Why the Unions Succeeded in Minnesota

It’s time for another installment of Politics 101.

Last night was the last night was the deadline for political matters in the State of Minnesota. During the final hours a bill was passed that will allow unions to force daycare providers to unionize. Obviously most people who identify with the “left” side of the political spectrum are cheering while most people who identify with the “right” side of the political spectrum are calling foul. Political matters don’t interest me but it’s worth pointing out why the bill passed because it’s the same reason any bill passes.

Let’s look at the two sides of this debate. On one side we have the unions. For the most part modern unions are big businesses. They purport to defend workers from their bosses but most of the higher ups in the major unions are bosses themselves. The two unions involved in this fight were the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Being high up in the AFSCME has its benefits as does being high up in the SEIU. Any organization able to offer six-figure salaries tends to have plenty of resources to throw at politicians.

One the other side we have the daycare providers and anti-unions activists. Many of the daycare providers are independent entities operated by a handful of people while the anti-union activists are primarily there because they don’t like unions (or, at least, the unions involved in this fight).

Neither group has a great deal of resources at hand compared to their competition, which is why they lost. Politics is the art of initiating force en masse. The initiator of force, the state, exists solely through expropriation. In order to accomplish something politically you must have something to offer the state. The AFSCME and SEIU, being major corporations, have a lot of resources that can be transferred to friendly politicians. Major campaign contributions, jobs as lobbyists and consultants for politicians exiting politics, and even some information that is of value for insider trading can all be provided by the two unions. Meanwhile the daycare providers and anti-union activists have little to offer. Since most daycare providers are small organizations they cannot offer major campaign contributions or jobs for politicians exiting politics and since they’re generally private entities they have nothing for politicians to trade on the stock market. The same goes for anti-union activists.

In order to succeed politically you must have sometime of value to offer the politicians. The reason the gun control advocates lost this year is because they had nothing to offer while gun rights advocates could offer plenty of headaches for politicians who voted for gun control. When one side is offering nothing and the other is offering headaches politicians tend to give the side offering headaches what they want hoping they’ll go away. The battle over daycare providers is slightly different since one side has nothing to offer while the other side has a great deal to offer. In such cases the politicians will almost always align themselves with the side offering the riches.

It doesn’t matter how many protests you perform or how many people you get to support your side at the Capitol, if you doesn’t have a sacrifice to offer the politicians you’re not getting anything from them. Democracy isn’t about the will of the people, it’s about the will of the decision makers and the decision makers can be bought.

Of course there is a solution but it would require daycare providers to join the “underground” economy. That is what I suggest all people do but, for some reason, many people believe that the “legitimate” economy is where they should conduct business.