Tucci78 on September 02, 2011, 01:25:08 pm
How would a "social movement" - a strike by employees - happen in an economy where each individual has an effectively unique relationship with the person(s) engaging his services? No "collective bargaining" in the sense that we understand it today.

In the AnCap society of the Belt, it's pretty obvious that a disaffected service provider (read "employee") might withdraw his services from an unsatisfactorily performing customer (read "employer") and subsequently publish on the Tanglenet notification of his action and his reasons for so acting.

That would tend to cause other service providers either to withdraw from their relationships with that customer or to negotiate their provision of services at higher premiums to compensate them for the increased risk of engaging in business with an unreliable or otherwise unsatisfactory customer.

But a strike - a "social movement" - implies that such service providers ("employees") have some socially approved means of preventing other service providers from doing business with the customer(s) against whom the "social movement" has been engaged.

Couldn't possibly work in an AnCap society, any more than "shunning" really would (because there would always tend to be somebody willing - for one reason or another - to do business with the proscribed person(s) against whom Tanglenet denunciations have been laid). 

Let's see how Mr. & Mrs. Juarez make out as customers crossing a picket line in what is obviously not an AnCap society....
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

SandySandfort on September 02, 2011, 03:19:13 pm
But a strike - a "social movement" - implies that such service providers ("employees") have some socially approved means of preventing other service providers from doing business with the customer(s) against whom the "social movement" has been engaged.

Couldn't possibly work in an AnCap society, any more than "shunning" really would (because there would always tend to be somebody willing - for one reason or another - to do business with the proscribed person(s) against whom Tanglenet denunciations have been laid). 

Saying it won't work is not an argument. Your assumption that a few scab workers obviate a strike is not credible. Today, we have strikes and we have scabs and yet strikes are still effective strategies. Personal service providers are high-paid professionals. Everyone of them can have their own personal war chest. A few scabs will not stop them from cutting the legs off of a misbehaving employer. And where do you get scabs in a market anarchy? AnCaps tend toward very low unemployment rates. People who are unemployed, are often unemployed for a reason. They may not be the people you want cleaning the suites of the super-rich.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 02, 2011, 04:15:22 pm
Today, we have strikes and we have scabs and yet strikes are still effective strategies.

Where is that?  Is it in places where there is no armed monopoly of force prohibiting the employer from simply firing the striking workers and hiring permanent replacements?

That's my biggest peeve with unions in the US -- they are just too damn powerful.

Tucci78 on September 02, 2011, 05:15:21 pm
Saying it won't work is not an argument. Your assumption that a few scab workers obviate a strike is not credible. Today, we have strikes and we have scabs and yet strikes are still effective strategies. Personal service providers are high-paid professionals. Everyone of them can have their own personal war chest. A few scabs will not stop them from cutting the legs off of a misbehaving employer. And where do you get scabs in a market anarchy? AnCaps tend toward very low unemployment rates. People who are unemployed, are often unemployed for a reason. They may not be the people you want cleaning the suites of the super-rich.

The point, Sandy, is that if a "social movement" is happening on Mercury, it implies that labor law enforcing collective bargaining prevails there. That would define Mercury in your plenum as not being an AnCap society.

While "a few scabs" will not necessarily "obviate a strike," enough of them certainly can.  Recall what happened to the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) as the result of their strike in August 1981?

You can assume for the sake of the story that "Personal service providers are high-paid professionals," certainly, though how the standards of "professionalism" are set in their various activities (education? training? special expertise?), and by what reason should the reader accept your posit that "Everyone of them can have their own personal war chest" (how ordained? why should that be a prevalent practice?) remains yet to be seen.

The "Personal service" sector in the Mercury economy would seem to be a luxury indulgence that the genuinely AnCap society of the Belt does almost entirely without.  The way Ceres and the rest of the Asteroid Belt society is portrayed in Escape From Terra, there are simply too many opportunities for productive work of real substantive value for the very wealthy to find competent, initiative-driven people willing to bear the opportunity costs involved in functioning as "Personal service providers."

If "AnCaps [do actually]  tend toward very low unemployment rates" for the reasons I've discussed immediately above, then what gives you to think that the trade of "Personal service providers" will tend to attract the sorts of people who could ever be characterized as "high-paid professionals" even though such are allegedly desired for "cleaning the suites of the super-rich"?
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

SandySandfort on September 02, 2011, 08:30:31 pm
The point, Sandy, is that if a "social movement" is happening on Mercury, it implies that labor law enforcing collective bargaining prevails there. That would define Mercury in your plenum as not being an AnCap society.

Sure, it could imply that, if collective bargaining were being sought, which seems to be the erroneous assumption upon which your argument is built. However, that is not what is being sought in the strike on Mercury, but we can wait to discuss this when the actual facts of the case become known.

It could also imply that the personal service providers have a great deal of non-union solidarity, like... oh, I don't know, Solidarity in Poland. Certainly, most "wildcat" strikes occur outside of the normal union-employer dipole. This is analogous to conventional thinkers trying to squeeze libertarianism, market anarchy, etc. into one or the other category of the false dichotomy, liberal or conservative.

In any case, we don't have to speculate. Just read on.


NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 02, 2011, 11:04:15 pm
A couple of data points on the tactics that "personal service" workers might use:


  • My favorite example of professional "personal service" is the "Gentleman's Gentleman" as epitomized in Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories.   The "personal service" worker, Jeeves, is a consummate and skilled professional, and is a member of a society of his peers known as the "Junior Ganymede Club".  One of the resources of this society/club is a book in which all members are obliged to copy all the embarrassing information discover about their employers, with their names included.  It is a canon of their professional ethics, however, that the contents of the book may not be divulged outside the members of the society -- it's purpose is to inform potential employees of these employers regarding their habits and nature, so as to make an informed choice regarding accepting employment.
     
  • In Defending the Undefendable,  Walter Block defends blackmail as a legitimate tactic in an AnCap society, presuming, of course, that the knowledge underlying the blackmail was obtained through legitimate means.  Of course, this can be further blocked, depending on the legal and ethical system under which it is undertaken, by nondisclosure agreements

Now given this, and depending on (a) the nature of the actions triggering the "social movement" (were the actions themselves an aggression?), (b) the ethical boundaries of those engaged in the "movement",  and (c) the exact nature of any nondisclosure agreements made, a resource such as this might be used in leverage by those in the movement.

This, of course, has risks; one who reveals such information might find it exceedingly difficult to find future employment having given up their  trustworthiness over remaining discreet.  The mere "threat" of the information being released, though, if the actual source of the information cannot be identified, could be most effective.

I am curious to see whether or not this plays a role in the unfolding story.

SandySandfort on September 03, 2011, 12:06:41 am
Cogent analysis.

A couple of data points on the tactics that "personal service" workers might use:
...

sam on September 03, 2011, 03:37:44 am
Saying it won't work is not an argument. Your assumption that a few scab workers obviate a strike is not credible. Today, we have strikes and we have scabs and yet strikes are still effective strategies.

The reason they are usually effective is because it is usually illegal for the employer to fire everyone who fails to show up on time and work as directed.

Further, strikes are not in fact all that effective.  They commonly succeed through the destruction of business assets, assaults on management, and intimidation of customers.

Sometimes it is legal to fire those who do not show up, or the government just gets fed up with union misbehavior and makes an exception to the rules - whereupon we often see a massive escalation of union misbehavior.

Tucci78 on September 03, 2011, 07:43:03 am
The reason [strikes] are usually effective is because it is usually illegal for the employer to fire everyone who fails to show up on time and work as directed.

Further, strikes are not in fact all that effective.  They commonly succeed through the destruction of business assets, assaults on management, and intimidation of customers.

Sometimes it is legal to fire those who do not show up, or the government just gets fed up with union misbehavior and makes an exception to the rules - whereupon we often see a massive escalation of union misbehavior.

There is still the presumption that collective bargaining exists in a labor dispute, with a civil government to determine matters of "legality" in the refusal of those involved to continue their participation in the business relationship over which the strike has been called.

Given the hypothetical of a genuine AnCap society, all legitimate relationships are conducted absent coercion, correct? All AnCap workplaces are effectively "open shop," with the employers (customers) at liberty to initiate, continue, and discontinue the engagement of services provided by anybody they damn' well please - just as the employees (the service providers) are free to begin or end their roles in the enterprise at their discretion, all of this within the context of contract.

Moreover, the degree of collective responsibility for "misbehavior" in the course of a "social movement" is effectively nil.  It'd be difficult - approaching impossible - for an arbiter to utter a determination that all individuals enrolled in an organization had been culpable (knowingly or unknowingly) for certain specific fellow members acting to achieve "the destruction of business assets, assaults on management, and intimidation of customers."

At the same time, of course, audiovisual monitoring and recording of events in and around the workplace (it can be reliably inferred that the business' insurance carriers would insist on such) would present that hypothetical arbiter with information helpful in establishing the responsibility of specific individuals in "union misbehavior."

For this reason (if not as well for the fact that both management and customers must be presumed to go about their affairs armed and willing to use lethal force in defense of their persons and the property for which they are responsible), the thuggish tactics of unions in our present sociopolitical context - notably those purple-shirted bastids supportive of America's arrogant moronic "poverty pimp" TelePrompTer-in-Chief - could not be made to function in an AnCap society. 

Therefore whatever praxeological arrangement prevails on Mercury in the story line presently running, it is going to be damned difficult to maintain any contention that it is really an AnCap society. 
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

SandySandfort on September 03, 2011, 09:16:33 am
There is still the presumption that collective bargaining exists in a labor dispute, with a civil government to determine matters of "legality" in the refusal of those involved to continue their participation in the business relationship over which the strike has been called.

That is your assumption. Collective bargaining in no way requires a civil government to exist. All that is required is that some significant number of workers join a union and how sufficient clout to get an employer to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the union.

Given the hypothetical of a genuine AnCap society, all legitimate relationships are conducted absent coercion, correct? All AnCap workplaces are effectively "open shop,"...

Correct about the ZAP, but wrong about the open shop. If an employer signs a contract with a union, to be a closed shop, then it is a closed shop. Even an open shop does not mean no union. A sufficiently large group of key employees could create a union among themselves by mutual agreement. If the open shop employer fires one of them, they can all walk off the job and bring the company to its knees. Of course, if the employer wants to tough it out and can find enough qualified replacements, he might survive and even prevail. On Mercury, however, there is no large pool of poor service providers--or poor people at all, for that matter--who would have to take the work to survive. And the few exceptions, could be assisted by the Salvation Army, charities, other NGOs or the unions themselves!

One thing you apparently did not consider, is that employers also constitute an "open shop." Sympathetic--or at least competitive--employers could steal a march on a strike-plagued competitor by hiring its disaffected employees. The Burj is not the only employer of personal service providers on Mercury...

quadibloc on September 03, 2011, 09:45:41 am
Part of this debate might be helped along by an understanding of what unions are supposed to be for.

Why doesn't our society continue to suppress unions as an example of lawlessness, or restraint of trade?

The purpose of unions is to equalize the market power of laborers and employers. One employer usually employs many workers. Thus, it's easy for an employer to replace any one worker.

So, if the workers, instead of working directly for the company, joined a labor co-operative, and the labor co-operative negotiated the services of its members with an employer, the two parties would be negotiating on a more equal footing.

One could easily imagine a situation where pretty well everyone looking for employment in a certain trade would join a labor co-operative, instead of trying to be hired directly by an employer, because from past experience it was found that this was the only way to get paid a decent amount for that kind of work for more than a short period. A few people might fall for attractive offers from some employers in this field to work directly, but since the purpose of such an offer is ultimately to reduce labor costs, generally people wouldn't be fooled.

Coercion isn't required, at least in the short run. If economic conditions, however, are variable, so that the demand for the type of labor involved is variable, then the labor co-operatives will be threatened with irrelevance.

Since the economic booms of the 1920s and the 1960s only lasted for a decade or two, we haven't had experience with the types of economic conditions that are conducive to noncoercive trade unionism.

Karadan on September 03, 2011, 01:14:56 pm
Given that there are other less swanky hotels around, I can't image there is truly a shortage of people who could fill the slots of the people on strike.  The main questions would be: Just what kind of pay/benefits does this hotel offer compared to its competitors, and what kind of contractual obligations is it under to its currently striking staff?

Given the strike, it's possible that the answer to the first question is: Not that great.  But at the same time, the high quality places like that tend to offer higher pay to ensure their employees meet the higher standards (I've personally experienced this).  Now, even if it does pay better than other hotels, there is still the mater of headhunting those employees and convincing them to switch hotels.  This brings up problems due to some level of 'loyalty' either emotionally or because of employment reasons (Pay raise expected soon, promotion coming up, etc) of the employee, and of course the fact that the potential new employer is undergoing a strike, which means its previous workers have had issue.  This is unlikely to reflect well on the employer.  In fact, this may be a large part of a strike's role in an AnCap society.  It isn't that an employer couldn't necessarily hire other people, but the fact that other people striked (stuck? have striked? went on strike?) would make people much less willing to be hired.  So unless you're dealing with a very high unemployment rate, the number of people willing to work for such an employer is likely to be too low to maintain proper function.

As for the second question, we have no idea, and so will have to wait before any lines of possibility can really even be explored.

sam on September 03, 2011, 05:57:15 pm
That is your assumption. Collective bargaining in no way requires a civil government to exist. All that is required is that some significant number of workers join a union and how sufficient clout to get an employer to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the union.

In principle an ethical union could exist and function without the support of immoral state or union violence, but it would be markedly less effective than a union that did rely on violence.

A union requires collective behavior which is harder to maintain without immoral violence by the state and illegal but tolerated behavior by the union.

What makes the union one entity?  A corporation is one entity because people pool their capital to use it more effectively, and choose someone to command that capital.  But though you can pool capital, you cannot pool labor on a large scale except in the sense of the employer-employee relationship.

By and large, you do what your boss tells you or else he might not pay you.  You do what the union boss tells you or else you might get thumped.

Ethical union behavior is possible, but I don't find it very probable.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 03, 2011, 06:24:28 pm
I'm seeing a lot of assumptions being made that are based more on individuals conceptions of what the story ought to be based on their own interpretations of how society works today and on what the nature of Mercurial society is.

First, Mercury is almost certainly not an AnCap society.  Why?  Because the Belt is thought to be an anomaly by the UW government, and the UW is the "United Worlds".  Certainly if it were not under the UW banner a wealthy world such as this would also be under some pressure to conform -- and we would likely have heard some reference to this by now.

Second, Mercury, as a wealthy world, it probably fits the group of "wealthy individuals" that the UW is afraid to lean on for revenue.  however, not all its inhabitants would be wealthy, and it is likely that some veneer of control (particularly over the less powerful) would be maintained by the UW and permitted by those locally in power as a sort of uneasy compromise (with the more powerful residents being left largely alone). That is reinforced by the use of the UW politically correct terminology "social action" used to describe the current state of affairs.  This differs from the Belter culture, where Babbette is unfamiliar with the term.

This means that some -- perhaps most -- of Mercury's residents have been substantially influenced by UW culture.  One of them is the hotel manager we have seen; who else (e.g., the hotel employees) has not yet been revealed.

It may indeed be that a group of the hotel employees -- perhaps not even a large group -- are upset with the hotel management, and are banded together in a somewhat formal "union" organization.  It may also be that there is another reason for the lack of staff at the hotel, and that calling it a "social action" is the way for the hotel manager we have seen to "gloss over" it with something he presumes will ameliorate potential guests.  It could be, for example, that the UW is bringing force to bear on the hotel management to provide certain "benefits" to the employees that they do not want, or to increase tax levels or collections that use the hotel management as the collector of.  Perhaps it is some special "luxury tax" that the UW is afraid of imposing directly on the powerful clientele.  The result would be that the employees might see their collected salaries reduced to pay for some or all of this.

It may also be an adult version of Jim, who is good at organizing and has been effective at duping some of the employees into thinking that a strike would improve their lot (as with unions in the US, many employees have been duped into such things only to later discover that their position is now worse, having less freedom and lower, after union dues income).

It may be a false rumor floating around that there is some danger the workers are being exposed to that is triggering the strike.  Alternatively, the rumor may have some validity, and be related to the sabotage referred to in the very first EFT arc.

It may even be that the employees have resigned rather than gone on strike, and the hotel manager is explaining this as a "social action".  Perhaps it is because there is an insufferable delegation of high ranking UW officials taking up residence there, and the staff simply refuses to work for them.

So far, I don't see any reason that one of these scenarios -- or something similar -- is inconsistent with what has been presented in EFT so far.

So I would urge other readers not to jump to conclusions prematurely.


Tucci78 on September 04, 2011, 09:20:19 am
In response to my observation that:
There is still the presumption that collective bargaining exists in a labor dispute, with a civil government to determine matters of "legality" in the refusal of those involved to continue their participation in the business relationship over which the strike has been called.

...we have:
That is your assumption. Collective bargaining in no way requires a civil government to exist. All that is required is that some significant number of workers join a union and how sufficient clout to get an employer to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the union.

This begs an important question.  In a genuinely AnCap society, how does such a union compel "some significant number of workers" to subordinate their individual and very personal perceptions of self-interest to the union as a whole?

If the "collective bargaining agreement" between the union and the employer(s) has the status of a contract enforceable by way of arbitration, it stands to reason that the union itself must have some kind of equivalent and similarly enforceable contract with its individual members, such that members who disagree with the union's "social movement" can be held from making separate business agreements with the employer(s) against whom the strike has been called.

That can't be made to happen without violent thuggery.  For example, during the previously mentioned Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike of August 1981, something more than 10% of the union's 13,000-person membership agreed to resume work in defiance of the majority determination.

Even were such contracts to exist between the union as a corporate entity and the individual members, it is arguable (before an arbitrator) that the degree to which the terms of such contracts can be said to bind upon dissident members have sufficient "give" that a picket-line-crosser can act upon his decision without the absolute surrender of his freedom of action.  Some kind of monetary compensation might well be accorded the union by the strike-breaking worker, but preventing him absolutely from what is a completely peaceable undertaking?

That would require something of a re-definition of both "anarchocapitalist" and "zero aggression principle."

I had posted:
Given the hypothetical of a genuine AnCap society, all legitimate relationships are conducted absent coercion, correct? All AnCap workplaces are effectively "open shop,"...

Ignoring the purposeful stipulation of the expression "open shop" between quotation marks to make the point that all AnCap society workplaces would very much have to be ad libitum on the customer's part as well as on the part of the service provider, there is the response:
Correct about the ZAP, but wrong about the open shop. If an employer signs a contract with a union, to be a closed shop, then it is a closed shop. Even an open shop does not mean no union. A sufficiently large group of key employees could create a union among themselves by mutual agreement. If the open shop employer fires one of them, they can all walk off the job and bring the company to its knees. Of course, if the employer wants to tough it out and can find enough qualified replacements, he might survive and even prevail. On Mercury, however, there is no large pool of poor service providers--or poor people at all, for that matter--who would have to take the work to survive. And the few exceptions, could be assisted by the Salvation Army, charities, other NGOs or the unions themselves!

One thing you apparently did not consider, is that employers also constitute an "open shop." Sympathetic--or at least competitive--employers could steal a march on a strike-plagued competitor by hiring its disaffected employees. The Burj is not the only employer of personal service providers on Mercury...

As previously mentioned in this post, the existence of an "open shop" - an ad libitum relationship between customer and service provider - most assuredly does mean that a "closed shop" in the sense of prevailing U.S. labor law is an impossibility. 

Let's say that a union is organized among the "personal services providers" engaged by a particular business entity.  This is accomplished today by getting a majority of the "providers" to join, and prevailing U.S. labor law presumes that the dissident minority must be treated as if they had agreed to join the collective bargaining unit thus established, and all "providers" henceforth engaged by the business enterprise must agree to membership in the union (and subordination to its majority will) as a condition of employment.

The liberty in an ad libitum relationship between customer and "provider" is destroyed.  Could that happen in a genuinely AnCap society?

For a union to function in the foreclosure of "provider" services - such an organization's only real bargaining tactic - it must have an effectively complete monopoly on those services insofar as the particular customer is concerned. 

To the purpose of the current story arc, Sandy can attempt to "engineer" the circumstances such that "On Mercury, however, there is no large pool of poor service providers--or poor people at all, for that matter--who would have to take the work to survive," but then we've already gotten from Sandy the story line element to the effect that these "service providers" are "high-paid professionals," meaning that they are specially-qualified individuals capable of delivering "service(s)" that potential expediently-engaged replacements cannot.

So the equivalent of hotel housekeeping people are, in the Escape From Terra plenum, all supposed to be "high-paid professionals"? WTF?

This also begs the question about what these "high-paid professionals" functioning as servitors to the wealthy of Mercury might themselves engender in the way of a secondary labor market, providing them with goods and services which their high rates of remuneration would enable them to purchase.

In these United States today, for instance, lawyers are for the most part "high-paid professionals" who engage goods and services from a secondary market consisting of specialized providers who simply wouldn't be in business without sales to practicing attorneys.

Would LexisNexis exist in its present form without the U.S. legal profession's need for its resources?

Of the situation on Mercury, Sandy writes: "If the open shop employer fires one of them, they can all walk off the job and bring the company to its knees."

Okay. Does that happen - today - if a particular customer "fires" one lawyer or law firm?  Do all lawyers (we're talking about "high-paid professionals" here, remember) "walk off the job and bring the company to its knees"? 

Given the existence of a secondary-market force of services providers - all of whom would become effectively unemployed by the strike of their customers - there would be many hands on Mercury available to become directly employed by the primary businesses against whom the "social movement" had been engendered.

An essentially unskilled and unprofessional provider of customer services might be induced to join in a collective bargaining unit with no real bargaining power except to prevent a particular employer from conducting business by both withdrawing services and preventing competitors from providing equivalent functions. 

Were such a "social movement" to be undertaken by a collective bargaining unit which proceeds under the presumption that the "professional services" provided by the membership are fungible (i.e., the functions of one "service provider" are equivalent to those of another, and that a customer is essentially satisfied to have the services of A, B, and C undertaken by X, Y, and Z), then the customers against whom the strike has been called are free to seek such alternatives ad libitum.

Depending upon the costs of getting replacement nonprofessional "personal services providers" engaged in their enterprises on Mercury, outfits like the businesses in the Burj would seem to tend reliably to get completely bloody-minded about discontinuing their contractual relationship(s) with the union(s) effecting this "social movement." 

If these "personal service providers" are really "high-paid professionals," then these businesses must themselves have been engaged in extremely lucrative operations with high margins of profit.  These enterprises hold and control the capital resources necessary for business to be conducted while the "high-paid professionals" do not, and therefore conditions are likely to be such that the employers would find it worthwhile to summon replacement service providers while doing whatever is possible to get by expediently until they can ramp up their operations without further submission to the demands of the union(s).

Especially if we're talking about "the oldest profession" - sexual prostitution - as the "professional service providers" engaged in this strike on Mercury (with the blackmail of their customers involved in these business relationships, no doubt), there is tremendous incentive for the businesses of the Burj to rid themselves of the people who have engendered this "social movement."

If not immediately, then eventually there would be a restructuring of operations such that the enterprises of Mercury (and their clients) need not in the future suffer such extortion.

This is, in fact, what has happened in the private sector in these United States over the course of the past half-century and more.

Without aggressive government intervention in the marketplace today - consider the current "regulatory" foreclosure of Boeing's plans to undertake manufacturing operations in a "right-to-work" venue instead of in Washington State - there would be no union jobs whatsoever.

Unions as they presently function cannot exist in a truly anarchocapitalist society. 
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 09:28:02 am by Tucci78 »
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)