Right-to-Work Laws and the Modern Classical-Liberal Traditionby Sheldon Richman
Jul. 23, 2013
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It’s not widely known, but an earlier generation of libertarians condemned so-called right-to-work laws as anti-market. For example, Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freedom, compared right-to-work to anti-discrimination laws. Ayn Rand also opposed right-to-work laws. The Spring 1966 issue of the libertarian student-run journal New Individualist Review carried Prof. Hirschel Kasper’s article “What’s Wrong with Right-to-Work Laws.” NIR was edited by University of Chicago libertarians Ralph Raico, Joe Cobb, and Jim Powell. Among its editorial advisers were Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Ben Rogge, a classical liberal long associated with the Foundation for Economic Education. (Of course that does not mean that any of those men necessarily agreed with Kasper, although with one exception that may not be an unreasonable inference, considering that NIR never published a pro–right-to-work article. The exception is Hayek, who wrote, curiously, in The Constitution of Liberty that “closed- and union-shop contracts … must be treated as contracts in restraint of trade and denied the protection of the law.”)