September 3, 2012

Labor Day Grab Bag

Well folks, it is Labor Day again here in the USA. One of the most interesting things about Labor Day, in case you were not already aware of it, is that the rest of the world celebrates labor day on May 1st. But they celebrate it then as a memorial to a labor dispute (and subsequent sham trial) that occurred in the United States. President Cleveland chose the September holiday because the government was worried about encouraging links with international communist and anarchist movements.

I did not have the foresight to write up a long thoughtful post for all of you, so I'll try to redirect you to some long thoughtful writings elsewhere. Here are some of the most interesting things I've read lately related to labor.

For starters, I was recently reading an article in which (fairly prominent) labor economist Richard Freeman discusses his recommended reads about the labor movement, and was surprised to find one a pithy and coherent economic defense of unions in the comments section, of all places. I followed the commenter's link to his short-lived blog and found another good free-market defense of unions there. I will definitely be writing more about this in the future.

The next link is an in-depth look at the dynamics of power within the workplace, in the context of refuting libertarian simplifications about power. This is long but highly recommended; it has definitely been influential in my thought process lately (if you can't tell from some of my posts).

If you have been wasting any time online this past few days you have likely seen and already read Matt Taibbi's brutal article about Romney and Bain Capital. Taibbi is really taking issue with much more than Romney, however: he is arguing against a corporate-raider style, short-term profit oriented capitalist system. Because such a system ends up benefiting almost no-one. This is a disputable point, of course. The question is how tenable companies that failed (or shed workers) after a Bain takeover were before the takeover--whether Bain was simply hastening what would have happened anyway. Regardless, it is easy to see how this style of capitalism has impacted worker welfare.

Finally, more in the spirit of May 1 than September 3, here are two articles about the labor movement in China. Our economies are intimately linked and it is not really possible to understand labor issues from a purely domestic standpoint.

No comments:

Post a Comment