Americans are accustomed to thinking of themselves as the freest people on Earth. Except that according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States stands at a dismal 9th in international rankings for economic liberty, embarrassingly behind social democracies like New Zealand (4th) and Canada (6th) and well behind Asian powerhouses Hong Kong and Singapore (first and second, respectively).

It is safe to say that these depressing stats would come as no surprise to the higher-ups at Boeing, who had the temerity to act as if they were a private company operating in a free market when they decided to relocate the company’s 787 Dreamliner assembly from Washington state to a new production facility in South Carolina.This new relationship was poised to be mutually beneficial — South Carolina would get about 1,000 new jobs, Boeing a less regulated, less unionized — read: cheaper — business climate in which to operate.

But the Obama administration has, through the NLRB, sided with the unions, in essence affirming Big Labor’s self-assumed right to blackmail and bankrupt private industry. The decision against Boeing (which the company is set to challenge in a June hearing) is indeed a dark and ominous sign:  As Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore poignantly put it in the Wall Street Journal, “It’s the first time a federal agency has intervened to tell an American company where it can and cannot operate a plant within the U.S.” It’s as if a government agent blocked your way while you were fleeing a mugger and ordered you to go back and hand over your wallet.

So it has, and only at the expense of liberty, economic growth, and common sense. So much for land of the free.

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