Friday, March 31, 2006

If only protectionists would put all that effort into improving themselves

Instead of doing like the rest of us and adapting their skill sets to the times, there are many who turn to the power of government to preserve their livelihoods:
Philly Plumbers Upset by Waterless Urinals

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - This city's hoped-for bragging rights as home of America's tallest environmentally friendly building could go down the toilet.

In a city where organized labor is a force to be reckoned with, the plumbers union has been raising a stink about a developer's plans to install 116 waterless, no-flush urinals in what will be Philadelphia's biggest skyscraper.

Developer Liberty Property Trust (LRY) says the urinals would save 1.6 million gallons of water a year at the 57-story Comcast Center, expected to open next year.

But the union put out the word it doesn't like the idea of waterless urinals - fewer pipes mean less work.

The city's licensing department, whose approval is needed for waterless urinals, has not yet rendered a decision.

The mayor's office has stepped in to try to save the urinals, which use a cartridge at the base to trap odors and sediment as waste passes through.

It is telling the plumbers that the city's building boom will provide plenty of work for them and that even waterless urinal systems need some plumbing connections, said Stephanie Naidoff, city commerce director.

Philadelphia's unions have periodically put the city in a difficult spot.

For years, convention groups were canceling bookings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center because of difficulties working with six unions. New rules were established in 2003 to allow convention groups to deal instead with a middleman, a labor supplier. A few months later, the electricians union temporarily shut off power and picketed the center in a dispute with the supplier.

In 2004, the MTV reality show "The Real World" briefly pulled up stakes after union workers, in a dispute over hiring practices, picketed the house the cast was to live in. The show's producers and labor leaders eventually negotiated a deal to bring the show back....
Bluntly, who cares if there's more, just as much, or far less work with the new piping? It is not the consumer's duty to provide work to anyone else. So by what right do these unions have to stand in the way of progress, to tell taxpayers that we are obligated? Even if there is no progress, by what right can they compel or coerce anyone to choose this product instead of another?

They have no right, but government has given them the power (that is to say, ability. Public officials, after all, don't have to be prudent about signing contracts with unions. It's not their money. And why do the officials, particularly elected ones that are supposedly directly subject to the people, so willing to sign contracts that allow unions to hold municipalities hostage? Simply, union campaign donations.

One can only imagine buggy manufacturers and whip-makers lobbying governments in the early 20th century, complaining that the automobile is putting them out of work. As we can see from Bastiat's The Law, protectionism has been around a long time:
The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.
"The nature of law is to maintain justice," Bastiat said. My own humble observation is that the problem is not with the special interest groups, but with government assuming so much unconstitutional power. Were government strictly limited to the role of defending (not promoting) our rights to life, liberty and property, then special interest groups would become irrelevant. There would be no officials with the power to grant them what they want.

Sadly, though, voters in general are so bent on voting for the candidate who promises the most, even to the extent that the supposedly conservative New York Post endorsed Chuck Schumer's 2004 re-election bid. I've talked with my best friend about whether we should get our families and move to Texas' 14th Congressional District. What kind of people live there that they keep sending back a man like Ron Paul?


Blogger septagon said...

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith

Friday, March 31, 2006 12:46:00 PM  

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