Monday, July 25, 2011

Due Process in Practice

From a letter to the editor defending unions:
Unions are blamed for protecting the jobs of inferior teachers, causing economic collapse of government and electing corrupt candidates with their "secret" donations. Wrong, wrong and wrong. Unions ensure the rights of teachers being considered for firing to due process guaranteed by the Tenure Act, an act Republicans are eager to dismantle so that experienced, well-educated teachers can be replaced by cheaper, younger ones...

Here's how mob hit man Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran described it in I Heard You Paint Houses:
The Teamsters gave me good job security at Food Fair. They could only fire you if they caught you stealing. Let me put it another way, they could only fire you if they caught you stealing and they could prove it.

Failure at the micro level is essential for success at the macro level, whether it's the development of the brain, a company, industry, or economy. Regulations ensuring due process are why the documentary Waiting for Superman noted that in most major cities the teacher firing rate is 1 in 1000.

The growth in regulations surrounding development, education, health care, and finance, is hard to quantify, but I think they are really affecting things now. I know a CFO of a public company and he said they aren't developing in California because of all their regulations and obligations. Unfortunately, unlike taxes, regulations are much harder to scale back because they are so insidiously constructed, which is why it's very hard to turn around retarded countries like Greece and Spain that guarantee their workers so many things.


Dave Pinsen said...

And yet Germany industry has strong unions and other worker protections and manages to produce some of the highest quality products in the world. Perhaps the problem isn't unions per se but the character of some of the most dysfunctional American unions.

As for education, although it's true that there are unions and regulations that make it difficult to fire teachers in the worst-performing American school districts, the same is true in most of the best-performing districts, suggesting that labor regs aren't the key variable in the equation.

Eric Falkenstein said...

I'm not too up on this, but perhaps the mob/union connection in America was much more common in America. Clearly, Daimler was not able to tame Chrysler's auto unions and gave up.

Mercury said...

DP: The problem isn't unions per se it's public sector unions. The history of private sector unions in the US is one of often bloody confrontation between labor and management over the distribution of profits.

In the public sector there are no profits to fight over, just tax dollars (there isn't much/any history of government labor oppression to point to either I might add).

Surely you can see how the political enablement and management capture of public sector unions works against the best interests of the taxpayers whom public sector workers are supposed to serve.

Which government job or service do you think can't be adequately and fairly provided for via the mechanisms of supply, demand and price...aka the market?

Dipper said...

Dave Pinsen has nailed this. Rights for workers in Germany far exceed those of workers in the UK, yet jobs are leaving the UK and heading for Germany.

And ... why would you invest time and money in training to be a teacher, or any other profession, if you can be fired without due cause and without any right of self-defence? The employment market is a two-way street.

Patrick R. Sullivan said...

'...why would you invest time and money in training to be a teacher, or any other profession, if you can be fired without due cause and without any right of self-defence?'

Well, people do it all the time. Maybe because of competition? If a worker is maltreated by his employer he just goes across the street to one who won't be so bad?

Dipper said...

"If a worker is maltreated by his employer he just goes across the street to one who won't be so bad?"

... and they demonstrate they won't be so bad through a contract which has clauses concerning unfair dismissal, termination pay etc? Most CEO's seem to have these clauses in their contracts.

J said...

You are mixing two things: unions and regulations. In my opinion, unions are a problem only in public employment. The private sector finds ways to deal with them. But the cost of regulations is becoming higher than the anything related to manpower. Regulations are invisible apparently rational and necessary, but the overall burden is unbearable.

Brad F. said...

DP: Its unfair to compare the worst performing and best performing districts and then say teachers unions aren't the problem... how parents and students are different in these districts, how easily the students in these districts can find drugs and booze, and the differences in funding of all of these schools. Not to mention, if you were a great teacher, where would you prefer to work?

Dipper said...

J. well it seems logical that more regulations can price industries out of existance, and the reverse is true. But that doesn't appear to be the case in Germany.

The standard American "lightly regulated free market" model, whilst theoretically strong, is currently getting soundly beaten in the marketplace by nations that employ a different model of government "co-operation". So something is going on that needs explanation.

Anonymous said...

"So something is going on that needs explanation."

the US had a housing boom and bust. germany did not (actually it did, but that was 20 years ago).

tenure was supposed to protect professors from being dismissed for their political/social views. it was never supposed to protect incompetent and in some cases criminal teachers. google 'NY' and 'rubber room' to see how bad it is here.