On Grant Street in Pittsburgh four gay men were talking about not selling out to corporate America. At around the same time, a 12-feet tall Statue of Liberty recently was seen floating down Liberty Avenue, complete with an intravenous drip in her arm. The message: America is sick! It was Pittsburgh's double convention weekend -- the National Convention of the Labor Party and the National Conference for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Movement.
Labor Party delegates, on top of parading a languishing Miss Liberty through town, demanded a world of three-day weekends, 32-hour workweeks, increased wages and benefits, bigger government, universal health care, fewer imports and mandatory pensions. Marx's theorizing notwithstanding, a mandate for less work at higher pay would simply undermine America's global competitiveness and produce greater inflation and unemployment, like the Italian or French models where taxes now take more than half of the average worker's paycheck and unemployment runs at four times the U.S. rate.
"How can labor be liberated," I asked one of the delegates, "by fewer jobs, higher taxes and more inflation?" Her answer. "We support a constitutional amendment that guarantees a job for everyone." How simple. Something like the former Soviet Union -- no unemployment, with everyone pretending to work and the government pretending to pay them. At the end of the day, unfortunately, economic reality hit's when there's nothing on the shelves, nothing to distribute but equal misery.
Michael Moore, anticapitalist filmmaker and a star at the Labor conference, spent much of his time apologizing to the conventioneers about his $1.27 million penthouse overlooking Central Park. Moore explained that he gives away half his money and still has the same wife. The penthouse, he confessed, buying the collectivist notion that it was anyone's business, "costs a boatload of money" because it's in Manhattan. By day's end, Moore had turned over $10,000 in royalties from his latest book to the Labor Party's education fund. The money, one assumes, will be spent to teach the next generation about the evils of individualism.
At the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Movement conference, sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, it was much the same workers-of-the-world-unite bravado. At the opening plenary session, hardy cheers greeted AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson's disapproval of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization. "They," she said, speaking of gays who dress too well and earn too much, "should be called Split-Level Republicans," not Log Cabin. …