Category: Economic Freedom

righttoworkShifts in the partisan composition of state legislatures during the recent election has made it likely that several states will be passing right-to-work bills in 2017.

As Melissa Quinn of The Daily Signal notes, in Kentucky, Missouri, and New Hampshire, last month’s election resulted in a flip in party leadership in either governors’ mansions or state legislatures, which put previously defeated right-to-work legislation back on the table.

Here is what you should know this issue which, as Quinn says, “pits the business community against labor unions, and has proved to be a contentious one for both parties.”

What is a right-to-work law?

Right-to-work laws are state laws that guarantee a person cannot be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of employment.

Why are right-to-work laws considered a matter of economic freedom?

Economic freedom exists when people have the liberty to produce, trade, and consume legitimate goods and services that are acquired without the use of force, fraud, or theft. Mandatory unionism violates a person’s economic freedom since it forces them to pay a portion of their income, as a condition of employment, to a third-party representative—even if they disagree with the aims, goals, or principles of the representative group.

What’s wrong with being forced to pay for union representation?
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Blog author: abradley
Thursday, December 29, 2016
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On December 27, 2016, at the age of 86, Thomas Sowell published his last column. After publishing dozens of books and hundreds of columns, Dr. Sowell’s retirement may mark the beginning of the end of an era of black intellectuals who were champions of political and economic liberty. Other black scholars like Walter Williams, W.B. Allen, and Shelby Steele are all in the 70s or 80s and there does not seem to be a cadre of like-minded black scholars in their wake.
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Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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As protests for a $15-per-hour minimum wage continue to rage across the country, cities like Seattle and states like California and New York have already begun to adopt such schemes.

But alas, prices are not play things, and such measures are bound to reap a range of deleterious effects, from raised consumer prices to increased unemployment to reduced working hours to outright business closures. Contrary to the popular narrative, those consequences tend to hit small businesses and less-skilled workers first and hardest.

With the recent laws, the destruction has already begun. To illustrate the damage thus far, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is cataloging hundreds of stories on its Faces of $15 website, including a range of videos highlighting the frustrations and responses of business owners, employees, and faithful customers alike.

In the following 5 case studies, we see but a glimpse of the minimum wage’s cramping effect on human enterprise, creative service, and economic diversity.

1. Abbot’s Cellar

For Abbot’s Cellar, a newly founded restaurant in San Francisco, the recent wage hike made their start-up model unfeasible, even despite tremendous initial success. “How are businesses that have practically no margins as is – mom and pops, small businesses – how are they supposed to just absorb that?” asks Nat Cutler, one of the owners.

“San Francisco is a city that seems like it’s supposed to be built on a Bohemian, small-business, mom-and-pop-type vibe,” he continues. “That’s the culture of the city. I worry that the type of change that’s happening is going to take away from the great culture that was here…I wish a little more thought would be put into the long-term impact.” (more…)

Although the Cuban people continue to suffer and struggle under the weight of communist rule, many have been encouraged by even the slightest of Raul Castro’s incremental changes toward private businesses.

Out of a total population of roughly 11 million, the number of self-employed Cubans rose from 150,000 to 500,000 between 2010 and 2015. The state still controls the press, the internet, and most of the “formal” economy, but a small portion of the Cuban population is finally gaining the freedom to innovate and create on their own.

To explore that shift firsthand, entrepreneur and investor Marcus Lemonis recently visited the country to film a special edition of CNBC’s The Profit — walking the streets of Havana and talking one-on-one with the country’s “pioneers of capitalism.”

“Walking around the old city, I saw a place full of life, energized by the changes,” Lemonis says. “Instead of working for the State, thousands of Cubans are now working for themselves…A taste of capitalism has helped, but it’s just a taste.” (more…)

Global-Communications-900Free trade and trade agreements are not the same thing. In fact, they are often times in direct contradiction with each other. Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg recently wrote an article about this at The Stream. Gregg explains how all trade agreements are ‘managed trade,’ not free trade. He explains how free traders should approach the issue of economic nationalism and the best ways to work toward freer trade. Concerning the issue of trade agreements and managed trade, Gregg says this:

There’s no-one-size-fits-all form of trade agreement. Some are bilateral arrangements between two nations. Others are multilateral and embrace several nations. Within that framework, there are several possible arrangements.

You can have, for instance, single markets like the European Union. These involve the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor between all member-nations of the single market. But barriers are maintained or created against all non-single market members. Another model is a preferential trade area. Participating nations give preferential access to certain products from all the area’s members. Tariffs are reduced, but not completely abolished.

Note, however, that all trade agreements involve two or more governments negotiating how their citizens economically interact with each other. That also means they’re indirectly deciding how the same citizens will economically engage with people from nations who aren’t part of the trade agreement.

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Last week, President-elect Donald Trump along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is the current governor of Indiana, struck a deal with United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier, in order to save over 1,000 jobs from being sent from Indiana to Mexico.  This deal will supposedly give Carrier over $7 million in tax break incentives and it has everyone across the political spectrum reacting in different ways.

People on the far-left such as the self-described democratic-socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders say “It is not good enough to save some of these jobs.”  According to Sanders, the President-elect should be doing more to intervene with the private market in order to save more jobs.

Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan overlooked the fact that the government is meddling in private business in order to defend Trump’s actions by saying “I think it’s pretty darn good that people are keeping their jobs in Indiana instead of going to Mexico.”

On one hand you have a democratic socialist advocating for more intervention on the private market and on the other hand you have prominent leaders within the Republican Party (the party that many perceive as championing the principle of free enterprise) defending actions that resemble crony capitalism.  Even the VP-elect, someone who many thought of as a smart fiscal conservative, is giving up on the ideas of free enterprise.  He said this in a statement shortly after the Carrier deal “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing.” (more…)

CarllLarsen-Directing2Carl and Angel Larsen are Minnesota filmmakers who founded their own company, Telescope Media Group, with a very specific purpose: “to glorify God through top-quality media production.” Christian belief and a passion for “God’s story” has always been at the center of their business.

Now, due to a state law and statements from government officials, their religious beliefs expose them to a range of new threats as it relates to filming weddings. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Larsens may face severe financial penalties and up to 90 days in jail for declining to create expression in support of same-sex weddings.

“A government that tells you what you can’t say is bad enough,” says Carl. “But a government that tells you what you must say is much worse. You can’t force people to promote things that violate their beliefs.”

In response, the Larsens have partnered with Alliance Defending Freedom to file a federal lawsuit known as a “pre-enforcement challenge,” arguing that the state law threatens their rights and runs afoul of First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. As the ADF summarized in a recent news release: “The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has construed that law to force creative professionals like the Larsens to promote objectionable messages even though they gladly serve everyone and decide what stories to tell based on the story’s message, not any client’s personal characteristics.” (more…)