This is one of those articles which I need to preface with a bit of clarification. You are about to read something involving an editorial written by former SEIU President Andy Stern. Now, I realize that a lot of my published material here runs to the snarky, sarcastic, parody style of writing. I frequently use absurd exaggerations of people’s positions and statements to drive home a point. This is not the case here. This is an actual article appearing in the Wall Street Journal, not edited in any way. (The snark will come later.)
Moving on. Andy Stern has a keen eye for success. And following a tried and true pattern, he likes to observe the world around him and see what useful lessons might be gleaned and applied to our benefit here at home. With that in mind, he notes that the economic model of China seems to be working out pretty well, and perhaps we mean old capitalists might learn a thing or two from the rising, global powerhouse.
As this was happening, I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China’s 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development…
As Andy Grove so presciently articulated in the July 1, 2010, issue of Businessweek, the economies of China, Singapore, Germany, Brazil and India have demonstrated “that a plan for job creation must be the number-one objective of state economic policy; and that the government must play a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces of organization necessary to achieve this goal.”
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.
[insert requisite tag for the beginning of the snark infested section]
You know, Andy just may be on to something here. Our economy is a mess and China is clearly ascendent. We just might have something to learn from the Chinese model. For example, the hard working, productive middle to lower class is all you really need to keep the widget bins filled. You don’t actually need an upper class of wealthy individuals. They just tend to get all pushy and demanding of luxuries and such. So what if we – just for the sake of argument – seized all of their wealth, used that to pay down a portion of the debt, and sent them all on to more productive lives working in oil fields in the Gulf?
And now that I come to think of it, there’s a huge population of relatively non-producing folks hanging around. They are generally comprised of the elderly, the sick, and the very poor. They eat up a lot of resources, run up huge bills in entitlement programs and contribute almost nothing. So what if – again.. just for argument’s sake – we rounded them all up, put them to productive work building prisons, then locked them in those prisons, and held them until we found some ailing, rich Europeans in need of an organ transplant? Then we just begin checking for matching “donors” and charge premium fees for the parts. We could have this national debt problem licked in under a decade, I tell ya!
Implementation could be a problem, but given time, I’m sure Andy will come up with something that will work. It’s time to start the Draft Andy 2012 movement. Sign on now!