Former Clinton labor secretary turned MSNBC contributor Robert Reich has a truly nutty solution for America's current economic woes.
Writing at the perilously liberal Huffington Post Tuesday, Reich called for some of the top employers in the nation to unionize.
"Almost a quarter of all jobs in America now pay wages below the poverty line for a family of four," wrote Reich. "The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 7 out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage -- like serving customers at big-box retailers and fast-food chains."
"Wealthy Americans," he continued, "would do better with smaller shares of a rapidly-growing economy than with the large shares they now possess of an economy that's barely moving."
As a result, they should "support public investments in education and job-training, a world-class infrastructure (transportation, water and sewage, energy, internet), and basic research -- all of which would make the American workforce more productive."
Hold on to your seats!
"If they were rational they'd even support labor unions."
That's right. In Reich's view, employers should support unions coming in and telling them how much they should pay their employees.
This is akin to Al Gore wanting more cars built, more oil drilled, and more coal mined.
But Reich wasn't done.
After discussing how union membership has plummeted in this country in recent years, Reich made a bold request.
"Walmart is a microcosm of the American economy," he said. "It has brazenly fought off unions. But it could easily afford to pay its workers more. It earned $16 billion last year. Much of that sum went to Walmart's shareholders, including the family of its founder, Sam Walton."
Like a good liberal, Reich bemoaned the fact that "the wealth of the Walton family now exceeds the wealth of the bottom 40 percent of American families combined."
In Reich's view, this is at risk due to the condition of today's economy.
"Walmart should be unionized. So should McDonalds. So should every major big-box retailer and fast-food outlet in the nation. So should every hospital in America."
So should every hospital in America.
Let's examine the sanity of this.
One of the biggest problems facing America today is spiraling healthcare costs. This undermines the economy because it reduces the amount of money the public has to spend on other items.
Beyond this, it increases the unfunded liability associated with Medicare and Medicaid thereby leading us towards spiraling, out of control budget deficits.
Yet Reich wants these costs to go up by having every hospital in the country unionize.
America's steel and auto industries almost became extinct in the '70s because of unions.
Yet decades later, Reich sees widespread unionization of America's top employers as making the nation more economically competitive and viable.
This is what's considered advanced economic thinking at MSNBC and wherever else Reich is invited to opine.
Scary, isn't it?