Legendary labor leader Andy Stern has seen the future. There’s no freedom there, but he’s OK with that.
Stern, a former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and now senior fellow at Columbia University’s Richman Center, recently returned from a trip to China organized by the Center for American Progress. Stern had the opportunity on this sojourn to meet with “high-ranking” Chinese officials, who outlined for the former labor leader part of the authoritarian regime’s long-term economic plan.
Strern was so enamored with what he saw and heard in the Middle Kingdom that he wrote a slavish op-ed for The Wall Street Journal praising the communist country’s state-planned economy and urging the United States to embark on a similar path. Among the more revolting passages of Stern’s love letter to Leninism:
The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model—so successful in the 20th century—is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century. In an era when countries need to become economic teams, Team USA’s results—a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1%—are pathetic.
This should motivate leaders to rethink, rather than double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism. As painful and humbling as it may be, America needs to do what a once-dominant business or sports team would do when the tide turns: study the ingredients of its competitors’ success.
The intellectual dishonesty here is breathtaking. Stern unfurls a litany of economic woes, but fails to mention one critical fact: It is precisely because markets in the United States are less free than they’ve ever been that we have a desperately ill economy and attendant social devastation. And markets are less free than they have ever been thanks in large part to labor unions, which have saddled businesses and governments with crushing regulations and costs which result in higher taxes, higher prices, and fewer jobs for the average citizen and consumer.
Mr. Stern and his allies in the labor movement have for decades done everything they can to crush the freedom and profitability of private enterprise, enriching themselves as they plunge the economy into enervation. Yet Stern the gall to tell us that freedom has failed American workers? The Journal should be ashamed for publishing such vile communist propaganda.
As I have written many times, to rail against free markets is to rail against freedom itself. Usually libertarians and conservatives have to make the case that leftists are actually opposed to liberty; rarely does someone on the left make the case for us, and so well.