Recent experience–e.g. in the auto industry, where two of the three big unionized firms went broke and required baiouts, while non-union firms are thriving–makes it especially hard to argue that the Wagner Act still contributes to the material well-being of the vast mass of Americans. Is there a Democrat who argues with a straight face that unionization makes firms more competititve? Who points to highly efficient unionized firms that are beating non-union rivals? Union defenders used to make those arguments. You don’t see them much anymore.

Today’s left-centered Web pundits increasingly don’t even try. Instead they deploy a variety of evasions, which have been on vivid display in the debate following Michigan’s adoption–by a fair vote of a fairly elected legislature–of “right to work.”