Ep. 150 We Need the State to Protect Workers

4 August 2018     |     Tom Woods     |     1

There’s been plenty of discussion of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says Krugman, but it’s been focused mainly on his views of presidential power, and not on his opinions on business and workers. On this, too, he’s atrocious, says Krugman. We say: Krugman is leaving out 95% of the argument.

Krugman Column

Trump’s Supreme Betrayal” (July 30, 2018)

Contra Columns

No, Brett Kavanaugh Doesn’t Think Killer Whale Shows Are a Professional Sport,” by Bob Murphy
Ensuring—and Insuring—Air Security,” by Bob Murphy

Episodes Mentioned (Tom Woods Show)

Ep. 1198 Judge Napolitano on Kavanaugh, and the Court’s Worst Decisions (Judge Andrew Napolitano)
Ep. 1159 Did “Racists” and “White Supremacists” Get Trump Elected? (Musa al-Gharbi)

The Contra Cruise!

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Need More Episodes?

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  • Jim Bob 1028

    Your general thesis is correct, but I think your understanding of industrial safety, a topic in which I have decades of professional experience, is somewhat amiss.

    First off, though, Krugman is totally disingenuous when he writes of Kavanaugh’s being “an anti-worker radical”: “The most spectacular example is his opinion that Sea World owed no liability for a killer whale attack that killed one of its workers, because she should have known the risks.” Kavanaugh did NOT argue that Sea World owed no liability; rather, he dissented regarding imposition of an administrative fine upon Sea World for failing in its general duty to provide a workplace that is “free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees”. I’m no fan of Kavanaugh because he has endorsed the PATRIOT Act’s shredding of 4th Amendment protections, but his reasoning in the Sea World dissent is rock-solid.

    Now, regarding your take on worker safety: your analysis errs in that it includes industrial safety along with other working conditions such as vacation time, overtime premium, air conditioned workspaces, etc. as a tradeoff that employers and employees make regarding compensation. Competent managers have long understood that safety is essential to sustainable, long-term profitability regardless of the regulatory regime.

    I have worked for and consulted with dozens of multinational corporations. Without exception their material provisions, training, and work rules regarding worker safety are virtually the same throughout the world — including impoverished countries — except for various minor cultural adaptations. Yes, the employer must spend money that is not mandated by regulation or other legal liability in some regimes. However, it is still a profit-maximizing decision to promote worker safety: unless you want to engage in argumentum ad absurdum, worker safety is essential to profitability. Obviously workplace injuries and fatalities are highly disruptive and impair productivity and morale, which directly hits profitability. Perhaps less obvious, but just as significant for a firm’s profitability, workers who have been trained in industrial safety not only minimize risks to their own selves, they also minimize risks to co-workers and the firm’s plant and equipment. The latter is particularly significant in the oil, chemical, utility, transportation, construction, mining, and heavy manufacturing industries. I don’t have direct experience, but I’m certain that it even holds for light manufacturing as well.