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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/05/GettyImages-818999770.jpg36485472Curtis Ellishttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngCurtis Ellis2020-05-20 20:00:512020-05-22 23:14:34How to Hold China Accountable: Build Our Own Stuff
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/05/GettyImages-1210365728.jpg16652500Spencer P. Morrisonhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngSpencer P. Morrison2020-05-16 21:02:252020-05-17 07:05:41COVID-19 Proves America Needs Economic Nationalism
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.
OnMarch 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 haveperished.
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 likeyoungsters 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 flightsto 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’stelling, 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 wassaid 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 inKing 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.
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 inauguratingwet-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,”reportsThe 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 hasordered 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 toinvade it and infect it.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/05/GettyImages-1222316411.jpg36485472Ilana Mercerhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngIlana Mercer2020-05-02 21:02:552020-05-02 20:07:42Who Invited The World To Infect America?
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.
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 Journalreported 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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/04/GettyImages-1128484020.jpg24913742Chad Baysehttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngChad Bayse2020-04-23 21:01:482020-04-23 21:56:32Smart Sanctions for China
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/04/GettyImages-1210114308.jpg33335000Andrew R. Arthurhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngAndrew R. Arthur2020-04-20 21:02:302020-04-20 22:36:47Now Is Not the Time to Release ICE Detainees
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. AAAratings 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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/04/GettyImages-1138098965.jpg16652500Theodore Roosevelt Mallochhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngTheodore Roosevelt Malloch2020-04-14 01:42:542020-04-14 01:42:54Infrastructure Next
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today he would wonder if computer models aren’t the equivalent of those fountain pens.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/04/GettyImages-1207944380-scaled.jpg16532560Curtis Ellishttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngCurtis Ellis2020-04-01 20:00:522020-04-03 11:33:56The Chinese Communist Party Virus and Its Discontents
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-174415876.jpg13012500Russell A. Bermanhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngRussell A. Berman2020-03-31 01:22:202020-03-31 20:34:02The Reemergence of the State in the Time of COVID-19
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.
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-1212934039-scaled.jpg17092560Roger Kimballhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngRoger Kimball2020-03-28 20:00:442020-03-29 21:16:49It's Not a Choice Between Lives or the Economy
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-99311491-scaled.jpg14402560Steven W. Mosherhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngSteven W. Mosher2020-03-27 20:00:032020-03-28 22:57:21China Must Release the Secret Records of the Wuhan Biolabs
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-94974672.jpg13252118Shiven Chabriahttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngShiven Chabria2020-03-23 09:35:242020-03-23 09:35:24End China’s Chokehold on Pharmaceuticals
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.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-1202063249-scaled.jpg17062560A.J. Ricehttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngA.J. Rice2020-03-14 21:01:412020-03-15 20:09:35The Virus Is Speaking Chinese
The New York Post last week published an article with the ominous headline, “Pharmacists quietly panicking over looming respiratory drug shortage.” The gist was that in addition to the rush on personal protection products such as face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and rubber gloves, the supply chains for various important prescription drugs, especially generics with components made in China, are fraying.
This should come as no surprise. As the number of cases of infection with the novel coronavirus (formally SARS-CoV-2, with the illness it causes designated COVID-19) continues to mount and China and other countries aggressively impose quarantines and perform screening, isolation, treatment, and tracking of patients’ contacts, the demand for various essential medical items is unprecedented.
Ironically, most of the world’s supply of masks and respirators, along with other materials essential for health care, comes from manufacturers in China. American medical practitioners and dentists who go through large numbers of surgical masks and protective gowns daily already began to encounter shortages several weeks ago.
University of Chicago researchers in 2018 surveyed 719 pharmacists at large and small hospitals across the country and found that all of them reported experiencing at least one drug shortage in the past year, and 69 percent had experienced at least 50 shortages in that time. The majority were generic injectable pharmaceuticals commonly used in hospitals, including analgesics, cancer drugs, anesthetics, antipsychotics for psychiatric emergencies, and electrolyte solutions needed for patients on IV supplementation.
The FDA maintains a current list of drugs that are currently in shortage. As of March 5, about 100 drugs were on it, and the list read like the contents of the pharmaceuticals cabinet of a hospital ICU or emergency room.
Hospitals are scrambling to assure adequate supplies of drugs that are in short supply, or to find substitutes for them. In the University of Chicago study, one-third of hospitals reported needing to ration drugs at least once. That means some patients got the second or third choice of a drug treatment, increasing the likelihood that the drug will be ineffective or only marginally effective, or may have unwanted side effects.
China has become the world’s largest producer and exporter of the essential “active pharmaceutical ingredients” (APIs) used in the manufacture of drugs, not only in China but also in other countries, including the United States. The United States imported $3.9 billion worth of pharmaceutical raw material from China in 2017, an increase of nearly one-quarter from the prior year, according to IHS Markit.
Shortages aren’t the only problem. APIs in China are currently produced without sufficient quality control to ensure drug safety and efficacy, according to the findings of an important report from the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, which was established by Congress in 2000 when China was permitted to enter the World Trade Organization.
Moreover, when it comes to shopping for these kinds of drugs, we can’t vote with our feet, because drug companies are not required to list the country of origin for APIs on drug labels. The result: “U.S. consumers may be unknowingly accepting risks associated with drugs originating from China,” the report noted.
But surely, drugs produced in China must be regulated, either there or by U.S. regulators, right? In fact, according to the report:
There are thousands of drug manufacturers in China, and the government’s regulatory apparatus has insufficient resources to oversee them . . . In 2016, the China Food and Drug Administration investigated 1,622 drug clinical trial programs and rejected 80% of these applications after it found evidence of fraudulent data reporting or submissions of incomplete data, among other problems.
In the U.S. and Europe, the percentage would likely be in the single digits.
Deficiencies in the regulatory oversight of Chinese manufacturing also extend to our FDA. The commission’s report observed that the FDA deploys far too few inspectors to China for the large number of manufacturers there.
The bottom line, from the report:
As a result of U.S. dependence on Chinese supply and the lack of effective health and safety regulation of Chinese producers, the American public, including its armed forces, are at risk of exposure to contaminated and dangerous medicines.
Complementing the findings of the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, a Government Accountability Office report released on December 10, found that the FDA is not completing enough foreign drug inspections, cannot hire enough inspectors, and provides up to 12 weeks advance notice for some overseas inspections.
“We have long-standing concerns about FDA’s ability to oversee the global supply chain, a High-Risk Series issue for 10 years,” the report concluded.
Quite apart from the threat of disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the lack of oversight is a prescription for disaster.
The disruptions from the novel coronavirus outbreak are a reminder that, whatever the benefits of globalization, the production of vital medicines should not be compromised by reliance on a single, potentially unreliable source or country. We need to take measures to make the changes necessary to protect the availability of safe, high-quality drugs for the American public. Demanding that U.S. regulators do their job at ensuring the integrity of imported drugs and precursors would be a good start.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-1159775221-scaled.jpg17072560Henry I. Millerhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngHenry I. Miller2020-03-11 21:00:412020-03-11 22:21:05What’s in Your Chinese-Supplied Medication?
As America faces possible shortages of antibiotics, face masks, iPhones and various other items now produced in China, it’s time to consider how we got here.
Although it looks like the blame lies with thousands of businesses in different industries, in this case, we’d do well to round up the usual suspects, a smaller number of players operating in one particular industry: big finance.
The financialization of the economy gave Wall Street primacy over the productive economy. Financiers drove the consolidation of various industries into fewer and fewer hands, harvesting billions of dollars first through the sell-off of productive assets in a mania of mergers, private equity, and leveraged buyouts, and then through global labor arbitrage as they drove (what was left of) America’s industries offshore.
Wall Street bet on substituting well-paid American labor with Communist China’s regimented cheap labor and replacing sales to a (once) prosperous American middle class with sales to China’s managerial class.
Affinity to one’s place of birth, fellow citizens, or culture did not fit in their MBA spreadsheet.
They first justified the calculus that created the largest transfer of wealth in human history with the Cobdenite utopian fantasy that as China grew more prosperous, it would also become more democratic, less militaristic, and so forth.
When that outcome did not materialize, the financiers found a new rationale: manufacturing (or coding or whatever) should be done in China because … shareholder value! Boards of directors of publicly traded companies demanded it. Venture capitalists forced startups to accept it.
The slick telegenic sharks of Shark Tank were so cocksure of the prevailing conventional wisdom they told a pickup truck driving entrepreneur committed to hiring Americans to build his product, “Get lost.”
And as big banks gobbled up smaller regional banks, lending to local manufacturers—the backbone of what was once the U.S. manufacturing supply chain—dried up.
Meanwhile, the management consultants, financiers, and politicians in both parties told us working with China was a win-win. We were beyond the era of competition; this was now a non-zero-sum game.
Wrong again. It is zero-sum.
Every dollar invested in China is a dollar not invested in America.
Every dollar invested in developing the skills, talents, and workforce of China is one not developing the skills, talents, and workforce of America.
Nor can we kid ourselves and believe an ascendant China will do the job of building up America. If you think that’s credible, watch “American Factory.”
The Obamas’ Oscar-winning documentary shows the clash of Chinese Communist authoritarianism and American values when a Chinese company takes over an American auto parts factory.
That takeover occurred thanks to the Obama Administration’s Wall Street-driven auto industry bailout. The financiers who engineered that bailout believed it didn’t matter who owns factories or even where they are. If the spreadsheet says it’s “more efficient” to make widgets in China, so be it.
Michael Boskin, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H. W. Bush, captured the worldview from beneath a green eyeshade perfectly when he declared, “It does not make any difference whether a country makes computer chips or potato chips.”
But now we’ve learned what we should have known all along. Of course it matters.
And it especially matters when a hostile foreign power has a monopoly on those computer chips, medicines, and other essential commodities.
Fact is, choosing to invest in China versus the United States is not a simple dollars-and-cents, bottom-line calculation. Certain “externalities” enter into the equation. Externalities such as national security. Externalities such as the continued existence of the United States. Externalities such as the continued existence of freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and individual liberty in this world.
By now it should be crystal clear to anyone but the willfully blind that the communist party ruling China holds and promotes values antithetical to our own.
It does not believe in free speech or God. It believes it should control every aspect of life and has constructed a technological surveillance apparatus to enforce the subordination of individuals to the state, euphemistically termed “the harmonious society.”
Even worse, the Chinese Communist Party is not content with imposing its totalitarian vision just on its own citizens. It is intent on exporting its governance model to the rest of the world.
Beijing demands allegiance from other governments and anyone it does business with including most notably American businesses. We’ve seen that with the NBA, Google, and Hollywood among others.
We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that the Chinese Communist Party is in any way friendly to our way of life.
China wants to replace the United States as the world’s superpower. It wants the world to emulate its totalitarian model, not American ideals of individual liberty.
We know this because China says so.
The late Israeli prime minister Menachim Begin said when the enemy tells you he wants to destroy you, believe him. Don’t doubt him for a moment.
China has told us what it wants to do. Are Wall Street and Washington listening?
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-1089916444-scaled.jpg14332560Curtis Ellishttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngCurtis Ellis2020-03-11 20:00:372020-03-12 19:32:01Wall Street Elites Made Us Dependent On China
Last year, President Trump agreed to a “Phase One” trade deal with China. As a result of this tentative agreement, the president paused a “trade war” that had begun to harm American farmers. But China hawks believed (and still believe) that whatever damage America sustained in the near-term was worth the longer-term changes President Trump hoped to force China to make in its grotesquely unfair trade practices with the United States.
Still, the agreement helped accomplish two things: first, it boosted the U.S. economy heading into an election year; second, it helped ailing farmers, who form a key constituency in President Trump’s eclectic electoral base.
The harder hit this voting base was by the “trade war,” the greater difficulty President Trump would have in what already has proven to be a contentious election season.
Yet, the limits of the deal are being exposed.
The United States agreed to exempt Chinese high-tech firms, such as Huawei, from doing business in the United States. It also allowed for technology transfers between U.S. and Chinese tech companies. These transfers have proven to be devastating to American interests in the past, as Chinese state-owned companies use data from U.S. firms to advance their military technology. Co-opting advanced American technology also furthers China’s long-term strategic interests.
Coronavirus also presents a strategic challenge. COVID-19 is a novel disease with a transmission rate even higher than that of influenza. The question is just how deadly the disease will prove to be to humans. It has already proven to be a grave threat to the logic of letting China remain the dominant player in the global supply chain.
China struggled to contain the virus at first. In fact, Beijing attempted to stage-manage news of the outbreak by pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) and carefully controlling the medical data coming from Chinese hospitals. The Chinese spent nearly two months attempting to cover-up the outbreak, thereby allowing for thousands if not millions of people potentially infected with the disease to leave Wuhan and travel the world, spreading this disease to other countries.
Even when Chinese authorities began responding to the outbreak, their purportedly superior centrally planned system was unprepared. Chinese medical staff were poorly protected against the disease and became carriers of the disease rather than defenders against it.
Moreover, the coronavirus outbreak may not have been an entirely natural event. Whereas many in the scientific community take China’s word that the disease originated at a legendary outdoor Wuhan marketplace known for the sale of exotic meat (such as bats, snakes, dogs, cats, and other strange critters), Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ala.), the defense reporter Bill Gertz, and I have challenged these assumptions. Wuhan is home to China’s bioweapons program. In fact, it houses a Level 4 virology lab that specializes in research on novel coronaviruses. Reports have surfaced in recent weeks that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been complaining about lax safety standards when dealing with bats infected with a coronavirus that sounds eerily similar to the COVID-19 strain currently rippling throughout the world.
In any event, as the disease has spread, the world economy has suffered. Once the Chinese Communist Party began efforts to contain the virus’s spread, Beijing was forced to shut down most production and shipping within and from the country. Demand for oil plummeted, causing world oil prices to drop precipitously. Meanwhile, as the disease spread to neighboring countries, global demand for goods suffered as well. Even if COVID-19 isn’t as deadly as the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the legitimacy of globalization is looking pretty sick at the moment.
We may never know the true extent, nature, or origins of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the West has taken a disturbingly blasé attitude toward China’s assurances about its containment efforts. In fact, Beijing has attempted to blame the United States for the disease while at the same time using what should be the greatest example of Chinese weakness as a case for creating an alternate World Health Organization-type institution run by China.
Clearly, the coronavirus is not a case study of unity and cooperation, as so many utopians in the West would like to think. Beijing is looking at this as another example of furthering its bid to displace the United States as the world hegemon.
The Trump Administration should recognize Chinese perfidy not only on the matter of its coronavirus response but on trade as well. Rather than continuing to press for more trade deals and a stabilization in U.S.-Chinese relations, the White House should more fully embrace the restrictive trade and immigration policies on which President Trump campaigned during the 2016 election.
The president would do well to put a halt to all technology transfers between U.S. and Chinese companies. He also needs to make it more difficult to share sensitive data between American and Chinese institutions. Then, the White House needs to more completely decouple the world supply chain from China and return many of those capabilities to the United States and its allies. Only by weakening China now can we prevent its plan for global domination from being realized. Trump needs to stick it to China bigly, no matter the short-term costs.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-1205677119-scaled.jpg14982560Brandon J. Weicherthttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngBrandon J. Weichert2020-03-07 15:14:042020-03-07 15:15:59Trump Needs to Stick It to China
The Centers for Disease Control warned America Tuesday that coronavirus will likely hit our country hard. This news comes after weeks of the media telling us that the flu is worse than the virus.
Now that the virus is clearly a bigger threat than the flu, liberals have decided to worry about the spread of something far worse than a deadly disease. Racism.
Dozens of articles have appeared to denounce Westerners wanting to ban Chinese travel to their countries. To liberals (and Chinese officials), it’s unthinkable to keep out people who may carry the virus. In their opinion, the real tragedy would not be thousands of Westerners dying but rather giving up on globalism and mass immigration in response to a deadly global pandemic.
One easy response to the outbreak is to close the borders to Chinese nationals. Russia did this after the virus began to spread and it has only experienced two cases of the disease. Both of the coronavirus carriers were Chinese who now reportedly have recovered. Several other countries, including Australia and New Zealand, also have imposed travel bans on China. But Western journalists say the bans are a very bad idea.
The Guardian shrieks this response leads to “xenophobia and racism,” so we must avoid it.
The New Republic declares “racist, right-wing isolationism favored by the Trump administration is as bad an answer to the coronavirus as it is to the climate crisis.”
The Economist bemoaned how the coronavirus “spreads racism” and more should be done to combat these prejudices.
Leftists and Chinese activists in Australia and New Zealand have demanded those countries lift the ban. They say the ban is a “racial panic” and discriminates against the Chinese community. “While we recognise the need to prioritise public health and safety, this travel ban is an unreasonable and unempathetic response,” New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations president Isabella Lenihan-Ikin said in a press statement. “It fails to consider the impact on international students and staff travelling from or through China, in light of minimal public health risk.”
The experts say coronavirus is not a minimal public health risk and dramatic efforts must be deployed to stem it. But New Zealand leftists think it’s far worse to inconvenience international students.
Left-wing journalists seem more focused on how to stop the epidemic of racial stereotypes.
The Columbia Journalism Review lamented all the “racist tropes” fostered by coronavirus. The austere institution interviewed scholars who specialize in Chinese studies to advance their formulation of rules about how the media should cover the crisis. Chinese political communication scholar Maria Repnikova, who is not a health expert, said outlets shouldn’t even show Chinese people in their coverage.
“[T]he scene itself, without the people, would show the isolation and sadness and fear, without sparking so much racism,” she told CJR. CJR’s analysis also warned journalists to not speculate about whether Chinese dietary habits or inadequate hygiene led to the outbreak.
NBC News published an article about the way college students and professors are angry at their universities’ responses to coronavirus. No, it’s not because the schools are failing to contain the disease. The schools are apparently failing to contain racism.
“The proliferation of anti-Asian images and comments, in association with fears over coronavirus, show that while colleges and universities are sites of learning, they are also places where misinformation and racism can spread all too quickly,” University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong says.
Some American colleges easily could become disease epicenters due to the high number of students from affected areas. But the most important task facing the university is to ensure no student makes rude remarks.
The South China Morning Post, which is alleged to have ties to Chinese authorities, published an op-ed saying the Chinese should not be surprised by the alleged rise in racism. According to the op-ed, the West is inherently racist toward Chinese people. The proof is in the West’s travel bans of Chinese nationals. The op-ed also claims a Wall Street Journal column saying China is the “real sick man of Asia” is a sign of the West’s anti-Chinese racism. The column concludes that the West enjoys China’s suffering.
There are no really good arguments against a travel ban. There is no reason to bet on travelers from affected areas to be totally free of the virus. The only counterargument is that we must support open borders at all costs. The Left is more committed to this principle than to protecting their fellow countrymen.
Globalists think that open borders make the world a better and safer place. Coronavirus shows the exact opposite. Open borders can kill.
Western leaders need to learn this before it’s too late.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/02/GettyImages-1204086992-scaled.jpg17032560Paul Bradfordhttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngPaul Bradford2020-02-29 21:00:272020-03-05 12:13:06Don’t Be A Bigot! Let The Coronavirus In!
It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. That would make globalization, and specifically the “Phase One” trade deal with China, the second casualty in the war against the coronavirus.
The first casualty—truth—occurred in December, when the Chinese Communist Party hid the outbreak just as it continues to hide the true number of infections and deaths.
Let’s look at the China trade deal before examining why the coronavirus should sound the death knell for the current model of globalization.
Anyone trying to sell anything to China will feel the impact as that country’s economy slows. GDP estimates for China have been downgraded. Prices for global commodities from energy to agricultural goods have plummeted as traders expect weaker demand.
The “Phase One” trade deal with the United States commits China to increase its purchases of American energy, agricultural, and manufactured goods by $200 billion over the next two years.
Since purchases are pegged to a dollar amount, lower commodity prices require China to buy a higher volume of goods. But analysts doubted China could fulfill its obligations even when prices were higher.
It’s another provision in the agreement, however, that calls the entire deal into question.
Article 7.6 states: “In the event that a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event outside the control of the Parties delays a Party from timely complying with its obligations under this Agreement, the Parties shall consult with each other.”
Consider: Beijing certainly knew it had a coronavirus problem on January 15 when it signed the deal with this custom-built escape clause tacked on.
The question is not if but when Beijing invokes the pandemic to get out. It may already be heading for the exit.
As the full dimensions of pandemic become known, the frailty of global supply chains and the fallacy of the management theory calling for intercontinental supply chains and just-in-time inventory management has been exposed for all to see.
While quarantining more than 50 million people in China in over a dozen cities, the Chinese government has closed thousands of factories as a public health measure.
Problems extend far from Wuhan, the cradle of the coronavirus.
Hangzhou, a city next to Shanghai announced it is closing down “all non-essential public places and locking down residential communities,” the Communist Party propaganda organ Global Times reports.
The local government limits the hours of “farm markets, supermarkets and pharmacies,” orders families to assign “one person every two days to go out to buy daily necessities,” and requires shoppers to wear masks and receive temperature checks.
Expect this to put a crimp in sales at the local Starbucks (it’s closed more than half its stores in China).
“In addition, all villages, residential communities and companies must adopt closed management, people from other places should show their ID cards, get registered and receive temperature checks. People holding or participating in crowd activities shall be seriously punished, and weddings are forbidden,” the Global Times informs readers.
Macao, the world’s richest gambling market with five times more revenue than Las Vegas, closed its casinos to keep the contagion from spreading. MGM, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts are taking a hit.
Apple is closing all its stores in China, one of the company’s largest markets. More significantly, it’s reducing iPhone shipments by 10 percent this quarter because of disruptions in its China-dependent supply chain. This affects Apple’s sales beyond China.
And the impact goes far beyond Apple’s sales.
Corporate mouthpieces in the financial media never cease telling us how business likes certainty (who doesn’t?).
Yet these same businesses have entrusted the wellbeing and future of their enterprises to a totalitarian regime that, it is certain, will lie and violate basic governance and public health standards we take for granted in the United States. What could possibly go wrong?
Blame a selective reading—or misreading—of the economic text management gurus have used to justify outsourcing entire industries to communist China.
Ricardo calls for a national division of labor, with countries focusing on products they are best at producing and trading with other countries doing the same rather than trying to produce everything at home. His oft-cited example has Portugal trading Madeira for the textiles that were a British monopoly at the time.
But in his theorizing, Ricardo includes an important caveat, one overlooked by the free-trade-über-alles lobby: capital stays in its place of birth.
“The fancied or real insecurity of capital,” Ricardo explains, “when not under the immediate control of its owner, together with the natural disinclination which every man has to quit the country of his birth and connexions, and intrust himself with all his habits fixed, to a strange government and new laws, check the emigration of capital.”
In plain English, he’s saying the reasonable man wouldn’t invest his capital in a foreign country with “a strange government and new laws” for the same reason he wouldn’t leave his country of birth to live in a foreign country away from his family, friends, and ancestral culture.
If the Chinese Communist techno-totalitarian state weren’t enough to dissuade C-suite executives from entrusting their capital to “a strange government and new laws,” the coronavirus pandemic and the social, market, and industrial chaos resulting from the communist party’s botched handling of the crisis should be a wake-up call.
The father of comparative advantage wrote that he would “be sorry to see weakened” feelings of affinity to one’s place of birth. (So much for the unicorn dream of “global citizenship.”)
Ricardo counseled “men of property to be satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek” higher profits “in foreign nations.”
The owners of capital and their McKinsey consultants would do well to follow the teachings of David Ricardo—all of them.
We may never know what the final death toll from the coronavirus is, but it has already claimed cherished nostrums of corporate globalization.
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/02/GettyImages-185760322-1-scaled.jpg25602560Curtis Ellishttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngCurtis Ellis2020-02-04 21:24:472020-02-06 10:08:17Coronavirus, the ‘Phase One’ China Deal, and Globalization
It is impossible to understand Spain today without using the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) as a guide to everything that has happened since. “Spain’s present starts in 1936,” declared author Javier Cercas Mena. With this in mind, we have no option but to begin there as well.
With the abdication of Alphonso XIII in 1931 Spain was thrust into a modernity it was ill-prepared to confront. Riven by ethnic, class, regional, economic and above all, ideological divisions, the next five years saw three governments composed of ever-diverging motley assortments on both its political Left and Right.
The Left had seized the initiative in the wake of the abdication to form a progressive government that immediately sought to strip landowners of their property and redistribute it to the landless peasants (campesinos), and to separate the all-powerful Roman Catholic Church from the state in order to eliminate what they perceived as its “medieval influence.” Driven by an increasingly extremist wing informed both by Marxism and anarchism, this loose coalition lost popular support as a reaction swung Spain once again to the right, this time under the Catholic banner of the Spanish Coalition of Autonomous Rights (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas, or CEDA coalition).
The return of the conservative Right to power only saw the political temperature immediately rise as the mining-rich region of Asturias openly rebelled against the new government (which was put down by a rising young general named Francisco Franco). The Left, having tasted power, sought to collapse the regime through the use of political violence which was met tit-for-tat by the increasingly-radical nationalists opposing them.
Similar to how the current American political scene is divided by “different truths” and where honest engagement between Left and Right has been rendered all but impossible in a hyper-social media environment best-described as “toxic,” Spain was by this point ungovernable. Asked in a brilliant 1983 Granada TV (UK) documentary series called “The Spanish Civil War” why conflict was inevitable, Francoist-era Spanish politician and one-time young conservative military officer Tomás Garicano Goñi poignantly replied, “We couldn’t stand each other.”
Closely monitoring the unfolding disaster was the privileged Spanish military officer class. Imbued with the motto “Dios, Patria y Libertad!” (God, Fatherland, and Liberty), they felt it their duty to be the custodians of Spain, reserving for themselves the right to interfere in politics should the politicians let things get too out of hand. A poorly organized coup attempt was put down by the liberal-leftist government in 1932, but the situation had changed so drastically for the worse by 1936 as the CEDA-led government lost to the Left in a new election that the generals were certain to launch another one. Political assassinations on both sides, murders of priests and nuns, looting of churches, physical attacks on landowners, all combined to force the generals’ hand, leading to a half-successful coup d’etat in July of that year.
The Spanish Civil War deserves a much longer treatment than I can give here so we will have to content ourselves with some broad brushstrokes.
The coup d’etat was only partially successful as anarchist and Marxist trade unions in places like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia managed to convince authorities to hand them weapons, alongside significant portions of the various police forces that stayed loyal to the new government. The loyalists, known as Republicans, had in their tent liberals, Marxists (Stalinists and Trotskyites), nationalist Basques seeking self-rule, Catalonian separatists, socialists, campesinos, tens of thousands of foreign volunteers (almost entirely Communist, including the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the United States) and unique in Europe at the time, anarchists.
As the coup failed to install military rule across Spain, the country was divided in half between the Republicans and the Nationalists. In places like Barcelona and Aragon, anarchists spearheaded a social revolution. One could fairly describe them as proto-social justice warriors. They killed landowners who hadn’t escaped to the Nationalist side, collectivized land through campesino-led councils, torched and looted churches (anti-clericalism led to the left-wing politics typical in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna today), murdered bishops, priests, and nuns (7,000 in total by the end of the conflict with some help from the Stalinists), eliminated marriage to promote “free love,” and introduced abortion on demand. Dissent was deemed counterrevolutionary, and massacres of class enemies began in earnest.
The Nationalists gave no quarter to the Republicans. An alliance of the top military brass, industrialists, landowners, the Catholic Church, nationalists, and fascists, they quickly consolidated power in their half of Spain, arresting all those associated with the Republicans, annihilating labor unions, and also engaging in massacres of perceived enemies.
Thanks to support from Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, the Nationalists were able slowly to begin squeezing the Republicans whose only aid came from Stalin’s USSR. The Soviets had flooded Republican Spain with their own GRU agents (the forerunner to the KGB) and this resulted in a “civil war within a civil war” as Stalin’s henchmen not only sought out anti-Stalinist Trotskyites but eliminated the Anarchists as a rival force as well. George Orwell, targeted by the GRU for being part of the quasi-Trotskyite POUM militia, barely escaped with his life as the Reds took over Barcelona in the May Days of 1937.
From Anti-Communist Bulwark to Political Anachronism
With Spanish leftists mortally wounded by this internal conflict, General Francisco Franco, now head of the Nationalist forces, was able to finish off the Republicans in the spring of 1939. Known as “The Sphinx” because he rarely, if ever, offered up his opinions on politics, Franco ruled Spain for the next four decades with the proverbial iron-grip. Having the wisdom and foresight to opt out of World War II, he bought grace from the victorious allies who saw in him a dedicated anti-Communist.
Buttressed by the “Spanish Miracle,” an economic boom that lasted from 1959-1974, Franco’s regime saw little serious challenge to its rule. Spain became the sunny playground for vacationers from Western Europe while it turned into a political anachronism as World War II and the Spanish Civil War faded in the distance.
Yet problems were bubbling under the surface.
Basque separatists engaged in political violence and terrorism were growing in confidence. The entrenched regime was weakening due to nepotism, corruption, and a weakening of its cadres as unscrupulous opportunists increased in number.
Alongside this, the liberalization in much of the West began to seep into Spain by proximity and osmosis. How could the U.S.-led “Free West” be attached to an authoritarian and dictatorial regime that repressed its political opponents? This was an internal contradiction (albeit not the only one, as Pinochet’s Chile and the Junta’s Argentina exemplified) brought to the fore with the death of Franco in 1975.
Spanish liberals and leftists are teasing the tiger, and the tiger is finding its footing. Is the American conservative tiger made of paper? Or is it real?
Transition and Liberalization
Franco’s body, entombed in the Valley of the Fallen alongside thousands of civil war dead, was still warm when those charged with perpetuating the regime immediately started to work to reform it either out of principle or self-interest. Juan Carlos began his reign as monarch and blessed a democratic transition that took form in the 1978 Constitution under Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez.
Motivated more by selfishness than by philosophical principles, nepotistic and corrupt products of the Franco regime chose sides to solidify its prospects in the new democratic constellation. Moving too quickly for reactionary elements to react, these liberalizing reforms saw the return of the socialists and even more disturbingly, saw the homecoming of the dreaded Communists, including civil war butchers like General Enrique Lister and arch-propagandist Dolores Ibarruri, a.k.a. “La Pasionaria.”
All the ghosts of the past were returning as if the Franco era was merely an intermission.
Despite a last-ditch (and pathetic) effort by a tiny group of Franco-era nationalists to overthrow this New Spain, liberal democracy began to take root on its hard soil. In 1982, the socialist PSOE managed what was once thought impossible and returned to power in a landslide election victory.
Defeated and demoralized, devoted Francoists were now a marginalized remnant as Spain’s future belonged not only to the PSOE but also the PP, the center-right party that rejected Franco’s legacy. The two parties traded governments, with their duopoly characterized by increasing corruption and the immediate reality of Basque terrorism from ETA. After joining NATO and the European Union, Spain’s transition into a modern liberal-democratic state was complete.
Throughout this new era of freedom Spanish society was changing. The Catholic Church’s privileged role in Spanish politics and culture quickly subsided as Spaniards secularized. Never a homogeneous country, regionalism beyond that of the Basques began to shout out its names, with Catalonian autonomists leading the pack. Free-market politics led to construction booms, while tourist development continued its brisk pace. Immigrants began to arrive in ever-increasing numbers, with Moroccans the most prominent. Spain now resembled France, Italy, and Germany where once it was the odd man out.
Many observers began to ask the question: “Who really won the Spanish Civil War?”
Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
Economic Shock and Secessionism
On my way to a wedding in Valencia in 2011, I decided to take a leisurely drive from Barcelona, hugging the coast the entire way. The impact of the 2008 banking crisis was on display as I drove past dozens of uncompleted large-scale construction projects that dotted this part of Spain.
Spain’s banking sector was significantly exposed to bad loans, with sky-high youth unemployment creating a class of cynics and pessimists, seeing no future for themselves. It is a truism that bad economic times lead to political radicalism and Spain is not only not an exception to this rule, but can be seen as its poster child in light of its tumultuous 20th-century history.
The ghosts of the past were being disinterred. Now-institutionally entrenched political liberals and leftists declared war on history, seeking a symbolic victory by demanding that Franco’s remains be removed from his tomb (which they succeeded in doing in 2019).
History would have to be rewritten in order to control the present narrative so as to determine the future course of events. Much like the attacks on “dead, white males” in U.S. history (as with the removal of Confederate statues, renaming of schools, and the leftist influence on the Common Core state standards), the Spanish Left moved to erase all reminders of the Franco era. Yet by doing this they also resurrected old political conflicts that belonged to that same past. Wanting to rid the country of Franco, Spain’s liberals and leftists also opened the door to the old cry of Catalonian Independence.
Scoring concession after concession from Madrid in the new democratic era, Catalonian separatists began to make moves to secede from Spain.
The great fear among anti-secession Spaniards is that Catalonian independence will result in a Spanish “domino effect,” whereby granting Catalans the right to leave would eviscerate any argument insisting that Basques, Galicians, Valencians, and Andalusians remain united in one country. Riven by increasingly hostile polemics between the PSOE and PP, the ruling duopoly has continued to act meekly (in the minds of many Spaniards) toward the separatism emanating from Barcelona.
A sputtering economy, high youth unemployment, Catalonian secessionism, a significant immigrant population that not only had terrorist elements embedded within it but also alienated many of Spain’s have-nots and middle class, the country’s political scene quickly began to resemble the turbulence of the 1930s.
Without charismatic leaders of their own, challengers to the ruling duopoly’s right and left began to appear. Podemos appeared on PSOE’s left, protesting against what they saw as the latter’s corruption and adherence to neoliberal economics. Vox appeared on PP’s right, disturbed by the perceived weak response to Catalonian secessionism, and as a reaction to what they saw as PP’s inherent wimpy behavior and broken promises, mirroring the populist movement supporting President Trump against the Republican Party establishment.
It’s Political War—and They Want Your Children
Until recently, there has been a de facto gentleman’s agreement in U.S. politics between the GOP and Democrats in terms of the tone of discourse. This has been upended due to the arrival of the 24/7 news cycle with its focus on sensationalism, and exacerbated by the emergence of social media.
The sunny optimism, deference, and politeness associated with U.S. politics by outsiders such as myself made America seem unique to many. Yet like the tragedy of the commons, the democratization of information and media has witnessed a race to the bottom in polemics and discourse, unmasking the true intentions of many across the political spectrum.
Frustration with those failing to adapt to this new manner of communication is why President Trump steamrolled his way through the Republican presidential primaries in 2016 and why Spain’s Vox is now that country’s third-largest political party, having scored 15 percent at the polls in November.
Led by the photogenic Santiago Abascal, Vox represents the rightist objection to the neoliberal consensus. Soaring on its hardline toward Catalonian secessionists (which then saw the government co-opt some of its language and imprison some of secession’s leading proponents) it also took aim at the PSOE’s social policies. However, despite the perceived softness of PSOE towards Catalonian secessionists, the party continues to cement its social policies as if 1936 never happened.
The history of Europe since the medieval period has been one where the royals (and later the state) sought the monopolization of power by reducing that of the Church, which acted as a rival center. This cycle of history was completed for the most part by the turn of the last century.
The appearance of Marxism on the political scene diagnosed another center of loyalty, the family unit, which stood in the way of total state power. Spanish leftists used the freedom of action achieved during their civil war to implement anti-family policies, declaring marriage a “reactionary institution,” free love as “freedom,” and abortion on demand as a “fundamental right.”
Typical of the Left, they intend to overplay their hand and invite a reaction. This reaction now has taken form in Vox.
Pursuing a policy that allows parents to have a veto on education that violates their ideological, moral, or religious views, Vox is threatening to vote down a proposed budget in the Spanish region of Murcia where it holds the balance of the vote. Rejecting the claim that children belong to the state, they have been ironically denounced as “authoritarians” and “fascists.”
We are now seeing a replay of CEDA versus Spanish Socialists and anarchists/Communists from the 1930s. Hostile polemics, aggressive denunciations, and uncompromising attitudes towards all those not aboard the progressive train are wrenching the country back to a bloody era. Spain already has experience in this type of internal ideological conflict and its right-wing, absent from the scene for four decades now, is roaring back with a vengeance, ready to defend its people, nation, and families.
Spanish liberals and leftists are teasing the tiger, and the tiger is finding its footing.
In the United States, there are striking similarities between the civil war era in Spain and American politics today. One important lesson to be learned is that progressives cannot tolerate compromise and they view politeness as weakness. They have a religious fervor in their stated social and political goals as we see with PSOE in Spain today, who are trying to implement changes that led to their country spilling the blood of half a million of its own people.
The state is coming after your children and politeness, fairness, and compromise are all demanded of you, but not of them. Is the American conservative tiger made of paper? Or is it real?
https://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/GettyImages-1186011490-1-scaled.jpg17182560Niccolo Soldohttps://amgreatness.com/app/uploads/2020/01/american-greatness-logo_201x37.pngNiccolo Soldo2020-01-31 21:55:282020-02-06 11:03:09Teasing the Tiger