Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is Michael Lind the enemy of all that is good and right in the world?

The auto industry in the South -- Asian and European companies that produce well-designed cars in the U.S. in modern plants with largely non-union workers paid competitive wages -- is beating the pants off the archaic, high-cost American car companies in their rust-belt enclave in Michigan. Michael Lind's solution: To force southern states and the automobile companies with factories there to adopt the Detroit model.
Today the division is no longer between slave and free states, or agrarian and industrial states, but between two models of industrial society -- the Northern model, based on adequate public service funding and taxation and unionization, and the Southern model, based on low-tax, low-service government and low-wage, non-unionized, easily exploited labor. If the industrial North and the industrial South compete for global capital investment, then the industrial South is likely to prevail, because Northern advantages in the form of a skilled workforce and superior public services are unlikely to overcome the South's advantages of low wages and low taxes and state and local tax subsidies. ...

Call it the Third Reconstruction. The first step is to end the race to the bottom in wages and regulation, by national action. The national minimum wage should be gradually raised until it is a living wage, of $10 to $12 an hour, and it should be adjusted for inflation. At the same time, federal regulations should set a higher floor with respect to worker safety regulations, environmental regulations, and others, preventing America's own internal rogue states from gaining any advantages by flouting national standards. ...
At the other end of a lot of tendentious phraseology, what emerges is that Lind wants to force the southern states to adopt the welfare state political model of the rustbelt, along with state-mandated high wages and production costs, so that they lose their competitive advantage with the northern states with which he feels a political and cultural affinity.

Two models were tried, one failed. Lind wants to punish the winner and force everybody to adopt failed practices.

I'm not arguing that southern political and economic practices are models of free and open government and liberty-respecting laissez-faire economics. There's a lot to be criticized about government and economic policy in the South, including cronyism and favoritism. But throw Michigan into the mix, and Alabama stinks a hell of a lot less by comparison.

Lind's northern model can't compete with the southern model. Hell, I'll lay odds that the northern model just doesn't work at all. Eliminate federalism and outlaw state experimentation in favor of a centrally mandated Detroit-style model of ridiculously high labor costs, featherbedding and ossified corporatism, and you don't get prosperity ruled over by the victorious UAW. You get national catastrophe from an unsustainable system.

Honestly, you can't just order nonsense to make sense, you can't repeal economic reality through legislation, and you can't make the Detroit model work.

And by the way ... Right or wrong about the merits of any given system, using the power of the state to jam your preferred model down everybody's throats makes you an evil autocrat in and of itself.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home