Andy Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., is Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary. Here’s what Mr. Puzder had to say last February in a speech to the Manhattan Institute’s Adam Smith Society.
My grandfather grew up impoverished in the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before World War I where a ruling class of aristocrats still controlled all economic benefits, where consumers’ desires were irrelevant if not disdained, and where the opportunity to improve your position was non-existent.Peasants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, between 1890 and 1900.
His future held little opportunity to be anything other than a peasant lucky to eke out a living as a serf beholden to a landed aristocrat. As a teenager, he left and came to America.
He died having fulfilled his dream of owning his own home and having two children with high school educations, small dreams by today’s standards. Huge dreams at the time.
His grandson, me, started his career scooping ice cream at Baskin and Robbins, saw no barriers to his dreams of a better future and became a lawyer who now runs an international corporation.
But for the economic opportunities of our free market economy, which drew my grandfather like a magnet to leave his home and his family for a better life while still a teenager, I’d probably be a bald and toothless farmer sitting on a porch in Slovakia today rather than a CEO addressing this great group of students.
There’s never been a nation or an economic system that offered millions of people like my grandfather the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and for their families; that opened the door to success solely based on the commitment to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay or where success was determined not by your birth but by your desire to work harder, longer or smarter than the next guy.