Why Obama Is Wrong on Unions

President Obama touted "middle-class economics" in his State of the Union address, yet his policies favor the well connected. (NASA HQ)
President Obama touted “middle-class economics” in his State of the Union address, yet his policies favor the well connected. (NASA HQ)

During his State of the Union address, President Obama said many things that sounded like fantasy. But one thing in particular struck me as especially troublesome: his stance on bolstering unions.

When President Obama stated the federal government “still need[s] laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions,” he wasn’t making the case for fairness. Instead, he made the case for using compulsion to cater to the privileged.

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Gambling With Our Choices

To use government to grant unions privileges is to allow it to pick winners and losers. When Obama stands for strengthening unions instead of allowing individual workers to choose, he stands for the big guy.

He might not have knowledge over each individual’s necessities, but as president he claims to represent all. To be oblivious regarding how your actions undermine your claims is okay if you have no influence, but it’s serious if you’re the president.

Not knowing what the individual wants is not a failure of government; it’s a fact. When elected officials claim to have the knowledge to choose on your behalf, they lie. While the reasons behind the lies may vary, they do not soften the blow. Granting privileges to certain unions while turning others down tilts the playing field — the exact opposite of what Obama always promised to do.

Elected officials who support the individual but act to restrain him show too much trust in government, and none in man. When applied to markets and their individual participants, this mentality is what distorts incentives and stifles opportunities.

The tack towards a hostile habitat for the little guy has been Obama’s official policy, but don’t hold your breath for his rhetoric to change.

What Current Trends Show

Growth is directly connected to freedom. On the other hand, interventionist policies restrict the prosperity of subjects.

Interventionism is, in essence, a way to curtail peaceful exchanges. Particularly problematic is that government officials use these restrictions to empower favored groups, be it with crony contracts or exemptions from mandates. But in the process, they also do the exact opposite to those without friends in high places.

Granting privileges to certain groups that claim to speak for others forces those without a voice to succumb to the well connected. The well connected may be strong, but they are not empowered because they know better and depend on political patronage. They often lead because government officials treat them differently.

Soon after Obama’s latest State of the Union Address, the Washington Examiner released a study on unions. The analysis shows that states with fewer union members show signs of growing at a faster pace. States with greater number of union members struggle to grow.

This analysis suggests special treatment is as much of a problem as unionization is. If the economic environment is saturated with unions that exert power over your every decision, while holding special status before the government, your options become scarce.

The belief that free men are capable of living better lives, within a competitive market, is the very core of what one learns through the study of economics. If the goal is to shoot for a more prosperous future, individuals need more — not less — freedom.

President Obama may continue to speak well of individual working US Americans, but his collectivist actions speak louder. If our goal is to make people freer, we must stop supporting individuals like him and get government off our backs for good.

Edited by Fergus Hodgson.

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