It’s Washington’s Birthday, Not President’s Day

At the risk of sounding peevish, I want to take this opportunity to point out that the holiday today is George Washington’s Birthday, not ‘President’s Day.’ The holiday was created to honor the memory of the father of the country. It was not intended to honor each and every president who occupied the office of the presidency.

If you asked George Washington which date was his birthday he would have replied February 11 (but that date should have been February 22 according to a modern calendar). Because Washington’s birthday lies so close to that of Abraham Lincoln (February 12), some decades ago people started letting Lincoln share the holiday with Washington. Hence I remember as a kid in school adorning the classroom walls with pictures of both Washington and Lincoln.

I don’t have a big problem with letting the Great Emancipator share the holiday with the father of his country. But somehow over the years the idea has gained currency that the holiday is intended to honor other presidents or the presidency in general.

Yesterday on the radio I heard President’s Day described as the day we “celebrate presidents like John Quincy Adams.”

Yeah, there is much to admire about J. Q. Adams. But it’s not his holiday. Much less is it the holiday of creepy lowlifes who occupied the office, like Lyndon Baines Johnson and Bill Clinton. No way am I celebrating guys like that. And yet, I keep seeing the holiday depicted as a day for all presidents. Witness this morning’s Google homepage:

It’s not about 230 years of the presidency. It’s about a man, George Washington, who was universally revered during his era for his courage and integrity.

Bill Clinton, not so much.

Lab-Grown Meat is Coming

Just four years ago, a pound of lab-grown beef cost $325,000 to produce. Now, researchers have got the cost down to about $11. If progress continues, lab-grown meat might be commercially viable in less than five years.

Mark Post, whose stem cell burger created an international sensation in 2013, recently announced that his company, Mosa Meat, would be selling lab-grown beef in four to five years.

Memphis Meats is developing a way to produce meat directly from animal cells without the need to feed, breed or slaughter actual animals.

In theory, the stem cells could provide a lot of meat. Assuming unlimited nutrients and room to grow, a single satellite cell can undergo 75 generations of division during three months. That means one turkey cell could turn into enough muscle to manufacture over 20 trillion turkey nuggets.

Some animal lovers are welcoming lab-grown meat because it means that cows and pigs will no longer be slaughtered. It also means, however, that nobody will any longer have an incentive to raise them. The population of farm animals would undergo a complete collapse. The future of domesticated livestock might be the zoo, and those zoos might offer the only opportunity to save those animals from complete extinction.

By the way, the invention of lab-grown meat was foreseen some 85 years ago by none other than Sir Winston Churchill, who was ridiculed for his prediction. Churchill was just a little too optimistic about the time line, however, as he thought lab-grown meat would be viable by the 1980s.

Notable and Quotable

From Instapundit.

THEY TOLD ME IF DONALD TRUMP TOOK POWER, FASCIST VIOLENCE WOULD THREATEN CIVIL GOVERNANCE. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Betsy DeVos being guarded by U.S. Marshals Service. “The last Cabinet member protected by marshals was a director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.”

So, basically, taking on the Education Cartel is as dangerous as taking on the Drug Cartels? Well, the former has more money and jobs at stake. . . .

The Most Irrational Law in America

The most irrational law in America might be…wait for it…The Endangered Species Act. Some people believe that ESA violates the rights of more Americans on a day to day basis than any other law on the books. You can have much of your life savings invested in land, and then some bureaucrat shows up and says you can’t use your own land because of an endangered rodent or toad. Most recently, the law was enforced against landowners even though the critter did not even live on the land in question.

A federal appeals court declined to rehear a case brought against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for designating private property as critical habitat for an endangered frog that hasn’t lived on those lands for decades.

FWS officials designated 6,477 acres as critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog in 2012. About 1,500 acres of the critical habitat was private land in St. Tammany Parish, despite the fact no frogs had been spotted there for decades.

Landowners sued, but were rebuffed by federal circuit court judges in June. They appealed their case, arguing the government can’t designate land as critical habitat for an endangered species that doesn’t even live there.

In an 8-to-6 decision, judges declined to rehear the case. But lawyers representing the landowners said they planned on taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ESA actually hurts endangered species as well by undermining the incentive of landowners to protect wildlife. If the legal sanctions weren’t so draconian, many landowners might be persuaded to work with conservationists to protect endangered species. But because the law is so unreasoning and punitive, landowners have the incentive to go scorched earth. If you find a nest of a kangaroo rat, the incentive is not to preserve it, but to burn it quickly before the authorities find out and take control of your land.

Brian Seasholes, an ESA expert, said the current way the government designates critical habitats ends up hurting more species than it helps.

“Ironically, this decision will most likely end up harming the dusky gopher frog and many other endangered and at-risk species by causing more landowners take actions to avoid the Endangered Species Act’s draconian penalties,” Seasholes told TheDCNF.

Seasholes said landowners have taken drastic actions to keep endangered species off their lands, “including ‘scorched earth’ (destroying habitat), ‘shoot, shovel and shut-up’ (killing species), going silent, denying researchers and government personnel access to their land, and refusing to become involved in species conservation efforts.”

Furthermore, I confess that I don’t even understand the point of the Endangered Species Act. In all seriousness, what is the point of this law? Ostensibly it is to prevent species extinction, but extinction has always occurred since the beginning of life on Earth. Something like 99 percent of all the species that ever lived are extinct. Life on Earth is in a constant state of flux, with old species being replaced by new. To stop species extinction is simply not possible. So why even try?

Environmentalists argue that human activity has caused a dramatic increase in the rate of extinction. But the fact is that nobody really knows how much higher the extinction rate is now compared to the rate that prevailed prior to human civilization.

Some environmentalists claim that tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year.

In 1979, Berkeley ecologist Norman Myers published a book called “The Sinking Ark,” which claimed 40,000 species were disappearing each year. The next decade, a biologist who worked for the World Wildlife Fund predicted up to 20 percent of all species would disappear by the turn of the millennium. That didn’t happen, but the drumbeat of alarms continues: A much-publicized paper in 2004 warned that by 2050, climate change could put 1 million species at risk of extinction.

Stuart Pimm … published a paper this summer warning that species are currently dying off at 1,000 times the rate they were before the human era, and in the future are likely to perish at 10,000 times that rate.

These numbers, however, are just guesses and not based on documented extinctions. The amount of documented extinctions is comparatively tiny.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which keeps the most definitive list of extinct and threatened species, has counted just over 800 total confirmed animal extinctions since the year 1600.

So that’s an average of about two per year, not tens of thousands. And these are extinctions due to all causes, not just human activity. The late economist Julian Simon noted the following excerpt from a 1992 book written by two ecologists.

[F]orests of the eastern United States were
reduced over two centuries to fragments totalling 1-2% of their original extent…during this destruction, only three forest birds went extinct — the Carolina parakeet … the ivory-billed woodpecker … and the passenger pigeon …. Although deforestation certainly
contributed to the decline of all three species, it was probably not critical for the pigeon or the parakeet (Greenway, 1967). Why, then, would one predict massive extinction from similar destruction of tropical forest?
(Simberloff, 1992, p. 85)

Closer examination of the existing data on both well-and little-known groups, however, supports the affirmation that little or no species extinction has yet occurred (though some may be in very fragile persistence) in the Atlantic forests. Indeed, an appreciable
number of species considered extinct 20 years ago, including several birds and six butterflies, have been rediscovered more recently. (Brown and Brown, 1992, p.
128)

So 200 years of destruction and absolute devastation of the virgin forests of the eastern U.S. caused between one and three bird extinctions. That’s it.

Scientists don’t even know how many total species exist, as estimates range widely from 2 million to as many as 100 million. The claims of high extinction numbers are based on assumed species number near the high end of the range.

There’s a sense in which the big numbers, however, tend to work against the conservation argument. If there are 100 million species, and a huge number go extinct due to natural causes, why should humans bear significant costs in order to save just a few species here and there? Why should one frog make thousands of acres off limits to humans? Especially since that frog might be unlikely to survive the next glacial period, a few thousand years from now. Why should the timber industry be devastated because of the spotted owl?

And in any event, if we do care about insuring that these species do not disappear forever, we have the ability and technology to preserve their genetic line even if they can no longer live in the wild.

Don’t get me wrong; I like animals, and I’d be genuinely bummed if, say, rhinos or lions went extinct. I’m sure millions of other people feel the same way, and for that reason, it would be desirable to expend considerable resources to protect them.

The other consideration is how important the species might be to the broader ecosystem. So for instance, plankton dying out would be catastrophic because it would threaten whales and other marine animals.

It seems pretty clear, however, that trying to preserve any and every species with little or no regard to cost makes no sense. Yet that is essentially the mandate of the ESA, perhaps the most irrational law on the books.

Progressives Finalizing Their Religious Diet

Increasingly, the only way I can make sense of modern liberalism is by viewing it as a neo-pagan, post-Christian religion. Most religions impose some type of dietary restrictions. Jews, for instance, can’t eat pork or combine meat with dairy. Mormons can’t have alcohol or caffeine. And so on. It’s perhaps only natural, therefore, that liberalism should develop a religiously dictated diet of its own. News out of California–the Holy Land of liberalism–suggests that liberalism’s approved diet is finally taking shape. Like many religious diets, it will include little or no meat.

FOE [Friends of the Earth] gave kids a lunch menu designed to eliminate foods it says are “unsustainable for our planet.” The new menu features far less meat and more plant-based food. Any meat or cheese the school did use came from “pastured, organic dairy cows.” The student’s lunch menu went from beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza to vegan stir fry tofu and vegan tostadas. The new FOE-approved menu served meat and cheese-less frequently and reduced the portion sizes.

Needless to say, none of this has any scientific legitimacy. The term “unsustainable for our planet” has absolutely no scientific meaning.

“This is a landmark moment for school food,” Jennifer LeBarre, head of nutrition services for Oakland Unified School District, said in a FOE press statement. “We were so excited to see how the data showed that we could reduce our carbon and water footprint by serving healthy, delicious food –– like the vegetarian tostadas with fresh made in-house salsa, that kids absolutely love –– all while saving money.”

The old morality: The Ten Commandments

The new morality: Reducing your “carbon and water footprint”

The district and FOE claimed the lunch program was healthier than before, but only on the basis that food from plants is typically healthier than meat.

Of course, the assertion that “food from plants is typically healthier than meat,” has no scientific justification. Vegetarians, on average, are less healthy both physically and mentally than meat eaters.

Concerning self-reported health, vegetarians differ significantly from each of the other groups, toward poorer health (p = 000). Moreover, these subjects report higher levels of impairment from disorders (p = .002). Vegetarians additionally report more chronic diseases than those eating a carnivorous diet less rich in meat (p = .000; Table 2). Significantly more vegetarians suffer from allergies, cancer, and mental health ailments (anxiety, or depression) than the other dietary habit groups (Table 3).

A meatless diet seems particularly unhealthy for children, who need dietary fat for brain development.

But that’s science, and therefore irrelevant to the modern religion of liberalism.

The scary part is that if liberals can impose their dietary restrictions on schoolchildren, the next logical step will be to impose them on the rest of us.

Maybe someday the liberal Taliban will force meateaters to go into hiding, and dietary dissidents will risk arrest for scoffing brisket at underground barbecues.

Oakland schools partnered with the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) to fight global warming by making student lunches climate-friendly.

Friends of the Earth. Enemies of Humanity.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here is our annual Valentine’s Day post.

To celebrate the holiday, we present a video, produced by the Austin Institute, on “The Economics of Sex.” The analysis presented in the video is remarkably accurate, although it does leave out some important issues, which we shall address below. But the basic analysis runs as follows.

First, men want to have more sex than women do. This makes perfect sense from the point of view of the biological imperative. Men make a relatively small investment in reproduction, so they have the incentive to have a lot of sex with lots of partners. Women, on the other hand, make a relatively large investment in reproduction. Women can reproduce only by carrying a child to term, which is difficult and costly. Women therefore don’t need to have a lot of sex; for them, quantity matters less than the quality of their mates.

It follows that sexual access to women is for men a scarce resource, for which women can extract a price. In recent decades, however, technological changes such as birth control have lowered the price of sex. A lower price is bad news for women, and good news for (at least some) men. Because men now have relatively easier access to sex, they are less willing to make a commitment to women by marrying them. Back in the day, marriage for men served to increase their access to sex. Now, in contrast, commitment to one woman tends to decrease the quantity, and the variety, of sex that a man can have. Women therefore find it harder and harder to get men to commit. As a result, the marriage rate keeps decreasing, and ‘age at first marriage’ keeps increasing.

The analysis in the video is essentially correct, as far as it goes. But the analysis omits a number of important issues. First, the sexual revolution is not the only factor that undermines the incentive for men to marry. There are a number of other factors, not least of which is the divorce industry, which works against the interests of men. Divorce laws and courts heavily favor women over men. Men often must pay alimony; women almost never do. Men who don’t pay child support go to jail; women who don’t pay never go to jail. In some cases, men have been ordered to pay child support for children who were the product of cuckoldry and not their own. A divorced woman can find another man, cohabit with him, and the divorced husband must still pay alimony and child support. Thus the man is forced to pay for another man’s child, another man’s woman.

All of this, needless to say, is anathema to men. And due to ‘no fault’ divorce, a new development of the last 35 years, a woman can subject a man to the inequities and iniquities of the divorce industry at any time, and for any reason, or no reason at all. Women, in fact, initiate about 70% of all divorces, and even the implicit threat of divorce gives women power. Indeed, within marriage, no fault divorce has significantly altered the balance of power in favor of women.

It is not just men, however, who now have less incentive to marry. Women also have less incentive to marry, due to their economic empowerment. Historically, the role of the man was to serve as an economic provider. But now, women can support themselves, and don’t need men to provide for them. As a result, women feel less pressure to marry, and can afford to be more picky in choosing a husband.

And the more success that women have, in education and career, the more picky they become. This is a natural result of female hypergamy, the fact that women are generally only interested in men who rank above them in social status. So a woman with only a high school diploma might only write off men with the lowest levels of education. A woman with a law degree or a master’s degree, however, will write off an awful lot of men who don’t have sufficiently high status relative to her. This severely constricts the available pool of men she would accept, making it difficult for her to find a suitable match.

High-status women basically only want high-status men. But all women prefer high-status men, so the competition for those men is intense. With so many women competing for them, the high status men have lots of options, so getting commitment from them is not easy for women.

Back in the day, when women did not have careers and credentials, it was possible for everybody to pair off and get married. But now that women have careers and credentials, two groups get left out: high-status women, and low-status men. The simplified model looks something like this. In terms of social status, women marry up, not down, so Grade B women marry Grade A men. Grade C women marry Grade B men, and Grade D women marry Grade C men. Who is left out? The Grade A women and the Grade D men, that is, the highest-status women and the lowest-status men. This pattern is less apparent in Western countries, but readily apparent in every Asian country where women are educated. In China, the phenomenon results in so-called ‘leftover women’ and ‘leftover men.’

Xu Jiajie has gone on countless blind dates and to numerous match-making events over the past five years in search of a husband.

At 31, the baby-faced office worker from Shanghai is under enormous pressure from family and friends to get married. But the right man is hard to find, she says, a big issue for urban, educated and well-paid Chinese women in a society where the husband’s social status is traditionally above the wife’s.

“My parents have introduced every bachelor they know,” said Xu, who earns double the average wage in Shanghai. “Half of the bachelors I met are quiet and never go out. Outgoing men don’t need blind dates.”

As couples celebrate the “Qixi” festival on Tuesday, the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day, Xu and millions of women like her face stark choices as long-held ideas about matrimonial hierarchy run up against economic and social changes sweeping the world’s most populous country.

The term “shengnu” – directly translated as “leftover women” – was coined to refer to professional women who have not married by their late 20s…

In Beijing, more than a third of women in their late 20s and 30s are looking for husbands, according to the dating website Jiayuan.com. Media reports say there may be as many as 500,000 “leftover women” in the capital.

There are plenty of men to go round among China’s nearly 1.4 billion people but social status can conspire against single professional woman once again…

“shengnan” or “leftover men” often live in lower-tier cities and do not make much money.

The Shanghai city government tries to help women like Xu by arranging regular match-making events. One in May attracted 20,000 single men and women.

Lucy Wang, a 32-year-old Chinese language teacher who attended the event, said all she could find were playboy types or momma’s boys.

“I sometimes wonder if there is something wrong with me,” she said. “Twenty thousand people and yet I can’t find anyone I like.”

Finding mates for low status men has always been difficult, which is largely why medieval Europe established monasteries. In fact, genetic evidence suggests that in the long evolutionary history of the human race, most males did not reproduce, but most females did. There have usually been loads of ‘leftover men.’

But having significant numbers of healthy and intelligent women unable to mate seems unprecedented in human history, except perhaps in times when the population of men was decimated by war.

The sexual market has truly undergone a sea change.

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Bureaucrats Butthurt over Regulatory Repeal

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Congress recently revived a dormant law–the Congressional Review Act of 1996–in order to repeal last-minute Obama regulations, including a so-called ‘stream protection rule’ that would have destroyed jobs in the coal industry. Well, now Politico reports that the bureaucrat who wrote the stream rule is all salty that his handiwork is getting flushed. Almost every line of the article is unintentionally hilarious.

Joe Pizarchik spent more than seven years working on a regulation to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining.

Ulysses S. Grant, while dying from cancer, wrote his two-volume memoirs in less than a year. Handel composed his Messiah in 24 days. This bureaucrat takes seven years to write a stupid stream regulation.

“My biggest disappointment is a majority in Congress ignored the will of the people,” said Pizarchik, who directed the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement from 2009 through January.

Unlike Pizarchik, the members of Congress who nixed his rule were actually elected by the people.

Pizarchik and other former Obama administration officials called the rapid repeal process intensely unfair. The 1996 law says any repeal must come within 60 legislative days after a rule becomes final.

“If there had been more time and Congress had not rushed this through but had actually deliberated on what was in the rule, [then] the results would have been different,” Pizarchik said.

Yeah, no. Later in the article we learn that the GOP has opposed the stream rule since at least 2011. They had plenty of time for deliberation, and a little more time wouldn’t have changed their minds. Furthermore, if Pizarchik hadn’t taken seven years to write his rule, he could have had it enacted prior to the 60-day window, which would have made it immune to repeal.

[T]he swiftness has former Obama officials wondering if lawmakers even understood the regulations they voted to kill.

“I can’t venture to say that that many people, when they’re being honest, have actually read the rule,” said Brandi Colander, who was Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management before leaving in September for the National Wildlife Federation.

I’m guessing Brandi wasn’t complaining when Congress voted on Obamacare without reading it.

“I think that when cooler heads really can prevail and you push the politics to the side, we should really be asking ourselves, should we be able, with the stroke of a pen, without requiring people to read it and not even giving these rules a chance to see the light of day — is that actually good governance?” she added.

Apparently, Brandi’s idea of “good governance” is unelected bureaucrats imposing rules with the force of law while the elected representatives of the American people just STFU.

Teitz similarly argued that the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste rule would have generated revenue for the energy industry, which could have sold the gas that the regulation would make it capture. But Republicans — backed by oil and gas companies — still made it a top target.

“People are looking for scalps,” she said. “‘It’s an Obama rule so let’s drag it down whether or not it’s actually costly to industry.’”

LOLZ. The bureaucrats would have us believe that they understand the industry’s interests better than the industry itself does. ‘Don’t those dummies know they can SELL the methane that we force them to capture!’

Before this year, the only time Congress successfully used the review act to repeal a regulation was in 2001, when it blocked the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration from enforcing an ergonomics rule intended to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.

Sixteen years later, wounds are still open for some officials who helped write that rule…

Still butthurt after sixteen years!!

Jordan Barab, who had worked on the ergonomics rule, fought to save it when he moved to the AFL-CIO after the 2000 election.

Wait, this guy makes a regulation that benefits Big Labor, and then takes a job with…the AFL-CIO. And didn’t we just see above that the lady who did the environmental rule took a job with…the National Wildlife Federation? Gee, it’s almost as if they’re already working for the interest group while still on the government job.

Pizarchik is already working on ideas to write a new version of the stream rule under a future president, though he declined to share any details.

Presidents come and go, but the bureaucracy is eternal.

He also hinted someone could mount a constitutional challenge to the review act itself, which critics have long argued tramples on the separation of powers.

“I believe there’s a good chance that, in a legal challenge, that a court will overturn Congress’ actions here as an unconstitutional usurpation of the executive branch’s powers,” he said.

Who knows what some hack Democrat judge might someday decide, but only in a bizarro, anti-matter, parallel universe is it unconstitutional for laws to be written by the legislative branch rather than the executive.

Government Failing to Protect Citizens: Canada Edition

Last month I noted that governments, in Europe at least, are failing in their primary responsibility, which is to insure the safety of citizens. That evidence was just anecdotal, but anecdotal evidence is still evidence.

Now here’s some additional anecdotal evidence, this time from Canada. Remember the gruesome Canadian bus beheading from 2008? I do.

According to witnesses, McLean was sleeping with his headphones on when the man sitting next to him suddenly produced a large knife and began stabbing McLean in the neck and chest. The bus driver pulled to the side of the road so that he and all the other passengers could exit the vehicle. The attacker then decapitated McLean and displayed his severed head to other passengers standing outside. The driver and two other men had attempted to rescue McLean but were chased away by Li, who slashed at them from behind the locked bus doors. Li then went back to McLean’s body and began severing other parts and consuming some of his victim’s flesh.

Will it surprise you to find out that the Canadian government has allowed the psychopathic killer to walk free? No, really. Free as a bird.

Psychiatrists said Li was suffering from schizophrenic delusions and, in a March 2009 verdict that shocked Canadians, Judge John Scurfield ruled that Li was “not criminally responsible” for McLean’s death.

Last year, he was permitted to move into independent living, but he had to abide by certain rules, which included taking medications and attending counselling appointments.

Sure hope he doesn’t ever forget to take those medications.

According to a 1999 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, a review board must order an absolute discharge if a person doesn’t pose a significant threat to public safety.
The review board said it heard testimony from mental health professionals before concluding that the “weight of evidence” showed Baker [Li] is not a risk to the public. . . .

Well, now that this killer is free, he’s going to need someplace to live, and I’m sure a lot of narrow minded people are going to discriminate against him and try to exclude him from their neighborhood. So here’s an idea, maybe the judge and the psychiatrists who determined that he is no threat could put him up in their homes. In fact, the more I think about it, they should be required to do so.

Memo to self: Don’t take a bus trip in Canada.

Ohio Nearly Surrounded by Right-to-Work States

A right-to-work law says that workers cannot be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. In just the past 12 months, three states–Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia–have enacted right-to-work laws. Two of those three states border Ohio. In recent years, two other states bordering Ohio passed right-to-work laws: Indiana in 2012, and Michigan in 2013. Ohio is now nearly surrounded by right-to-work states; the only remaining state that borders Ohio without a right-to-work law is Pennsylvania.

Ohio better wake up before it starts losing jobs to neighboring states. I know that if I had to decide on locating a business, all else equal, I would rather locate in a right-to-work state. Most employers know from experience that they’re better off not having to deal with a union.

If Ohio’s state government does not want to act on right-to-work, another option is that cities and counties could take matters into their own hands. One of the many interesting recent developments on the right-to-work front is that, this past November, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that local governments can enforce right-to-work statutes.

[W]hat if the state decides not to enact right to work legislation but one of its counties does?  Is a county ordinance that effectively makes it a “right to work county” entitled to the same deference as a state law?

According to one court of appeals, the answer to this question is yes.  In a recent decision UAW v. Hardin County, Kentucky et al., No. 16-5246 (6th Cir. November 18, 2016), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that county right to work laws do not conflict with federal labor law and may be enforced.

It will be very interesting to see if some conservative counties in liberal states try to enact right-to-work. This could be an effective way to try to lure employers into the county. I’m guessing, however, that a liberal state government opposed to right-to-work would have the authority to bring a renegade county to heel. We’ll have to see how this situation unfolds.

In any event, the argument made in favor of right-to-work is usually based on personal liberty: workers should be free to choose not to join the union. The liberty case for right-to-work, however, is somewhat ambiguous. Some libertarians, including Milton Friedman, have opposed right-to-work on the grounds that the law infringes on freedom of contract. The idea is that if a union and an employer mutually and voluntarily agree to a contract that sets union membership as a condition of employment, the law should not stop them from doing so.

In December 2012, libertarian writer J.D. Tuccille, in Reason magazine, wrote: “I consider the restrictions right-to-work laws impose on bargaining between unions and businesses to violate freedom of contract and association. … I’m disappointed that the state has, once again, inserted itself into the marketplace to place its thumb on the scale in the never-ending game of playing business and labor off against one another. … This is not to say that unions are always good. It means that, when the state isn’t involved, they’re private organizations that can offer value to their members.”

When it comes right down to it, most people base their position on right-to-work not on liberty arguments, but on whether they are pro or anti-union. Pro union forces accuse right-to-work proponents of trying to bust up unions. My only defense to that accusation would be: You say ‘union busting’ like that’s a bad thing.

Yet another fascinating legal development is a pending lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of mandatory union dues in government employment. The suit was filed in Illinois and bases its argument on the First Amendment.

“Everything government unions do is political in nature, and if it is political in nature, then the First Amendment is going to cover it, and workers can’t be required to pay anything to unions as a condition of keeping their job in government,” said Mark Mix, of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

This lawsuit seems like a bit of a long shot, but if successful, it would effectively impose right-to-work on government employment all across the country. That would be YUGE because it would finally cripple the racket run by Democrats whereby politicians shower unions with taxpayer money who then funnel a cut of the money into Democrat campaign coffers. Thus the public employee union effectively enables the Democrat Party to vote itself taxpayer money.

Right-to-work has made remarkable progress in just the last few years. Let’s hope the momentum continues.