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Yet that happy honeymoon was over before it really began. In 1946, Americans elected a Republican Congress, and in 1947, the newly elected GOP majority overrode President Harry Truman’s veto to pass the Taft-Hartley Act, limiting the coercive and often violent means by which union bosses had established their stranglehold on the American economy.
Stripped of legal sanction for their thuggish abuses, unions soon began losing membership. After cresting at nearly 33 percent in 1953 — the belated upswing caused by new employees joining already-unionized workplaces — Big Labor’s share of the workforce dwindled steadily. By 1979, less than a quarter of American workers were union members. A decade later, fewer than one-in-six U.S. workers belonged to a union. Today, it’s fewer than one-in-eight.
THIS TREND POINTS TO the third problem with the Krugman-Edwards populist myth. Taft-Hartley doesn’t prevent workers from joining unions; it only prevents unions from forcing workers to join.
The American exodus from the Egyptian bondage of coercive unionism is entirely voluntary — and in many cases, this exodus has been more than a metaphor. U.S. population has been drastically reapportioned in the past half-century, with people departing the heavily-unionized Northeast and Midwest in favor of Sunbelt states where right-to-work laws prevent unions from extracting dues from unwilling workers.
Americans have voted with their feet, and there is not the slightest evidence that the 87 percent of non-unionized U.S. workers crave an opportunity to pay for the privilege of union membership.
If further refutation of the Krugman-Edwards mythology were needed, one might point out that union membership is only 7.4 percent in the private sector, compared to 36 percent for government workers, and that union membership is practically non-existent in the Information Age industries where productivity, growth, and wages are highest.
Krugman’s fairy tale may give Edwards a boost in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Voters who understand economic reality aren’t likely to trudge through the snows of Iowa to participate in a Democratic caucus. But if liberals expect to win the White House on the basis of Big Labor mythology, 2008 will prove a very unhappy year for Democrats.
Robert Stacy McCain is co-author (with Lynn Vincent) of Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party (Nelson Current).
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?