Posted 12/02/2011 07:05 PM ET
Economic Systems: The former head of the Service Employees International Union says capitalism is on the ash heap of history and sees China as our role model. We have seen his future, however, and it doesn’t work.
President Obama once reportedly told aides, according to the New York Times, that things would be easier if he were president of China. Presumably he meant there would be no pesky things like a Congress, free elections and a free press to deal with.
Former SEIU chief Andy Stern, who may still hold the record for visits to the White House under this administration, would agree with that assessment. Stern, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, writes of China’s “superior economic model,” a command-and-control economy unimpeded by such anachronisms as democracy and a truly free market. Stern writes that the “conservative-preferred free-market fundamentalist shareholder-only model” of capitalism “is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century.”
We should, he says, “rethink” our economic model rather than “double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism.” He speaks glowingly of China’s 12th five-year plan and “Deng Xiaoping‘s government-led growth-oriented reforms (that) have created the planet’s second-largest economy” soon to replace us as No. 1.
Stern is wrong on at least two counts. The first is that what we have been practicing of late can hardly be called unfettered capitalism. We labor under the burden of ever-restrictive regulation and the highest corporate tax burden in the world. The administration has embraced industrial policy to dictate where factories can be built and what energy can be developed. It, not the free market, picks the winners and losers.
If we were practicing capitalism, Boeing would be allowed to make its Dreamliner passenger jet in South Carolina without the commissars at the National Labor Relations Board interfering. We’d be building the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands oil to American markets. We’d be drilling offshore and in ANWR.
If we were practicing capitalism, there would be no such thing as too big to fail. There would be no bailouts, no nationalization of health care or buying of car companies. There would be no Solyndras or government “investments” in failed alternative energy. We wouldn’t shoot ourselves in the foot building high-speed trains.
The second is that China is hardly the worker’s paradise Stern portrays. Its progress has been built on the corpses of millions sacrificed for this or that great leap forward. China has perhaps the worst distribution of wealth on the planet.
by Cliff Kincaid
Jumping on the anti-Wall Street media bandwagon, Josh Boak of Politico says Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio’s measure to tax Wall Street has “newfound momentum.” The Soros-funded Think Progress blog quickly jumped on the report, saying the plan is being seriously considered on the Hill. There is only one problem: DeFazio hasn’t introduced any such bill in the current Congress.
Despite the hype from Politico, the issue is a real one. And the threat is not only a “Wall Street financial transactions tax” that could affect ordinary investors but a global tax to finance various international agencies and causes.
It’s just a “tiny tax,” say proponents, that has the support of billionaire Bill Gates and can generate $100 billion a year. A global tax on financial transactions could generate at least $700 billion a year from the U.S. and other “rich” countries.
One of the groups pushing the tax is National Nurses United, whose Massachusetts affiliate is already putting its political muscle behind radical Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. Her speech to the Massachusetts Nurses Association convention was given in front of posters saying, “RNs say Heal America. Tax Wall Street.”
Warren just made big news by raising more money than some presidential candidates did in the last quarter.
Taking Obama’s class warfare rhetoric to a new level, Warren recently said, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody! You built a factory out there? Good for you! But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You, uh, were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work the rest of us did.”
At this point, the Capitol Hill “Tax Wall Street” measure has yet to be introduced. Backers are apparently waiting for the “Occupy Wall Street” protests to build, with further help from the media.
“The Oregon Democrat has teamed up with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) to introduce the measure—a sequel to their 2009 bill—before the November G-20 meeting in Cannes, France,” says Boak.
Boak says the DeFazio-Harkin proposal “fizzled two years ago” in the last Congress. The term “fizzled” is an understatement. The House version, H.R. 4191, only had 25 co-sponsors. The DeFazio bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, the Committees on Rules, and the Budget Committee. But no action was taken on it.
Harkin’s Senate version, S. 2927, fared even worse. He had only three co-sponsors: Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). It was referred to the Committee on Finance, which took no action.
A photo caption for the Politico story refers to Harkin being a sponsor of the bill which “probably” will be offered before the G-20 meeting in November.
So a bill that already had “momentum” may or not be introduced soon. What is going on here?
The Boak story has all the earmarks of a plant by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a Marxist group pushing the tax. IPS held a seminar on the topic at the recent Take Back the American Dream conference in Washington, D.C. It was announced there that a nurses union would be staging a “D.C. action” on November 3 during the G-20 summit being held in France.
Indeed, this is the next phase of “Occupy Wall Street”—a carefully orchestrated attempt to make it seem like people all around the world are clamoring for a tax on Wall Street. Here, National Nurses United (NNU) is leading the charge and will hold its “major action” in front of the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. on November 3.
The nurses will wear their nurses’ garb and hold signs proclaiming, “Heal America. Tax Wall Street.” NNU has created a “Protest in the USA” website to help organize the demonstrations.
The “momentum” for the not-yet-introduced proposal is the result of a far-left network that wants to use the current “Occupy Wall Street” protests to push and pass the tax, which could go global.
The effort cannot be dismissed. On the international level, a group called “Make Finance Work for the People and the Planet” boasts 1,000 signatures of economists on a petition for the “Robin Hood tax.”
The IPS released a report last year promoting the tax, noting how it could help pay for U.S. “global commitments around poverty, health and climate.” The report states, “If the U.S. is going to fulfill its commitments to the world’s poorest, it needs to contribute an additional $80 billion in revenues per year.”
Internationally, the campaign is being organized by Public Services International (PSI), with affiliates in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Arab countries.
U.S. affiliates of PSI, in addition to National Nurses United, are the American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), and the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA).
A “global day of action” for the tax was already held on June 22 but received little attention here. Sympathetic media coverage of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests is sure to generate significant press attention for the November 3 protests.
The media are determined to create a “progressive” version of the Tea Party, even if the bill to tax Wall Street hasn’t been introduced yet. The actual introduction of the measure will be big news on the evening news programs.
After this is accomplished, critics of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement will no longer be able to say that the protesters have no concrete demands. Obama, at the G-20 event, will undoubtedly then “consider” the proposal, even perhaps say some more kind words about the protesters.
We saw this before. In my December 14, 2009, column, “The Secret Plan to Pass a Global Tax,” I noted that there was a push for the DeFazio-Harkin plan at that time.
The difference now is that the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, assisted by Van Jones, Soros-funded progressives and labor unions, are mounting a major effort to get the measure passed and they have the support of the major media.
Even if they lose the battle in Congress, Obama will have revitalized his base.