That was fast!

Shortly after the ink was dry on the state’s new “Right to Work” law, Michigan Governor  Rick Snyder reports that state economic development officials are hearing from manufacturers interested in moving to area.

Snyder said it’s “premature” to name the companies, but indicated Michigan’s foray into the right-to-work movement may help change its image as a union stronghold.

“The phone’s already been ringing at the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corp.) since we passed that legislation,” Snyder said Friday in meeting with reporters. “People are starting to look at Michigan.”…

Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said his phone has been “ringing off the hook” for the past week with calls from out-of-state business owners and economic development officials seeking confirmation of news accounts they read about the right-to-work law.

Lloyd Conway, a Michigan activist who now serves as one of two Councillors at-large for the City of Charlotte, was actually at the protest events that preceded the passage — though he did not see any violence such as the attack on conservative entertainer Steven Crowder.   He viewed the experience as “witnessing history”. He offers these insights as to what the “Right to Work” passage means in a larger context.

In a society where labor exercises inordinate power, the economy can become uncompetitive due to high cost, restrictive work rules, et cetera. Such may have been the case with pre-Thatcher England. In a society where capital has an inordinate share of power, workers may feel as though they are living in a Dickensean world where their wages are subject to an ‘iron law’ that keeps them as low as possible while the government is the creature of the monied classes. In either case, the social machinery is clearly out of whack.

Regardless of what one may think of unionism, unions serve as a check and balance (when they do their job) on large, corporate bodies with vast resources. Thus, the question that should have been asked is, ‘How will these laws affect the balance of power, both economically and politically?’

Just as our government was intended to work as a system where each branch and level checked and balanced the others, so our economy, until the age of large, corporate enterprises gives way to another form of social/economic organization, may function best when each center of power is checked by a rival of roughly equal strength.

Only time will tell how Michigan’s experiment with ‘right-to-work’ will turn out. Students of political economy will also be watching to see how it affects society beyond the negotiating table.

My bet is that Michigan is going to have some history-making economic growth.  I may have to consider moving back!


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