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The phrase “Right to Work” has traditionally been used to describe a system of voluntary union membership, as contrasted with the mandatory membership practice that are still common in many states. Now, the term is getting an update as people realize that unions are only one way of keeping hard working Americans out of a job. In fact, the government has all manner of schemes to protect their favored interests, while shutting out many of the people who need work the most.
This is why Lincoln Labs is launching a new initiative they’re calling “Right to Work 2.0”. The idea is that you shouldn’t need government’s permission to earn a living, and that the artificial barriers to work have been a significant drag on the American economy, creating unemployment and dependence.
Chris Abrams, co-founder of Lincoln Labs, describes the initiative: “Right to Work 2.0 would allow people to start a new business without permission from government regulators, thereby reducing costs to both the state and the operator, saving workers money, increasing freedom of choice, and fostering innovation.”
Right to Work 2.0 highlights a number of important issues that have been around for a long time, but which have not gotten a lot of attention - until now. Occupational licensing keeps prices up and locks people out of professions where they could otherwise excel. It’s an issue I care a lot about, but until recently no one has given it much coverage. A recent report from the White House spotlighted some of the problems with licensing, however, and recommended a number of needed reforms. Right to Work 2.0 is adding much needed attention to the issue so that perhaps we can see some meaningful changes in the near future.
Another issue to feature prominently in Right to Work 2.0 is copyright reform. Intellectual property provisions were included in the Constitution to promote the arts and sciences, but today’s copyright laws have been twisted into an unrecognizable form, devoted to protecting giant legal monopolies and stifling creativity. This issue, too, has long been neglected, but the Re:Create Coalition, of which FreedomWorks Foundation is a member, is devoted to addressing the important issue of copyright reform to once again stimulate creation, rather than restricting it.
It’s great to see the need for these important reforms getting more national attention on the national stage. It’s probably too much to hope that the presidential candidates take notice, but Right to Work 2.0 is an important shot across the bow to illustrate how far we’ve strayed from a free labor market and the unhampered pursuit of happiness.