Objectivism Online Forum

# Jay P

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1. ## Electricity/electronics For Beginners

Here's an "online textbook" that has explanations of electricity and electronics concepts: All About Circuits In particular, chapters 1 and 2, on basic DC and AC circuits give a good explanation of inductance and capacitance. It does use some math, but the electric circuit concepts are introduced with lots of explanation. (Speaking of math, if you want to eventually solve AC circuit problems, using complex numbers makes the task a lot easier than it would be without them - they're a very useful concept. This web site does give an introduction to complex numbers as they apply to AC circuits.) A first-year physics textbook would also be helpful if you want to better understand the theory behind inductance and capacitance, though it would probably require more math than you'd want at first. I don't have any particular suggestions here.

6. ## How can a union really raise wages without force?

You've indeed discovered how unions operate, though the situation at your company sounds worse than most. You give a good and vivid description of what a terrible joke union work rules are. Quite disgusting. You could find many people who could tell you similar stories to what you've observed. (I once worked in a company that was mostly unionized, though my job was not, nor were the jobs of most people I worked with. On the factory floor, I'd see union guys sleeping, reading comic books, and sitting around for hours. And they were quite unwilling to do anything at all that wasn't in their "job description". Can you imagine going through life this way? I can't.) The classic case of "featherbedding" is in the railroad industry. Years ago, when railroads used steam locomotives, there were two men in the cab: the engineer, who ran the controls of the engine, and the fireman, whose job it was to shovel coal into the firebox. This was a necessary job, and hard work. But then, along came diesel locomotives. There's no coal to shovel, since they burn oil! So, there was no need of the fireman. But, due to union rules, the railroads had to have a fireman in the cab anyway. Why do companies put up with this, you ask? The main reason is that there is legislation (mostly passed in the 1930's) that gives unions a privileged position that they would not have in a free market. For example: - If a union signs up 30% of workers in a "bargaining unit", the company is required to negotiate with that union. - There are restrictions on what management can do to keep unions out. You cannot do things like offer workers better pay if they don't join a union, and in some cases, companies have to be very careful what they say if a union election is coming up. Saying the wrong thing is an "unfair labor practice". Yes, this is a gross violation of the right of free speech, but it's the law. - Union organizers may come onto a company's property, and in general the owners may not interfere with their activities. (Though in some companies, the workers themselves who are the target of the union's "efforts" have been known to be quite hostile to union organizers.) - Firing an employee for union membership (which should be a company's right) is of course out of the question. In addition to these specific laws, there is the general fact that union violence is often unpunished; the police don't do anything about it. During strikes that I'm familiar with, the striking union workers have shot at managers, beaten up and intimmidated replacement workers, destroyed company property (for instance, cutting wires in telephone switching equipment, or ruining truck engines), and nobody was ever prosecuted, let alone sent to jail. Faced with this, many companies just give in. But companies could still resist unions, but they often don't because of lazy management. For example, union employees are promoted generally by seniority: it doesn't matter how well they can do the job. If a manager is lazy, this makes his job easier, since he doesn't then have to decide who gets promoted. The good news is that in the private sector, the percentage of union employees is way down from say the 1950's. Unionized companies are stuck with (as you've seen) wasteful work rules, and expensive workforces whose lethargic members have an "entitlement" mentality, so this makes them far less competitive. Companies in fast-changing industries in particular are usually not very unionized, if at all. The computer industry comes to mind; I believe most if not all major makers of computers are not unionized. That's because if such a company were to accept a union, it would never be able to react fast enough to the changes in technology that occur so fast - the company would be gone in a few years. And at many companies, the workers themselves hate unions and wouldn't think of having one "represent" them. So although the situation with unions is bad, it is easy for the rational man to find a non-union company to work for. As far as I'm concerned, this is the only way to go for somebody who wants to work hard and achieve something, and wants the best for himself in his career.