America Needs a Lot More Labor Unions

Unionize! You have nothing to gain but your bosses’ obscene rents!

The lack of interest in tech-sector unionizing is indeed a bit of a puzzle. There are gargantuan piles of money floating around in the Apple/Google/Facebook space, and workers could easily get a bigger share of it by unionizing. And yet they don’t. It’s very odd.

Now, this is not my biggest concern in the world. Most tech workers make plenty of money already, which is probably why it’s hard to get them interested in unionizing. It’s the ill-paid service workers in America that really need to unionize. Still, why shouldn’t tech workers get themselves a bigger share of the pie?

It’s weird. There are lots of lefty policy proposals that are inherently risky. What would happen if we broke up Facebook? We don’t know, really. What would happen if we implemented a huge carbon tax? It’s hard to say. We can study these things and come up with educated guesses, but that’s all.

But then there are the things where we know the answer. Universal health care? We already do it for the elderly, and dozens of other countries do it for everyone. It works fine. Unionizing? The US was heavily unionized in the 50s and 60s and it worked fine. High marginal tax rates on the rich? We’ve done that too, and so have other countries. Up to a point, it works fine.

And then there are the things that we know don’t work. Military intervention in other countries? That’s got a very poor track record. Pumping teratonnes of carbon into the atmosphere? Bad idea. Economic warfare via tariffs? It’s been over a century since that was even arguably a good idea.

And yet we keep resisting all the good stuff and continuing with the bad stuff. What the hell is wrong with us?


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