The really successful rent-seekers are the ones who instinctively understand Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers and Baptists coalitions. These union bosses clearly get it. They understand that to grow their ranks and siphon off of the productive economy you’ve got to have a view to ‘getting yours’ coupled with some “bullshit” moralistic stance. Why does understanding this matter?
As has been quoted on this blog before:
Durable social regulation evolves when it is demanded by both of two distinctly different groups. “Baptists” point to the moral high ground and give vital and vocal endorsement of laudable public benefits promised by a desired regulation. Baptists flourish when their moral message forms a visible foundation for political action. “Bootleggers” are much less visible but no less vital. Bootleggers, who expect to profit from the very regulatory restrictions desired by Baptists, grease the political machinery with some of their expected proceeds. They are simply in it for the money.
I would go as far as to say that this is how free Republics are dissolved over time — not with a bang, but with a whimper. This is the structure and process of legal corruption. Anywhere you find a socially and/or economically destructive policy you’ll find a plausible moralistic cover.
In this case, the unions are middle men. Parasites. Facilitators taking a cut by putting the Bootleggers together with the Baptists and Bureaucrats. It’s all so unseemly.