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In Dubious Battle

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Ms. Marlan S. Maralit
Organizing Department
American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees

Dear Ms. Maralit:

Thanks for your mass e-mail this morning inviting me to recommend students for AFSCME’s Alternative Union Break: Summer Session.  I understand that students who attend this four-day program are taught how to “fight for a better country,” and to promote “social and economic justice,” by becoming union organizers.

Alas, I know no student who’d be interested in your program.  The young men and women who study economics at George Mason University learn, above all, to think rather than to emote.  So our students are rightly suspicious of vague terms such as “social and economic justice.”

Our students learn also that an economy most beneficial to the poorest amongst us is one that is free and competitive – an economy governed by the laws of property, contract, and tort instead of by the arbitrary government diktats that are the fetish of labor unions.

Our students understand that widespread prosperity comes only from entrepreneurial creativity, market-driven investment, risk-taking, and hard work – all in response to the demands of consumers free to spend their money as they choose.  Our students know that granting monopoly privileges to politically boisterous groups such as yours reduces, rather than produces, prosperity.

Our students understand that entrepreneurs and firms in market economies gain, not by taking wealth from others, but only by creating wealth and sharing that creation with others on terms that are mutually and voluntarily agreed to.

Oh, here’s one more important fact that our students understand: labor unions routinely promote injustice by lobbying for regulations (such as minimum-wage legislation and the Davis-Bacon Act) that price low-skilled workers out of jobs; by endorsing protectionist policies that deny consumers opportunities to get the most value for their dollars; and by supporting many bailouts and other forms of corporate welfare.

So I invite you to recommend to the young people who go through your program that they attend some of the many programs we have at GMU Economics (and affiliated organizations such as the Institute for Humane Studies [2] and the Mercatus Center [3]) in order to learn how they can truly best promote a society that is prosperous and peaceful.

Donald J. Boudreaux