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In medieval England in order for one to get ahead, one sought the favor of the king. If you wanted to quarry stone or cut timber or perhaps be given a license to operate a wool market in the village, you first had to gain the king’s permission. If the king didn’t like you, or woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or drank some bad mead the night before, that permission would not be forthcoming and there was no appeal.
Not everyone even had the right to seek the king’s favor in the first place. Peasants had no access to the king no matter what they might be seeking. If not born of noble stock, no amount of enterprise and no idea of yours that might make the kingdom better could ever get you into the privileged circle that had access to the monarch.
Such government was a government of men. You were either in favor or you weren’t and the king made no pretense of objectivity or fairness.
The country that emerged on the North American continent decisively changed this arrangement. The U.S. Constitution was revolutionary. It, at last, recognized the obvious; that men are not angels. The document thus sought as far as it could to take men out of the equation, enshrining instead the rule of law.
Under a government of laws, it is supposed to matter much less who happens to be the head of the government. With laws in place, a president or governor or mayor is limited in the favors he may bestow upon you if he likes you and is limited in the harm that he may inflict upon you if he doesn’t.
Or so Boeing thought when it decided to assemble airliners in South Carolina.
Boeing has invested some multiple of a billion dollars and has put many hundreds of South Carolinians on the payroll of a new assembly plant that will produce Boeing’s next-generation 787 airliner.
South Carolina wasn’t picked by accident. It is a right-to-work state, like Texas, meaning that workers cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.
This has enraged the unions in Boeing’s facilities in Washington state where most Boeing airplanes are assembled. Big Labor does not want companies like Boeing to expand by hiring non-union workers and they have gone to the king for redress of their grievances.
The king in this case is the Obama administration. In a way reminiscent of feudal England, Big Labor enjoys the favor of the royal Obama court, perhaps more than any other single group, and the court helps those that it favors.
In a breathtaking abuse of regulatory authority the presidentially appointed National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against Boeing that has as its ultimate aim the prevention of the company from assembling the 787 using non-union workers. If the NLRB prevails, every company in America will have to look over its shoulder. Nominally we all have the freedom to do business wherever we choose. But in its case against Boeing the government is seeking to take that freedom away.
This has implications for Texas. Big Labor has noticed to its great dismay that employment in Texas has grown but union membership has not. Thus the NLRB, acting not as an impartial referee but rather as a participant on the side of Big Labor, has taken the occasion of the opening of Boeing’s plant in right-to-work South Carolina to send an unmistakable message.
Play ball with the unions or get hurt.
If allowed to prevail in its case against Boeing, the NLRB will re-establish the capriciousness of royal favor in the place of the certainty of law. A company thinking about expanding into a non-union state like Texas will have reason to fear the weight of the federal government dropping upon it like the hammers of hell.
In medieval England, the king cared little for the peasants because the peasants couldn’t organize an army.
In a similar way, Obama cares little for workers – except those that can be organized to pay dues that can be laundered into political cash for the benefit of the royal court.