Please note that my opinions are my own, and the opinions of the anyone or any institution quoted are theirs. The opinions expressed herein do not reflect the opinion of North Carolina State University, its board of directors, the College of Management or any other college, Student Media Authority, or WKNC Raleigh.

Monday, January 22, 2007

An Extension of Unions

So, Nathan was nice enough to point out that all the great economists say that unions are OK. That's fine, I don't care. In my current area of study, unions depress pay and fundamentally stifle the quality of the supply of labor. (Don't be verbose...)

For instance, in education, unions serve to create across-the-board equally scheduled pay based on tenure. Simultaneously, they advocate iron-clad job security, and even in states that do not have unions, the State does a good job of securing even pay and iron-clad security. This prevents us from paying people for their merit and firing the ones not worth paying.

The abolition of unions would increase wages for those better-suited for teaching and put some not-as-well-suited out of a job (but they don't need to be teaching our kids anyway). In other words (and this is important):

It would more-efficiently allocate wages.

As the science of economics seeks study the maximization of wealth through the efficient allocation of resources, this seems like a good step for policy-makers to take.

The extension of the argument, as suggested by Nathan: "The existence of unions, though beneficial in the short run, is ultimately detrimental to the individual." Brilliant! And almost Keynsian. But I won't tell any of your libby friends. Hush, hush.

My extension to his: "Yes, and unions are ultimately detrimental to society. As it is unfair to the individual, it is unfair to all collectively: the ones working for a depressed wage may be better suited for and earn more in another position, or at the very least will consume less of our resources; the ones not working in whatever position (teacher in my above example) may now have another option that replaces their first or even second choice of a career, changing the whole set of opportunity costs the individual weighs in the efficient allocation of his own fiscal or human capital."


Juris Naturalist said...

Unions are not the problem, as we have said. It is the special privileges granted to them.

For example: What is there inherant to the existence of a collective bargaining unit that prevents an individual from doing their own bargaining? Only if the individual is prevented from taking initiative can the collective gain any power.

This is why "scabbies" are so hated, and why charter schools are disdained by the incumbancy.

Any time we allow ourseves to be collectivized we play to the lowest common denominator among us. We all promise to play with a handicap in order to allow others to have a good time.

This is fine when differences of ability are acknowledged and in the proper setting. I often find ways to give my daughters a bit of advantage when we play games together. But they are not dumb, they know what I am up to. And as often as possible, I encourage them to try to compete on a level playing field. Any other behavior is patronizing and demeaning.

If America decided to handicap herself in order to give everyone else a chance to catch up we'd all be back to subsistence, barely getting by.

In other words: we all will end up dancing for lacrosse players.

So, why would anyone willingly subject themselves to this sort of degradation?
1. Gambling on potential future gains. Why do starlettes go to Hollywood? Why do gangstas sell crack? They all hope to make it big. But what's the big time in education?

2. It's all about the children. Some people care so much about kids that they make it their mission in life to help as many as they can. Politics be damned, they just love the kids and want to teach.

3. Actually, I dance part-time at night...
Some bulbs are so dim the only way they can seem bright is in a dark room or in the presence of little children. Judging by the number of times I have personally infuriated teachers through the use of pure logic this is clinically true. Thomas Sowell explains the rest.
"If you can't do, teach."

Jeff said...