Friday, May 1, 2015

letter to the editor on RTW

It doesn't look like the C-J will publish this...

I was surprised to read Rep. Greg Stumbo's assessment of my profession in saying that economists see "right-to-work" legislation as something to "declare dead". Economists don't typically describe policies in such terms. Instead, we focus on trying to identify the more subtle benefits and costs of personal decisions, business decisions, and public policies. 

An economist would note that unions are cartels in labor markets and that members of a cartel work together to elevate the price of that which they sell. These artificially high prices will benefit those in the cartel at the expense of society at large. And we should not be surprised by a cartel's opposition to policies that would weaken it (such as "right-to-work").  

One can find research on "both sides" of this issue-- not surprising if you think about it, since such things are quite difficult to measure well. When politicians or self-styled economists only cite one side of the relevant research and only note the benefits or the costs, then you should wonder what they're trying to do to you. And you should know that they're not thinking like an economist.


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