Greatness Agenda

Defending ‘New Europe’ from Old Europe’s Woke

In the name of “strengthening democracy” in Central Europe, Joe Biden’s clueless policies would undermine democracy and NATO, too.

All but ignored on this side of the Atlantic, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán recently summed up one of the presidential campaign’s most critical and least-discussed issues—U.S. support for the frontline NATO states of Hungary and Poland against political assaults from their allies and ours in the European Union. Our national security is at stake in the outcome.

“American Democrats [and] the American Left, together with the elites of Western Europe,” Mr. Orbán observed, are working to impose their “world vision, choice of values and concepts—including . . . views on families . . . migration . . . work . . . unemployment—on countries that have a different thinking.” He meant Hungary and Poland. 

These countries, he continued, have been targets of the European Union’s “liberal [in the radical woke sense] imperialism,” that is, the EU’s hostility to what Americans would call socially conservative and economically populist governments that are, as Americans are, jealous of their sovereignty.

The strength of the NATO Alliance will turn on America’s choice on this question. Does the United States support the corrosive assault by what might be called “Big Europe” (Germany, France, and Eurocrats in Brussels) on “New Europe” (Hungary, Poland, and the continent’s other nation-state supporters)? Or should we help build up New Europe’s economic robustness and sovereign vitality, so these countries remain full and vibrant partners—for both the EU and us—in defending the still-challenged frontiers of freedom?

And while differences on this question between congressional Republicans and Democrats are not as clear as Orbán believes, the line between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden could not be sharper.

On the one hand Trump himself has honored and supported the legitimacy of Central Europe’s sovereign dignity and national values throughout his term. His July 6, 2017 address in Poland set the tone. 

“A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe,” he said. In a clear reference to Brussels, President Trump added, “The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.” 

Later he continued, “if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak, and we will not survive. If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has. Let them come to Poland.”

Biden has adopted the opposite tone. On June 22, 2018, during a speech in Copenhagen titled “Democracy in an Age of Authoritarianism,” he dismissively grouped Poland and Hungary with “Putin’s Russia . . .  [and] the People’s Republic of China” in a blanket denunciation. It was an unbelievable moment. An aspiring president characterized two NATO allies as enemies in a new Cold War.

Woke Europe and woke America both know which side they are on. For the last five years, critics from Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post and the Atlantic to virtually every reporter at the New York Times have reflexively referred to the current Polish and Hungarian governments with terms like “dictatorial power” and “authoritarian-minded.” Those particular epithets were thrown at the Orbán government when the Hungarian parliament gave the prime minister the same authority to address the pandemic that every U.S. governor has received and that the parliament has since rescinded. They reflect the over-the-top denunciations typical of the global press when dealing with conservative and nationally centered governments, particularly those of Central Europe. 

My colleague, Anna Wellisz, has written of Europe’s “schizophrenic discomfort” with Poland and Hungary. Last spring, this psychosis degenerated into theater of the absurd when the Polish government was denounced in official Brussels and the EU media for not declaring a “state of emergency” to deal with the COVID-19 crisis even as the Hungarian government was equally denounced for declaring it. 

Of course, the real rub in Brussels was and is just as Orbán suggested. The Polish and Hungarian governments do not share the European Union’s position on immigration, family, and other hot button issues. 

Both countries have, as British commentator and current chair of Budapest’s Danube Institute John O’Sullivan has written, “open and vigorous debate” with media “chock-full of criticisms of the government.” Indeed, in Poland much of the broadcast and print media are in non-Polish hands and are harshly criticalof the government. 

And far from elections that are one-sided, in November last year the Polish opposition coalition won a single-vote majority in the upper chamber of the parliament. The month before in Hungary, the opposition scored major victories in mayoralty races, going into the voting with 9 of 47 mayors, coming out with 28.

According to the Washington Post, the key to the Hungarian opposition’s performance was not overcoming Orbán’s party, Fidesz, and its supposedly nefarious tricks. It was overcoming themselves. For the first time, the opposition parties had to put aside their squabbling rivalries and unite behind particular candidates

As any student of Central Europe knows, unity and cooperation are not natural to the region’s politics. For years now, opposition parties in Poland and Hungry have been blaming their own electoral failings on the supposed authoritarianism of their victorious rivals. Accepting these finger-pointing attempts to delegitimize the rightward turns of the two countries may serve the purposes of Eurocrats and defeated candidates for national office who seek senior-level employment in the halls of the EU and accolades from an allied media. It serves no American interest to fall for it. 

So, what should American policy to Hungary and Poland be over the next four years? I would answer, assist them in strengthening their independence. This comes down to three objectives: Energy security, military security, and political security.

Energy security means abundant access to oil and natural gas from places other than Russia. The Black Sea, the eastern Mediterranean, the North Sea: All claim plentiful reserves of much higher quality gas than does Russia. Pipelines should be built from each into Central Europe. It was a failure of vision and policy that this critical imperative went unnoticed until President Trump took office and called out Germany on the strategic implications of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Military security prioritizes the United States putting troops on permanent deployment into the region—a clear statement that what Russia did to Ukraine will not escalate or happen elsewhere. In June, President Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda agreed to add 1,000 troops to the 4,500 rotational NATO forces already there. Yet that these forces are rotational, living in temporary facilities on Polish military bases, suggests hesitation—an opportunity for Vladimir Putin to test our resolve. It is time to build a U.S. base.

Political security means signaling to countries resisting the EU’s authoritarian tendencies that they have viable alternatives. Completing a free trade deal with the Brexited United Kingdom would give that kind of signal.

In the name of strengthening democracy in Central Europe, Biden’s clueless policies would undermine democracy and NATO, too. President Trump has shown strength and sophistication in standing up to the worst tendencies of the Brussels Eurocracy and supporting Poland and Hungry on an issue in which American security is directly involved. 

Orbán understands this struggle and its stakes. We should, too.

Greatness Agenda

Duckworth’s Decimation of National Security

Senator Tammy Duckworth’s pursuit of political gain actually gives an unearned advantage to the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian governments by damaging the careers of the men and women we rely upon to protect the American people and our interests around the globe.

It has become a feature of the Democratic Party to intrude and interfere with national security issues for political gain.

They engage in leaking classified information, never fretting that the price is endangering intelligence collection. The recent accusations of the Russians paying bounties in Afghanistan are a prime example of putting party above country as is their willingness to downplay existential threats to the United States and fund terrorism states like Iran when it fits with their wackadoodle party goals.

They have demonstrated a reckless disregard for the protection of Americans and our national interests.

Now, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has made a decision that will further undermine our national security.

Duckworth had plans to put on hold the promotion of 1,123 career officers who require Senate confirmation. She was doing this as a form of political extortion to force the promotion of a Democrat political operative who testified during the impeachment hearings of President Trump: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Vindman was up for promotion to full colonel—but because he made false statements under oath during the hearings and leaked classified information, his promotion did not proceed and he has now announced his retirement.

Before the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment hearings, Vindman admitted leaking information to the anti-Trump whistleblower at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings—a CIA officer I’ve referred to as Eric “Cucamonga” (since his name has not been officially released). Vindman’s actions before, during, and after the impeachment hearings have come under official review.

This has displeased Senator Duckworth, and she has made it clear she will inflict punishment on innocent members of the military due to her displeasure.

Is this an appropriate course of action for a U.S. senator? To endanger national security and punish those who are due promotion in order to protect a political operative?

Duckworth, herself a former member of the military who lost both legs in combat, now intends to act like a Roman centurion and engage in a form of group punishment known as “decimation.” When a Roman legion failed to perform or fell into disfavor, they would be “decimated”—an act in which every tenth man was put to death.

In this case, Duckworth’s promotions freeze will murder the careers of these military professionals.

The freeze will upset secondary selection processes as well, such as selection boards for command, assignments to key positions that may lead to promotion, and more. Delaying these processes means derailing military moves and disrupting families. Deployment returns could be delayed, as could a family’s return from an overseas assignment. Career progression opportunities will be affected since key positions and opportunities require the military professional to be promotable in order to fulfill the role.

It is unrealistic to expect the military to hold positions open when select jobs are mission-critical and vital to national security. Disrupting the promotion process further disrupts military planning, resulting in assignment disruptions affecting not only military professionals but also their families. It becomes harder to procure adequate housing and schooling for children on a moment’s notice, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

At a time when we need to retain strong military talent, punishing the loyal members of the U.S. military sends the message that elected officials are merely using the military for their own political agenda. In other words, Duckworth will engage in the decimation of the careers of these military professionals as a means of political retribution against the Trump Administration.

Is this an appropriate course of action for a U.S. senator? To endanger national security and punish those who are due promotion in order to protect a political operative who lied under oath and engaged in borderline sedition?

We cannot forget the blood and sacrifice our military has made to protect our nation. Charlatan politicians who abandon their oath of office for purposes of political grandstanding do not deserve to hold high office.

In reality, Duckworth’s pursuit of political gain actually gives an unearned advantage to the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian governments by damaging the careers of the men and women we rely upon to protect the American people and our interests around the globe.

Duckworth has abandoned her oath to the Constitution and is no longer able to hold high office due to her emotional and partisan attempt to decimate the national security of the United States by using the military to try to gain a political advantage. Such behavior is a direct assault on the very foundations of our republic.

Greatness Agenda

Make the Inner City Great Again

The Democrats have been running the cities for decades.

Waching the Trump Administration’s reaction to the re-emergence of Black Lives Matter (it is amazing how these kinds of protests seem to wax, on schedule, every four years, isn’t it?), one gets the impression that it has been wrongfooted. The administration seems, at times, defensive, even paranoid, about charges of “racism.”

What is needed is a way to go back on offense. And President Trump, as we all know, is nothing if not good at taking the offense. What is needed, in other words, is a Greatness Agenda for America’s race problem. I suggest that such an agenda begin in the inner city. A “Make the Inner City Great Again” campaign. What could be more Trumpian?

First, President Trump can easily deflect the effort to associate him with overly aggressive, and even criminal actions by some policemen. He already has worked successfully on prison reform. He might mention that he took on the snobs and integrated Palm Beach. The same folks who didn’t like Donald from Queens didn’t want Jews or blacks in their clubs in Florida. Trump might say that he politely (or not so politely) told them where to go. That gives him something to build upon and brag about with regard to race, crime, and policing.

There is no reason why he could not take a similar path to reform qualified immunity from civil suits. As Glenn Reynolds likes to point out, “it’s a doctrine that judges literally made up out of thin air because they thought it was a good idea.” There’s no reason why it cannot be eliminated, but the reform can include some protection for our police from frivolous charges of abuse. (Maybe the latter can be part of a larger bill that makes it harder for the government and private citizens to make frivolous charges).

Appealing to the Black Working Class

Then there are the cities, particularly the inner cities.

In the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump famously went to Detroit and asked, “what do you have to lose?” Various memes around the web note just how long it has been in many of our big cities since there was a Republican mayor. In many cities it has been quite some time. Minnesota in general, and Minneapolis, in particular, has long been a Democratic stronghold. And race relations there are poor, and the black community is struggling. Is that a coincidence, he might ask? Ditto Chicago and Illinois, and Los Angeles and California. Trump can very easily and truthfully say, “judging by their policies, the Democratic Party wants you poor, unemployed, and unhappy, thinking you will blame it on Republicans and continue to vote for Democrats. I, on the other hand, want you to have a good job, and to grow rich and happy so that you vote for me.” 

This strategy offers Trump an opportunity to pick up votes. Trayvon Martin’s mother thinks that black communities in the United States need more, not fewer police. He can make common cause with her against the lunatic idea of abolishing the police. Martin’s mom also wants better standards for police, which is a cause that the president should join. The president might quote her.

Of course, Trump will never get the votes of black journalists, professors, and lawyers in any great number. But that does not mean he cannot appeal to the black working class, as he has to the working class generally, by focusing on their concerns, implicitly highlighting how their needs differ from those of the better-off members of America’s black community. 

If he’s really in a fighting mood, President Trump might note that Jesse Jackson was right when he called abortion “black genocide.” Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, he might note, once spoke at a Klan meeting, and ran something called the “Negro Project.” And nowadays, even though blacks are roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, over 35 percent of babies aborted each year are black babies. That’s almost 125,000 babies a year. Black lives matter! This is a moral outrage. 

Why do you think Southern Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton support Planned Parenthood? The WASP snobs who didn’t want an integrated country club in Florida support Planned Parenthood, and make support for it the price of entry into their circle. Remember Bill Clinton’s mentor, William Fulbright, signed the infamous “Southern Manifesto” and filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Should we be surprised that the Democratic governor of Virginia has been known to wear blackface? Or was he the guy in the Klan robe? He “doesn’t remember.” Why do all these Democrats support more and more funding for Planned Parenthood? It’s a mystery . . .

Free the Working Class!

President Trump can easily add his deregulatory agenda, particularly he should add reforms to regulations surrounding licensing which currently keep entrepreneurial blacks blocked from many professions that might make them financially secure and independent. He could easily tell some stories, in a Reaganesque manner, about the absurdities of our current licensing regime, to concentrate the issue, and to show why this agenda helps all of America’s poor and working-class, regardless of race, noting that it’s the Democrats who have always wanted to divide Americans by race.

But to return to the cities, particularly, President Trump might discuss the differences between the New York in which he grew up and the New York of today. Formerly, New York City was a great manufacturing hub, one of many in the United States. In his youth, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was still building big, beautiful ships. But, partly due to Democrat-imposed regulatory and tax policies, New York City is no longer a major manufacturing center. They have a mixed record, but President Trump might mention “enterprise zones.” Done right, with real regulatory relief, they might work out fairly well, and connect with his efforts to return manufacturing jobs to the United States. 

He might note that the reason why the U.S. economy was in such great shape before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and why the economic hit has not been as bad as it might have been, is that his deregulatory regime works. “Free the working class” is not a bad slogan. The Democrats, in contrast, were happy to put black people out of work during the COVID-19 crisis. They know that people without jobs are more likely to vote for them.

President Trump also might mention school choice. The same Democrats who run our cities run our schools. And once again the same party regularly fails the black community. Sure they provide jobs for teachers and social workers, but are the kids really learning? President Trump can single out an American hero to highlight the issue, praising school choice pioneers like Polly Williams, the African-American leader in Milwaukee who led the drive for school choice there. The Democrats are in the pocket of the teachers’ unions. They have a partisan interest in jobs and tenure for mediocre teachers. Judging by the results, they have little real interest in actually improving inner-city schools.

Why Immigration Matters

Finally, there is immigration. He might remind everyone that Bernie Sanders was right. Open borders is a “Koch Brothers’ proposal.” Similarly, perhaps in a speech in Los Angeles, he might remind everyone that Cesar Chavez recognized that illegal immigration was bad for American workers and opposed it. If it was bad for his fellow Hispanic workers, it is also bad for America’s black workers—who have already suffered so much from the decisions of white progressives—in the cities and elsewhere over the years. 

America should welcome and assimilate immigrants. But any democratic republic has a right, even a duty, to decide just how many immigrants should join us each year. Unfortunately, for decades we seem to have had a political class that has been indifferent to democracy.

Of course, it’s easy to sympathize with people who struggle to get to America. Who wouldn’t want to live here? But we limit immigration by law for a reason. We cannot allow the whole world to come here. It’s the job of a nation to take care of its own citizens first if we want to remain a place that is worthy of the admiration that brings so many people here.

To our shame, America has not done right by black Americans with its immigration, regulatory, and trade policies. President Trump ought to explain why he’s the man to change that. Opening the economy of the inner cities to create jobs is the Trumpian way forward. Make the inner city a big, beautiful, vibrant marketplace. 

They say he’s a racist. They say he doesn’t care. But the Democrats have been running the cities for decades and have not helped. The Greatness Agenda is the path forward for the inner cities, toward an America that is truly great—great for all citizens, black, white, or of whatever race.

In short, the best way out is through. The way forward for President Trump is to weigh in on America’s historic race problems, focusing on the way Progressives have betrayed the victims of slavery and Jim Crow, and noting that his way, in fact, is the way of moral progress.

Greatness Agenda

How Beijing Buys Influence

The Chinese Communist Party is adept at peeling off allies. It exploits the weaknesses of its targets to enlist them in its cause.

The Chinese Communist Party is waging information warfare to shape American public opinion and influence our economic and government policy to their benefit.

The CCP doesn’t shape public opinion by buying billboards and TV ads. That kind of persuasion is far too American for them.

Instead, they co-opt our leaders and buy entire companies.

China’s methods are more sophisticated and insidious than simply passing off envelopes stuffed with cash to American agents of influence. Often, the agents don’t even know they’ve been recruited.

The CCP manipulates the self-interest of its targets, making them unwitting recruits.

Rarely do you hear one of these influencers say, “That Communist Party of China sure is great—we ought to let it run the show! Everyone get on board!”

Instead, they’ll say something along the lines of “doing business with the CCP is good ol’ free market capitalism,” or “we need a peaceful and harmonious world,” or “this is what any reasonable person would advocate.”

But everything they say and do—or don’t say and don’t do—advances the aims of the CCP.

Some of these influencers have a vested interest in the status quo.

Disney, the parent company of ABC News, owns a theme park and distributes films in the People’s Republic. Ditto NBC (Universal theme park/studio), CBS (Paramount Studios), and CNN (Warner Brothers theme parks and studio). Hollywood needs permission from China’s government to distribute its movies, so it gives the Communists in Beijing the “final cut.”

For decades, American businesses in China have been declining to speak up even when the CCP hacked their computers, stole blueprints, and produced knock-offs of their own products. Not only did they not file complaints against trade law violations, but they also went further and advocated continuing the same lopsided dysfunctional relationship that has empowered Beijing. They feared offending the regime that had absolute control over their business in China. They knew China could withhold or revoke permits, impose restrictions, and even confiscate their factories.

Wall Street financiers earn billions doing business with China’s Communist government. Beijing has given billions of dollars to Bridgewater Capital, a private equity fund run by Ray Dalio. Naturally, you will often see Dalio on TV telling us all how China’s Communist system is superior to our own. 

Hank Paulson headed Goldman Sachs when he wasn’t U.S. Treasury Secretary. He and his fellow Wall Street bankers have been reliable partners in advancing the Chinese Communist Party line promoting globalism-über-alles. Wall Street is in it for the money and they either don’t realize or don’t care that they’re selling out the United States. Commerce has weakened their spirit of patriotism.

Wall Street has pushed hard to invest American pension and index funds in Chinese government-controlled companies. This not only shovels money to the dictators, but it also threatens to turn millions of ordinary Americans into Chinese agents of influence as they will be loath to stand up to the CCP lest their pensions and stock portfolios be endangered.

Beijing has directly paid McKinsey & Company management consultants, and McKinsey in turn tells its clients—including top companies and politicians—what a great and responsible business partner the CCP is. 

Then there’s the import lobby. Everyone from Walmart and the Footwear and Apparel Association (really the footwear and apparel importers association) to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable depend on cheap imports from China. They lobby against tariffs on China, which coincidentally, is exactly what the CCP wants them to do. Note that many newspapers depend on advertising revenue from these importers and the retailers who carry their goods.

When these vested interests say it’s in “the national interest” for us to continue down the current path with China, they mean it’s in their own business interest.

The Chinese Communist Party understands the corrupting influence of foreign business entanglements. Financial journalist and author Eamonn Fingleton explains how the Chinese empire threw itself open to foreign capital in the 19th century.

“The foreign investors formed alliances with the local elites, who in effect became lobbyists for the foreign capital. Foreign money quickly suffused government and largely disabled independent policymaking. Soon the local elites came to identify with the foreigners,” he writes.

The Chinese Communists learned from that history and now run the same play, only in reverse. They bought American elites and use them as their lobbyists in Washington. The elites have come to identify their interests with the CCP’s interests. American businesses became Beijing’s apologists and lobbyists.

The CCP uses this same tactic around the world. 

Germany, France, and Great Britain also have global corporations eager to drink from the river of CCP money. The European Union and Germany have been largely silent as Beijing crushes Hong Kong. Diplomats in Brussels and Berlin took their cue from corporations that don’t want to disrupt business with Beijing.

Remember this the next time you hear “we can’t go it alone, we must work with our allies” to take on China.

The CCP is adept at peeling off allies. It exploits the weaknesses of its targets to enlist them in its cause.

Businessmen like money, so Beijing offers lucrative commercial opportunities. Politicians need money, so the CCP has campaign donors to work its will on our political leaders. Policymakers need to believe they are big thinkers and strategic masterminds, so the CCP cloaks its nationalist agenda in the language of “globalization,” “globalism,” and “a post-national future.” Reporters are susceptible to groupthink and conventional wisdom. They self-censor in their intellectual insecurity and suck up to their powerful sources on Wall Street and in Washington, so the CCP plays to these weaknesses.

The CCP corrupts everything and everyone it touches—in our culture, in our economy, and in our government.

Great America

Munchausen Nation

How do we go forward? By defeating the MEET Complex, silencing those who have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy—which is itself a form of abuse—and promoting people who reject Munchausen Syndrome.

Like most of us, I have been riveted while watching the United States of America have a mental breakdown in front of the rest of the civilized world. 

I imagine all the neoconservatives who bleated about American Exceptionalism as a pretext to export our own pathologies abroad must be scratching their heads; and I am not shocked to see our enemies in Beijing and Tehran watching this sorry fiasco with rapt glee. What we are witnessing is the result of what I have called the MEET Complex” (media, education, entertainment, and tech) turning out millions of people with Munchausen Syndrome and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. These largely leftist-dominated institutions are turning the United States of America into Munchausen Nation: a nation of codependent victims and enablers.

The University of Michigan School of Medicine defines Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, as follows, “Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in (another) person under his or her care…Because vulnerable people are the victims, MSBP is a form of…abuse.” The second disorder, Munchausen Syndrome is defined as “a mental health disorder in which a person intentionally produces physical or psychological symptoms of illness.” In other words, people with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy convince others that they are sick and in need of help; people with Munchausen Syndrome are convinced that they themselves, indeed, are sick and act out to prove it.

This relationship, between those who convince others that they are suffering some malady and those who are convinced that they are as a point of fact, plays out over and over in America’s version of leftist identity politics.

Our elite, leftist-dominated institutions in media, education, entertainment and tech have made it their job to convince everyone in America that the United States is a fundamentally racist, sexist, bigoted country that is irredeemably built upon a foundation of oppressing people. People belong either to victim castes or oppressor castes. Our opinion and narrative generators in the MEET Complex make sure to pump out a steady stream of articles, news reports, books, classroom curricula, movies, songs, online streaming shows, and goosed online search results that build and reinforce this Manichean worldview. 

For those “victims” who submit to the narrative, what is the result? Munchausen Syndrome. Those who are defined as “historically marginalized” (blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, single parents, cohabitators) are perpetually marginalized by this narrative. Those who accept that they are subjugated minorities become convinced that they are held back by “systemic racism” or “structural inequality” or “systems of oppression.” The MEET Complex tells these converts to the progressive liberal religion that the cure to their ailments can only be achieved by becoming activists or community organizers, demanding legislative fixes, confiscatory taxes, affirmative action, and so on.

For those “oppressors” who submit to the narrative, what is the result? Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Those who accept their mantle “oppressors” (whites, men, heterosexuals, married parents, able-bodied people) become enablers whose only role is to “be an ally,” which means cravenly and without reservation supporting any and all statements and policy prescriptions put forth by the most radical of the activists. 

Right now that means supporting the abolition of policing in the United States. In 2018, it meant destroying Brett Kavanaugh and #BelieveAllWomen. In 2019, it meant believing that Nicholas Sandmann was a racist teenage white boy bullying a hapless Native American elder and calling for him to be doxxed and destroyed. The only acceptable “oppressor” is a servile and obedient one. If it means creating kangaroo courts on college campuses to try young men for assault with no due process, we had better support it—hence Obama’s Dear Colleague Letter in 2011 creating just that, and ruining countless students’ lives in the process. If it means pulling down statues commemorating our ancestors, we had better submit—hence the rush to pull down any and all monuments commemorating prominent historical white men today.

Every time an uncomfortable or tragic interaction between a member of the victim caste and the oppressor caste occurs, the same trite, boring and altogether predictable and ritualistic sequence of events begins. Members of the “victim caste,” infected by the MEET Complex with Munchausen Syndrome proclaim that they are being “disproportionately oppressed.” Members of the “oppressor caste,” convinced by the MEET Complex that they are complicit, loudly proclaim that they support whatever demands the “oppressed” put forth. 

At the same time, both “the marginalized activists” and the “privileged allies” combine to out and destroy those who refuse to accept the narrative or the policy prescriptions put forth by the activists and allies. Ergo the “canceling” of Bret Weinstein or Christina Hoff Summers. The “oppressors” and the “oppressed,” when they convert to the progressive liberal religion, become codependent, feeding on each other’s pathologies. Our current situation is no different.

But here is the problem: How do you convince those with Munchausen Syndrome that they are not sick, that systemic racism, sexism, and all the other -isms that the progressive Left diagnoses are fraudulent? We are living in an era where explicit discrimination against women, blacks, and countless other groups is against the law and countless demographic groups who are “victims” make more money than their supposed “oppressors.” Yet the duped adherents of progressive liberalism think we aren’t very far removed in terms of race relations from 1930s Mississippi or in terms of sex from 1600s Salem. 

How do we reverse this faulty perception and not placate it? Especially when there are plenty of high status “allies” (oppressors) who are taught and have come to believe that their identity requires them to engage in Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy by affirming or even promoting the belief that these diseases are real and prevalent.

How do we go forward? By defeating the MEET Complex, silencing those who have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy—which is itself a form of abuse—and promoting people who reject Munchausen Syndrome.

To do this we must first delegitimize and undermine the MEET Complex. We ought to attack it for its contradictions. We ought to portray it as an illegitimate set of institutions, unelected, unaccountable, pernicious, and contrary to American values. These institutions have done untold damage to this nation and they are dead set on making the country unliveable for all of us. 

Meanwhile, its richest paragons, professors, media executives, movie producers, and tech bros live behind gates with armed guards. We ought to isolate the MEET Complex by continually pointing out that it is largely a monoculture with a strictly defined yet blatantly hypocritical view of which thoughts are and are not acceptable. Indeed, the MEET Complex is the primary engine that creates those who have both Munchausen Syndrome and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. It deserves to be marginalized for its altogether nefarious and negative influence on American social and political life.

We also ought to focus on undermining and isolating those who have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. These people are abusers. These insulting personages, who encourage others to believe that they are oppressed when they are not, deserve all the opprobrium that we can heap on them. They are nothing but unhealthy enablers in a codependent relationship. We don’t need any more male feminists (Cuttlefish) or white saviors (White Knights). The easiest way to rid ourselves of these nefarious persons is to demand that they submit to their own rules.

“Are you a ‘male feminist’ who is on a Corporate Board?”

“Step down and appoint a qualified woman to take your job. Now. Make a statement after you do it, not before.”

“Are you a white liberal running for Congress?”

“Drop out and support a qualified ‘person of color.’ Now. Make a statement after you do it, not before.”

I can think of no better strategy than to force those with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy to play by the rules they say they believe in. Constantly.

At the same time, the Republican Party ought to bring in and promote people from the “oppressed castes” who both reject Munchausen Syndrome and believe in Americanism. Such brave and outspoken individuals deserve our admiration and support for refusing to take the seductive blue pill the MEET Complex throws at them from the moment they enter kindergarten. Those who have the fortitude to resist the lies of the MEET Complex constantly reinforced throughout their lives, through the mainstream media, through the university, through Hollywood, through pop music, and through the left-leaning internet material, which is collated and curated by the tech industry, deserve all the admiration in the world.

This is our task. We have a country to win back from mentally ill vandals suffering from Munchausen and a nation to build up from degradation and falsehoods. Let’s go!

Greatness Agenda

What Cato Doesn’t Tell You About the Jones Act

While we recover from the coronavirus shutdowns, the last thing we need is to shift more American jobs to China by repealing the Jones Act.

Good people still make bad mistakes.

One example is the Cato Institute’s attacks upon the Jones Act. The libertarian think tank should be appreciated for some other efforts, but not for its strident campaign to let foreign interests take over water transportation within the United States.

Last week, the Jones Act turned 100 years old. While it has served America well, it has come under repeated attack by those who forget its purpose.

The century-old Jones Act continues policies that trace back to the founding of America. It requires that internal trade between American ports should use vessels that are mostly American-owned, built in America, and mostly crewed by Americans. The Jones Act does not apply, however, to international trade that moves between a U.S. port and a foreign port.

Worldwide, many nations apply similar policies for domestic transport.

Cato claims some domestic shipping costs might be lower, short-term at least, if we invited in foreign interests. But the Jones Act is about national security, not about money. Even Cato’s hero, the Scottish economist so dearly loved by early Americans, Adam Smith, recognized that a country does not benefit if its trade is outsourced to other countries.

If Cato succeeded in repealing our Jones Act, one nation that could jump big-time into our domestic trade is China. China is aggressively pursuing a chokehold on maritime trade because 90 percent of global trade goes by ship. Control of the seas is key both to economic and military control.

China’s global “Belt and Road Initiative” injects it into transportation and infrastructure of 138 countries, a companion to its “Made-in-China 2025” plan. Thanks to enormous government subsidies, China builds far more ocean-going ships than any other country—almost 1,300 a year compared to only eight a year in the United States.

China has purchased control of major cargo ports on every continent except Antarctica, often including military bases as well. China links its businesses with its People’s Liberation Army. The Communist regime in Beijing uses forced labor and spends unlimited money toward these goals.

But the Jones Act stops them from doing within the United States what China is doing around the globe. They’re developing dominance within the 41,000-ship global fleet of ocean-going merchant ships. Without the Jones Act, they could also expand among the other 40,000 vessels (ships, barges, tugs, etc.) which handle America’s internal trade along our riverways, intracoastal canals, and between American ports.

China also pursues what Forbes called “China’s Seaport Shopping Spree” worldwide. They even acquired major facilities in the Port of Long Beach, California, until President Trump forced them to divest it, with a sales price of $1.8 billion.

China has declared shipbuilding and maritime trade as critical strategic interests. The United States has not given shipbuilding a similar priority.

But instead of recognizing that the Jones Act thwarts China, the Cato Institute distorts common sense by claiming that somehow this law benefits China instead of the United States. That makes as much sense as calling their Great Wall nothing but a little picket fence.

The Jones Act is part of a consistent and important U.S. policy. Our aviation laws contain similar restrictions, requiring passenger and freight flights within the United States to be on domestic airlines. Foreign air carriers like China Southern, Lufthansa, Air France, British Air, etc., are allowed only to fly between a U.S. city and a foreign city.

Likewise, our defense and national security laws follow this America First policy through “Buy American” requirements that are based on security needs and to maintain our critical industries.

America’s values are protected by economic strength as well as by military strength. The problem with unbridled libertarianism is that it makes no moral distinction between sustaining a democratic republic or enabling a totalitarian regime.

We learned the hard way that relying on cheap imports was hollowing out America’s economy and manufacturing sector. And while we recover from the coronavirus shutdowns, the last thing we need is to shift more American jobs to China by repealing the Jones Act.

Sorry, Cato, but please focus on better ideas instead of this one.

Greatness Agenda

How to Hold China Accountable: Build Our Own Stuff

Saying “we need to collaborate with China” sounds a lot like, “let’s keep on kissing Xi’s ass.”

It’s starting to happen.”

That’s what Brad Parscale said around 8 p.m. to the family and inner circle on the 14th floor of Trump Tower on November 8, 2016, as we were watching election returns trickle in from North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Parscale’s words came back to me with the news this week the Trump Administration awarded a $354 million contract to a private company to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients in Richmond, Virginia.

It’s starting to happen—global supply chains are coming back to America.

The company, Phlow Corporation, will be making drugs used to treat COVID-19. They will be stored in a strategic stockpile of pharmaceutical ingredients to be used in the event of drug shortages or an emergency.

Those drugs, like so many others, are now made overseas, mostly in China and India. China is the world’s main supplier of the active ingredients used in many common drugs from vitamin C to aspirin.

China produces 90 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for essential medicines used in serious coronavirus infections, according to Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx. Sedatives, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and medicines to raise blood pressure are among the medications.

The administration killed two birds with one stone by awarding the contract to this upstart company.

The first is ending America’s dangerous dependency on Communist China for essential medicines. The second is breaking up the pharmaceutical oligarchy whose single-minded pursuit of profits led us to our foreign drug dependency in the first place.

The trade association of generic drugmakers attacked White House trade and manufacturing czar Peter Navarro when he first advanced a plan for bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.

They clutched their precious global supply chains like pearls, falsely claiming that rearranging those chains would spike drug prices, forcing Americans to eat cat food in order to afford their meds.

In fact, “global supply chains” are the end-product of a global monopoly.

Chinese pharmaceutical companies formed a cartel that sold essential products below-market prices on the global market and drove all U.S., European, and Indian producers out of business. Once the Chinese gained the dominant global market share, prices increased. American generic drug makers are happy to import active ingredients from abroad rather than make them.

“There are not a lot of people wanting to bring back generic medicine manufacturing to the United States that has been lost to India and China over decades,” Dr. Eric Edwards, the chief executive of Phlow Corporation, told the New York Times.

In standing up a competitor to the existing generic drug companies, the White House is following the strategy the federal government used to turn America into the arsenal of democracy that won World War II.

In that earlier global conflict, aluminum was essential to the war effort. But it was controlled by an international cartel led by Alcoa, itself a monopoly. When Alcoa refused to increase production to the level needed to build 50,000 airplanes, the federal government lent millions to an upstart in the aluminum foil business named Richard Reynolds. That gave Reynolds’ company the boost it needed to make more than tin foil and it gave America the planes it needed to win the war.

President Trump was wise to ignore the pharma oligarchs clinging to their global supply chains. He followed his instincts and the wishes of the American people.

The same day Navarro was announcing the historic contract to rebuild a truly American pharmaceutical industry, Bloomberg News released a poll showing, yet again, how hungry Americans are to bring manufacturing back to the United States, whatever the cost.

An overwhelming 86 percent of respondents said the United States relies too heavily on foreign supply chains. In addition, the poll found:

  • 40 percent said they won’t buy products from China.
  • 55 percent don’t think China can be trusted to follow through on its trade-deal commitments signed in January to buy more U.S. products.
  • 66 percent favor raising import restrictions over the pursuit of free-trade deals as a better way to boost the U.S. economy.
  • 78 percent would be willing to pay more for products if the company that made them moved manufacturing out of China.

These findings confirm other surveys. A Harris poll found 86 percent of Americans approve or strongly approve of companies that promise to move their manufacturing out of China and back to the United States. Pew Research Center found more than 7-in-10 Americans don’t trust Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, a record disapproval for the Red dictator.

The globalists over at Bloomberg are shocked to find a supermajority of Americans supports protecting domestic industries. Chad Bown from the free-trade-über-alles Peterson Institute for International Economics tried to explain the polls away by essentially accusing Americans of being racists, xenophobes, xylophones, or something.

“Foreigners are an all too easy political target in normal times,” Bown told Bloomberg. “But once they become unpopular, politics can turn dangerous.”

In reality, Americans know they were sold a bill of goods by smarty-pants “moderates” like Bown. It’s really not that difficult to understand: China took our jobs and all we got was a virus that canceled Easter and killed grandma. Saying “we need to collaborate with China” sounds a lot like, “let’s keep on kissing Xi’s ass.”

Supermajorities of Americans are saying no thanks, here’s what we’re going to do instead: We’ll build our own stuff, keep our jobs, and keep our money. That’s how we’ll hold China accountable.

And it’s starting to happen.

Greatness Agenda

COVID-19 Proves America Needs Economic Nationalism

The only way for America to be truly prepared for the unknown is for it to be economically independent—to produce enough of everything to survive a global shortage of anything.

Reports of a deadly new virus began trickling out of China in December. The infection spread rapidly. By March 12, the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a global pandemic. The next day President Trump declared COVID-19 a “national emergency” that would require the “full power of the federal government” to handle.

Many assumed this meant building temporary hospitals to care for COVID-19 patients. Others thought the government would provide local authorities with emergency medical supplies. Some imagined we would develop a vaccine.

Instead, the government shut down the economy and forced Americans to “social distance”—destroying more than 36 million jobs and at least $2 trillion in economic output—while it scrambled to buy basic medical equipment from China, of all places.

At the behest of academics, bankers, and “conservative” pundits like Ben Shapiro and Bill Kristol, America has offshored the bulk of its manufacturing industry to countries like China, Japan, and Mexico—countries that do not put America first. This has made America vulnerable to the biological, political, and economic contagions emanating from less developed parts of the world.

The American people will not be safe until we embrace the wisdom of tariffs—as did our Founding Fathers—and bring our factories back home.

If Ymir Were Hollow

In World War II, America produced the gauze, iodine, and syringes that allowed allied troops to soldier on in the face of bloodshed and broken bones. Times have changed. Today, America cannot produce the basic medical supplies it needs to fight COVID-19.

Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services secretary, told the House Appropriations Committee that America needs 25 times more masks than it currently has stockpiled.

Worse still, it turns out that America cannot even manufacture the masks it needs because most of the factories are in China. Evidently, it will take years for domestic mask-makers to fulfill the order placed by America’s Strategic National Stockpile. Until then we are at China’s mercy.

This problem is not limited to masks. America imports other basic supplies like syringes and latex gloves. Even more embarrassing is the fact that we are relying on hand-me-down ventilators, many of which were donated by China, to keep the sick alive. American lives are in Chinese hands.

Offshoring poses a massive health and security risk to the American people. Consider what would happen if China were to suffer another outbreak of COVID-19, and refused to export medical equipment. American physicians will be without masks. Patients without ventilators. People would die—all in the name of economic “efficiency.”

Suppose that China continued exporting masks in this scenario. Do you think they would sell them for cheap? Or will they price-gouge us like the despicable hucksters selling their toilet paper hoards in New York City? My money is on the latter.

Medical supplies are just the tip of this iceberg. 

While it is no secret that America imports a large portion of its material wealth from foreign nations—particularly China—most shrug it off. After all, they say we import little more than “cheap plastic junk.” This could not be further from the truth.

In fact, America is a net importer of advanced technology products—computers, medical supplies, sophisticated machinery—upon which our civilization depends. Without imports, America quickly (if temporarily) would become a Third World nation populated by farmers and unemployed designers. A quick look at America’s trade profile with China makes this clear:

In 1986, more than 53 percent of our imports from China were articles of clothing or fabric. Additionally, about 20 percent of our imports were raw materials such as seafood, oil, and exotic fruits. Conversely, America exported technologically sophisticated products: 31 percent of our exports to China were machinery, 13 percent were electronic goods, and 11 percent were aircraft.

Given the above data, one reasonably could assume that the United States was the more advanced and prosperous economy. They would have been right.

Today, this situation is reversed. In 2016, garments and textiles constituted less than 15 percent of our imports from China. Raw materials, under 2 percent. Instead, electronics constituted 42 percent of our imports while machinery made up another 15 percent. Meanwhile, more than 25 percent of our exports to China were raw or lightly-refined materials like cereals, vegetable oils, and minerals.

Based on this more recent data, one could be forgiven for believing that China was a developed nation while America was an agrarian basket-case. If these trends continue then this indeed could be America’s future.

After all, how can we sustain our way of life when it is literally made in China? How can we build a future when we are busy buying it?

Denying China Leverage

On a more practical note, America’s dependence on China is a problem because it gives China tremendous political leverage over America. For example, if China wants to influence an American election, or nudge policy in a particular direction, it simply needs to disrupt the flow of trendy consumer goods, and the mainstream media will knuckle under.

For proof, skeptics need only recall the enormous influence that Saudi Arabia has wielded in American foreign policy over the last 50 years. All of this was due to the simple fact that the Saudis produced oil and America needed oil. 

Today, China produces everything and America needs everything. China’s level of influence—if not control—will be proportional to its leverage. 

This should chill the heart of every red-blooded American patriot.

Finally, imagine what would happen if America were to enter into a cold or—God forbid—hot war with China. What happens? Presumably, we will need to scale-up our industrial production to build more uniforms, missiles, ships, etc. There’s just one problem: scaling-up is not possible. Why?

In order to manufacture more weapons, America would first need to build more factories. America, however, imports almost all of its industrial components and machine tools. That is, we don’t even manufacture the things we need in order to manufacture more things

America’s economy is unable to replicate its own complexity. It is sterile. It is dead.

Today, America is in danger because it cannot produce enough medical masks. Tomorrow, it may be in danger because it cannot produce enough computers, steel rebar, or aircraft engines. No one knows.

The only thing we know for certain is that the future is uncertain. The only way for America to be truly prepared for the unknown is for it to be economically independent—to produce enough of everything to survive a global shortage of anything. This can only be done by imposing tariffs and bringing the factories back home. If not, COVID-19 will be the least of our worries.

Greatness Agenda

China’s Electrifying Rags-to-Riches Ascent . . . at America’s Expense

The stunning rise could never have occurred without assistance from four U.S. presidents who stood by and clapped as the communist nation ate America’s lunch.

A friend of mine who traveled China from the 1970s until recently described what the country was like 30 years ago:

Its cities were sprawling, impoverished places with dirt roads and low-rise structures. With few automobiles in the country back then, the Chinese people got around mostly by rickshaws and bicycles. The country had only a few tall buildings and just two sizable airports, in Beijing, its capital, and Shanghai, its financial center. China had no modern highways, bridges or high-speed rails, and the only trains that traversed the country were pulled by antiquated steam engines.

To get an idea of how much things have changed, please watch this 40-second clip of the Chinese city where COVID-19 originated. As the video shows, Wuhan bears no resemblance to the backward, desperately poor place it was just three decades ago. The same is true of cities throughout China.

Over the past 30 years, China has undergone a stupendous, caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation that has created some of the world’s most eye-popping roadways, bridges and architecture. Now within sight of overtaking the United States as the world’s dominant economy, China has also built a massively lethal military that poses a serious threat to America’s long-standing combat superiority—as reported by the Washington Times, China’s military is forcing the Pentagon to confront the end of U.S. battlefield dominance.

How Did This Happen?

From where did the money come that funded China’s dramatic makeover from a Third World backwater to an economic and military superpower? Trillions of dollars used to finance its spectacular ascendancy was handed willingly over by its greatest patron: the United States of America.

Since the late 1980s, China has been allowed—allowed—to extract trillions of dollars from the U.S. economy in the form of massive trade surpluses. As a result, the communist nation now has glistening cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan, while America is saddled with fading cities like Baltimore, Detroit, and Atlanta, once-thriving metropolises now marred by urban blight, rampant crime, sorry schools, generational poverty and other canaries in the coal mine of a nation in decline.

And to rub salt in America’s self-inflicted wounds, Chinese nationals who were allowed—allowed—to attend our top research universities and work at our most sensitive high-tech companies robbed America blind, surreptitiously sending many of our nation’s most vital technological and national defense secrets to our communist adversary hell-bent on chopping America off at the knees.

During the presidencies of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, China was allowed—allowed—to rip America a new one in what will go down as the most lopsided trade and stolen technology bludgeoning in history.

But don’t blame China for the trade imbalances. Its leaders were just doing what a nation’s leaders are expected to do: negotiate the best deal they could get. If the country on the other side of the table is willing to absorb an epic thrashing in the process, so much the better. And the voluntary thrashing America took lasted 28 consecutive years, from 1989 to 2017, a period when much of America’s manufacturing base was allowed—allowed—to sell-out its workers by offshoring production to China.

With America’s worn-out infrastructure badly in need of replacement, our political class instead ran up crushing debt and deficits, squandering trillions of dollars stolen from future generations on endless foreign wars and failed social programs. Meanwhile, China was using its trade-surplus windfall and stolen technology to build some of the world’s most impressive cities and a fearsome military.

In 2017, the United States began a strategic shift in its approach to China. Unless its relationship with the communist superpower is redefined, America’s days in the sun will be over, and the 21st century will be known as the “Chinese Century.”

Videos You Do Not Want to Miss

Below are nine related videos, each a visual reminder that China’s stunning rise at America’s expense could never have occurred without assistance from the four U.S. presidents who stood by and clapped as the Communist nation ate America’s lunch.

Viewing the videos will take a while, but doing so will help you see with your own eyes that while America was inching along on its hands and knees, a house of cards propped up by ruinous debt, China was making a great leap forward for the ages.

  • Click here to see China’s stunning road network. In 1988, China had zero modern highways; today, its world-class road network extends an astounding 84,000 miles, the longest road system in the world.
  • Click here to see China’s magnificent Beipanjiang Bridge, the highest bridge in the world. Of the world’s ten tallest bridges, eight are in China, zero in America.
  • Click here to see China’s incomparable Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the longest ocean crossing in the world. Designed to last 120 years, the $15 billion bridge-tunnel structure is a testament to China’s engineering might.
  • Click here to see China’s jaw-dropping 9-tower “horizontal skyscraper” in Chongqing. Known as “The Crystal,” the complex’s horizontal sky bridge straddles four 60-story skyscrapers, 820 feet in the air. Built at a cost of $3.6 billion, the mixed-use megastructure has a shopping mall with 450 stores. Is there anything like this in America? Of the world’s 25 tallest skyscrapers, 14 are in China, only two in the United States.
  • Click here to see a dynamic chart of China’s meteoric ascendancy to the world’s No. 2 economy.
  • Click here to see China’s stupendous Beijing Daxing International Airport. The world’s largest airport, Daxing can handle up to 250 takeoffs and landings per hour. By comparison, America’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, accommodates just 100 total movements per hour. Business Insider’s 2018 list of the 14 most beautiful airports in the world includes three in China, zero in the United States.
  • Click here to see how the U.S. auto industry was allowed—allowed—to sell-out its workers by offshoring jobs to China and other countries with dirt-cheap labor, a betrayal that determined the 2016 presidential election.
  • Click here to see China’s most powerful weapons, including nuclear-armed ICBMs that could reach the United States in 30 minutes. Three decades ago, China’s military was primarily land-based; today, it boasts a 2-million-man army, a blue-water navy, the world’s third-largest air force, and advanced cyber and anti-satellite weaponry that could be the deciding factor in a war against America.
  • Click here to see Chinese female soldiers on dress parade, as impressive a display of military precision you’ll likely ever see.

Finally, my friend believes America’s best days are behind it. Having done business throughout China, he observed that Chinese workers are intensely proud of their country, eagerly working as tirelessly as a colony of ants toward a common goal of national ascendancy.

America once was blessed with widespread patriotism, but over the last half-century, it has been polarized into two camps with diametrically opposite objectives. One side believes America should continue as a two-party constitutional democracy, the other wants that system scrapped in favor of single-party socialist rule.

No matter which of those hardened positions gains ground in November, half of America will continue working at cross purposes with the other half. A country at irreconcilable odds with itself is not a recipe for national ascendancy; it’s a recipe for national decline. The winner? China.

Greatness Agenda

Who Invited The World To Infect America?

Hate the Chinese government if you wish, but hold your own government responsible for hollowing America out like a husk.

On March 31, the number of Americans dead from the Chinese coronavirus stood at 3,900! A mere month on, at the time of writing, and 63,801 Americans have perished.

American deaths by COVID-19 account for a quarter of the world’s, including those in the undeveloped world. To ignore this Third-World-like specter is to dismiss the dead and the dying. It’s tantamount to cancel culture.

China sucks. But if the United States must rely on the Chinese government to keep its citizens safe, then what kind of a Mickey Mouse country are we?

If the American people can be convinced by their government to saddle a foreign power with the responsibility for their existential welfare—what kind of people are we?

China didn’t force the traitors of the American economy to shift crucial production lines to its country and strand Americans without surgical and N-95 masks and medication; homegrown turncoats made that decision, all by their lonesome.

Trade Goods, Not Places

Decades ago, the political, corporate and industrial leaders of the West chose to enmesh the fate of their pliable people with that of the vigorous, voracious Chinese.

Like the United States, another hard-hit region—Northern Italy, so progressive and tony—had swung its toll gates open. Italy outsourced whole production lines to China.

Free trade in goods is great. But trade goods, not places. The toll gates were swung open to human trade, or population replacement.

Since the Chinese had begun settling in Northern Italy and buying up assets, I hazard that, much like youngsters of King County, in Washington State—local Italian girls and boys have had a hard time affording life in their homeland. 

And now, their grandparents and parents are dying.

Italy constructed gleaming tarmacs to accommodate the many direct flights to and from Wuhan. More than 100,000 Chinese citizens moved to Italy. As the Chinese accrued wealth over the past two decades, still more took up residence in Northern Italy, and bought up Italian firms.

See if you can spot the trend. New York City, by Wikipedia’s telling, is home to far and away “the highest Chinese-American population of any city proper.”

Courtesy of an Italian strain of COVID-19, the New York metropolitan area has been as badly struck as Italy. In early April, it was said that “coronavirus was killing a person roughly every four minutes in New York state, and about every six minutes in New York City.”

In my state of Washington, the overwhelming majority of Chinese reside in King County and Snohomish County, where the infection was seeded and from where it spread.

The West’s political and corporate leaders, not China’s, had opened their borders to the world’s flotsam and jetsam. Agreements to exchange goods and people reflected the choices of these gilded global elites, not those of their people.

Economic Elephantiasis 

The sphinxly Bill Gates, we are told, foresaw the pandemic. Gates also pioneered the outsourcing of American lives to China (and India). I say “lives,” because, as it has become abundantly clear, in the wake of COVID, the very stuff of life has been outsourced to China. Not mere jobs; but careers, not just some products, but entire production lines; not one or two manufacturing plants, but the entire means of production.  

Engineers who can think hate Gates. America’s best and brightest have done time supervising and titivating squalid, sub-par Chinese factories, when they knew full well that, instead of cheap, nasty, and disposable, their colleagues back at home could have delivered classy, attractive, durable and sustainable products and production capability, around which real communities would have coalesced.

Instead, Gates’ vision has given us transient labor that flits between Wuhan and Washington, for, these “global beasts with their vast balance-sheets” aren’t interested in the kind of economic growth around which authentic, organic, enduring communities congregate.

The attitude of American business toward economic growth is rooted not in healthy, community-based practices (stateside and abroad), but in some aberrant economic gigantism; in an economic elephantiasis undergirded by hubris and greed.

Bill Gates, the point man, the pinhead who pontificates about pandemic best practices, was among the powerbrokers who decided, with his benefactors in D.C., that the “new economy” would hum not in America, but in China and India.

And it’s not merely for profit. Tech superstars like Gates are true believers in the borderless multicultural state. These arrogant CEOs and their minions are social-justice warriors, first; giants of industry, second. They are cosmopolitans who believe consumption alone makes the world go round. Community? That’s when you press flesh with George and Amal Clooney at the World Economic Forum in Davos!

No Multiculturalists in China

To the gilded globalists, America is not a country to be bound by strictly controlled borders and to be patrolled and policed against viruses and villains. Rather, Bill Gates’ America is a territory for trade, not a nation.

A “shopping mall with nukes,” as a reader put it. 

Whereas China has positioned its cohesive people for success, the American ruling class, Democrat and Republican, have long since sold their countrymen out. It is American leaders, left and right, who’ve convinced their population that Americans are nothing unless strangers are streaming into their country at a rate of 2 million a year, speaking in tongues and inaugurating wet-markets in New York City. This is who we are, they tell us.

No such thing did the Chinese government perpetrate on its people. It doesn’t welcome immigrants; the Chinese don’t want immigrants. Several [Chinese] “women vow to leap off the Great Wall rather than marry a foreigner,” reports The Economist with consternation. Indeed, the Chinese people have no qualms or fear about expressing Han racial superiority, this, as the West embraces a multicultural mess of pottage that is now killing it and consigning us to years of penury.

Stupidity is not a virtue.

Ironically, and although almost all reinfection in China involves Chinese nationals, “curbs on foreigners are tightening,” and the “border has been shut to most of them.” Conversely, the American travel ban—I hope you know—was nothing more than a rerouting of the Chinese influx to allotted U.S. airports, where thermometers were pointed at foreheads, and tens of thousands of Chinese were sent on their merry way, entrusted to go home and self-quarantine.

The outcome of future pandemics hinges on the American people’s ability to strike fear into the hearts of their leaders, irrespective of party affiliation—a fear that will make it impossible for these shiftless characters to shift blame for their failings.

Where Accountability Goes to Die

The U.S. government and its proxies would like to gull Americans into blaming China alone for the litany of suffering Americans are enduring.

A free people takes responsibility for its own welfare. Federalism dictates that this ostensibly free people delegate certain responsibilities to the state, national, and local levels. This is what the U.S. Constitution compelled. Defined duties have been delegated to our governments. Repelling invaders is one of them.

Thus, the same free people must saddle their own leaders, in D.C. and the Centers for Disease Control, with mass deaths ongoing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has ordered that China be investigated for concealing “information early on about the novel coronavirus.”

Fine. I’m not here saying there is no merit in the allegation or the investigation. Just so long as Americans understand that government committees are where accountability goes to die.

Governments create committees to conceal their own culpability.

So long as Americans know that the Chinese will continue to settle this country by the thousands, while their relatives back in China supply Americans with essential goods.

So long as Americans know that the federal government and its corporate cronies do not intend to repatriate life-sustaining supply chains.

Hate the Chinese government if you wish, but hold your own government responsible for hollowing America out like a husk by inviting the word to invade it and infect it.

Greatness Agenda

Smart Sanctions for China

Five immediate action items for the Trump Administration and Congress.

As evidence mounts that the Chinese Communist dictatorship’s delays and deceptions in reacting to COVID-19 have cost many thousands of lives in the United States and across the world, it is time to take measures to hit back fast and hard.

But the measures should be smart, readily achievable, and targeted. The United States has a great deal of untapped economic leverage over China. China needs access to U.S. markets—including our capital markets—for its economy to function well. The United State should use its economic and financial leverage to impose costs on China’s behavior.

A model exists for what can be done—the programs of disinvestment and other economic sanctions that were brought to bear in the 1980s against apartheid South Africa. Until the Chinese Communist regime reforms, it should be treated in the 2020s as South Africa was in the 1980s.

China needs to improve its performance, especially by becoming more honest and transparent on public health issues with a global impact. Not only the latest coronavirus but also the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic of 2003 originated in China. China can no longer be allowed to impose such terrible risks of disease on the rest of the world.

What Congress and the President Can Do

China also needs to be held to higher standards in environmental protection, labor conditions, and human rights. Even setting aside the question of higher tariffs, which are among the most powerful economic tools the United States can wield, here are five immediate action items for the administration and Congress.

First, the president can instruct the Cabinet members who form the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) not to approve any acquisitions of U.S. companies by Chinese firms. The CFIUS law was amended in 2019 to better target China, but greater change is needed.

CFIUS approves acquisitions of U.S. entities by foreign-owned firms and its role is to ensure that U.S. national security is not compromised. As we recently have learned, food security is national security.

In May 2013, under the Obama Administration, CFIUS approved the Chinese acquisition of Smithfield Farms, a major meat-processing company. Concerns were voiced that year but went unheeded. According to Smithfield’s website, it is the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. Now, a Smithfield plant in South Dakota has become “the largest coronavirus hotspot” in the United States, raising legitimate questions as to the origins of the breakout at the plant as well as Chinese corporate governance as it relates to health and safety standards.

Second, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can ramp up enforcement as to Chinese listed companies in the United States, prohibit new listings outright, and delist those that are already listed—at least until Chinese companies demonstrably comply with accounting standards that are generally accepted in the United States.

Chinese firms have proven that their accounting standards cannot be trusted. For example, a recent investigation found a preliminary $314 million accounting fraud at money-losing Chinese coffee chain Luckin Coffee—heralded by Chinese handlers as the “Starbucks of China”—which triggered a 76 percent collapse of its Nasdaq-traded shares. American investors who bought shares since its initial public offering which raised around $600 million will be hard pressed to recoup their investments.

According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, as of February 2019, 156 Chinese companies listed on the U.S. exchanges with a total market capitalization of $1.2 trillion. More Chinese firms are hoping to raise funds in the United States soon. Why should Chinese firms with shady accounting practices enjoy the privilege of raising money in the world’s best capital market?

Divesting from Beijing

Third, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which manages a 401(k) style retirement plan for current and former federal employees and military members, should add a global investment option excluding Chinese investments.

Senators from both parties including Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) already have opposed the investments into China. China knows this is a political game and is intent on funneling foreign capital into its markets. China’s inclusion into Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) indices such as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which brought in billions of much-needed dollars in passive investment flows to China, was incredibly suspect. The Wall Street Journal reported that China pressured the MSCI to include China in its index.

Rather than outright stop investments into global markets, which appears to be on course, Congress and the administration should exercise their authority over the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to tailor the investment option for federal employees in a way that allows current and former federal employees the option to capture the growth of the emerging markets while excluding China. Excluding China specifically would send a stronger message to the Chinese than excluding all emerging markets—which include companies listed in allied countries like Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea.

So-called “Emerging Markets Ex-China” funds are already available elsewhere. Inclusion of a global or emerging market fund without Chinese listed companies would send a strong message of condemnation to China in that it would lose a piece of the over half a trillion dollars of the largest pension fund in the United States.

Fourth, in addition to actions by the Trump Administration, Congress needs to take decisive economic action against China. Like Japan, Congress could appropriate stimulus funds to repatriate U.S. businesses operating in China, supporting American employment at a critical juncture and increasing tax revenues. These funds must be very large because the allure of China’s huge market is great, however elusive profiting from it has been for U.S. business. This provides the “carrot” to accompany the “stick” of tariffs.

Make Pharmaceuticals American Again

Fifth, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission provides a list of additional, pragmatic measures that Congress should take against China, including requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to compile a list of all drugs that are not produced in the United States, and requiring the drugs made in China currently to be made in America.

Next, U.S. government purchases should be aligned to only purchase drugs from U.S. production facilities. These measures, if phased in over an appropriate period of time, would revive drug manufacturing in the United States, a critical infrastructure need highlighted by the shortages of drugs resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.

These measures are just a start. Further actions such as more direct sanctions and tariffs, and to move manufacturing out of China, can be added to them if they are not effective in inducing needed change within China.

Before 2020, these needed reforms were held up in the hopes of a better, more prosperous economic co-existence with China. It was widely, but falsely, believed by American elites and political leaders in both parties that a wealthier China would soon become a more democratic China, or at least a responsible member of international society. But now that we have seen the mounting deaths and trillions of dollars in economic devastation that China has wrought, the perceived benefits of cooperation no longer outweigh the costs.

The time to act is now, for our own future and to exact a sufficient toll to ensure that the Chinese Communist dictatorship begins to accept the norms of civilized behavior, including taking reasonable steps to prevent the onset and spread of infectious and deadly viruses. Otherwise, it should be replaced altogether.

Greatness Agenda

Now Is Not the Time to Release ICE Detainees

Detaining illegal aliens during a pandemic should be common sense, but it is not.

Members of Congress recently have joined the chorus of immigrant activists calling for restrictions on immigration detention in light of the COVID-19 crisis. This is the very worst time to do something like this.

On March 18, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) adjusted its enforcement operations to focus “on public-safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.” The agency stated it would exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions for other aliens until after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. In addition, ICE has already identified 693 aliens “at risk” and up for release, beginning with 160 people older than 60 or pregnant.

Aliens in detention have access to medical care and treatment under the standards ICE revised in 2016. Detainees receive a medical screening when they’re brought in, and have access to treatment thereafter. ICE has also implemented its 2014 pandemic plan, under which detainees are tested for the virus under CDC guidelines. Anyone with the disease is isolated and provided treatment. Others who may have been exposed are housed separately to ensure they aren’t ill and don’t spread the illness further. Cleaning and sanitation products are provided to staff and detainees.

Turning those aliens loose in the community risks them being exposed to COVID-19 in an environment where they do not have the same limitations on movement and access to medical attention or hygiene products. Most, when they fall ill, will turn to local emergency rooms, risking spread and further burdening taxed (and vulnerable) community health workers.

Notably, ICE and its contractors have a vested interest in complying with these standards, both to protect detainees and staff and to ensure the agency’s vital detention efforts can continue. The importance of detention largely has been ignored and generally lost in the current debate.

Remember, ICE detention serves two purposes: to ensure that aliens ordered removed are actually deported from the country and to protect the community from aliens who pose a public safety risk.

The first purpose, which promotes enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, consequently discourages foreign nationals abroad from entering the country illegally. In this crisis, we need to better guarantee that unscreened aliens, some of whom may introduce COVID-19 into communities throughout the country, do not enter illegally. At a time when governors are restricting the travel of their citizens across state lines, and “advis[ing]” certain travelers from specific areas not to visit their states, the importance of this national effort is obvious.

The second purpose, now as always, protects all residents in communities across our country—citizens and aliens—from criminals who would threaten their safety and dignity. Given the fact that our first responders themselves are already at risk and strained in responding to the outbreak, we want to prevent criminals—including criminal aliens—from exploiting the current crisis.

In Fiscal Year 2019, 86 percent of all of the aliens arrested by ICE had criminal arrests or convictions. That included 7,757 aliens convicted of burglary, 26,156 of assault, 4,658 of sex offenses, 3,581 of robbery, 1,110 of kidnapping, and 1,549 of homicide. This is not even counting those who were merely arrested for such crimes.

Detaining such people during a pandemic should be common sense, but it is not. An editorial in the UNC independent student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, argued “the biggest present threat to public safety would be ICE agents”—whom it identifies as “vectors who could spread coronavirus”—and “not undocumented immigrants” themselves, concluding (illogically) that those officers should not receive N95 surgical masks.

I am not singling this student paper out—it’s just that its position reflects the opinions of many, including some in power. And that opinion is simply wrong.

Greatness Agenda

Infrastructure Next

Issue ‘Trump Bonds’ to beat the coronavirus pandemic and rebuild the country. This can’t be business as usual or a Democrat giveaway.

Almost everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, agrees that the United States needs a massive infusion of infrastructure development—especially now to boost the debilitating coronavirus effect on the economy.  

Donald Trump is a builder by profession, and he should do a deal now with Congress to avoid a receding economy and rebuild the country in this time of novel coronavirus warfare. 

To make this happen, the manner in which infrastructure projects are currently undertaken needs to be overhauled. In essence, we need new finance, regulatory, and political infrastructure to support more privately financed development in physical infrastructure. This can’t be business as usual or another expensive Democrat giveaway.

Federal infrastructure development too often gets bogged down in bad management and cost overruns. There is a misallocation to low-value activity and too many “bridges to nowhere” all due to politics. 

At the state and local level, where a lot of infrastructure is owned and operated by the government, there is little to no political will to move toward a user-pays system and to properly maintain roads, bridges, waterworks, power systems, and airports.

Among the steps that can overhaul how infrastructure projects are conceived, financed, and managed is to end tax-exempt financing.  

State and local governments, using tax-exempt finance, build about 90 percent of all infrastructure in the United States. This severely limits the pool of private capital and creates market distortions in how capital is allocated. 

In addition, the United States needs regulatory reform and new sources of capital, as well as scalable tools to locate, fund, and deploy infrastructure capital where it is most needed.

Policymaking needs to overcome the hurdles to private involvement in infrastructure. A longer-term focus and a vision rooted in the private sector from the Trump Administration is essential. Time is of the essence. It should be infrastructure next—and on a bipartisan basis and as a jet engine to relaunch the crippled U.S. economy. 

How?  

As long as infrastructure is owned and operated by state and local governments, there will continue to be little to no political will to move toward a more efficient and rational user pays system. That needs to change. 

Infrastructure Needs

A worthy 21st-century infrastructure policy for the United States should address these four interlocking issues:

  • Creating more sources of capital;
  • Creating more scalable tools;
  • Providing regulatory relief for permitting and for federally subsidized loans; and
  • Improving coordination on deal sourcing between private investors and the government (a Deal Syndicate Desk at the Commerce Department, to act as a mechanism for coordination of all infrastructure investments).

 There are a number of related, supporting requirements, which also need to be addressed if a new infrastructure plan is to be truly effective and benefit all.

On Regulatory Reform: We need a conversation on regulatory relief, which must be part of any new policy or funding about infrastructure development and financing. Davis-Bacon labor rules, duplicative environmental impact statements for permitting, and overregulation must be culled in anticipation of the projects ahead. 

On Creating New Sources of Capital/New Scalable Tools: The United States does not need a new, bureaucratic and politically based infrastructure bank. That is a particularly bad idea because it gives too much power to a single bureaucratic entity to allocate capital. Even in the private sector, banks are necessary conduits for allocating capital, but the market must be the final arbiter of how capital is deployed. 

At the same time, we do need an innovative and agile mechanism to locate, fund and deploy capital where it is most needed and where it is best suited, a scalable system capable of performing under the expanding workload as urgent infrastructure development gets underway. 

To start, the United States needs to eliminate tax-exempt bonds and replace them with “Build America Bonds”—which hereafter should be called “Trump Bonds”—that would subsidize the issuer rather than the investor. They would focus on ways to jumpstart the economy coming out of the economic pandemic. 

This would open the market to a large number of global investors rather than limit the pool of capital to just U.S. taxpayers. 

We also need new user-pays road and infrastructure-financing projects, made possible by private sourcing and the placement of such deals. Ideally, these deals would be coordinated in a new “syndicate desk” in the U.S. Department of Commerce that would operate like similar desks on Wall Street.

A syndicate desk is used to launch a new deal and gather enough data to execute it properly and successfully. In Wall Street firms, a member of the syndicate team performs research by talking directly to investors or by going through an investment bank and talking to appropriate parties. This provides a better understanding of the relevant market dynamics and variables. After gathering enough data, the syndicate team reports the findings to those wishing to launch a new deal and then collaborates with them in order to make a recommendation that is feasible and sellable. Such a syndicate desk at the Commerce Department would work in tandem with the capital markets and interface from the government side on all infrastructure deals.

The present approach to infrastructure limits the pool of private capital to projects where the financial benefits from bond financing accrue almost entirely to retail investors and banks that pay federal taxes and depend on public securities, primarily those with an investment-grade rating. This overly concentrated approach is susceptible to demand and supply imbalances, creating market distortions in how capital is being allocated. 

A new infrastructure plan would work to overcome these distortions and create both viable projects and adequate private-sector funding from the widest source of funders. 

Damaged Bridge along Mulholland HIghway, the steel beams melted from the extreme heat. The Woolsey wildfire started on November 8, 2018 and has burned over 98,000 acres of land, destroyed an estimated 1,100 structures and killed 3 people in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and the especially hard hit area of Malibu. California, USA

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Politics of Infrastructure

A lot of the country’s infrastructure is owned and operated by local and state governments. The politics of governmental budgeting often impair the maintenance of infrastructure assets. It is time to overcome the lack of political will to change this and move toward a user-pays system. This will let the United States maintain the critical assets that drive our economy more reliably and consistently.

Time and Uncertainty Cost Money: The length of time and the added cost burdens (soft and hard) imposed by extremely lengthy environmental impact studies and design and permitting processes balloon project costs. This creates uncertainty and causes very long lead times before project revenues and benefits can be realized. This results in government capital, with low expected returns, being the only de facto source of financing—another capital allocation distortion. 

Funding vs. Financing Shortfalls: There are many capital and financing sources interested in infrastructure investments. But they are not being matched efficiently with infrastructure development needs. The problem is a lack of funding to pay for infrastructure projects. This underscores the importance of more user fee models. 

Maintenance, Operations and Revenue Discipline: Infrastructure requires not only large upfront investments, but also reliable ongoing investments in the operations and maintenance of assets. Deferring maintenance can result in repairs that can cost 10 times more than regularly scheduled maintenance would cost. The political nature of government budgeting makes it too easy to defer maintenance. It also makes it hard to increase fees/rates/charges on par with inflation, much less with real costs. In short, governments are not good at maintaining infrastructure or maintaining discipline or increasing required revenues 

Overly Prescriptive Designs vs. Outcome/Performance-Based Metrics: Governments meddle too much and act in an overly prescriptive manner when building infrastructure. It doesn’t matter if the transit line seats are red or blue, just that the trains are on time and clean. Infrastructure needs to be evaluated and designed based upon the desired outcomes—what should be termed performance-based infrastructure.

Alternative Delivery and Risk Transfer: Modern, democratic government’s core competency is not building projects. Nevertheless, government’s lower financing costs from the subsidy provided by tax-exempt bonds create an advantage that puts government officials in the driver’s seat. This causes them to believe they should be the developer/builder/owner of infrastructure assets, again distorting ownership decisions.

Cost overruns and change orders by contractors too often drive up project costs. The tendency for governments to meddle and overengineer projects dramatically increases costs. Creating a level playing field by allowing Trump Bonds for any infrastructure project, regardless of ownership/operations or eliminating tax-exempt bond subsidies altogether, would eliminate this ownership distortion and permit more construction/ownership risk transfer to the private sector. The American infrastructure market would function more like other markets that do not have this ownership distortion caused by tax-exempt bonds.  

National Infrastructure Banks as Early Stage Developer or Aggregator: There are many risks in creating a National Infrastructure Bank. If created, it should only serve to make more capital available and not to compete with capital markets. Otherwise, it would replicate the distorting effects of the failed Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac model in housing.

Even if a NIB would merely consolidate the various existing federal loan programs at the Department of Transportation, the EPA, or Commerce there is the risk this may create another slow and cumbersome bureaucracy and also that it would have a bias about which projects get funding.

At most, a NIB could serve a role by providing more “development” or seed capital for projects that have too long a lead time before revenue stability for private capital. But the NIB should look to resell such projects into the markets once up and running and recycle the funds. They should also provide access to capital for smaller issuers who the SEC would prefer did not access the broader private capital markets. 

Private Infrastructure

Few infrastructure projects are truly national endeavors, such as the interstate highway system of sixty years ago. Most projects are of local and state interest and value. As the federal government oversees infrastructure projects across the country, however, it too often gets bogged down in bad management and cost overruns. There is a misallocation to low-value activity and too many “bridges to nowhere” due to politics. Decentralizing policy to the level closest to reality that includes financing, management, and ownership, is a better way ahead. 

In addition, while government has often underwritten expensive, high-risk investments such as early forays in space exploration, the private sector is more likely to make sound investments in fundamental needs. And these are made without gigantic and unnecessary subsidies, strings attached, and overregulation. Privatization promises to improve economic efficiency, add more economic growth, and reduce financial burdens on the U.S. taxpayer. 

Most of America’s infrastructure is actually provided by the private sector, not governments. 

Indeed, private infrastructure spending is larger than all federal, state and local government infrastructure spending combined as measured in gross fixed investment in the National Income Accounts. Private infrastructure involvement in the U.S. is five times larger than total non-defense government investment. It should be allowed and encouraged to grow, not thwarted.

Spurring private infrastructure will equate to greater economic growth and investment. Past governmental efforts in infrastructure spending have shown numerous problems and failures regardless of which political party was in power. They have been typically laden with pork-barrel politics, earmarks, and bureaucratic mismanagement. Money is often misallocated.

Amtrak is a case in point. Investments are inefficient because supply and demand are not balanced by market prices. Water pricing is another good example, demonstrated by greatly underpriced irrigation in the western United States. 

Mismanagement is the rule as incentives are not ensured or undercounted. The “Big Dig” in Boston exploded in cost to five times the original estimates. This is the norm, unfortunately, in government-based projects.

Washington’s mistakes are too often replicated around the country. High-speed rail, for example, has induced the states to spend money on uneconomical and unnecessary infrastructure. Policies on regulation, such as Davis-Bacon labor rules, raise the costs of infrastructure by demanding a one-size-fits-all mentality. These regulations and rules simply do not work as states have diverse needs.

The answer is therefore decidedly not more federal intervention but greater private involvement.

The United States is actually bucking global trends when it comes to private infrastructure. Worldwide the trend is toward infrastructure privatization. Since 1990, some $900 billion of state-owned assets have been sold in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, of which 63 percent are infrastructure assets. 

The OECD says this is due to a failure to deliver “efficient investment with misallocation across sectors, regions, and time due to political considerations.” In a recent report, the OECD concluded a “widespread recognition around the world of the need for greater recourse to private sector finance in infrastructure.”  

The United States currently is lagging far behind Australia and Europe when it comes to private spending on infrastructure. Other countries have moved far ahead of the United States in the privatization of infrastructure, such as roads, tunnels, and bridges. According to Public Works Financing, only one of the top 38 firms doing transportation infrastructure around the world is American; and of the more than 700 projects underway globally, only 28 are in the United States. This is corroborated by numerous findings from the Government Accounting Office, the Congressional Budget Office, as well as from Ernst and Young and the Brookings Institution.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 7: An aerial view shows a message of hope as coronavirus infections accelerate on April 7, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is warning residents of a spike in coronavirus infections this week and are asking residents to put off going to the store to buy groceries if they have enough food to last till next week.

David McNew/Getty Images

A Missed Opportunity

Infrastructure is a complex issue that crosses economics, engineering, policy, and finance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has elaborated a number of dramatic costs the country suffers by not addressing our U.S. infrastructure crisis, including:

  • $1.3 trillion loss in GDP
  • $3,100 per year drops in personal disposable income per U.S. household
  • 3.5 million job losses
  • $1.2 trillion in revenue costs to U.S. businesses
  • $611 billion added costs to U.S. households. 

The National League of Cities reported in 2019 on declining American infrastructure and detailed 10 challenges facing U.S. cities, of which, “fragile fiscal health” and “deteriorating transportation infrastructure,” were the first and second priorities. 

In recent years, political polarization has meant infrastructure development and repair has suffered. The federal political stalemate has nearly strangled U.S. infrastructure investment. Whereas European nations spend five percent of GDP, and China nine percent of GDP on infrastructure, the United States only invests 2.4 percent of its GDP, and that number is on the decline. 

Experience shows that when private businesses take risks and put their profits on the line, funding is more properly allocated to high-return projects that are completed on time and on budget, i.e., in the most efficient manner possible. Private infrastructure is also more efficient because it can tap the capital markets to build capacity and meet market demand without having to rely on slow, cumbersome and politicized government budgets.

Policymaking needs to overcome the hurdles to private involvement in infrastructure. We need to realize that private infrastructure is not a new idea. Almost all of the U.S. urban transit systems used to be private. Earlier turnpikes built thousands of miles of roads. Private markets financed the entire industrial revolution of previous centuries in both the United States and in England. 

The Muni Market Today

The term “municipal bonds” or monism describes bonds issued by states, counties, cities, school districts, public utilities, ports, and other units of government that are not national in scope. This is what is called the muni market. 

With more than 1 million bonds in the market and total par value of over $3.6 trillion, and more than 50,000 individual units of government-issued bonds, the total number of bonds sold each year varies from over $200 billion to just under $400 billion.

The defining characteristic of this muni market, of course, is that investors do not pay federal income tax on the interest they receive. This muni exemption has been part of the U.S. tax code since before the progressive income tax was instituted in 1913. Even with this expansive tax-exempt market supply, elasticity of state and local capital investment is falling short.

Every few years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a Report Card of America’s Infrastructure. It has highlighted a growing gap between actual and needed levels of state and local capital investment on infrastructure. Grading U.S. infrastructure a D+, the report enumerates $3.6 trillion of essential, urgent capital investment needs—which is, ironically, about the size of the entire current municipal market.  

The U.S. Treasury forgoes revenue as a result of the muni exemption. This tax expenditure is estimated at $14 billion annually. The Congressional Research Service suggests the tax subsidy is actually closer to $28 billion a year.. 

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress authorized a stimulus of temporary new borrowing called Build America Bonds. The federal government in effect paid a subsidy to any state or local government that sold these bonds. This is in contrast to traditional munis, where the subsidy flows to investors who buy the bonds.  

Noticeably, in recent years the muni bond market shrank for the fifth straight year, falling to $3.65 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data. The overall muni market has shrunk by over $150 billion from its peak in 2010. This reflects a reduced issuance, as municipal governments have become less prone to debt and less aggressive borrowers. Many are unwilling to raise taxes or reduce funding for existing services to finance new infrastructure. The muni market has also suffered from a significant shift in credit quality. AAA ratings are now uncommon as major bond insurers began to lose their own high ratings in the wake of the credit crisis. 

Alternatives to Debt Financing for Infrastructure

There are two alternatives to traditional tax-exempt debt financing: pay-as-you-go and public-private partnerships. 

The pay-as-you-go alternative is used to finance a capital investment with current resources rather than borrowed ones. Pay-as-you-go has many advantages because it is flexible and allows a government to procure a capital asset at the best available timing and pricing. It is also more transparent. The cost to procure is the purchase price of the asset. Debt financing comes with interest payments and transaction costs paid over many years. However, pay-as-you-go financing is difficult because it is not scalable. Large projects cost too much, and reserves are rarely in place.

Public-private partnerships are an agreement where partners from both sectors share risks and rewards of delivering and operating an asset over an extended period of time. Successful public-private partnerships are predicated on trust and a fair sharing of relevant risks. Failure can have significant financial, legal, and political consequences. Many experts suggest that for these reasons, PPPs are not a robust alternative to traditional municipal bonds, while experimentation continues.  

President Trump’s proposed policies will have an immediate effect on the municipal bond market for investors in a number of decided ways. Trump Bonds would be seen as a way to create jobs and stimulate the economy. President Trump has said he wants to use them to create more infrastructure and repair old and outdated infrastructure. Again, since they would not be tax-exempt, these bonds are more appealing to international bondholders and institutional investors who are not eligible to claim an exemption. In this sense, they widen the market and bring in new, large participants. Private sector infrastructure could be greatly enhanced by more of these bonds.

Recent analysis by a number of research and ratings agencies further suggests that the Trump tax plan will affect the municipal market because it would eliminate or reduce tax exemption for municipal bondholders. This will reshape who buys municipal bonds. If the tax exemption on income earned from the investment were eliminated for the wealthy, there would be little motivation for such bondholders to buy more municipal debt. 

Solutions and Opportunities

Historical approaches have proven insufficient to address our growing U.S. infrastructure gap. Public infrastructure (roads, bridges, transit, water, wastewater, energy, social) is fundamentally local and highly fragmented. 

Federal funding and new programs should be leveraged to transform the infrastructure market and encourage more market-based solutions, rather than just federal handouts. Federal initiatives should be used to create more scalable financing markets, level the playing field for more private sector involvement, provide “at-risk” capital, depoliticize the selection of projects, and create more efficient vehicles for small and rural issuers to access capital. Regulatory and permitting burdens need to be reduced or streamlined. 

Finally, essential infrastructure needs more dedicated funding sources from project-related revenues, local revenues, or user fees from the ultimate beneficiaries. A menu of solutions to address existing challenges, not one silver bullet, is necessary. 

Almost everyone agrees that the United States needs a massive infusion of infrastructure development starting this year. That is even more critical as a way to move the country out of its short-term recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 70 percent of Americans of all political persuasions want government at all levels to do more about improving and building new infrastructure. 

The fourth industrial revolution is underway and includes artificial intelligence (AI), driverless vehicles, supersonic aircraft and a raft of emerging technologies all of which demand new and better infrastructure such as the “internet of things,” robotics, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and quantum computing. The new digital revolution we are just beginning is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Our infrastructure must keep pace with new technologies if the United States is to remain competitive and a center of innovation for the rest of this and coming centuries.

Since infrastructure projects are notoriously plagued by long pre-construction periods, under-utilization of the P3 and alternative funding models, and an outright inability to gain public support and access to capital, the United States needs a new private-sector plan to accomplish its long-term needs in infrastructure. 

As has been true historically, the United States is not simply lacking capital for infrastructure—capital is cheaper than ever with interest rates moving even lower—but policies are needed to attract this capital and deploy it efficiently for infrastructure based on market principles. We need to tap into the private global capital markets to access private capital to restore and build innovative infrastructure for the 21st century. 

Underinvestment in infrastructure comes as a result of shortsightedness. As long as taxpayer investment in infrastructure is misaligned with politics, which has a short term and expedient focus, we will fail to meet our long-term needs as a country. We need to use the private sector and the measures enumerated to break new ground and to find private sources for infrastructure development.

A focus and a vision rooted primarily in the private sector from the Trump Administration are needed and most timely. It is time to push infrastructure as the fourth leg in the plan to recover from the coronavirus.  

Greatness Agenda

What Price Protection?

For the sake of our souls, as well as for our bodies, we must deregulate to the extent necessary to bring our medical supply chain back to the United States. We must bring chip manufacturing back in a big way. And we must invest in artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

In recent days, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has sent the team plane to China to pick up supplies. Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis thanked the private citizens who had made the connections to Chinese suppliers.

If it hasn’t already, the sudden, almost desperate turn to China for medical gear should raise some very uncomfortable moral questions.

Leave aside the matter of buying protection from the people who made us sick in the first place, and who now seek to improve their position in the world from that.

China is home to around 12 million Uyghurs, Turkic people who are also Muslim. They live mostly in Xinjiang province, in the northwest part of the country. In recent years, just prior to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in what should be called genocidal activity against this group.

Chinese authorities have gone into towns, removed the men and sent between 1 million and 3 million of them to concentration camps. The CCP has placed “minders” in Uyghur homes to stay with the families and the women, and to attend lifecycle events. Given the Communist world’s previous implementations of “re-education camps,” little imagination is required to understand what goes on there. It includes both brainwashing and forced labor.

As is increasingly the case with China’s depredations, it seeks to silence even external criticism of its actions. Uyghurs across Europe report phone calls threatening the well-being of relatives back home.

Now comes this report that the CCP has been shipping the captive Uyghur population all over the country to help restart the economy in the aftermath of the Wuhan coronavirus:

TikTok and DouYin videos pouring out of Xinjiang during the past two weeks have confirmed fears that Beijing is using Uyghur and other Turkic youth as slave laborers and cannon fodder to kickstart the Chinese economy.

Given the tremendous and uncritical demand for personal protective gear such as surgical and N95 masks, hospital gowns, and latex gloves, it is entirely possible that some of this equipment is being produced by these Uyghur captives.

To the best of my knowledge, no effort has been made in Colorado to ascertain which factories are producing that equipment, raising the possibility that the state is facilitating the purchase of materials made by slave or coerced labor. Indeed, I know of no effort anywhere even to ask these questions.

China’s recent eviction of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal reporters eliminates the chance of a meaningful on-the-ground investigation into this possibility. The only avenue for addressing these concerns is the hope that local U.S. media presses the question with U.S. government officials. Instead, we get this sort of dismissiveness, where a local TV anchor indulges his distaste for anonymous tweeting in order to avoid engaging the issue:

A year from now, when conditions have changed, will anyone care to ask, or will it be “old news?” More likely than not, we’ll be told that there was no way of knowing.

Worse to contemplate is this, as yet, wholly hypothetical scenario.

The CCP has been actively and massively investing in artificial intelligence, which has significant potential for drug discovery. Through the summer, suppose it pushes its AI to the limit to produce a vaccine or even a treatment for this virus. It then offers it to the world, perhaps at a discount, perhaps at cost, perhaps for free.

Given that we know the Chinese Communist Party, like the Nazis in their own concentration camps, practices forced sterilization, how is it unreasonable to believe that such a vaccine will have been tested on unwilling humans? Possibly these same Uyghur men?

If the world is still struggling to restart its economy and it is still blaming the virus rather than government action for the recession, what kind of pressure will there be to grab at such a vaccine with both hands, and not ask too many questions?

What price is your protection then?

And if it’s not this virus, then what of the next one, one that threatens not just the old and sick, but perhaps the very young?

For the sake of our souls, as well as for our bodies, we must deregulate to the extent necessary to bring our medical supply chain back to the United States. We must bring chip manufacturing back on-shore in a big way. And we must invest in AI and quantum computing.

We simply cannot continue to put ourselves in the position where our enemies have the means to blackmail us using the health and lives of ourselves and families.

Greatness Agenda

The Chinese Communist Party Virus and Its Discontents

Unfortunately, the pandemic-inspired shutdown of the economy only threatens to further corporate consolidation in our economy.

This writer and others who for decades railed against outsourcing industries to the People’s Republic of China were long dismissed as crackpots and Luddites. Now many of those who were doing the dismissing have been forced to admit the true cost of cheap goods is very high.

The Chinese Communist Party virus has exposed many of our nation’s infirmities.

The most glaring is our dependence on Communist China for medicine, medical equipment, and so many other essential goods.

But that is by no means the only problem the pandemic has exposed. The consolidation of property and industries into fewer and fewer hands is another.

The New York Times details how corporate consolidation in the medical device industry contributed to the shortage of ventilators our nation is now experiencing.

Over a dozen years ago, in the wake of SARS, MERS, and other deadly outbreaks, the federal government saw a need to stockpile ventilators in case of a future emergency.

It contracted with a small California firm, Newport Medical Devices, that had an innovative design it could produce for $3,000 per machine—significantly less expensive than the $10,000-$20,000 price tag commonly quoted.

But then something happened and everything changed.

“The medical device industry was undergoing rapid consolidation, with one company after another merging with or acquiring other makers,” the Times reports. “Manufacturers wanted to pitch themselves as one-stop shops for hospitals, which were getting bigger, and that meant offering a broader suite of products. In May 2012, Covidien, a large medical device manufacturer, agreed to buy Newport for just over $100 million.”

Covidien, a publicly traded corporation with $12 billion in sales, bought five other medical device companies that year alone. It was playing mergers and acquisitions if not “Monopoly.”

Here’s the rub: Covidien was already selling more expensive ventilators. It didn’t consider developing a low-cost machine to be a priority. Project managers were re-assigned and Covidien told the government it wanted out of the contract.

“Government officials and executives at rival ventilator companies said they suspected that Covidien had acquired Newport to prevent it from building a cheaper product that would undermine Covidien’s profits from its existing ventilator business,” the Times story notes.

It doesn’t end there. In 2015 Medtronic, an even larger medical device company, bought Covidien for $50 billion (can you say “consolidation”?) as part of a corporate inversion scheme so Medtronic could register in Ireland and avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Medtronic, one of the four largest ventilator manufacturers in America today—along with Phillips, GE Healthcare, and Allied Healthcare—has been slow to increase the production of its higher-priced ventilators, choosing to guard its existing supply chain relationships.

Public shaming compelled Medtronic finally to announce it would release the blueprints and specs for the low-cost machine Newport (now part of Medtronic) developed at U.S. taxpayer expense.

The nation’s productive capacity and know-how have come under the ownership of fewer and fewer giant corporations. These corporations try to squeeze every penny from production by eliminating R&D and outsourcing production to the lowest cost cheap-labor camps on Earth, even those ruled by communist dictators.

Unfortunately, the pandemic-inspired shutdown of the economy only threatens to further corporate consolidation in our economy.

A report from Indiana provides an example of how this will play out, even if it is an unintended consequence of shutting down much of the nation’s commerce.

Book stores, toy stores, and other retailers deemed “nonessential” are complaining that Dollar General—a low-cost chain offering food among many other items—remains open and is still selling toys, books, and other items they are barred from selling.

In response to the complaints, county officials ordered Dollar General to rope off the aisles where “non-essential” merchandise is displayed.

Question: Have officials elsewhere barred Dollar General—one of the largest vendors of Chinese imports—from trafficking in prohibited merchandise?

And how about Amazon? Amazon still sells clothes, toys and everything else, much of it from China. None of the money spent on Amazon finds its way into the pockets of American owners and employees of brick-and-mortar shops now closed.

While small businesses are ordered to shut down, their giant corporate competitors remain open.

This is how the multi-trillion dollar economic relief package is also a stimulus bill for Jeff Bezos, Walmart, and China.

The virus has also revealed another weakness of 21st century America: rule by a cult of experts with an unshakeable faith in mathematical models.

These are the people whose economic models told us trade with China would make us all richer and happier.

Now they place their faith in yet another infallible model, one they tell us will save us from death itself—a Savior Machine.

Its answer is law. Dare to question it and you are condemned as an enemy of the state.

Woody Guthrie said some men will rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen.

Today he would wonder if computer models aren’t the equivalent of those fountain pens.

Greatness Agenda

The Reemergence of the State in the Time of COVID-19

State sovereignty is the best chance we have to fend off adversaries. We defend our freedom by exercising power through the state, not through global illusions or cozy provincialism.

Once upon a time, there was an illusion that the state would disappear. It was the fiction Marxists told each other at bedtime, and it was the lie of the Communists, once they had seized state power. For even as they built up their police apparatus and their archipelago of gulags, they kept promising that one day the state would eventually disappear. 

Of course, in a sense, they were right because Communism ended and so did the Communist states in Russia and Eastern Europe. Yet the death of those regimes is in no way an argument for the death of statehood itself. 

The state is the expression of sovereignty, and sovereignty is the ability of national communities to decide their own fates. Such independence is far from obsolete, and certainly not for the countries on the eastern flank of the European Union. After years of Russian occupation, they have regained their state sovereignty. They will continue to insist on it, and rightly so.

Capitalists, too, have indulged in the fantasy of the end of the state, especially in the neoliberal version of an economy free of political constraints. This peculiar fiction grew pronounced in the millenarian hallucination of an “end of history,” which preached that the epochal change of 1989 had ushered in a Kantian era of perpetual peace. Global capitalism was supposed to erase borders, replacing national solidarities with abstract universalism. 

Genuine conflicts were predicted to dissolve into rules-based competition, while existential threats would dissipate in a thoroughly benign cosmos. After all, with the fall of Communism, all enemies had disappeared, which made states obsolete. 

Hence the idealists’ horror at the rise of national populisms after the 2008 financial crisis. Today respectable public opinion still views populism as deplorable, hoping that the next election cycle will bring a return to a normal trajectory of an ever diminished nation-state, ever-larger supranational organizations, and a programmatic neutralization of all political decisions.

A Pandemic Upsets the Old Order

And then came the virus from Wuhan, the global pandemic that signals the end of globalization and therefore the reassertion of the state, for several distinct reasons. 

First, despite the illusions—Marxist, capitalist or anarchist—that the state will vanish because the world is a friendly place, the virus reminds us that danger never disappears. The state is the vehicle with which a political community can respond to ever-present existential threats. One prominent feature of the response to the pandemic is the recognition that sooner or, sometimes tragically later, the state must respond to enemies. The responsibility to do so rests ineluctably with the political leaders who must make crucial decisions. Without them and without the state, we would be helpless. (The mirage that the state might end is nothing more than an expression of what Karlheinz Bohrer once called “der Wille zur Ohnmacht.”).

When Donald Trump banned travel from China in January, his critics called him a racist. When he stopped travel from Europe, those same critics complained that he acted too slowly, while the EU leadership denounced him for acting alone. Within a week, the European Union instituted travel bans similar to those for which they had attacked Trump, but only after leaders of individual states, such as Austria’s Sebastian Kurz, had made similar decisions. 

It is no coincidence that we have seen national leadership emerge by way of renewed assertions of control over national borders: a state that cannot control its borders is a failed state. The border closings of 2020 are the retraction of the German border openings of 2015.

Second, the reemergence of the state marks the end of globalization in a pending economic restructuring. The excessively praised free flow of capital opened national economies to foreign direct investment, just as it enabled companies that developed in one country to shift production and investment overseas, in search of lower wages. Yet all that glittered was not gold. Chinese capital buying up European firms has damaged domestic economies and contributed to accelerated technology transfer, legal and illegal: recall the Kuka case

In response, Western countries have begun to subject foreign investments to national security scrutiny because it might not be wise to sell off one’s domestic industries to foreign investors beholden to undemocratic and hostile regimes. 

Today, however, similar national security concerns are being raised with regard to the globalization of supply chains. For the United States most medicine, including even penicillin, is manufactured in China: we can thank the starry-eyed globalists for this dangerous vulnerability. Fortunately, there are now moves afoot to bring supply chains back home, while also retrieving jobs thoughtlessly exported overseas. Deglobalization is the watchword of the state.

Coming to Terms with China

Third, the willingness to sacrifice state sovereignty in the name of globalization was always based on a misunderstanding about China. The West has fooled itself repeatedly that Communist China would undergo a political liberalization: it never did. 

China remains a dictatorship ruled by a Marxist-Leninist party. During the past half-century of the supposed rapprochement with China, it has neither liberalized, nor established an independent judiciary, nor carried out free and multi-party elections. Sadly, China’s access to Western economies was never made contingent on any respect for human rights. 

While western states subordinated themselves to the illusions of post-nationalism—the European Union is the best example—China only grew stronger as an illiberal surveillance state. Hence the crisis of the Wuhan virus: Chinese authorities knew of the illness in December, if not earlier, but they chose to suppress the information, punishing the brave whistleblower professionals who tried to sound the alarm. If addressed promptly, the novel coronavirus might have been contained in Hubei province. 

Instead, thanks to the Chinese leadership and its lies, we face a pandemic, with countless deaths and enormous economic losses. Party Chairman Xi Jinping should be held accountable for this suffering. There are no grounds ever again to believe any statistic coming out of China—at least not until Beijing allows the Chinese people to enjoy freedom of speech and a free press.

The China question, however, is not only about the origin of the virus or even the vicissitudes of globalization. This Corona moment reminds us that the genuine purpose of the state is to respond to all dangers which jeopardize the life of the political community. The family of Western democracies—not only in the geographic West but also on the periphery of the Eurasian landmass including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Israel—face concerted efforts by China and Russia to disrupt the world order. To be sure, Chinese and Russian interests do not always coincide, and they engage in complicated relations with North Korea and Iran, hardly satellites in the Cold War sense, but ultimately all are part of a multifaceted challenge to our ways of life. 

It is not because the virus came from China that we should recognize these dangers, but the virus is an acute reminder that the world is replete with threats, whether epidemic or political, military or economic. Those who argue for the end of the state have to explain who else, other than the state, will ward off another invasion, such as took place in Crimea, or prevent similar aggression in the South China Sea. The answer is: no one. The argument against the state is an argument for capitulation and powerlessness.

Such powerlessness is evidently attractive. It reflects a certain element of conflict-aversion inherent in human nature, especially endemic in the academic class. Yet our capacity to live in institutions of our own making—whether individual or collective—based on our traditions and our aspirations, is predicated on the will to mount a defense against external threats. The primary vehicle for self-preservation of the political community is the state. State sovereignty is the best chance we have to fend off adversaries. We defend our freedom by exercising power through the state, not through global illusions or cozy provincialism. This commitment to the state is called patriotism.

Greatness Agenda

It’s Not a Choice Between Lives or the Economy

President Trump has shown great leadership during this manufactured crisis. Let’s hope he continues to ponder his observation that we do not want to get ourselves into a situation in which the cure is worse than the disease.

There seem to be shortages of everything these days, not least a shortage of commentary on the COVID-19 virus, also known as the Chinese virus, the Wuhan flu, known to some as the Chinese Communist Party virus, or the CCP virus for short.

Since there has been so little discussion of this disease in the news or in the blogosphere, I thought I would weigh in with a word or two.

Regular readers will know that I have already, these past few weeks, had occasion to say something about this disease, and the reaction to the disease, here and at other venues. I seem to be in a distinct minority in thinking that the best reaction to the disease was not furnished by the protagonist of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.

Let me begin, therefore, by acknowledging that this new virus can make people, especially older people, and most particularly older with other health problems very sick indeed.

COVID-19 is the big and nastier brother of SARS, another Chinese import, which made its way around the world in the early 2000s and killed nearly 800 people. “SARS” stands for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome,” which can be the dreaded effect of COVID-19 infection and which explains why you are hearing so much about medical ventilators at the moment.

As of Saturday, there were in the United States some 111,000 recorded cases of infection and just over 2,000 deaths. Worldwide, the number of recorded cases so far is 657,434, the number of deaths just over 30,000. Obviously this number changes daily, indeed hourly. A good, and regularly updated, source for the numbers is at WorldoMeter. In the United States, half the total number of cases and nearly half of the fatalities are clustered in and around New York City.

Most people who are infected by the virus experience mild or no symptoms at all. But for those who do become sick, the disease can be horrible. A friend passed along these observations from an ICU doctor on the front lines in New York. He indicated that he did not object to his remarks being shared.

A large number of admitted patients end up needing to be intubated. . . . The two main things hospitals need to keep adding, and adding, and adding again are 1) emergency room beds and 2) ICU beds. Every day I feel there is yet another area being planned for one or the other. Our [emergency department] was packed with patients—either all with masks or already intubated. I have never seen such a sight. All providers were walking around with their (slightly worn) [personal protective equipment] and names written on the visors. Our ED has already outgrown the designated space and will be expanded so that, essentially, we have a respiratory ED. The nursing home that had been closed across the street from us has become our lifeline. Rec rooms have become treat and release respiratory testing centers. The former long-term care floors are being prepped to help with the load of vented patients. . . .

We continue to learn on the fly for this illness. The spectrum of how it presents is vast! Purely abdominal pain, to the point that they are admitted to the surgical service with nary a complaint. Syncope—patients just falling without any preceding fevers (so less likely due to dehydration from insensible losses) or other symptoms. . . . Encephalitis—definitely less numbers but I think it’s there.

Also, nothing—just nothing—but they get a chest x-ray for some reason and looky-there, bilateral patchy opacities. They develop acute kidney failure REALLY quickly. They are in the ICU and looking good but then, you blink, and they are arresting and die of sudden cardiac arrest. Also, and a bunch of my colleagues have been chatting about this one, anosmia (loss of smell) and dysgeusia (taste changes). These two symptoms are really common, I think more so with milder upper-respiratory disease rather than severe lower respiratory disease.

I quote this not to be morbid or to scare people but simply to acknowledge that I am aware that this is a nasty bug. Many precautions should be taken. People should wash their hands thoroughly as well as frequently. If you are out and about, hand sanitizer is your friend. You should stand a few feet away from others in public situations. (The jury is out, I think, on whether this should be called “social” or “asocial” distancing.)

If you have traveled somewhere in which the disease is prevalent, you should self-quarantine for a couple of weeks and be especially careful to avoid being around the elderly or infirm. Infection is most common in situations where there is prolonged contact with someone who is infected and “shedding” the virus (which is why Governor Andrew Cuomo has had second thoughts about closing all New York’s schools and colleges and sending all those students home to mama, papa, the grandparents, and poor old Uncle Joe who has been unwell for years).

That said, I continue to believe that shutting down the U.S. economy was insane (also here, here, and here). I maintain, in retrospect, this episode will furnish ample material for an addendum to Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Unfortunately, there is no arguing with insanity. As one friend of mine likes to note, arguing with such madness is like arguing with a hurricane. It is completely ineffective, indeed counterproductive, because making arguments at such a time is likely to distract one from taking precautions and making preparations.

From Millions Will Die to Hospitals Will Be Overwhelmed

In earlier columns, I have contrasted the annual toll in hospitalizations and fatalities from the seasonal flu with the known numbers form COVID-19. The former dwarf the latter—so far. We’ve had plenty of “doomsday scenarios” predicting millions of deaths in the United States alone, but cooler heads are beginning to prevail.

You don’t hear this from the megaphones of the media, but the fatality rate in the United States remains among the lowest in the world, barely above Germany and Norway, the lowest in Europe. Sweden, which is only slightly higher, has bucked the trend. Its borders remain open, as do its schools, restaurants, museums, etc. As of this writing, it’s not at all clear that they were wrong to do so.

There has been a gradual shift in the commentary over the last week or so as many scribes and pundits, tiring of the shopworn “millions will die” meme, have shifted to a “our hospitals will be overwhelmed” aria.

In New York, the epicenter of the epidemic, there will certainly be strains. But I think that this article, arguing that COVID-19 is not going to overwhelm our healthcare system, is persuasive.

Some numbers: According to the CDC, during the 2018-2019 flu season, there were some 810,000 hospitalizations in the United States for flu and 61,000 deaths. As of March 26, we have seen more than 490,000 hospitalizations and 34,000 flu deaths. Add in the COVID-19 numbers and you get 565,000 hospitalizations and 35,264 deaths. In other words, seen in context, COVID-19 cases are a barely discernible blip.

With these differences: the patients suffering from the effects of COVID-19 tend to be much sicker, taking up hospital beds for longer, and they are arriving more quickly and in bigger clumps.

Our Disgusting Media and Democrats

One of the most disgusting features of this health scare is the behavior of the media and liberal Democrats. In this season of Lent, they seem to be on their knees, fervently praying for greater damage to the economy, for more people to lose their jobs, for a greater destruction of wealth. It’s not, exactly, that they think these are good things in themselves—though one senses an air of thoughtfulness as they ponder the rapidity with which the economy can be turned upside down and people brought to heel.

Left-wing progressives are not advocates of big government for nothing. Nothing seems to justify big government more than a dependent populace, and nothing guarantees dependency more reliably than economic distress. All that is in the background—present but unspoken.

What is patent is the fervent wish that this crisis might, somehow, be pinned on Donald Trump. So far, that hasn’t happened, indeed, the public seems to approve of the way he is handling the situation. His poll numbers are higher than ever.

Still, his enemies never tire. At a recent press conference, some wretched “journalist” asked the President, “How many deaths are acceptable?” It was intended to be a “gotcha” question. “Trump says that X number of deaths are OK!”

The president, after a moment’s incredulity, dispatched the question and the questioner. “None,” he said, “none are acceptable.”

Good answer. But while none are acceptable, it is in the nature of things that many are inevitable. New York’s pol of the moment, Andrew Cuomo, got on his shiniest soapbox recently and said “This is about saving lives. If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”

Heather Mac Donald had a tart but appropriate response to that burst of sentimental hogwash. “Cuomo’s assertion that saving ‘just one life’ justifies an economic shutdown raises questions that have not been acknowledged, much less answered,” Mac Donald notes, “as public officials across the country compete to impose ever more draconian anti-virus measures.”

One question is this: “Is there any limit to the damage we are willing to inflict on the world economy to mitigate the infection?”

There are people, like Cuomo, who like to pretend that we have a choice between saving lives and saving the economy. But a moment’s thought will show that that is a false dichotomy. Unemployment just shot up by more than 3 million. That is more than 3 million people who have lost their livelihoods so far, many of whom face uncertain prospects for the future.

Expect a sharp rise in cases of depression, drug abuse, and suicide because of that.

A Word About the Difference Between “From” and “With”

In The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek observed while it “may sound noble to say, ‘Damn economics, let us build up a decent world,’ . . . it is, in fact, merely irresponsible.” Something similar can be said about the false opposition between humanitarian concerns and attention to the economy. Tending the economy is just as much a humanitarian concern, just as much a life-or-death matter, as manufacturing new ventilators.

Finally, a word about the difference between “from” and “with.” Over the past few weeks, I have been predicting a modest fatality rate from COVID-19. I began by predicting no more than a couple of hundred deaths and then upped my prediction to a 1,000-1,200. As of today, the number of deaths attributed to the virus is just over 2,000. So I was wrong about that.

Or was I? It is one thing to die from the effects of the coronavirus, quite another to die with the virus. Let’s say you are 87 years old, diabetic, with congestive heart failure and emphysema. You are infected with the coronavirus, get sick, and die. Did you die from it, or merely with it?

This is a point that Dr. John Lee, a retired professor of pathology in the United Kingdom, made in Spectator USA. “There is a big difference,” he writes, “between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes. . . . Much of the response to Covid-19 seems explained by the fact that we are watching this virus in a way that no virus has been watched before. The scenes from the Italian hospitals have been shocking, and make for grim television. But television is not science.”

“First do no harm.” Dr. Lee is right to warn that the panicked response to this new virus has neglected that age-old medical advice. “Unless,” he notes, “we tighten criteria for recording death due only to the virus (as opposed to it being present in those who died from other conditions), the official figures may show a lot more deaths apparently caused by the virus than [are] actually the case. What then? How do we measure the health consequences of taking people’s lives, jobs, leisure and purpose away from them to protect them from an anticipated threat? Which causes the least harm?”

That is an excellent question. Also excellent is his concluding observation that “The moral debate is not lives vs. money. It is lives vs. lives.”

It will take months, perhaps years, if ever, before we can assess the wider implications of what we are doing. The damage to children’s education, the excess suicides, the increase in mental health problems, the taking away of resources from other health problems that we were dealing with effectively. Those who need medical help now but won’t seek it, or might not be offered it. And what about the effects on food production and global commerce, that will have unquantifiable consequences for people of all ages, perhaps especially in developing economies?

In the United States, we have locked down whole counties and shuttered businesses across the country. We have erected scores of soapboxes upon which ambitious politicians and venal media hacks pontificate and spread panic and misinformation. Congress has just passed, and the president has just signed, a $2 trillion “stimulus” package. I put “stimulus” in quotation marks because what government stimuli stimulate is more government spending, along with inflation and ever increasing government bureaucracy.

President Trump has shown great leadership during this manufactured crisis. I hope he will continue to ponder his observation that we do not want to get ourselves into a situation in which the cure is worse than the disease.

Greatness Agenda

China Must Release the Secret Records of the Wuhan Biolabs

It’s time for Beijing to come clean.

The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have a lot to answer for.

Clearly, it was the CCP’s coverup and incompetence that first allowed the Wuhan virus to reach epidemic proportions in China, and then spread around the world. A congressional resolution authored by Representative Jim Banks (R-Ind.) condemns China for these misdeeds. It should be an easy vote.

But what if China is responsible not only for the global spread of the Wuhan virus but also for the original infections?

There are many, myself included, who suspect that this particular coronavirus may have been under study at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that it somehow escaped from the lab.

A paper by two Chinese scientists outlined a plausible scenario about how this leak might have happened at either the WIV or at another nearby biolab run by China’s Centers for Disease Control. They argue that “Patient Zero” was a lab worker who accidentally infected himself with a bat coronavirus. The paper was quickly censored by the Chinese authorities, which only heightens suspicions.

Without question, China for years has been doing research at its Wuhan biolabs that could be used to create coronaviruses harmful to humans. The researchers have left a clear paper trail.

In a 2008 article in the Journal of Virology, WIV researchers described how they were genetically engineering SARS-like viruses from horseshoe bats to enable them to use angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to gain entry into human cells.

In other words, more than 10 years ago the Wuhan biolab was already creating entirely new and deadly viruses by inserting that part of the dangerous SARS virus that allows it to infect people into a second bat coronavirus, which was then able to attack human cells just like the Wuhan Flu virus does.

Then there is a 2013 article in Nature by some of the same WIV researchers entitled, “Isolation and characterization of a bat SARS-like coronavirus that uses the ACE2 receptor.”

They conclude that “Chinese horseshoe bats are natural reservoirs of SARS-CoV, and that intermediate hosts may not be necessary for direct human infection by some bat SARS-like coronaviruses.”

Here we find the Wuhan biolab involved in collecting a range of SARS-like coronaviruses from horseshoe bats and proving that, like the SARS virus itself, some of these other naturally occurring coronaviruses could infect human beings directly. Again, just like the Wuhan virus does.

Now if either genetically engineered or naturally occurring coronaviruses capable of infecting people escaped from the Wuhan biolab, this could be the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and I are being hammered in mainstream media outlets for even suggesting that the Wuhan virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab. They have tried to “fact check” our concern to death by mischaracterizing it and by citing so-called experts.

A left-wing site called Health Feedback falsely accused me of suggesting that the virus was definitely a genetically engineered bioweapon. A Forbes columnist claimed that both Cotton and I had said it “was manufactured in a lab.” The Daily Mail wrote “Sen. Tom Cotton and American social Scientist Steven Mosher push this theory that the virus was manufactured.”

On and on it goes.

What Cotton and I actually said was that it may have escaped, in one way or another, from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Many of those who rush to China’s defense, it turns out, have undisclosed ties to that country, and even to the Wuhan Institute of Virology itself. Virologist Danielle Anderson, who was cited by Health Feedback in its hit piece, works for the National University of Singapore, which in turn is an “International Partner” of WIV.

In fact, her joint project with the Wuhan lab is called “Combating the Next SARS- or MERS-like Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreak by Improving Active Surveillance.”

One assumes she and her Chinese partners have moved on from the current pandemic and are now researching the “next outbreak,” since they obviously missed this one. 

This means Anderson is not just an interested party; she is a heavily invested party. If WIV is the cause of a worldwide pandemic, obviously she and others with ties to that institution will see their reputations suffer by association.

Whatever reasons China’s apologists have for defending China—to protect themselves and their Chinese colleagues, to shift the blame away from China onto America, to blame President Trump—they are offering opinions, not facts.

To determine the actual origin of the pandemic we need only one thing. China must immediately release all of the coronavirus research records of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control.

Once we have these records from China, it will be easy to do a comprehensive sequencing comparison of the Wuhan Flu virus, SARS-CoV-2, with all of the coronaviruses isolated, sequenced, and studied at these biolabs.

In particular, we would want to take a very close look at how the Wuhan virus compares to all the human-ACE2-binding coronaviruses that these biolabs have created or collected. This is the feature that allows SARS-CoV-2 to invade the lungs, where it causes the pneumonia that is characteristic of COVID-19 illness.

If we find no matches in the research records, this will prove China’s innocence, at least in terms of the origin of the epidemic.

If there is a match, we will know not only that it escaped from the lab, but we will also learn from the research records whether it was in some way engineered.

Now, if the Beijing regime has nothing to hide, then it should be happy to authorize the release of the records that will clear its name. So should the Wuhan Institute of Virology, whose director recently said in an emotional interview that she swears on her very life that her Institute did not release the virus.

Fine. Then release the research records to prove it.

Because of the importance of finding out the truth, I believe that President Trump should both personally and publicly request Chinese President Xi Jinping to authorize the release of the research records.

If President Xi refuses, that should be taken as an admission of guilt on China’s part.

Then we will have one more reason to continue calling this “made in China” pandemic the Wuhan Flu. Or, if you prefer, the China virus.

Greatness Agenda

End China’s Chokehold on Pharmaceuticals

A strong domestic healthcare manufacturing base is as much a matter of national security and defense as it is of public health and augurs the very survival of America.

China is the perfect incubator for epidemic contagion. It boasts an understaffed, overwhelmed, and under-resourced healthcare system crushing under the weight of its totalitarian government’s monomaniacal obsession with secrecy and its penchant for self-aggrandizing propaganda. At any given time, it stands precariously perched on the tip of a most delicate homeostasis, and the faintest spark of infectious contagion can cast it hurtling down into the abyss of spectacular pandemonium. 

As it did before with SARS, earth’s most populous nation continues to be the number one travel destination on any world domination aspiring infectious pathogen’s fantasy vacation list.  

For a nation gripped by fear porn, impelled stock plunges, toilet paper stockouts, and fertility clinic egg freezing frenzies it seems fantastical to envisage the end of this epidemic but end it will. The long term national and health security risk posed by our dependence on a Chinese manufactured supply chain, however, pales in comparison to that of short-term contagion. 

Factory shutdowns across China have already impacted the supply of medications and uncovered our addict like dependency on Chinese-manufactured healthcare supplies. 

An overwhelming majority of the world’s prescription drug supply, either completely manufactured generics or raw materials used in pharmaceutical manufacture, come from China. By some estimates, this number is as high as a staggering 90-95 percent. 

The Chinese chokehold on American, and indeed global pharmaceutical supply chains has effectively positioned them as the world’s pharmacy, by design, and constitute a key sector in Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” and the 13th of their “Five-Year” plans. Even India, traditionally viewed as a viable alternate supplier, depends on China for as much as 80 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and chemical intermediaries for pharmaceutical manufacture. 

The facts surrounding our non-existent ability to manufacture key pharmaceuticals are astounding, especially when you consider that we are now more dependent than ever on the Chinese, and that this occurred in the face of an established history of horrific manufacturing practices and Chinese inveigling to circumvent U.S. regulatory oversight. 

A dispassionate reading of the facts should convince even the most irrational among us to abandon our interminable hoard lust for the magical protections conferred by a year’s supply of assorted dry goods, cat food, and bath tissue, and instead comprehend the catastrophic consequences of an epidemic-disrupted pharmaceutical supply chain with the potential to impact the lives and survival of even the non-infected. 

The future probability of an epidemic leading to a pandemic is 100 percent. The probability of a basement full of toilet paper preventing an epidemic is zero. 

America Has No Antibiotics Industry

Consider this: the three most important antibiotics used to treat anthrax: Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline, and Penicillin, are either no longer made in the United States, or made in such small quantities that the supply chain is effectively controlled by China.

The United States no longer makes penicillin. Yes, you read that right. The last penicillin fermentation plant closed in 2004. Chinese companies cartelized, sold product on the global market below market price, and drove U.S., European, and Indian producers out of business. As expected, prices increased once the Chinese gained a dominant global market share. 

The United States pioneered the mass production of penicillin and its application in World War II in one of the greatest wartime triumphs of American ingenuity and innovation. What great irony then that we no longer produce any, and the country that sells it to us is now the crucible of epidemic contagion.

The situation with doxycycline is just as bleak. In the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attack on Capitol Hill, the U.S. government was forced to turn to Portuguese company Hovione to buy 20 million doses of doxycycline, a drug originally invented and developed in the United States. 

Hovione had to buy the chemical starting material from China. CEO Guy Villax warned: “If we were asked to do this again, we would be dependent on China providing us with key starting materials that are unavailable in the rest of the world.” 

The antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, like doxycycline, is critical in the treatment of both Anthrax and Bubonic plague. After the 2004 expiration of patent protection, ciprofloxacin is now mass-produced by generic firms that acquire a key ingredient, dichloro fluorobenzene from one of four Chinese companies or two Indian firms.

Cheap Chinese Products Kill Americans

Heparin is an injectable anticoagulant or blood thinner used for the treatment of blood clots. In 2007 and 2008, heparin sourced from Chinese manufacturers was linked to the deaths of nearly 246 Americans. Pharmaceutical company Baxter subcontracted the creation of precursor chemicals of Heparin to a company with production facilities in China. A lethal counterfeit precursor costing a fraction of the true starting material was deliberately placed during the manufacturing process in China for economically motivated reasons. Since then, the FDA continues to raise concerns that some of the original Chinese companies are operating under new aliases and supplying their products to third parties thereby circumventing their import alert ban.

There is no denying that the coronavirus epidemic will worsen before it gets better, and its economic impact will be significant. One of the most important lessons here is that China controls our healthcare. This is no exaggeration.

Valsartan, a commonly used blood pressure medication with a tainted saga received widespread news media coverage in 2018 when certain batches of Chinese manufactured Valsartan contained, per pill, more than 200 times the acceptable interim limit for the carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Subsequently, at least two more carcinogens and a potential fourth one was linked to its Chinese manufacture. 

Even more concerning, the FDA and their European and Chinese counterparts who inspected facilities found no critical concerns or manufacturing malpractice. The failure of these safety net processes came to light just a month after hundreds of thousands of children’s vaccines were revealed to be faulty, putting an unknown number of Chinese infants at risk and at least another 400,000 doses of the same vaccines, produced by a different, second company, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, were found to be substandard. Wuhan, of course, is the epicenter of the current Coronavirus outbreak. 

China Defeats U.S. Regulations

Unfortunately, such stories are legion, and they drive home a salient point: The FDA can regulate the manufacturing process of generic drugs. It cannot regulate the ingredients manufacturers buy. 

Almost as important, the law doesn’t require the sources of a drug’s ingredients be disclosed. Rather, a drugmaker can claim as the country of origin wherever the drug’s various components were “substantially transformed” into the final product. That means a pharmaceutical manufacturer can source ingredients from around the world. But if it pulls them all together into pill form in America, the country of origin can be claimed as the United States.

FDA inspectors can show up unannounced at domestic manufacturing facilities, but overseas operators get weeks or even months’ advance notice. Manufacturers have been known to circumvent regulatory oversight by using some ingeniously depraved maneuvers. 

U.S. inspectors were served contaminated water in India, making them sick after they discovered that the manufactured insulin contained black metallic particles and caught an employee absconding with a bag full of destroyed manufacturing records. In another shocking instance, FDA inspectors were held hostage by company officials at a Chinese manufacturing facility after the inspector began uncovering systematic issues around testing the purity and strength of the drug product. 

The FDA recently pulled inspectors from China and halted inspections of drug and device factories amid the coronavirus epidemic. The FDA’s database of inspections, current as of February 7, shows the agency has not listed any inspections of any Chinese sites since December. It doesn’t take an overactive imagination to ponder the level of Chinese manufacturing diligence under conditions of worker shortages unburdened by regulatory oversight at facilities routinely accustomed to churning out substandard drug products.

Drug Shortages Are Already Happening

The FDA on February 27 released a statement warning that the United States was experiencing its first drug shortage directly related to the coronavirus outbreak. The agency did not name the drug but said that there were manufacturing issues with a pharmaceutical ingredient related to a site affected by the coronavirus. 

Drug shortages in healthcare are not uncommon. For example, a 2018 survey of 719 pharmacists nationwide by University of Chicago researchers found that in the span of the past year all experienced at least one drug shortage, and 69 percent had experienced at least 50 shortages during that time. 

Sudden disruptions to already constrained supply chains during times of surging patient volumes and caseloads, as in an epidemic, could lead to rationing of drugs and substitutions whereby less efficacious drug alternatives are administered in place of more efficacious ones and could result in catastrophic consequences by scuttling an already strained healthcare system.

That the United States, the foremost leader in drug discovery, innovation, and healthcare can be reduced to hand wringing helplessness at the prospect of jeopardized overseas supply chains impacting the health of its citizens is unconscionable. While President Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a bill aimed at diversifying the U.S. medical supply chain, not much effort or attention has been directed towards the immediate establishment of American manufacturing capabilities for critical pharmaceuticals that can be scaled up in times of national emergencies. 

Without extant manufacturing, scaling up is an impossibility. Establishing a pharmaceutical supply chain from the ground up is an onerous and complex multi-year process requiring myriad applications, navigating a maze of regulatory processes and a concatenation of approvals. Abbreviated regulatory processes and incentives would go a long way to ease the pain of kickstarting our endogenous supply chain. 

There is no denying that the coronavirus epidemic will worsen before it gets better, and its economic impact will be significant. One of the most important lessons here is that China controls our healthcare. This is no exaggeration. From pharmaceutical building blocks to finished drugs and components in diagnostic medical equipment, our chief global rival has complete monopoly on the tools we need to diagnose, treat, control and cure disease. We inexplicably and frighteningly no longer make things we need to survive and prosper. 

A strong domestic healthcare manufacturing base is as much a matter of national security and defense as it is of public health and augurs the very survival of a nation. The current coronavirus epidemic arose from the very conditions due to which we lost our manufacturing independence: China lacks health and safety standards that allow it to price us out of competition by flooding the market with cheap and frequently substandard goods and medications. 

Yet if China were to announce an export ban on medical exports, our healthcare infrastructure would collapse in a matter of months if not weeks. In fact, in an article in Xinhua, the state-run media agency considered the mouthpiece of the Communist party, China bragged that it could throttle pharmaceutical exports and plunge America into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.” This demonstrably underscores our vulnerability to the weaponization of foreign-sourced supply chains and its potential to be used as leverage in times of national crisis. Even worse, what if the nation supplying the cure was the perpetrator of bioterrorism? 

If there ever was a silver lining to an epidemic, it is this: it has cast into sharp relief the unroofed scabs and track marks of our self-inflicted pharmaceutical dependence and given us a preview of what a drug withdrawal feels like. If we can’t get clean and sober from our fatal addiction, we may be consigned to an interminable future of compromising our national interests in exchange for our drug fix. 

What better way to stimulate our economy and strengthen the country’s immunity to extraneous forces than by ensuring a domestic supply chain capable of producing items critical for the safety, survival, and health of Americans? There never has been a greater opportunity to harness the kinetic energy of our nation’s emergency response within the eye of a pandemic maelstrom and use it to unleash the golden age of American manufacturing renaissance. Carpe diem.

 

Greatness Agenda

The Virus Is Speaking Chinese

It’s time for a conscious uncoupling from China before this miscreant mess of a rogue state destroys the economy and kills us all.

Imagine this scenario: You have a bunch of kids on a school bus. Most of them, all but one, are behaving themselves. They’re bathing regularly. Brushing their teeth. They’re not going around touching everyone else. They’re not acting up, not sneezing on other kids, or getting in anyone else’s face or causing problems.

But then there’s this one kid. He’s a total mess. He’s acting up and popping off on all the other kids around him. He hasn’t bathed since God knows when. He’s got a runny nose. He’s wiping that nose on his sleeves and on the other kids around him. He’s disgusting, and every time he gets in another kid’s face his spittle lands on them. Every time he slaps or touches another kid, that kid is liable to pick up whatever bugs this kid has.

Every kid who was within arm’s reach of the misbehaving mess is probably getting sick, and carrying the disease with them, spreading it all over the place. Those kids will take it home, give it to their parents, and their parents will take it to work and spread it around some more.

We have one planet. We have one school bus.

The behaving kids are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, France, Finland . . . most of the world. The misbehaving kid is China. And he’s a clear and present threat to the whole interconnected world now.

It may be time to open the school bus’s emergency exit door.

The news media are gaslighting us all out of using the very accurate shorthand description they themselves used for COVID-19 just a few days ago: Wuhan coronavirus. It’s accurate because the disease COVID-19 comes from a coronavirus, but there are lots of strains of coronavirus. As we’ve all read countless times on social media by now, the common cold is usually caused by a coronavirus—just not this coronavirus.

This coronavirus, the one that has caused a global pandemic and shut down all sports, music festivals such as SXSW and other large gatherings for the time being, originated from Wuhan, China. Wuhan is a city in the Hubei province of China. The virus, some say, probably came from people there buying live exotic animals in “wet markets,” taking them home and eating them. And if not, then possibly it escaped the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory.

So, in order to distinguish this coronavirus from other ones, it’s handy to call it the Wuhan coronavirus. There’s nothing racist about that. It’s geography.

We still call the 1918 bug, which caused the last great pandemic and killed 20 million to 50 million people, the “Spanish Flu.” It’s not called that because anyone hates Spain. Everyone loves Spain. It’s achingly beautiful in the golden light by the Mediterranean. It’s where crazy people run with live agitated bulls. The Spanish Flu is called that because, at the time of the pandemic, scientists believed it originated in Spain.

So Wuhan coronavirus is a handy moniker for COVID-19. Big deal. And by the way, this isn’t even the first time a global, deadly plague has originated in China. The Black Death, which was the greatest human catastrophe in recorded history, killed an estimated 60 percent of Europe’s population in the 1400s. It menaced the world for about 400 years.

The Black Death originated in China in about 1308. From there it spread to Italy in 1346. Sound familiar? Today Italy is again at the epicenter of an outbreak that started in China, and its 60 million people are on lockdown, thanks to the virus that spread from Wuhan to there.

COVID-19 originated in Wuhan. Even worse, the Communists who rule China with an iron fist may have delayed the whole world’s response to the virus. The South China Morning Post, which is based in free Hong Kong, reports that the Chinese Communists knew about the virus a month earlier than they have admitted.

China gave the world the bug and delayed response by covering it up. But to hear some Democrats and the media now, it’s “racist” to call this coronavirus the Wuhan virus. What the hell is wrong with these people? Our priorities are all wrong.

Actually, that’s the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is not what’s wrong with them but rather to ask who’s paying them.

Remember when a Houston Rockets official criticized the Chinese communist government a few months ago? He sided with the freedom protesters in Hong Kong. That escalated quickly, and pretty soon the whole NBA was acting like an arm of the Communist Party, suppressing dissent wherever it popped up.

Then a backlash began in the United States and the NBA whined that it was going to lose piles of money from its Chinese fan base if it couldn’t get along with the ChiComs. The ChiComs hate free speech, and the NBA valued greenbacks more than liberty. It was a shameful spectacle. The NBA looked terrible.

Is that what’s happening in the media now? We know the Chinese have a stranglehold on pharmaceutical supplies and manufacturing, thanks to years of bipartisan Clinton-Bush-Obama fecklessness in Washington. China owns a huge share of the world’s supply chains and manufacturing, and it has all but cornered the rare earth minerals supply. Those are necessary to build the smartphone in your hand, among other things. So China has American corporations by the short hairs, and American corporations advertise on big media. Big media know who feeds them, and it’s not you, Mr. and Mrs. America. Ultimately, it’s the ChiComs. You’re just the chump in the chair listening to the funeral dirge.

Since our current mortal enemy doesn’t like being blamed for the virus that sprung up from people buying live bats and eating them in Wuhan, they’ve yanked corporate America’s chain, and here we are: Saying the name of the town the virus came from is “racist.” Wuhan has become Voldemort, the One Who Must Not Be Named.

That’s stupid. The virus is Chinese. It’s the Wuhan coronavirus. Period. China touches everything and everyone, everywhere, whether we like it or not. And it’s a mess. And it lies about the disasters it spawns. It’s time for a conscious uncoupling from China before this miscreant mess of a rogue state destroys the economy and kills us all.