The Washington Times-Herald

December 6, 2011

Free market has failed the U.S.

Stephen Dick

Anderson — While the United States and Europe sweat the small stuff and place all of their intellectual might and resources to fight deficit spending and slam the populace with austerity measures designed to make everything worse, China is forging ahead with a plan for growth that makes the West look like a bunch of money-crazed dimwits who have lost their bearings.

The U.S. likes to think of itself as the greatest country on earth, but it has spent the last 30 years, those dominated by conservative ideals, placing domestic emphasis on a limitless free-market economy and foreign policy strategies on starting and maintaining regional wars and threatening to unleash the military on anyone who makes Americans mad but is also much weaker.

What happens when the U.S. ceases to matter on the world stage? It won’t happen anytime soon, but it will happen. The U.S. still has the world’s leading economy, but China is set to take over that position in 2025, according to Andy Stern, former head of the Service Employees International Union, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

Stern says the U.S. is dithering while China has recently launched its 12th five-year plan, which calls for 7 percent economic growth. An article in a recent Newsweek, illustrates the strides China has taken in supercomputers compared to the U.S. This tells you all you need to know: The U.S. Blue Gene/L computer can do 0.5 quadrillion operations a second compared to China’s Tianhe-1A, which can do 2.5 quadrillion operations per second.

Money is used wisely in China, for education, technology, infrastructure, housing, the military and even a space program. It’s used for planning and that’s not done in the U.S.

Planning brings to mind, shudder, communism. But the lack of planning, such as creating a workable industrial policy, is leaving the U.S. behind.

According to Stern, Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S. China Relations at the Asia Society, said, "I think we have come to realize the ability to plan is exactly what is missing in America."

Has the U.S. come to realize that? It certainly doesn’t seem so. Planning requires setting aside funds for investments in the country, including Social Security, education, infrastructure, job training and manufacturing and technology work. Removing such a large amount of money from the market would enrage conservatives who want very dime destined for the Wall Street casino where the rich can get richer and the rest of the country can go to blazes.

As a driver of 21st century economic and technology growth the free market system is a dismal failure and should be consigned, as Stern puts it, to the trash heap of history. Progress is going to require the government to take an active role in promoting the nation’s welfare (which is in the Constitution) and not leave it to a bunch of rich, self-serving jackals whose only purpose is to fatten their portfolios and drool over their next luxury purchase.

Conservatives want to maintain this winner-take-all absurdity, but if the U.S. keeps following this scenario the rest of the world will leave it behind. It’s a shame to see Europe falling for the same old neoliberal economic tactics that have rendered the U.S. a divided nation.

Here in Anderson, Ind., city officials vowed never again to put all their eggs in one basket after General Motors left and took 23,000 jobs with it. But the U.S. is doing the same thing: putting all its faith and tying its future to an unfettered free market that has led the country to ruin. Need evidence? Just look around.


Stephen Dick is an editor at The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind. Contact him at