Three articles from the Wall Street Journalshow the strange myopia of businesses and business groups when it comes to politics. One article detailed how big retailers (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Target) are warning employees about the possibility that a Democratic sweep could give unions the upper hand (translation: vote Republican!). A second describes how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is mounting a huge $35 million campaign--twice the amount it spent in 2006 Congressional races--to support "almost exclusively Republicans in contested Senate races." And Federal Express CEO Fred Smith gave an interview to the editorial page in which he endorsed Sen. John McCain: "Because I agree with him on trade, taxes, energy and health care."
Let's take each in turn. Big retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Target, the Journal reports, are freaked out that Obama and a Democratic Congress would pass the Employee Free Choice Act, "which would do away with secret balloting and allow unions to form if a majority of employees sign cards favoring unionization." Now, don't get me wrong. EFCA may be a disaster for retailers. But of all the woes facing companies--the credit crunch, crappy growth, a disastrous job market, a lost decade in the stock market--unions are the least of their problems. So far this year, legions of retailers have gone bankrupt--Steve & Barrys, Linens'n'Things, the Ponderosa and Bonanza restaurant chains--victims of excessively optimistic projections, poor expansion choices, mismanagement, and horrific capital structures. Unions had nothing to do with their failure.