Ralph Benko

This writer’s standard stump speech, on the conservative lecture circuit, used to begin “I love Barack Obama.” (Dramatic pause. Confusion mounts.) “Not since the days of the Soviet Union, which I enjoyed a minor but not quite trivial role in helping to bring down, have I had an adversary worthy of my powers.”

In the event, Mr. Obama turned into a disappointment. He combines a smug, supercilious hectoring with a record of accomplishment somewhere between pathetic and perverse. Not a worthy adversary after all.

Therefore, imagine the excitement of finding, published on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, no less, Andy Stern extolling something very like … well, communism. Stern, together with its international Vice President Eliseo Medina, grew the SEIU into a behemoth of organized labor, even splitting the AFL-CIO, leaders of the historic stature of Reuther, Lewis and Meany. Finally, a worthy adversary!

Stern begins with a quotation from former Intel CEO Andy (“Only the Paranoid Survive”) Grove:

Our fundamental economic beliefs, which we have elevated from a conviction based on observation to an unquestioned truism, is that the free market is the best of all economic systems – the freer the better. Our generation has seen the decisive victory of free-market principles over planned economies. So we stick with this belief largely oblivious to emerging evidence that while free markets beat planned economies, there may be room for a modification that is even better.

Referencing a recent trip to China, and extolling its rapid growth, Stern delivers his indictment:

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.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.