Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thoughts on Davis-Bacon

Recently, the events in New Orleans have brought up an issue that has been sort of forgotten over the past few years: the Davis-Bacon Act, which George W. Bush recently suspended for companies rebuilding damage from Katrina.

I rremembering reading about Davis-Bacon back in 2000 or 2001 when reading Tony Brown's Black Lies, White Lies, where he asserted that it was a racist attempt to prevent black workers from undercutting the unions (at the time, many unions were all-white) by charging lower prices. Although I think I remember one or two people bringing Davis-Bacon up as a quick talking point (to talk about it being racist), this is the first time that I can remember where it has come up as a policy issue, or as a topic of any serious discussion.

At the Cato Institute, David Bernstein gives a little history on Davis-Bacon, supporting Brown's interpretation.

A pro-Union blogger's response. Essentially, the point of this article vis a vis Davis-Bacon is that integrating unions is/was a better solution for black workers than repealing Davis-Bacon (and logically, to the extent that unions are already integrated, whatever racism motivated Davis-Bacon is irrelevant now) and that attacking it as racist is merely political opportunism on the part of conservatives

As a person more on the libertarian side of things, I of course favor the repeal of Davis-Bacon, whether it was racist or not. But it is an interesting debate that really hasn't hit the public until now.

That is all.

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