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The Unionized States of America

by Mytheos Holt, published

Last week, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Hilda Solis

to the position of Labor Secretary. This marks yet another time when

Obama has turned to the Golden State for guidance in his cabinet, as Solis is the representative of California's 32nd district, and I am sure that those people who elected her to this position must be very proud.


am also sure that they must have very bad taste, for this is the second

time that Obama has committed such a colossal blunder

that it has deserved mention on this website. And everything seemed to be going so well! Well, except for the house-painter, but one can't have everything. Solis's nomination has drawn conspicuously ominous amounts of glee from America's unions and just as conspicuously unpleasant amounts of gloom from those who have reason not to trust these entities. Their enthusiasm is, sadly, extremely warranted.


is no doubt that even a cursory look at Solis's record would reveal

her as an unabashed union shill. Solis's anti-enterprise, pro-union

record is so cemented that the Los Angeles Times could actually call her "pro-union" in a headline without breaking the

rules of journalistic objectivity. Not only that, but the Times also

calls Solis "one of the most reliably pro-union voices in the

House" and cites the fact that the AFL-CIO has rated her with a 100 percent

voting score. That means that not once did Solis vote against union interests in the entirety of the last congressional year.


any other time, this sort of appointment would not mean much more than

what it looks like: a cynical ploy by a Democrat to cement his

relationship with one of his most reliable voting bases by appointing

one of their most prominent off-the-books advocates to his cabinet.

Given Obama's shaky relationship with working Americans in his own

party during the primaries, this sort of move would seem doubly

important for him politically, though it should be noted that any time

something is done for political reasons, it tends to have an inverse

relationship with the amount of courage the relevant actor should have had. Still, if this were an ordinary term, Obama might have been excused.

But this is not

an ordinary term. For one thing, a lot of the less attractive elements

of blind pro-unionism are either coming home to roost or finally

emerging from their coffins, eager to drain our economic life force.

The first reason why increased care for union interests is a bad idea

is that it is one of the elements that makes the Detroit automakers so

impotent that US News and World Report can sardonically note

that "Detroit can't compete with Alabama, let alone China." At a time

when this sort of noncompetitiveness is literally killing not only the

economy, but the Federal Budget, more obeisance to labor interests is

hardly appropriate.


the much more sinister threat that Solis's nomination poses is that Congress is still sitting on a pro-union bombshell, the

Orwellian "Employee Free Choice Act." One of the primary effects

this act has is arguably to strip employees of the right to a secret

ballot. This means that the door is thrown open for unions to

intimidate, coerce, bribe and otherwise bully workers into signing up.

Setting aside the adverse economic effects of such behavior (higher

inflation, more strikes), this is unacceptable purely from the

perspective of individual rights. Unions may occasionally be a valuable

counterweight to corporate power, but what they need now is a good dose

of antitrust law, not more excuses to dunk scabs' heads in the toilet.

Moreover, the act is so dangerously anti-individual that one leading constitutional scholar has even suggested that it is unconstitutional.

And, of course, Solis supports it.

One would expect nothing else from a woman who spends her time in

Congress shilling for union interests. The

President-elect was on record saying he wouldn't appoint lobbyists

to his cabinet. And it's true that Solis is not technically a

lobbyist. But as the old saying goes, if it quacks and has webbed feet,

it's a duck, even if you call it a goose. I don't mean to compare

Solis to poultry, but there's no doubt that unfortunately,

Obama has appointed yet another quack.

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