Open letter to President Obama (Part 614) FREE TO CHOOSE “Who protects the worker?” Video and Transcript Part 4 of 7 “But when workers get higher wages and more civilized working conditions through the free market, when they get them by firms competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody’s expense”

Open letter to President Obama (Part 614) (Emailed to White House on July 22, 2013)

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

______________________________

FREE TO CHOOSE “Who protects the worker?” Video and Transcript Part 4 of 7

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, and – Power of the Market. Milton Friedman shows in this episode how the worker is best protected and it is not by the government!!!!!!!

The essence of what Milton Friedman is saying in this episode is this:

“When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and more civilized working conditions through the free market, when they get them by firms competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody’s expense. They can only come from higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. The whole pie is bigger, there is more for the worker, but there’s also more for the employer, the investor, the consumer and even the taxpayer. That’s the way a free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all the people. That’s the essence of the age of the worker.”

Pt 4

Friedman: Suddenly, in a free market, workers who once could not find jobs are now at a premium. Everyone benefited, workers and employers alike and the town thrived. One of the workers who arrived in Spartanburg was Mr. Juma. He came as a refugee from Edie Amiens Uganda.

Mr. Juma: We came in this country just with $139. I had a family, my wife and two kids. And, we came with only four bags of clothing which weighs about 40 pounds each, but we’re not allowed to take more than that. We had to leave all our possessions, all our property in Uganda. And myself, I just came down to Flowers Baking Company and I was hired as a laborer to work in the plant at $2.49 per hour.

Friedman: Five years later he is chief accountant of the company. In a free market his best protection his real wealth, turned out to be his skills and his desire to use them.

Juma: America has to offer me a lot of things. And this is a great country. I came in this country penniless, today I own a house, I own three cars, my wife has got a good job, I myself have got a good job and the children are schooling and everything has been working so fine. I believe this because of opportunity. This is where everyone wants to work in this country. There is lot of opportunity.

Friedman: When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and more civilized working conditions through the free market, when they get them by firms competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody’s expense. They can only come from higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. The whole pie is bigger, there is more for the worker, but there’s also more for the employer, the investor, the consumer and even the taxpayer. That’s the way a free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all the people. That’s the essence of the age of the worker.

DISCUSSION

Participants: Robert McKenzie, Moderator; Milton Friedman; Lynn Williams, International Secretary, United Steel Workers of America; Walter Williams, Professor of Economics, Temple University; Ernest Green, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.; William H. Brady, President, W. H. Brady Co.

MCKENZIE: The discussion is already underway here at the University of Chicago, so let’s join it.

L. WILLIAMS: Well, we tried a free market system without labor unions. We tried it back in the 1920s and into the ’30s and it led the world into the biggest economic disaster it’s ever seen in modern times. Now I don’t think that we’re talking free market or labor unions. We’re talking free market with or without labor unions and a free market system without labor unions is a total disaster.

MCKENZIE: Let’s get other reactions to this, now, around the group. Is the free market system, Milton’s Friedman’s been arguing I think, not labor unions, which best protect the interests or serve the interests of the worker? Walter Williams, your reaction.

W. WILLIAMS: Well, I think clearly labor unions serve the best interests of workers who happen to be members of labor unions at the expense of workers who are excluded from being members of labor unions.

MCKENZIE: Ernest Green?

GREEN: I don’t think you can have a democratic society without having trade unions. I think if you look at any democratic country, it’s essential to it, right of workers to organize and I think it’s consistent if we are to maintain a democratic country, those freedoms that the right of workers to organize is a primary objective that maintains a democratic country, those freedoms that the right of workers to organize is a primary objective that we have to maintain.

MCKENZIE: Bill Brady?

BRADY: Well if they are so vital, why are so many union members leaving the union? Why are they, why are they losing so many __ why are the unions losing so many decertification elections? Why has the number of union members declined so precipitously from 23 percent of the labor force to what is it now __ less than 19, 18 percent?

L. WILLIAMS: All depends whose figures you’re reading. But workers aren’t leaving the labor movement in droves. The union is not declining precipitously. My union, the United Steel Workers of America, the major unions in the country, many small ones are out organizing and growing. The mix of work __ the mix of work in the society is changing. We have some employers, as we saw in the film, who can’t wait to rush off to the south and try to get in an anti-union environment and invest their money in prosperity in the south instead of in the north and surely if you invest money anywhere you’re going to have prosperity.

MCKENZIE: Let me just __

L. WILLIAMS: So we also have a mix in terms of Civil Service and service workers, where we have employers who have grumbled on that film about $2.90 minimum wage.

BRADY: I don’t know that if you __ I don’t know that if you invest money anywhere that you’re going to have prosperity. I don’t think that that’s a given. That is, you seem to me to be dealing in a premise there that is incorrect.

(Several people talking at once.)

MCKENZIE: Wait a minute now, wait a minute. The key question we’re discussing is: Who protects the worker? Is it the labor union or the free market that best serves his interest?

W. WILLIAMS: Well, it seems like from the evidence that I have, from a number of research projects that I’ve engaged in, I found that labor unions protect their members often at the expense of disadvantaged people. And it’s a very, very interesting question that labor unions down through the ages have discriminated against all kinds of people in favor of a particular class of workers.

L. WILLIAMS: We haven’t, Walter, we haven’t

W. WILLIAMS: We find that labor unions have gone out on strikes and have murdered and maimed people because other people sought entry and in terms of Mr. Green’s remark, he says that in the free democratic society we need labor unions. Yes, that is true, we need the right for voluntary association, that is people have the right to form association, but it should not be a requirement that you be a member of a labor union in order to establish a contract for employment.

L. WILLIAMS: Can’t we get some __ can’t we get some perspective in this, Walter. Talking about unions down through the ages makes no sense at all in terms of where we’re at now in this century at this time. This business of trying to relate where unions come from to the, to the medical profession and Hippocratic oaths, Hippocratic oaths or hypocritical oaths, however one looks at that, back in the Greek aeons really have very little relevancy.

W. WILLIAMS: Yes it does.

L. WILLIAMS: The violence, see hear me out a minute , I waited patiently.

W. WILLIAMS: Okay, okay.

L. WILLIAMS: The violence it’s associated with __ well, not so patiently, but I waited. The violence associated with the labor movement and so on have been minimal and was a reaction in this century, not over the ages, a reaction in this century to the violence done workers by corporation and powerful economic groups when there was no workers’ organization to protect them and no way to deal with their greed and with their power __

MCKENZIE: Okay. Now, now I’m turning to Milton because he’s heard the flavor of the discussion.

FRIEDMAN: Sure. What Lynn Williams is now saying is utter nonsense. There’s no other __ no two ways about it. The conditions of the worker in this country before there was labor unions were very important __ improved very greatly. You cannot tell me the millions of people, my parents, your parents, for all I know, parents of many people around, came to this country from Europe in order to be exploited and in order to be subjected to violence. Of course, there were incidents of violence.

GREEN: I disagree with that vehemently. I mean most of the blacks came to this country not voluntarily, but they were shipped here.

FRIEDMAN: The blacks __

GREEN: And the interesting thing about the issue on __ on Spartanburg though __

FRIEDMAN: The blacks did not __ excuse me, hold on for a second.

GREEN: Is that you left out __

FRIEDMAN: Hold on.

MCKENZIE: Let him finish and then back to you.

GREEN: All right.

FRIEDMAN: The blacks are an exception and I agree with you completely.

GREEN: Twenty-two million exceptions, though.

FRIEDMAN: But they are a very important exception. But there are also millions and millions __the people that Mr. Williams represents are not mostly blacks. They are mostly from the Slavic countries, came from Eastern Europe.

L. WILLIAMS: If you look at the membership of the Steel Workers __

FRIEDMAN: If we __ if we go back, the violent __ there was violence, of course, there always has been violence. It’s not excusable, I’m not excusing violence on the part of anyone, but I agree with Mr. Green and with Walter Williams that people should be free to organize. Of course they should be free to organize. What I object to is the special privileges that have been given by government to labor unions which are not available to other groups at all. When labor unions have used violence in industrial disputes they are not subjected to the same sanctions as people ordinarily are. When cars are turned over in the course of a labor dispute, how often do people go to jail as a result of it?

_________________________________________________

___________________________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

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