The 2008 Libertarian National Convention will be held in Denver, Colorado over Memorial Day weekend from May 22 to May 26, 2008. One prominent Libertarian is hoping to run for President on the Republican ticket. Should Ron Paul be the candidate of working people?
Ron Paul's Blimp is Flying High —
How About His Reputation Among Working People?
Ron Paul and the Employer/Employee Relationship
...including the words of the candidate
by richard myers
Ron Paul defends the rights of the employer on principle. He calls it liberty; i call it privilege.
The boss has power over the employee, and may exert that power in illicit ways. Ron Paul considers the employment contract voluntary on both sides, and he therefore doesn't recognize the reality of that power relationship. While he won't defend a manager who actually uses force to coerce sex from a subordinate, his recommended solution to sexual harassment by the boss is for the employee to quit her job.
This leads me to believe that Ron Paul hasn't a clue what it must mean to be a single mother, dependent upon a paycheck to feed her children. Anyone who would offer a sexually exploited employee some civil rights tools to defend herself is derided as a social do-gooder.
Ron Paul wants a woman in such a situation to stand on her own. She's signed that voluntary employment contract, she's free and capable of making other voluntary associations, so she must solve the problem herself, according to Ron Paul's libertarian philosophy.
In making such judgments, Ron Paul ignores centuries of history. We know that slavemasters took advantage of female slaves, and even prominent "founders" of the nation whom we might otherwise respect — Thomas Jefferson comes to mind — have mixed race offspring as a result. For centuries, male bosses of various stripes (whether capitalist, or slave-master) have taken advantage of women in their employ. The threat of dismissal or other punishment, coupled with the uncertainty of finding another job, has forced countless women into subservience and exploitation.
A Case History
Three decades ago I worked in a Denver factory in which women outnumbered men by five to one. There wasn't much manufacturing in the area, and we had jobs that paid comparatively well. Many of us saw the value in making this our career, and i stayed for 33 years. Some employees weren't allowed that opportunity.
Supervisors developed reputations for having numerous relationships with the women who worked for them. One supervisor routinely joked about rubbing up against women in his crew. Another was fired after multiple accusations of rape, and others were transferred for similar behavior. But it seemed that most such activity was either tolerated or ignored by upper management.
A pretty young woman walked by, and my boss blurted out in a very loud voice, "let's take her into the bathroom and rape her!" He emphasized the word "rape", and his words coincided with some animated body movement. The young woman managed an embarrassed smile and didn't say anything. Such harassment of female employees was fairly routine in the factory, and to the extent that such behavior has been diminished, i expect that is primarily due to threat of a lawsuit.
However, Ron Paul considers such a solution unacceptable. Better for the employee to quit — just walk away, and let the managers continue their abusive games.
In fact this young woman did quit her job, and i surmise it was the taunt by my boss that caused her to leave. Was this a fair outcome? Ron Paul apparently believes so. In Freedom Under Siege, Paul has written,
Today the lack of understanding and respect for voluntary contracts has totally confused the issue that in a free society an individual can own and control property and run his or her business as he or she chooses. The idea that the social do-gooder can legislate a system which forces industry to pay men and women by comparable worth standards boggles the mind and further destroys our competitiveness in a world economy.
Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don't they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable. If force was clearly used, that is another story, but pressure and submission is hardly an example of a violation of one's employment rights.
In my opinion, the young woman who quit her factory job because of a blatant sexual taunt was guilty of only one thing — being vulnerable. Yet Ron Paul wonders, "how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? ...pressure and submission is hardly ... a violation of one's employment rights."
It appears that in President Paul's country, employers have the right to harass. And, Paul himself has no concept of the difficulty of finding jobs, nor of the possible hardship when a job is lost.
Unemployment in our society is maintained at a certain level as a means of keeping down wages. The unemployment rate is based upon NAIRU
, the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment. If a person becomes the one out of twenty or twenty-five workers who are out of a job by design, then the penalty of losing a job may be severe.
Ron Paul's Rationale for Corporate Dominance
"Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence..."
What exactly does it mean, that "liberty means free-market capitalism"? Paul believes that "in a free society an individual can own and control property and run his or her business as he or she chooses." [page 24]. Paul's philosophy would set corporations free to do essentially whatever they wish.
Well, then, what rights will workers have? The freedom to seek a different employer.
But for working folk, "freedom" should mean more than the right to change bosses.
Under President Ron Paul, "do-gooding" is verboten. No one will have any right to balance the power relationship between employer and employee, by legislative or other means. Would that give us sweatshops, child labor, poorhouses, company towns? Would Ron Paul excuse and defend company unions, trusts, monopolies, cartels, blacklists, private goons, slumlords? These questions should be asked of the candidate.
Ron Paul Specifics
Under Ron Paul, an employer would be free to fire an employee "for any reason he chooses".
Paul doesn't believe that working people should have any right to "equal pay for equal work".
Under President Paul, if you're not physically attractive, you may not have a right to a job.
Ron Paul wrote in his book,
The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task, it can only be accomplished with the total rejection of the idea of the voluntary contract. By what right does the government assume the power to tell an airline it must hire unattractive women if it does not want to? The idea that a businessman must hire anyone and is prevented from firing anyone for any reason he chooses and in the name of rights is a clear indication that the basic concept of a free society has been lost.
Note the phraseology here. Paul doesn't qualify his statement to pertain to an employment position (such as stewardess?) that is socially anticipated to have a certain image to uphold. Paul's stated principle appears to allow an airline to make
attractiveness (or anything else they may choose) a hiring issue across the board.
What's to prevent them from hiring only employees with blue eyes and blond hair? Might Aryan Airlines become a viable carrier under President Paul?
Granted, Paul is no national socialist. He probably would not support the incorporation of such ideologies into government. That's because all government is inherently evil, and only the market delivers righteousness and justice.
But with recent corporate license in the nature of Enron, Haliburton, Blackwater, dangerous imports, and those responsible for the mortgage lending crisis, shouldn't this sort of "corporate freedom" also give us pause?
Some more Ron Paul specifics
When it comes to illness (AIDS in particular), Paul is quick to assert the "rights of the insurance company owners" [page 30]. Well of course; he is the CEO's friend, too.
He would allow sweatshop labor — presumably, work such as sewing garments for long hours at low pay — in the home [page 28]. How many children would be forced to work in such an unregulated environment? Didn't we have congressional hearings nearly a century ago and conclude that such unregulated working conditions were an abomination?
Ron Paul has voted to zero-fund an OSHA intiative relating to ergonomics.
What about Ron Paul's views on union rights? Ron Paul believes there should be:
...no privileges, no special benefits legislated to benefit the unions, but you should never deny any working group to organize and negotiate for the best set of standards of working conditions.
Unions with no special privileges or benefits, with members who can be fired "for any reason". Consider what sort of emasculated organization
that might be.
Ron Paul appears to believe that unlimited corporate power is just fine, so long as it is market-derived. Unions under Ron Paul would be less relevant than they already are. Workers will become low-paid wage-slaves with no rights on the job, with the exit door always held open for them.
The individual liberty of the Ron Paul variety is the freedom to nakedly exploit, without regulation or constraint. Seems clear enough that Ron Paul is no friend to working people who may wish to unite for their own protection.