Back in January, I wrote a piece that was also published as an editorial in a regional daily. Called The Railroad Unification Plan, it detailed the parallels between Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and current events. It contained this:
Taggart uses his political influence in Washington to convince a collectivist leaning government that this situation is unfair and it is really the “people” who are suffering and “something must be done” because it is a “crisis”. The result was the “Anti-Dog Eat Dog Act” preventing “destructive competition” and allowing the National Alliance of Railroads to ban competition in certain areas of the country. Taggart uses this Act to drive Phoenix-Durango out of Colorado and resume his poor service to the oilfields. As a result of the regional monopoly and poor service, the oil company can’t get its product to market and the oil industry in Colorado quickly collapses.
Critics have said that Rand is a conservative fantasy and that we are fools to think that it could happen.
Not so much.
Captain Ed (I’ve read his stuff since the old Captain’s Quarters days), has this at HotAir:
I’ve heard plenty of people dismiss Atlas Shrugged (the book as well as the movie) as overwrought, contrived paranoia about the regulatory state. The government can’t run companies through its regulatory system, critics scoff, no matter what a Russian ex-patriate thought more than 50 years ago. No one is marching into manufacturers in the US and telling the Hank Reardons of the world what they can build and where.
In 2009 Boeing announced plans to build a new plant to meet demand for its new 787 Dreamliner. Though its union contract didn’t require it, Boeing executives negotiated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to build the plane at its existing plant in Washington state. The talks broke down because the union wanted, among other things, a seat on Boeing’s board and a promise that Boeing would build all future airplanes in Puget Sound.
So Boeing management did what it judged to be best for its shareholders and customers and looked elsewhere. In October 2009, the company settled on South Carolina, which, like the 21 other right-to-work states, has friendlier labor laws than Washington. As Boeing chief Jim McNerney noted on a conference call at the time, the company couldn’t have “strikes happening every three to four years.” The union has shut down Boeing’s commercial aircraft production line four times since 1989, and a 58-day strike in 2008 cost the company $1.8 billion.
This reasonable business decision created more than 1,000 jobs and has brought around $2 billion of investment to South Carolina. The aerospace workers in Puget Sound remain among the best paid in America, but the union nonetheless asked the NLRB to stop Boeing’s plans before the company starts to assemble planes in North Charleston this July.
The NLRB obliged with its complaint yesterday asking an administrative law judge to stop Boeing’s South Carolina production because its executives had cited the risk of strikes as a reason for the move. Boeing acted out of “anti-union animus,” says the complaint by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, and its decision to move had the effect of “discouraging membership in a labor organization” and thus violates federal law.
Ah, that must be the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Law, or one of the Fairness Laws, or something, right? The WSJ isn’t sure what law the NLRB is talking about, either. Not only do businesses routinely relocate to find the most advantageous environment possible, states and cities compete for that business by calculating their business climate. If this has escaped the notice of the NLRB, perhaps they should get out more.
Randian fantasy? I think not. More of a collectivist nightmare.