Should union bosses have access to your personal information?
Have you ever had a company sell your contact information to another company and then suddenly you started getting e-mails about some product you’ve never heard of? It’s annoying isn’t it?
Good news! The National Labor Relations Board wants to require your employer to share your contact information with unions. At least when companies pull this stuff they only send you junk mail – imagine what your friendly SEIU organizer might want to do with your information.
Board Chair Mark Pearce is introducing a series of new regulations. One of these regulations, if passed, would require businesses to surrender their employee’s personal contact information to campaigning union heads.
“If the National Labor Relations Board gets its way, companies could be forced to hand over your contact information, whether you like it or not, to union leaders,” Fox host Neil Cavuto said. “Union leaders having access to your phone number, your email address?”
It’s hard to say exactly how this new regulation will help the government do its job of protecting your freedom – and it’s even harder to find the place in the Constitution that authorizes the executive branch to force a business to do something like this.
Unfortunately, it’s become common for nonsense regulations to be proposed and there is virtually nothing that regular Americans can do to stop them. This is exactly the type of situation that is created when the principles in the Constitution are ignored. Our Constitution was written in a way that protects citizens from the government. But when we allow it to be violated, it doesn’t take long before we are faced with this kind of situation where the government wants to subject us to undeserved union harassment and there is nothing we can do about it.
This particular case is a perfect illustration of how the disregard our public officials have for the Constitution poses a serious threat to your freedom.
We all learned in school that our government is split up into three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial (they do still teach that much in public schools at least, right?). That wasn’t an accident.
There are three jobs that any government has to be able to perform in order to function: it has to be able to make laws, enforce the law, and judge the law. Without any one of those, a government isn’t able to do its job. By giving each of those jobs to a different branch, the Founders made sure that no branch could run the government by itself. So if one branch becomes corrupt, it can’t take the country down a horribly oppressive road without the cooperation of the other two.
Maintaining that separation of powers is critical because any time one branch is allowed to do more than one of those jobs, it becomes much easier for the government to get out of control. In the Federalist Papers, James Madison explained that any time one person or group of people is able to exercise all three functions of government, that is the very definition of tyranny.
Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines tyranny as:
1. Arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government. Hence tyranny is often synonymous with cruelty and oppression.
2. Cruel government or discipline; as the tyranny of a master.
3. Unresisted and cruel power.
4. Absolute monarchy cruelly administered.
5. Severity; rigor; inclemency.
Maybe it’s just me, but none of those options sound particularly good.
But look at what we’ve done with executive agencies like the NLRB. In this situation, the NLRB is proposing regulations that would require your employer to share your personal information. So it is making laws. A quick visit to the NLRB web site shows that it is also judging laws and enforcing laws. Now what would Madison call that again?
If you’ve ever wondered why we are getting so many ridiculous regulations in recent years – there’s your answer. As a nation, we’ve completely disregarded both the Constitution and the protection that is provided by the separation of powers.
In his book The Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu brilliantly laid out the dangers involved in concentrating the powers of government:
“When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” (emphasis mine)
In other words, if all of the power is put in the hands of one group of people and those people come up with destructive or oppressive policies, there is almost nothing that anyone can do to stop them.
Look at it this way: imagine that the NLRB passes a ridiculous, oppressive regulation (a real stretch, I know). Then, someone from the NLRB does an investigation and finds that you violated that regulation. You get upset and decide you want to fight the charge so you take your case in front of an administrative law judge from… the NLRB!!
You don’t have to be terribly creative to see how that type of process could be abused. After all, there’s a reason that the term “judge, jury, and executioner” doesn’t have a positive connotation.
Supporters of this system will argue that it doesn’t violate the separation of powers because Congress still has the power to confirm appointments to executive agencies and oversees their actions. But even if you buy that really weak argument, President Obama killed half of it when he made his latest (unconstitutional) recess appointments. Remember – three members of the NLRB that will be considering this proposal to make your information available to unions were appointed earlier this year when Obama sidestepped Congress.
Unfortunately, this idea of Congressional oversight doesn’t offer us any real protection for our freedom either. Does anyone honestly believe that we have members of Congress – or even their staffs – sitting in Washington, D.C. diligently looking through the regulations that get passed?
Well no one should believe that because it would be physically impossible. We now have an army of bureaucrats in our government that is pumping out regulations like it’s a factory. In fact, when the Justice Department did a study to find out how many regulations there are, it concluded that it was impossible to count them all.
To clarify – the federal government says it is impossible to count all of the regulations our government has passed but you are expected to comply with every single one of them. So you could easily find yourself in some serious trouble for violating a regulation that you never knew existed. Can you see how having that many regulations is a threat to your freedom?
The cumbersome law-making process that’s created in our Constitution isn’t a flaw that politicians should be trying to get around. It is a feature that protects your liberty. By going through deliberate process in order to pass a law, that makes it much easier for regular citizens to keep an eye on what is happening and hold their representatives accountable.
Beyond that, slowing down the law-making process does put some outer limit on the level of intrusion the government can have on your personal life. If Congress has to actually pass all of their own laws instead of relying on executive agencies, it would be a lot tougher for them to find time to dictate the speed your toilet flushes, the proper height for a stairway railing, or God only knows what other parts of our lives are being regulated now. (Of course, all of this assumes that our representatives are doing stupid things like reading the bills that they pass before the vote.)
At this point in history, there are certain aspects of government that we know are required to protect freedom and separation of powers is one of them. Anytime that we violate that principle of separation, there will be consequences.
Right now, the consequences for allowing executive agencies to us all three functions of government could not be clearer. In addition to a growing mountain of restrictive regulations that no one can even count, we are now facing an NLRB that wants to share our personal information with union bosses and there is basically nothing we can do about it.
If we as citizens have any hope of regaining control of our government – and our liberty – then somehow we are going to have to find a way to put this regulatory genie back in the bottle.