22 June 2005

Another Episode of Goose and Gander

The Perfesser remarks that (link omitted):

There will be a paycheck protection initiative on California's November ballot. Bryan O'Keefe makes the case for it here. Money quote:

In almost every election cycle, labor's leadership takes millions of dollars in dues from rank and file members and ships it off to Democratic headquarters without asking. Then, a significant portion of these same rank and file members turn around and vote for Republican candidates. The system is highway robbery for union members who are forced to fund politics with which they don't agree.

OK, that's all well and good. What about stockholders who are Democrats, when the companies in which they hold stock contribute to right-wing PACs (like the so-called "US Chamber of Commerce")? Don't they have an equal right to be pissed off at the "inconsistency"? Or, instead, is there something special about wages as opposed to investment income and outright ownership interests? In that case, what about the senior associate civil-rights lawyer, who happens to be a Democrat, whose firm happens to concentrate in management-side labor law and contributes extensively to local Republican candidates?

My point is this: There really isn't a lot to choose from between the two parties at their cores (they're both a bunch of center-right marginally honest agency-captured politicians). Personal preference is exactly that; and it can be influenced greatly by individual issues not well considered by the parties. The Perfesser's position at an extreme reduces to the question of whether nonvoluntary collective organizations—whether unions or corporations or whatever—whose collectivity arises in context X should ever be allowed to express opinions or contribute to political activities in context Y. It's not a simple question with a simple answer; I'd argue that the right answer is "it depends."

I'd also argue that the right answer to the Perfesser's question is "then vote to decertify the union and see what happens then," without implying that I actually support union-busting. Unfortunately, I think the probability of getting more-responsive union leadership in this country is slightly greater than the probability of getting more-responsive elected officials, so I'm not sure that "use the ballot box to changed things!" is a realistic alternative… and, as the Disney situation (among others) has shown, it's not too realistic in corporate governance, either.

In short, Perfesser, in at least some senses I find your "director primacy" theory convincing and accurate; but it has other implications, too.