next round of the financial crisis, the one that will finally shutter inefficient unionized auto manufacturing in the US. Michigan and auto manufacturing will have to make it on its own or not at all. The state can ignore Obama with impunity.
Just like gay marriage is an issue better left for the states, economic growth imperatives like outlawing closed union shops as Michigan just did are also better left to the states. The federal government is necessary for not much more than defense and communications infrastructure (common currency, roads, airwaves, airspace, etc). There was never any need for a national labor policy (nor for a national minimum wage, but that’s a matter for a different day).
The time is now to invest in Michigan’s economic renaissance. Freed of some of the shackles of an over-regulated employment relationship, the state, whose people know a thing or two about how to make and sell stuff, is poised for employment growth, the ultimate of economic drivers.