Unions eventually hurt union workers because unionized companies atrophy. Non-union Toyota grew, while GM shrank. JetBlue Airlines blossomed, while unionized TWA and Pan Am went out of business. Unions "protect" workers all the way to the unemployment line.
When I criticize compulsory unions and regulations, it's not because I want rich employers to get fat off the labor of workers. It's because I've learned that markets are fluid -- and the best way for more workers to find good jobs is to leave everyone free to make any contract they wish.
Outlawing the low-wage job that taught a teenager skills or the internship that gave a kid a foot in the door doesn't insulate people from hardships of the market. It insulates them from knowledge about how to function in an ever-changing economy.
That's not compassion. That's a denial of reality.
Advocates of "kind" central planning overlook the gradual, piecemeal improvement that markets make. Focused on government's promise of once-and-for-all solutions (promises that rarely lead to actual solutions), people miss how free markets gradually help humanity solve problems.
Economic historian Robert Higgs joked that it will always be easier to rally politically inclined people behind unrealistic, revolutionary causes than to rally them around subtle economic progress, because no crowd marches behind a banner proclaiming, "Toward a Marginally Improved Society!"
The best way to help workers is to get the government to butt out and let competitive markets work.