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Greatness Agenda

The Trump Boom 2.0: Jobs for American Strivers

The United States will continue to pursue economic nationalism in a second Trump term.

This Labor Day, as we celebrate the dignity of work across our land, we can justly take solace that our economy recovers quickly from the ravages of the China virus, and the economic data points increasingly reveal a country roaring back to life, especially in job creation. We know much work still lies ahead. 

We also realize that we cannot reverse time and undo the incredible damage wrought upon the world by the Chinese Communist Party. The duplicity and malfeasance of China’s rulers quite literally infected the world and crashed the global economy, inflicting an artificial halt upon an American economic boom that flourished in our nation, with particular benefits to working-class labor, the American strivers. 

But we can decide, from here, how we approach this great national economic revival and we can—and will—determine that the path forward for jobs must include re-electing President Trump. We will rehire the man responsible for the conditions that led to the first Trump Boom, fully aware that the Trump Boom 2.0 already commences, and can accelerate in a second term. 

On Friday, the Labor Department issued another blockbuster payrolls report. As our country renews our economic vigor, historic records for job gains have been set in each of the last four months, with over 10 million total jobs created. In addition, the breakout report for August detailed a staggering drop in the jobless rate, falling almost two percentage points in a single month to 8.4 percent. In addition, these 1.4 million new hires in August represent quality jobs, as the pace of wage gains vaulted higher to 4.7 percent, year over year. 

To put that number in context, consider that during the entire Obama-Biden Administration, America did not enjoy even one single year of 3 percent or better wage growth, the worst extended wage stagnation since the Great Depression. Under President Trump, before the China virus, our nation prospered with 18 straight months of annual wage growth above 3 percent, with even larger gains accrued to the economic underdogs who so badly lagged during the slow-growth Obama-Biden years: blue-collar workers, minorities, and those with lesser educational credentials.

Now, President Trump’s wage acceleration encore unfolds, defying skeptics, and surprising economists. In fact, some of the biggest gains detailed in this recent report also flowed to the groups most in need of relief. For example, just three sectors accounted for more than one-third of all the jobs added in August, all of them industries typically staffed by economic strivers: retail, hospitality, and transportation. The hard economic numbers prove that store clerks, waitresses, and truckers returned back to work in record numbers.  

Regarding trucking, the Wall Street Journal reports that volume surges higher, causing long-haul rates for big rigs to climb to $2.22 per mile, up 22 percent over the same time last year, before any of the virus issues, and almost 40 percent off the lows of the spring during the most severe shutdown restrictions. Such data, combined with the breakout jobs numbers, prove that America is, quite literally, rolling onward. In fact, economic data points, from soaring home sales to strong industrial production, all quantify that American enterprise forms a “super V” shaped recovery. 

The last thing this burgeoning economic rebound can abide is a return to the statist and globalist policies of Joe Biden. His threats to inflict a massive $4 trillion tax hike on our country would smash the economic revival and punish 82 percent of all taxpayers. Moreover, he promises to remove President Trump’s tariff upon China, without any conditions for fairness or reform from Beijing. Biden would clearly return America to a place of economic supplication to the tyrants of the CCP. 

We are not going back to globalism. Our economic rebound gains steam, and this revival already leads to an America growing in confidence, and more secure with supply lines returned to our shores. 

In Trump’s second term, the United States will continue to pursue economic nationalism. We will prioritize our workers in trade deals and aggressively restrain the tax and regulatory burdens upon American innovators. Re-electing our jobs president will ensure that future Labor Days are indeed celebratory for American workers. 

News

New Unemployment Claims Drop Below 1 Million

Dow Jones had forecast 1.1. million new unemployment filings for the week.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to 963,000 last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

The number for the week that ended on August 8 is the lowest since governments began imposing COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March. It marks the first time the weekly total has been less than a million since then.

Dow Jones had forecast 1.1. million new unemployment filings for the week.

The 963,000 number was 19.14 percent below the previous week’s total. The four-week average was 1.2 million, a reduction of about 7 percent from the previous week’s moving average.

The number remains above the highest pre-coronavirus total of 695,000 in 1982.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 10.6 percent for the week ending August 1, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate,” the Department of Labor reports.

The unadjusted unemployment data showed a decrease of 15.8 percent from the previous week, according to the Department of Labor.

“Seeing initial claims dip below 1 million is a positive sign that layoffs are easing, but we’re far from celebrating a steady recovery,” Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Fox News. “Tens of millions of people are still collecting unemployment benefits at a level far above the worst points of the Great Recession. We’ve not yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel for millions of workers.”

With the numbers nonetheless indicating a continuing recovery, the jobs report could reduce the urgency for House Democrats and Senate Republicans to reach agreement on another stimulus bill, the New York Times reports: “Efforts to reach an agreement on another pandemic stimulus package could get even tougher after weekly new jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since March and the federal budget deficit continued to hit record highs, reaching $2.8 trillion in July—two major elements that could shift the negotiating landscape.”

Leaders of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives are pushing for a $2 trillion in new funding. The Trump administration wants to allocate about $1 trillion, and some GOP senators do not want any additional funding. Negotiations have been intermittent thus far.

The unemployment improvement may strengthen the Republicans’ argument, the Times reports, “with some lawmakers and White House officials saying the economy is beginning to recover and doesn’t need that level of support, and others saying that the United States cannot afford to keep piling on debt.”

As a result, “Those positions could further harden given that weekly jobless claims, which had been above one million for months, fell below that number last week, with 963,000 people filing first-time claims for benefits under regular state unemployment programs,” the Times reports. “On Thursday, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi doubled down on the Democrats’ position, saying that they would not agree to a stimulus package unless it provided at least $2 trillion of additional aid.”

The better-than-expected unemployment data kept the S&P 500 near its all-time high, CNBC reports:

“The S&P 500 was up 0.2%, briefly crossing its record closing high of 3,386.15 and sitting 0.2% below its intraday record of 3,393.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by 42 points, or 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite outperformed, rising 0.9%.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued its strong August performance as it too heads back toward its record high.

Further improvement in the S&P number would mark a record recovery, CNBC quotes Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis Research, as saying.

“Reaching an all-time high would mark the fastest reversal from a 30% drop on record,” Clissold said.

This article was originally posted at Heartland Daily News and is reprinted with permission.

Podcast

The Chris Buskirk Show: Episode 35—Malcom Kyeyune on Technofeudalism and the Latent Power of Middle America

Malcom Kyeyune joins “The Chris Buskirk Show” to discuss what he describes as the neoconfederate economics of technofeudalism and how the latent power of the American middle class has yet to be tapped.

Listen to “Malcom Kyeyune: Technofeudalism and the latent power of Middle America” on Spreaker.

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify

Greatness Agenda

Stimulating Consumer Demand in the Upcoming COVID-19 Relief Package

Congress needs to ensure its coronavirus tax and bill-reducing initiatives are paired with ones that drive confidence and boost economic activity.

Shortly before breaking for the Fourth of July recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that finalizing the next coronavirus aid package would be a focal point for congressional leadership once they return to session.

Legislators and analysts have kicked around many ideas for this next bill designed to put more money in American workers’ and businesses’ pockets, including a payroll tax holiday and back-to-work bonuses. To sufficiently combat this new threat to employment and business growth, however, Congress needs to extend its deliberations beyond the singular focus of providing consumers and businesses with more funds. It must also recognize the importance of implementing policies that ensure these funds flow throughout the economy.   

When I served as the U.S. treasurer, the Reagan Administration passed a historic tax cut bill, phased into effect over several years, to combat the early 1981-1982 recession. Although the tax relief increased economic growth significantly by the mid-1980s, lingering uncertainty over market conditions dampened the short-term gains. U.S. companies ramped up production significantly in anticipation of a boost in consumer spending, but the level of demand they expected didn’t come to fruition. By the second half of 1982, they had to slash overall output and tens of thousands of jobs as a result. 

The lesson here is that even in cases where the federal government fosters a pro-growth environment to overcome downturns, public sentiment still takes time to rebound. The current health crisis, mired in public wariness, likely will cause an even more significant delay in consumer marketplace participation. That’s a problem when thousands of businesses have already shut their doors permanently because of COVID-19. Plenty more will do the same if consumer confidence doesn’t rebound soon. 

Thankfully, in recent letters, more than 70 U.S. senators and 240 House representatives have already come to terms with a free-market solution to help boost consumer confidence during this recession without adding any new spending. This bipartisan coalition wants cabinet secretaries to put their already-funded advertising campaigns into immediate action to inform, comfort, and reassure Americans. 

Government agencies currently are sitting on federal dollars earmarked for the sole purpose of advertising. If there has ever been a proper time to use these funds, it’s today. 

The free flow of information is what increases consumer confidence, optimism, and consumption. Notifying the American people about the latest health news and data about how to venture out of the house again without harm will raise public sentiment, thereby giving business demand the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. Congress has made its desire for these ad campaigns to quickly take effect abundantly clear in its letters to the administration, but within the next relief package, it should also formally direct agencies to begin them now.  

While targeted relief to the hardest-hit industries is important, lifting the whole economy should remain the principal goal. All sectors advertise, and since the entire country would benefit from policies that promote this advertising, this idea should merit serious consideration.  

Whatever Congress does, it needs to ensure that its coronavirus tax and bill-reducing initiatives are paired with ones that drive confidence, increase economic activity, and accelerate businesses’ ability to stand on their own in a free-market system. History has proven that it’s the most effective way to secure a timely bounce back of the U.S. economy. 

Great America

Immediate Expensing Is a Long-Term Expense We Can’t Afford

There are much stronger alternatives to immediate expensing that will bring companies and innovation back to the United States and support small businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

As the country continues to battle the health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, leaders and policymakers in Washington are considering a number of tax-related measures to hasten recovery and stimulate the economy in the wake of this generational crisis.

One such proposal would expand full and immediate expensing ability to include structures. The popular thinking is that this measure would incentivize companies to invest in U.S. facilities, including and especially those companies that historically have opted to offshore much of their manufacturing.

While the proposal is well-intentioned, if enacted it would have far more negative consequences, and far fewer benefits, than many people realize.

It is important to remember that the tax reforms of the 1980s tried this approach, accelerating depreciation to 15 years for real estate in an attempt to stimulate the economy. While thoughtfully considered, this measure resulted in massive overbuilding and the use of real estate as a tax shelter, a dynamic that contributed significantly to the savings and loan/real estate crisis of that time.

As a result, the depreciation schedule for structures was eventually lengthened to better reflect the true useful life of a structure or real estate. While measures were put in place to try to prevent entities using the construction of buildings as a tax shelter, there are ways to get around the rules. Expanding immediate expensing to include structures today would incite the same unintended consequences the U.S. experienced in the 1980s.

Some economists continue to claim that immediate expensing of structures, to include manufacturing plants, office buildings, and commercial real estate, would contribute substantially to the growth of gross domestic product and encourage companies to return to the United States. These assumptions are flawed, however, as they do not account for the tax consequences and restrictions unique to real estate, which prevent immediate expensing for structures and buildings from yielding the same economic benefits that may result if applied to other capital expenditures.

These models also do not reflect the very real dynamics of a post-COVID-19 business environment. In the last few days, some of our country’s largest employers including Facebook and Twitter have offered their employees extended teleworking flexibility well after a phased reopening of America begins. COVID-19 has shown that through technology, a large number of employees are capable of being highly productive working from home, providing an opportunity for companies to shed tremendous office space costs from their books, and leaving uncertainty about the future need for office space in the United States. We cannot afford a situation where office buildings are built for tax benefit rather than market need.

Most economists’ models demonstrating GDP growth from the inclusion of real estate in full and immediate expensing do not factor in basic real estate tax rules, such as recapture taxes, passive loss, basis, at-risk limitation rules, or other market drivers, as well as company valuations and shareholder requirements. They also often rely on European data that fails to effectively reflect U.S. economic realities. As a result, many of these models overstate both the increased investment that would result from immediate expensing, as well as the extent to which immediate expensing would incentivize U.S. companies to re-shore production lines and facilities currently located overseas.

Also of great concern is the possibility that providing immediate expensing for structures will greatly increase the incentive to utilize debt financing, which many economists believe is already too attractive.

Take, for example, an investor purchasing a $10 million building with $8 million in debt financing and just $2 million in equity. Under immediate expensing, that investor would receive a $10 million tax write-off despite having only expended roughly $2 million. This is a dangerous tax loophole that could hinder the U.S. recovery from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Finally, there is the cost. The most recent estimate conducted by the Tax Foundation found that providing full and immediate expensing for structures would cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years. While many agree that repairing the damage COVID-19 has wrought to our economy will require significant and innovative government support, there are better ways to stimulate growth and encourage U.S. companies to re-shore their innovation and manufacturing capabilities that do not carry the same unintended consequences.

There are much stronger alternatives to immediate expensing that will bring companies and innovation back to the United States and support small businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

Greatness Agenda

How Thrift Became a Casualty of the Fiscal ‘Plandemic’

The COVID-19 crisis has been turned into a government-planned giveaway scheme to benefit social progressivism.

Should we print yet more money? Does the COVID-19 disaster deserve another round, two or three perhaps, of government “stimulus” cash thrown at it? Is there ever enough?

Let me take you on a tour to the middle of Rockefeller Center in New York City, where there stands a polished block of marble inscribed with a single word. The stone is the keystone of the entire complex, but it is little noticed. And no wonder because this keystone is dwarfed by everything around it. 

Built during the Great Depression, Rockefeller Center is itself a monument to the wealth and power of John D. Rockefeller, whose private fortune, adjusted for inflation, remains the single largest private fortune ever amassed in American history. As his fortune reached its peak, Rockefeller personally controlled nearly 2 percent of the American economy. The office towers soar above the towers of St. Patrick’s Cathedral across the street, and the courtyard at their base is a lavish display of fountains, gardens, fine shops, and, of course, the famous skating rink, behind which the great Christmas tree is erected each year. Nearby, the studios of NBC add a final polish of celebrity and glamour. 

Nearly lost in the opulence is the keystone engraved with the single word: Thrift. 

What, a visitor today in our throes of continuing “plandemic” may wonder, does thrift have to do with this grand setting, with our staggering debt?

Thrift is a forgotten virtue, much as the keystone motto of Rockefeller Center is the forgotten center of the complex. 

Thanks to trade, new technologies, and deregulation, among other forces, we live in an era of affluence. Well, we used to until the Wuhan flu began to spread. But the government believes it can paper over that catastrophe with more free money.

Like the keystone, the virtue of thrift is almost totally obscured by the wealth and prosperity of our era, and the ensuing sense of entitlement. These days no one wants to be considered a cheapskate. Frugality is about as popular as chastity. 

Thrift As Four-Letter Word 

But it wasn’t always so. A recent, and telltale, Yahoo word search on thrift produced few results: a newsletter on simple living, an offensive guide called “Cheap Stingy Bastard” on so-called good deals, “The Complete Tightwad Gazette,” the somewhat satiricalCheapskate Monthly,” numerous addresses for actual thrift shops, and the frugal tip of the week—things like saving aluminum cans. This is not the virtuous thrift of an earlier and more respectful era, an era when America first gained its greatness.

I have conducted a very unscientific and admittedly utterly biased sample (just like most sociological surveys) over the past month or so of the people I know and have met around the country. Some I know well, many are simply acquaintances, but most are new folks I don’t know at all. 

I ask them what they think of thrift. I don’t tell them I am writing about it or studying it. I just want to gauge their reaction and response. About half of this modest sample gives me a confused look meaning: Are you crazy? What the hell is thrift? They have no conception of the word, its history, or its lineage. Frankly, they couldn’t care less. 

About 30 percent of the people say, Oh yeah, thrifty, that means “cheap,” right? Well, I am not cheap. They have a pejorative or quite negative response to the term. They are running away from thrift. 

About 15 percent of people admit that they know what thrift is, although they still associate it with cheapness, and while they wouldn’t want to publicize it or broadcast it to everyone, they are—well, frugal on occasion. This dirty little secret is something they want kept secret, but they are rather proud of it. 

This leaves about 5 percent of people, mostly educated and having above-average wealth, some even learned with multiple degrees or regular worshippers in whatever church or synagogue, who admit to knowing what thrift is; to appreciating it; practicing it; and in some cases even naming it as a “good thing”—a virtue. Only 5 percent of people (in this biased survey, apologies to my late friend, George Gallup) have not forgotten the virtue of thrift. 

What have the others forgotten? Modern definitions of thrift are not nearly as good as the 1828 one provided by Noah Webster himself:

Economical in the use or appropriation of money, goods or provisions of any kind; saving unnecessary expense, either of money or anything else which is to be used or consumed; sparing; not profuse, prodigal or lavish. We ought to be frugal not only in the expenditure of money and of goods, but in the employment of time. Prudent economy; good husbandry or housewifery; a sparing use or appropriation of money or commodities; a judicious use of anything to be expended or employed; that careful management which expends nothing unnecessarily and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; nothing is wasted. It is not equivalent to parsimony, the latter being an excess to a fault. Thrift is always a virtue.

While the social historian Gertrude Himmelfarb was certainly correct in describing the transmutation of virtues to values as part of the general “de-moralization” of society, she was less complete about the religious origin of some of the key Victorian virtues, such as thrift. The Victorian contributions and moral framework in both Britain and in America were, as she noted, essential—not only for the good life of individuals but also for the wellbeing of society. 

Fiscal Conservatism Rightly Understood 

But where did this now seemingly foreign and distant notion of thrift originate? And how is it related to the American preference for what has curiously come to be known as “fiscal conservatism”? We need to make mention at the outset that a connection exists between thrift and thriving. That thrift helps us thrive is a vital point to make in offsetting the gravitational pull of so many of the word’s pejorative connotations. 

Fiscal conservatism—the public face of thrift—is a term used today to refer to an economic and political policy that advocates restraint of government taxation, government expenditures and deficits, and government debt. In an earlier era, this tendency was known as public thrift, because thrift was said to have both a public and a private side. A major cause of the American Revolution recall was taxation without representation. Representation.” 

Fiscal conservatism was most loudly and rhetorically promoted during the presidency of Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989. During his tenure, Reagan touted economic policies that became known as Reaganomics. Based on supply-side economics, Reagan’s policies cut income taxes, raised social security taxes, deregulated the economy,  limited the federal government, and proposed a balanced monetary policy to stop inflation. Reagan favored reducing the size and scope of the federal budget. 

Unfortunately, many Republicans throughout the Reagan era and after ran on these premises but did more to expand the permanent bureaucracy and big government while in office than even their opponents.

Fiscal conservatism has had its supporters and detractors throughout just about all of American history. Preference for frugality is not naturally endemic in a polity. Except for Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, few other countries have had an ongoing public debate in political circles about public thrift, the size and cost of government or balanced budgets, let alone the rivalry between the individual and the all-powerful state. 

On a communal and personal level, Americans seem predisposed to policies of thrift in their personal as well as their civic lives. Behaviorally, however, they often act, spend, and vote quite differently. And when things are going gangbusters, all focus shifts to spending and consumerism, not thrift. But when recession strikes, as it now has in our virus-induced pandemic, out from under the floor resurfaces that odd virtue, thrift—as in, I should have saved more and consumed less. 

Why is my credit card so problematic to pay down? Was I forced to charge yet more—stuff? Living paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings seems irresponsible, especially during a planned and instigated global downturn.

The Cornerstone of American Greatness

What is it about thrift, public or private, that makes it so hard to achieve? Does it necessarily contradict or oppose economic growth? Is there a paradox of thrift? Where did it originate, anyway? Is it really a lost and forgotten virtue? Is that necessarily a bad thing? Is true conservatism an amalgam of the virtue of thrift mixed into the aspiration to live in freedom?

With the U.S. government throwing money in every direction in these days of corona-induced spending, we need to keep asking these questionsas U.S. debt soars past $100 trillion in the ongoing pandemic and its aftermath.

The pandemic plan has morphed into a government-planned giveaway scheme to benefit social progressivism, not the needs of everyday, hard-working middle-class Americans. The debt we have amassed in this short period (over $8 trillion with a “t”) will be born over the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. 

he Democrats-turned-socialists are now pushing for things they would never get under normal circumstances. Their latest $3 trillion, 1,800-page hyper-liberal bill includes $1 trillion for blue state and local governments, subsidies galore, shoring up Obamacare, voting by mail, another round of cash to those who prefer to stay unemployed, and a bailout for the U.S. Postal Service.

The U.S. Treasury Department recently published a major report revealing that the federal government has amassed $103.7 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations. To place this unprecedented shortfall in perspective, it amounts to:

  • $315,315 for every person living in the United States.
  • $806,181 for every household in the United States.
  • 4.8 times the size of the U.S. economy.
  • 29 times annual federal revenues.
  • 91 percent of the combined net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofit organizations, including all assets in savings, real estate, corporate stocks, private businesses, and consumer durable goods such as automobiles and furniture.

Remember: thrift was the cornerstone of America’s greatness.

Greatness Agenda

Make the Inner City Great Again

The Democrats have been running the cities for decades.

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

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

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

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

Appealing to the Black Working Class

Then there are the cities, particularly the inner cities.

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

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

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

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

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

Free the Working Class!

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

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

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

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

Why Immigration Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

News • Uncategorized

Jobs Skyrocket in May, Stunning Economists and Corporate Media

Employment rose by an unexpected 2.5 million in May, bringing the jobless rate to 13.3%, according to the Labor Department on Friday.

The stunning new jobs numbers  indicate that the nation is in the midst of an economic turnaround as states gradually reopen after the coronavirus lockdowns. The May gain was reportedly the biggest one-month jobs surge since at least 1939 and perhaps in all of American history. “The only previous month to register more than a million jobs was September 1983, at 1.1 million,” according to CNBC.

The stunning gains come just three months after the U.S. had boasted a 3.5% unemployment rate, the lowest in 50 years, then saw that erased in an instant. The U.S. economy had been enjoying the longest expansion in its history but had to go into almost complete lockdown due to stay-at-home orders issued across the country.

Right up until this morning, the media was hyping doom and gloom predictions showing massive job losses continuing into May.

“Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting payrolls to drop by 8.33 million and the unemployment rate to rise to 19.5% from April’s 14.7%,” CNBC reported.

If Wall Street expectations had been accurate, it would have been the worst figure since the Great Depression.

As it turned out, May’s numbers showed the U.S. may well be on the road to recovery after its fastest plunge in history.

As Redstate first reported, New York Times columnist and Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was so flummoxed by the good economic news,  he suggested in a series of bizarre tweets that the economic “models” may be playing tricks on us or President Trump may have “gotten to the BLS”:

He went on to sourly attack Trump’s economic advisor Stephen Moore, calling him a “hack.”

Jason Furman, formerly the chairman of Obama’s Counsel of Economic Advisors, quickly shot down Krugman’s conspiracy theory.

“You can 100% discount the possibility that Trump got to the BLS. Not 98% discount, not 99.9% discount, but 100% discount,” he tweeted. “BLS has 2,400 career staff of enormous integrity and one political appointee with no scope to change this number.”

Most financial experts welcomed the cheery economic news.

“It seems the damage from the nationwide lockdown was not as severe or as lasting as we feared a month ago,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.

“The glimmer of hope in that [April] report, as awful as it was, was that 78% of the people who lost their jobs believed that loss would be temporary,” Clemons said. “It turns out that optimism seems to have been warranted. As the economy responded and people went back to work, the jobs were still there.”

“Barring a second surge of Covid-19, the overall U.S. economy may have turned a corner, as evidenced by the surprise job gains today, even though it still remains to be seen exactly what the new normal will look like,” said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank.

The stock market reacted favorably to the jobs report, gaining 800 points as of 11 a.m. ET, according to CNBC.

The great economic news is surely to disappoint Democrats who were hoping to lard up a phase 4 stimulus bill with billions of dollars for  left-wing causes and huge bailouts for cronies.

President Donald Trump giddily shared the news in a series of tweets, Friday morning.

He also took a swipe at Democrats, suggesting that they were hoping the economic devastation would continue, increasing their electoral fortunes.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) meanwhile took credit for the great jobs numbers, while at the same time warning that now is “the worst possible time to take our foot of the gas” on pushing economy-crushing coronavirus policies. She urged the Senate to pass the Democrats’ atrocious “Heroes Act,” which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared “dead on arrival.”

Trump held an upbeat news conference in the White House Rose Garden to tout the new job numbers.

“I think we’re going to have a very good upcoming few months. I think you’re going to have a very good August, very good July … maybe a spectacular September, but a spectacular October, November, December, and next year’s going to be one of the best years economically,” he told reporters.

“We’re bringing our jobs back, the president said. “We’re gonna be back there. I think we’re actually going to be back there higher next year than ever before.

He added, in reference to predictions that the economy could eventually bounce back to where it was before the pandemic: “We’ve been talking about a ‘V.’ This is far better than a ‘V.’ This is a rocketship.”

Trump also signed a bill giving small businesses more flexibility with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. He said the legislation would “especially help restaurants, hotels and other businesses.” The president also thanked Democrats for cooperating on getting the PPP bill through the House of Representatives.

Trump was criticized by Democrats, including Joe Biden, for mentioning George Floyd’s name and “equal justice under the law” as he touted the great economic numbers.

“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, color, gender, or creed,” he said. Hopefully George Floyd is looking down right now & saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country…in terms of equality”

 

Great America

If We Can Just Print Money, Why Are We Still Paying Taxes?

Now that the politically connected have gorged on public money, perhaps the people who really make this economy work can have a share of the next bonanza.

In the bowels of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a middle-aged bureaucrat with a clipboard and a hardhat pilots an electric cart past a row of gigantic printing machines as sheets of $100 bills blur through the rollers. He reaches a neatly-arranged cube of $100 bills looking for a Post-it note he placed earlier that day. He locates the note, which reads: “Property of the Federal Reserve.”

Placing a checkmark on the top sheet of his clipboard, he removes the note and drives to a second, smaller cube of treasury bills. The bureaucrat finds a second Post-it note, which says, “Property of the U.S. Treasury” and exchanges the first Post-it note. The scene, which I describe metaphorically, will repeat many, many, many times as the United States pays the trillions of dollars Congress authorized to spend in excess of tax revenue.

But those are just the constitutionally authorized expenditures. Beyond those outlays, the Federal Reserve embarked on a spending spree of $2.77 trillion in just 10 weeks. Add that to the approximately $3 trillion Congress appropriated, and we have nearly $6 trillion in printed money being added to the money supply. Is that a lot? Look at this chart, which shows an explosion in the money supply in just the last few weeks. Since late last year, the money supply is now on its way to doubling.

Common sense and history suggest that printing more money does not change the stock of goods and services that can be purchased with that money. With more dollars chasing relatively unchanged or diminished goods and services, prices must rise to balance the supply of money with the supply of things that can be bought with money.

Not so, say adherents to a new faith called “Modern Monetary Theory.” According to this theory, “Governments with a fiat currency system can and should print . . . as much money as they need to spend because they cannot go broke or be insolvent . . .”

Investopedia explains, “While supporters of the theory acknowledge that inflation is theoretically a possible outcome from such spending, they say it is highly unlikely, and can be fought with policy decisions in the future if required. They often cite the example of Japan, which has much higher public debt than the U.S.”

In the short run, the voodoo magic of MMT seems to be working. The price of gold, which sometimes acts as a proxy for gauging the stability of a currency’s value, has increased from just under $1,500 to around $1,700 an ounce in roughly the same period that the money supply has exploded.

But if the stimulus from 2008 is any guide, the new money will not be evenly distributed. Following the massive post-2008 stimulus of trillions of Fed dollars and government spending, the wealth disparity within the United States dramatically increased. All signs suggest that it’s happening again. A recent piece in Forbes shows that billionaires are getting even richer as a result of the COVID-19 panic. Unless you’re politically connected, you’re probably not near the front of the line for the bags of cash being tossed around right now.

One study found that the government loses 7 percent of spending to waste, fraud, and abuse. We’ve already seen early indicators that thieves have pounced on the money Congress appropriated for small businesses. Politically connected Planned Parenthood received $80 million in loans even though virtually no abortion operations were shuttered during the quarantine. Even the Chinese have made claims to taxpayer money intended for American businesses.

We could have done this differently.

In all of 2019, the federal government collected $3.46 trillion in tax revenue, far less than the spending spree of the last two months. Instead of printing all this money we could have said, “no taxes for the rest of 2020.” Instead of public money being carried-off by parasitic fraudsters and politically connected zombie companies that will never again be profitable, we could have targeted financially viable jobs and businesses.

Only profitable businesses and gainfully-employed workers pay taxes, so a universal tax holiday would have targeted the money to its best purpose. But we didn’t do that because that plan wouldn’t have scratched the political itch to hand out favors to connected friends and donors. Tax relief would have given a hand up to the only forces capable of leading us out of the massive recession we are now experiencing.

And, by the way, the Fed isn’t supposed to be spending money like this. The Constitution provides that, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Washington, D.C. loves spending money without authorization from Congress because it shields elected leaders from political accountability. It’s highly undemocratic to let the money supply be hijacked by unaccountable interests.

So why are we paying taxes at all? Whether you believe in MMT or not, our government is following it. Instead of handing out bags of cash to thieves and politically-connected interests (I apologize for the redundancy), we could be stimulating the economy in a meaningful and fraud-free way.

Now that the politically connected have gorged on public money, perhaps the people who really make this economy work can have a share of the next bonanza.

Great America

The Worst-Laid Plans of Industrial Planners

The future belongs to freethinkers who reject the groupthink of inevitability. The future is not what we see, but what we do. 

Between the iron hand of tyranny and the hidden hand of the presidency lies a myth: that the winning hand of capitalism and freedom is invisible. More than a sentiment about morality or a statement about the efficiency of markets, the invisible hand does not exist. It is either a blur or a bludgeon, but never without the ability to bless or curse entire industries. Those who would use that hand to give handouts to the purported industries of tomorrow miss a central fact about centralized planning—that it does not work.

Were we, in other words, to adopt Japanese policies to fight Chinese Communist practices of theft and deception, we would further ruin our economy. 

We need only look to the past to see how wrong Japan was about the future. We need only look at our screens to see the failure of Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

The failure is sharp, the transmission clear: a high-definition reminder of MITI’s losing bet on HDTV. More ironic is the fact that those TVs do not work—they will never work—without converter boxes that turn digital broadcasts into analog pictures. 

At the time, however, Japan looked ascendant; its ascent seemed never-ending. To question the country’s rise was akin to staring at the sun: a suicidal act before the Land of the Rising Sun. That the land is now more aged than young, that its sun lowers as another star—a golden star—rises, should cause futurists to rethink their past predictions because the future belongs neither to Japan nor China.

The future belongs to freethinkers who reject the groupthink of inevitability. The future is not what we see, but what we do. We must, therefore, think a second time about what we think we know. 

Do we think free peoples trust the Communist Party of China? Do we think the words Made in China are a trust to keep? Do we think Americans want the world’s wealthiest companies, the nation’s biggest trusts, to outsource more jobs to China?

Those questions answer themselves.

The answer is not to stop trading with China, but to lessen our dependence on goods made in China. 

The answer should include a combination of tariffs and tax incentives, balancing low-priced imports with a domestic market for American-made goods and services.

The answer should also exclude resignation and fear, so we may avoid a repeat of the past; for the past contains gaseous words and ghastly phrases of a single color. 

The language colors everything yellow, with narration about the yellow peril, while the facts tell a different story. 

The story features dancers holding metal-cased devices attached to adjustable headphones, in which orange discs shine like the sun disc of the national flag of Japan.

If the story reads like an example of bad planning, of obsolescence through superior technology, the reason is simple: the Walkman is a relic. 

An icon of Japanese ingenuity, Sony’s Walkman lost the future to Apple’s iPod.

We can do the same to China, provided we steel ourselves for battle and arm ourselves with the mace of honor.

The words resonate across the vale of years.

Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.

 

Great America

Republicans Cannot Betray Their Base in the Coming Economic Recovery

When Republicans forget Main Street for Wall Street, when they abandon the Fortune 5,000 for the Fortune 50, they are not just betraying their heritage and their base—they are aiding and abetting their political enemies.

As we contemplate a possible end to the ongoing pandemic shutdown, several questions lie ahead for us.

First—and foremost on everyone’s minds—is when will the lockdown end? And when it ends, what will be left of our economy?

One thing is certain now: The national lockdown is crushing small businesses.

Each of these businesses is part of an ecosystem of suppliers, vendors and, of course, customers—each of which is enmeshed in a wider financial web of bankers, mortgage lenders, bridge loans, accounts receivable special purpose entities, and insurance companies.

As we’re often told when considering ecosystems, knock out any part and the entire system may collapse. (Ostensibly, this is the reason the government requires detailed environmental impact statements, lest the inadvertent decimation of the snail darter sets off a cascade culminating with the end of all life on earth.)

Now that the entire ecosystem of business has been knocked out, the notion that it will be—or even can be—revived as it was before is questionable, at best.

While small retailers and mom-and-pop shops are getting crushed, the giants are hiring. And Walmart, at least, is giving out raises.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer wonders if America will be left with only three retailers—Amazon, Walmart, and Costco—after the shutdown.

We don’t know if Cramer’s nightmare will come true, but in the absence of deliberate countermeasures the pandemic shutdown could end up purging America of yet more small- and medium-sized enterprises and accelerate the corporate consolidation of our economy.

That would be a trifecta of disaster, hurting us on the economic, political, and geostrategic levels.

To understand the negative economic consequence, consider that startups and small enterprises traditionally have been America’s engine of innovation. They come up with new products and services and nimbly bring them to market.

Competition, as well as necessity, is the mother of invention and concentrating an industry in a few hands—a cartel—leads to stagnation not innovation. A few players can divide up the market and concoct schemes to drive up profit margins; they have no need to concoct new products.

Dominant players in an industry spend an inordinate amount of time trying to crush competitors, either by buying them out or selling their own product at severe discounts below the cost of production to drive them out. (China is using these tactics, especially the latter, against competitors on a global scale.)

Even in those instances where technological breakthroughs emerged from the research labs of large outfits such as Bell Labs, Western Electric, Xerox, or IBM, the relatively open patent system of times gone by allowed smaller players to license the technology and commercialize it.

Consolidation Undermines the National Interest

As for the negative geostrategic consequence, mainland China is an exemplar of consolidation on a global scale and it stands both to drive and benefit from further consolidation.

Note how big box stores—the end product of consolidation in the retail sector—drove American manufacturers to China.

Walmart had such a dominant position it would make vendors eager for shelf space an offer they couldn’t refuse. Walmart buyers would dictate the price it would pay, take it or leave it. And that was the “China Price,” what it cost to source the goods from China. The box on the shelf in aisle six bore a familiar name, but the Hamilton Beach coffeemaker inside was now made in China, not Wisconsin.

Further concentration of retail in fewer hands—particularly with Amazon—will only aggravate this trend unless retailers make a concerted effort (or are required) to buy American.

China has plans to exploit the pandemic-inspired economic chaos and further integrate itself into global supply chains through consolidation.

Smaller supply chain companies and startups with promising technology are vulnerable to buyouts in these hard times, and private equity sharks and Chinese investment funds are ready to swoop in. It’s possible some of the buyouts would not be blocked on national security grounds, though they should be. Allowing a hostile foreign power to expand its footprint in our economy is not in our national interest.

And corporate consolidation is definitely not in our political interest.

Small Is Beautiful

Contrary to the media’s misrepresentation of Trump’s base as an imaginary army of toothless, illiterate deplorables, it’s actually small businesses and independent tradesmen who make up the president’s base.

And that’s the same as it ever was.

Prosperous small and medium-sized regional businessmen financed the populist conservative uprising in 1964 that brought us Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

These independent businessmen—in towns and cities across the United States—loathed the Eastern establishment. They saw the government-corporate cartel of large money center banks manipulating credit and commodity prices to benefit Wall Street players at the expense of the real economy. David Rockefeller and his brother Nelson were the incarnation of everything these voters opposed in the GOP.

Since the founding of the Republican Party prior to the Civil War, small producers, property owners, and independent proprietors were a huge part of the GOP’s DNA.

The party championed those who made things—wage earners, tradesmen, and farmers—as opposed to those who profited from the labor of others while producing nothing—traders and financiers.

The party envisioned a decentralized economy centered on the small town where artisans, farmers and factories, producers and consumers, would work side by side in a regional economy.

Their vision of localism contrasted with the Democrats’ globalist vision of slave labor and ideologically motivated free trade. The plantation, after all, was part of a global economy. Britain, then “the workshop of the world” as China bills itself today, bought the South’s cotton and sold the ploughs and harrows slaves used to till the soil.

The Big Business Agenda

And just as Democrats of yore made common cause with the plantation owners, the Left prefers to deal with big business.

Progressives slammed “unsanitary” mom and pop butchers and grocers and touted the efficiency of the large chain stores. A&P, the Walmart of its day, found an ally in organized labor.

Driven by progressive ideals of social uplift by technocratic government, mid-century New York City urban planning czar Robert Moses bulldozed traditional smallholding neighborhoods he considered filthy and replaced them with gargantuan public housing projects. The federal government and David Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan bank financed Moses’ empire building.

Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers preferred corporate agriculture to family farms—it would be easier to negotiate a contract with one giant agribusiness than with a thousand small operators with personal relationships with the farm hands. In a brutal corollary, Stalin preferred collectivized agriculture to kulaks, the independent land-owning peasants.

Now we see the corporate giant lining up to sign on to the Left’s social justice agenda. They support the philanthropies, speech codes, and advertiser boycotts the Left’s commissars demand.

They call themselves global corporations rather than American ones and actively promote “global citizenship” through advertising and sponsorships. America First? No way—the global economy first, last, and always!

When Republicans forget Main Street for Wall Street, when they abandon the Fortune 5,000 for the Fortune 50, they are not just betraying their heritage and their base, they are aiding and abetting their political enemies.

If we let pandemic economic recovery plans accelerate the corporate takeover of the economy, we will be cutting our own throats as well as those of small businesses.

Great America

2009 Stimulus Was an Ineffective Tidal Wave of Nothing

When the government uses stimulus money to buy or build something it actually needs, it creates meaningful jobs and grows viable companies. Handouts, in contrast, increase dependency and slow economic recovery. Let’s not repeat our mistakes.

The White House has now proposed a massive $850 billion stimulus package. This money should not be wasted on special interests or unrelated social priorities.

In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The law called for approximately $550 billion in new spending. The money included an additional $144 billion in transfer payments to state governments to temporarily shore up potential shortfalls in public employee salaries and pensions. Another $86.8 billion was given to Medicaid. And $25.8 billion went to subsidize health care premiums for the unemployed.

Under the category of “education,” $53 billion went to prevent layoffs or salary reductions for teachers. $15.6 billion increased the size of Pell Grants. Some $13 billion was allocated, vaguely, to low-income public school children. And another $40 billion extended unemployment benefits and increased the amount received by $25 per week. In addition, $19.9 billion went to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a. food stamps) and $14.2 billion was given as a bonus to people already receiving Social Security payments.

How much is $550 billion? Let’s consider some things that could be done with that much money.

The George H. W. Bush (“the Bush”), a Nimitz-class supercarrier, cost $6.2 billion to construct. It stretches 1,092 feet, can speed through the waves at 30 knots, and can operate 20 years without refueling her two nuclear reactors. The ship bristles with missiles and can hold up to 90 fixed-wing and helicopter flying craft. It has electronic warfare capability, sensor and processing systems, and makes a home for more than 3,000 sailors and airmen. The Bush is in the same class as the Nimitz, which was commissioned in 1975. The Nimitz is still in service. One can reasonably expect the taxpayers will receive 40 years of use out of the Bush.

In 2008, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) successfully fired the first protons in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. The facility required the excavation of 17 miles of tunnels and thousands of special magnets beneath the French and Swiss borders. It cost approximately $4.75 billion to build and it is capable of accelerating protons three meters per second slower than the speed of light. If nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, this modern marvel approaches the outer-bounds of theoretical physics and produces fantastic particle-smashing experiments that once could only be imagined. The experiments generated from this structure advanced science adding value to humankind for decades to come.

But we didn’t spend the 2008 stimulus on ships or scientific achievements. Nearly 12 years later, what do taxpayers have to show for this massive expenditure?

Unlike an aircraft carrier, a building, or a supercollider, these well-intentioned payments do not produce tangible, lasting, products. America could have built 80 aircraft carriers for the price of the stimulus. Society’s capacity to absorb well-intentioned transfer payments to the needy, elderly, poor, and unemployed is simply limitless. But our capacity to borrow or print money to pay for social benefits is not.

Years later, the vast surge in federal largess dissipated without significantly changing unemployment. Worse yet, the fiscal crisis of the states returned as soon as the stimulus ended. The poor, disabled, unemployed, and sick, remained more or less as they were without appreciable improvements in their numbers. What could we have built with that money? High-speed rail networks? A new space program? Modernization of the nuclear deterrent?

Ironically, had we demanded more value for the public for the money we spent, we also would have procured the meaningful and highly-compensated skills necessary to deliver this value. Instead, the only jobs needed to disperse the money were those of low-paid paper-pushing bureaucrats.

If you ask to see some tangible proof of the great tidal wave of stimulus money that washed ineffectually over our nation, what could you find? Nothing.

And that is all that remains of most of the $550 billion.

Building great public works is not anti-capitalist. “The third and last duty of the sovereign or commonwealth,” Adam Smith wrote, “is that of erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it therefore cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain.”

When the government uses stimulus money to buy or build something it actually needs, it creates meaningful jobs and grows viable companies. Handouts, in contrast, increase dependency and slow economic recovery.

Great America

Capitalism, Corporatism, and the Free Market

Increasingly, the intra-party debate on the Right is about who has the power to determine how we live. Individuals and families? Or corporate political interests masquerading as a free market?

The intra-party debate over economics is off and running on the Right. There is a strong temptation, however, to distill the argument into a binary framing between capitalism and some form of “anti-capitalism,” socialism, or statism. Such framing obscures the central issue.

No one on the Right rejects the free market. Or capitalism. In fact, the three individuals largely responsible for provoking this debate—Oren Cass, whose new project American Compass seeks to “restore an economic orthodoxy that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity,” and Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), both of whom raise social criticisms of government policies that they claim prioritize corporate profits over the needs and humanity of the individual, their families, and communities—have all taken pains to emphasize that capitalism is essential to achieving the American dream. They just think the American dream has more inputs to it than a surging stock market.

In fact, the robust debate taking place on the Right is not at all a question of whether we should embrace capitalism or socialism. That’s settled in favor of capitalism. It’s about how the free market economy can best contribute to individual liberty and human flourishing.

But to have this conversation, we’d better acknowledge that our free-market economy, to a great extent, reflects the choices of policymakers.

There’s a peculiar tic on some parts of the Right that encourages people to treat the free market as if it has arisen spontaneously and exists separate and apart from any government action or policy. They decry any step by the government, even those taken to sustain the free market, with exaggerated terms like statism, protectionism, or even outright socialism. (Take your pick.)

But this viewpoint—that the government should not act—fails to align with the reality of our economy, in which the government acts constantly.

For example, our so-called “free trade” policy, in fact, is a jumbled mess of government interventions and choices made by policymakers over the years to favor powerful interests. President Trump has been criticized for using tariffs to bring China to the trade negotiating table. These tactics temporarily will disadvantage American corporations that manufacture their cheap products in China, and thus some have decried them as violating free-market principles.

The president’s ultimate and oft-stated goal, however, is to force the Chinese to open up their market and provide a fairer playing field for American manufactured goods. Adam Smith, in his free-market classic, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, addresses this:

There may be good policy in retaliations of this kind, when there is a probability that they will procure the repeal of the high duties or prohibitions complained of. The recovery of a great foreign market will generally more than compensate the transitory inconveniency of paying dearer during a short time for some sorts of goods.

It is also noteworthy that Smith goes on to address who should be making these choices—the legislative or executive power:

To judge whether such retaliations are likely to produce such an effect, does not, perhaps, belong so much to the science of a legislator, whose deliberations ought to be governed by general principles which are always the same, as to the skill of that insidious and crafty animal, vulgarly called a statesman or politician, whose councils are directed by the momentary fluctuations of affairs.

Similarly, the huge tech behemoths—Facebook, Google, and Twitter—only exist because of a special government protection given to them by Congress in 1996. Few industries in America have it quite so good.

But some conservatives defend tech’s special government protection, arguing that tech cannot exist without it, and that reform of the policy constitutes “government coercion” (the glaring contradiction in this argument—that it’s anti-free market or coercive to change the policy governing an industry whose growth was empowered by said policy—gets ignored).

Insofar as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube allow users to post their own ideas largely free from interference, this argument has some merit, and therefore they arguably should not be held responsible for material posted on their sites by users. The  argument breaks down, however, when they begin censoring conservative voices, banning and shadowbanning viewpoints, politicians, and thought leaders.

In 1984, the government stepped in to break up the telephone giant AT&T, which government policies helped create. But AT&T’s 60-year streak of near-total dominance was stifling innovation in the telecom industry. In 1996 (within the same bill that created Big Tech’s special privileges) Congress again intervened in the market to force phone companies to open up their lines to competitors. These interventions by the federal government arguably acted to enhance the free market, and spurred critical innovation in the Internet and wireless marketplaces.

The point here is not to suggest that the heavy hand of government is a good problem solver or that we need more of it. There are thousands of examples to the contrary, and I firmly believe the opposite. Rather, it’s to point out that the “free market” is not some existential, a priori creation, somehow untouched and unsullied by government policy.

Our free market is a function of our own design. It does what our government policy encourages it to do.

Not everyone questioning these priorities is questioning the inherent worth of the free market, or of capitalism, and suggestions that assume this are rather blatant mischaracterizations. Instead, people are taking issue with the parameters and interventions that policymakers themselves have set.

Corporatism Is Not A Free Market

And, to that end, conservatives like Hawley and Rubio are calling into question policies that may have become inimical to individual liberty and human flourishing—in particular that, for the last 50 years, the American economy has been designed to ensure that large corporations get larger.

This has been the bipartisan policy consensus for so long that corporatism—the policy choice to prioritize corporations and their profits—is now conflated by some with the free market. It’s become accepted orthodoxy that excessive policy deference to corporate behemoths is somehow the definition of “free.”

If the goal of a free market is to ensure personal and economic liberty, it is time to reassess the deference our policies give to corporations. Major banks, many of which exist because of the 2008 taxpayer bailout, and flourish thanks to government regulations and tax breaks, are now refusing to lend to firearm manufacturers or to finance gun purchases. Six major banks will no longer provide depository services for small businesses that work with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Dropbox, all of which are the beneficiaries of favorable government policies, willingly gave the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to users’ audio, video, photos, and documents as part of secret spy programs.

Google, in particular, helped the Chinese government censor and spy on its own citizens, and still facilitates the purchase of apps used by the Chinese government to suppress its Muslim minorities. So does Apple.

Why should those who cherish liberty have to choose between being ruled by a tyrannical government or a tyrannical mega-corporation?

National Review founding editor William F. Buckley, Jr., rejected this premise when he proclaimed he would “not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors . . . I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me.”

Increasingly, that is what the intra-party debate on the Right is about: who, ultimately, has the power to determine how we live? Individuals and families? Or corporate political interests masquerading as a free market?

A truly free market would be one that removes the special interest credits, the loopholes, the incentives, the corporate protections. But that is not the market we have, so instead, our free-market discussion actually distills down to one of trade-offs and prioritization.

A more honest discussion would be built around the truths and nuances of that idea. One that seeks to cast the debate as merely a binary choice between capitalism or socialism obscures the essential question: if the goal of a free market is to induce individual liberty and human flourishing, how shall we proceed?

Great America

The Coming Coronavirus Stagflation

As you find yourself buying bulk rice and toilet paper to prepare for the effect of coronavirus, let me offer one piece of advice: I can’t tell you whether gold or real estate will be sound investments. But there’s one can’t-miss place for your money: pay off your credit cards.

How should you position yourself to prepare for the coming financial upheaval that may result from the coronavirus? The coronavirus already has caused a supply shock that we have yet fully to comprehend. We can’t look into the future but we can look at the past. One possible way the interruption of Chinese manufactured goods will affect the economy is the way the oil shock of the 1970s did.

Back in the 1970s, all of the really smart economists used to describe the economy like a dial on a stereo that allowed you to adjust the balance between bass and treble. Economists believed one could achieve a perfect balance between inflation and unemployment by fiddling with the money supply until striking the magic combination of the two. Economists tend to favor central planning and technocratic approaches to economics because, let’s be honest, nobody pays an economist to advise governments to do nothing.

But in the 1970s, something happened to upend this theory: Inflation and unemployment took off at the same time. The Federal Reserve continued fiddling with the dials but unemployment and inflation both got worse anyway. Why?

In theory, the presence of easy money in an economy encourages hiring more workers to accommodate business expansion. Scarce money makes high prices unsustainable at the cost of higher unemployment. Lower interest rates mean more money gushing through the economy but higher prices. Higher interest rates mean lower prices but higher unemployment. The trade-off is quite intuitive—until it isn’t.

In 2018, China accounted for 28 percent of global manufacturing output. That number understates China’s importance because China specializes in mid to low-cost manufacturing. For another basis of comparison, China’s share of the world’s manufacturing accounts for more than its next two competitors combined, the United States at 16.6 percent and Japan at 7.2 percent.

There just isn’t enough manufacturing capacity outside of China to make up for a loss in Chinese goods on a short-term basis. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the epidemic, “has paralyzed large swaths of the country and led many businesses to remain shut for weeks.” It further noted, “In a survey of 7,000 Chinese exporters released last week by China’s Ministry of Commerce, 90 percent reported shipping difficulties and canceled orders caused by delayed deliveries and factory shutdowns.” Worse yet, the “likelihood of a quick V-shaped recovery in the coming months is falling fast.” So what has any of this got to do with the 1970s?

In the 1970s, when the oil shock touched off stagflation, oil accounted for a paltry 5 percent of GDP. Energy has generally been excluded from inflation calculations because of its volatile nature. But energy nevertheless affected other prices as an input into almost everything.

Compare and contrast that to what China makes and its important role in the consumer price index. The cost of items like televisions, appliances, furniture, and other manufactured goods has gone down and down for decades thanks to China’s aggressive mercantilist approach which calls for underbidding competitors to gain market share advantages. The supply interruption of even a couple of months will cause shortages or price increases in items that have a significant effect on the formula for calculating inflation.

Like oil, Chinese goods go into everything. Many of those tiny little plastic parts that go into cars, toilets, and furniture are manufactured only in China. Our own automobile manufacturing soon could be impacted by an interruption of all those inexpensive little gadgets that go into cars.

Once inflation resulting from shortages is confirmed, the Federal Reserve dutifully will adjust interest rates to slow price increases. But these price increases will not be the result of overheated demand.

The coronavirus price increase, like the oil shock price spikes, will be the result of fewer goods being bid upon by the same money. Inflation will also make it relatively more expensive to hold cash as a store of value. To balance risk, investors will start shifting out of cash into non-cash assets. Cash will become almost toxic as inflation continues to rise. The Federal Reserve will raise interest rates even more, hoping to get in front of the panic.

We can remember that inflation at the end of 1979 reached an eye-popping 11.3 percent. The next year, it increased even more, to a banana republic level of 13.5 percent. In 1981, inflation declined slightly but remained very high at 10.3 percent. The year-to-year numbers might be scary but even more scary was the cumulative compound-interest effect of four years of high inflation. To combat this inflation, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to a whopping 19.04 percent at its peak in June 1981. That resulted in the recession and high unemployment of the early 1980s.

At the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis, the M2 money supply was around $8 trillion. Today it is not quite double that amount at around $15 trillion. The GDP in 2008 was around $15 trillion. Today, it’s not quite $22 trillion. Thus, since 2008, the money supply has gone up almost twice as fast as the GDP. A lot of people feel secure holding cash as a hedge against uncertainty. That money isn’t circulating and driving up prices. If that confidence ever cracks, there’s a tidal wave of dollars waiting to come flooding back into the market.

Printing more dollars cannot make televisions magically appear to offset closed factories in China. Televisions and everything else made in China will become harder to get and more expensive. It’s just math.

As you find yourself buying bulk rice and toilet paper to prepare for the effect of coronavirus, let me offer one piece of advice: I can’t tell you whether gold or real estate will be sound investments. But there’s one can’t-miss place for your money: pay off your credit cards.

The interest rate is only going to get higher as the uncertainty unfolds. If I’m wrong, you can always run your balances back up again when the crisis abates. If you’re lending money, now might be a bad time to lock in a loan at a low, fixed-rate. These disruptions also tend to reveal too-good-to-be-true schemes for the frauds they are. Enron and Bernie Madoff, for example, were discovered as investors needed to withdraw cash out of their paper bonanzas. Now would be an excellent time to get out of that sketchy investment opportunity that seems to be defying gravity.

Oh, and wash your hands.

Greatness Agenda

Four Aces of Trump’s New Deal for Americans

Tax reform, trade reform, regulatory reform, and energy reform offer winning hand for all Americans.

President Trump’s populist economic program continues to stump the band of economists who pass themselves off as experts.

Remember Harry Truman’s definition of an expert: “a fella who was afraid to learn anything new because then he wouldn’t be an expert anymore.” President Trump’s booming economy in 2019 proved Truman’s dictum in spades.

Like Pharaoh’s priests, the experts refuse to learn anything new. But President Trump’s tetrad of populist economic nationalism has proven superior to the court magicians of the economic pharaohs.

The Trump four-fold formula, conceived in the campaign and delivered as promised in his administration, combines tax reform, trade reform, regulatory reform, and energy reform to supercharge national economic growth.

Its power comes from the combination of the four elements: together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Together, they work synergistically to make the United States the best place on earth to invest and do business—and to live, work, and raise a family.

And that is exactly what we’re seeing. While the economies of Germany and China stagnate, while economic riots grip France, Colombia, Chile, Tehran, Beirut, and Baghdad, the American economy goes from strength to strength.

Unemployment is at a 50-year low, the latest jobs report blew the doors off, the stock market hit record highs, and so did holiday sales.

Democrats tell us the Trump economic program would only benefit the rich and superrich. But the data proved them wrong.

Wages for everyone are rising, and workers at the bottom end of the pay scale are seeing bigger gains than those at the top.

Despite predictions “those jobs are never coming back,” America added over a half million manufacturing jobs since President Trump was sworn in, including some 76,000 factory jobs in 2019 alone.

Tax Reform Was the Spark

How did the four-fold formula produce this economic miracle?

America had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world. Essentially, we were penalizing businesses for investing here.

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act changed all that. Rates that were once the highest are now the lowest, and companies that had been fleeing our shores are moving back.

President Trump’s trade reform adds incentives to invest in America. He recognized that Communist China and other countries use predatory trade practices including export subsidies, currency manipulation, wage suppression, and government-engineered theft of trade secrets to drive American businesses into bankruptcy.

Previous administrations placed their faith in failed utopian economic theories and failed international institutions such as the World Trade Organization.

President Trump unilaterally imposed tariffs on wrongdoers rather than waiting for the gutless bureaucrats in Geneva who the record shows could be counted on to do too little, too late.

Of course, the high priests of Davos went into full freakout mode over the tariffs. They predicted inflation would ravage the land like a California wildfire.

But again, the data proved them wrong. Consumer and producer prices remained flat. That’s not what the experts were taught was supposed to happen, so they couldn’t see it even as it was happening.

The Experts Were Proved Wrong Again on Trade

The experts also told us no trading partner would tolerate an America First trade policy. They were used to giving away the store to buy America’s “friends” around the world. We were told Communist China would become a freedom-loving ally of the United States if we gave them our capital, our technology, and our jobs. They were disastrously wrong.

President Trump leveraged America’s consumer market, the largest in the world, for better deals. Threatened with punishing tariffs, Mexico not only sealed its border to stop illegal immigrants, it signed a new trade deal, USMCA promised to replace the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. Another campaign promise fulfilled.

Red China came to the negotiating table, South Korea renegotiated its trade agreement with the United States and Great Britain is eager to strike a deal with us.

President Trump also took a machete to the kudzu springing up from the administrative state.

He promised to scrap two regulations for each new one issued. But he exceeded even his own goals, achieving a 22-to-1 reduction.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute found the Federal Register, the bureaucracy’s bible of government rules, has shrunk by a third under President Trump. It took President Reagan years to reach that benchmark.

To understand the impact of deregulation on business activity, consider the American Action Forum tallied $560 million in savings from regulatory cuts in just the first eight months of the Trump administration.

Businesses held their breath—and their cash—in anticipation of another costly regulatory assault from Obama bureaucrats. Now they can finally exhale, and that breathed new life into the economy.

The final element in the four-fold formula for revitalizing America is energy reform, and it is intrinsically linked to the other elements.

Energy reform recognizes that America’s vast energy reserves give us an advantage over global competitors.

The price of natural gas in America is a fraction of what it costs in Asia. Cheap abundant energy—essential for an industrial economy—offsets the cheap labor of East Asia.

So there you have the four aces—tax reform, trade reform, regulatory reform and energy reform—a new deal and a winning hand for all Americans.

Given a choice between placing their money in the clutches of confiscatory regimes abroad and facing punitive tariffs on one hand, or investing in a robust continent-wide consumer market with low taxes and respect for property rights on the other, investors are placing their bets on America first.

Here’s a prediction: President Trump’s populist economics will continue to prove the experts wrong in 2020.

Happy New Year!

Elections

The Democrats’ ‘Green Collar’ Code

America’s blue-collar workers know that today, when the Democrats talk about “green collar jobs,” they’re telling blue-collar workers to “learn to code.” And their response needs no translation.

In response to the regressive Left, let’s take a timely trek down the memory hole to note a rather important missing piece of their public policy puzzle which, as is their wont, they’ve proven unable to find. (Of course, I am in no way implying they’re trying.)

Back in the summer of 2008, I took to the House floor to give a short speech on “How to Speak Democrat.” In my remarks, referring to the nebulous and bogus economic claims of environmental radicals, I made a simple and patently true point:

Green collar jobs translates into unemployment. “Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with green collar jobs.” [This] translates into “Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with unemployment.”

The Left’s vehement reaction to my speech was not matched by an equivalent effort to refute my argument, but instead by an effort to try and make me rue my existence. After all, given the elitist media’s aiding and abetting of their narrative, why bother to actually address the issue of blue collar jobs? If the media could not address that question for my sake, then how about for the sakes of the blue collar voters the Democrats allege to champion?

As the Epoch Times’ Zachary Stieber reports, the recent Democratic presidential primary debate held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles proves the Democrats remain blithely content not to champion, but to sacrifice blue-collar workers to slake the apocalyptic whims of the climate cult.

Thankfully, moderator Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent who also grew up in Michigan, didn’t get the long-standing elitist media memo informing them that inquiring about the fate of blue collar workers is passé:

Alberta: As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth even though it could potentially displace thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?

Biden: The answer’s yes. Because the opportunity, the opportunity for those workers is to transition to high-paying jobs, as Tom [Steyer] said, is real.

Gee, if that doesn’t alleviate blue-collar workers’ angst about Democrats and the climate cult coming for their jobs, they can go ask billionaire ex-hedge fund manager Steyer about the fate of their humble, hardworking, heartfelt American dreams. So, what does Steyer have to say to them?

A chimeric tissue of talking points that will serve as their futures’ epitaph: “Not only can we clean up the air and water in our black and brown communities where our pollution is concentrated, this is also the opportunity to create literally millions of middle-class, union jobs—well paid—across the United States of America. Our biggest crisis is our biggest opportunity.”

Hey, and the hits keep on comin’. On his first day in office, Steyer vows to declare a state of emergency due to climate change. (His second emergency declaration will address the economic depression he caused with his first.)

How reassuring for blue collar workers to know Steyer from Day One will start putting them into the unemployment line. One must wonder if Biden, Steyer and their Democratic cohorts realize how being forced into unemployment is the biggest crisis blue collar workers—hell, any person—faces; and that Democratic promises and talking points don’t put food on the table. Or maybe the Democrats do realize it, but just don’t give a damn. If little else, the 2016 presidential election told them that blue collar voters who love their country, work their asses off, and get called deplorable, polluters, and worse have already exited the Democratic Party in droves and will continue to do so long as the Left continues to sacrifice them upon the pyre of the climate cult’s approval.

But wait, for blue collar workers there’s more of this less. Feel the Bern!

Once more, per the Epoch Times:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), speaking right after Biden, said that the issue wasn’t relocating people in towns. “The issue now is whether we save the planet for our children and our grandchildren.” He said that the United States should declare a national emergency for climate change and “lead the world” in the arena, taking funds from the military and using that money to “fight climate change.”

Yes, why wouldn’t blue-collar workers—many of whom actually make armaments to defend American’s liberty (“Arsenal of Democracy,” Bernie)—want to lose their jobs and, ultimately, their liberty, so a doddering socialist can indulge his cosmopolitan fetish for foreign laurels? The only practical-minded people who would buy into this insanity are all the wrong people—the People’s Liberation Army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, et al.

Contrarily, America’s practical-minded blue-collar workers can smell this leftist B.S. a mile away when it wafts in from the coasts. They know that today, when the Democrats talk about “green-collar jobs,” they’re telling blue-collar workers to “learn to code.”

America’s blue-collar workers’ response needs no translation.

Elections

The Crackers and Frackers Could Hold the Keys to 2020

MONACA, Pennsylvania—All Darrin Kelly wanted for the energy workers in Western Pennsylvania was that the Democratic presidential hopefuls would talk to them before going to war against shale.

That opportunity slipped away last Friday when Elizabeth Warren joined Bernie Sanders in calling for a total fracking ban.

“On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere,” Warren tweeted.

“It is disappointing that any national candidate would not come in here and want to talk to the men and women of this area first before unilaterally making that decision,” said Kelly, a charismatic

Pittsburgh firefighter who is also the head of the powerful and influential Allegheny Fayette Labor Council, which represents workers stretching from Pittsburgh to the borders of Maryland and West Virginia.

The rest of the Democratic hopefuls will follow suit, with the possible exceptions of Joe Biden and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. At least, that’s the prediction of Keystone College political science professor Jeff Brauer.

“The natural gas industry employs well over 40,000 people just in this region alone,” Kelly said. “Countless more indirectly, providing economic opportunity for generations of families and communities that had been hollowed out by the demise of manufacturing and coal in this area.”

Donald Trump won Pennsylvania with just over 40,000 votes in 2016.

Kelly doesn’t think he is entitled to the presidential candidates’ time. He just knows what happens when the energy labor force in Western Pennsylvania isn’t behind the Democratic nominee.
“You cannot win the presidency if you are a Democrat without Pennsylvania,” Brauer reminds bluntly.

Democrats have won Pennsylvania in past presidential years because of outsized margins in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and their suburbs. That support has been declining since Bill Clinton won 28 of the state’s 67 counties in 1996.

Barack Obama won 13 of the 67 counties in 2012.

Trump’s magic came in rural and post-industrial counties such as Luzerne and Erie, but most importantly in the populous counties around Pittsburgh, where shale is king and fracking is seen as the second coming of the steel industry.

They may look like ordinary construction cranes to someone unfamiliar with the history of this region. But if you’re from here, they look like something different. Building the ethane cracker plant, each of these cranes looks like a new colossus rising from the ashes of yesterday’s despair.

Building the plant has brought in 6,000 good-paying jobs, with more to come. Ultimately, there will be 600 permanent jobs at the plant, with industry analysts predicting triple that amount in supporting industries.

Jobs postings are everywhere touting opportunities, no matter the skill level—high school education, trade school certificate, chemists, engineers, information technology, labor. If you reliably turn up for work, there is likely a career for you in the oil and gas industry.

“And if you think our workers don’t care for the environment or climate change you are wrong,” said Kelly. “They are the ones not only working in the industry, but they live here, play here, raise their kids here, hunt, fish, boat, ski, swim, and hike. They want to be in a responsible industry,” he said.

The high tides of the frackers and crackers will be offset by the sinking tide of the broader U.S. economy, experts predict. “We’re going to probably enter at least a little bit of an economic downturn,” Brauer warns, “which is the natural part of the cycle. And it’s probably not going to be the greatest timing for President Trump since that’s his strength.”

“But if the Democrats continue to make these arguments and push these issues which are going to hurt the economy and these key states, then it plays right into Trump’s narrative,” he adds with a twist.

Brauer suggested Trump could easily argue: “This is part of the cycle and what’s going to happen, but would you rather have me, who’s going to have less regulations and not wipe out entire industries and try to build back the manufacturing base and try to get jobs to come back in the United States, or you have a Democrat who is so far to the Left, who’s willing to get rid of entire industries because of some environmental concerns that can be addressed, without destroying the whole industry?”

That’s not a tough question for most Western Pennsylvanians. But it poses a tough question for Biden and the other 2020 Democrats.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

Great America

The Magical Mr. Price

Love him or hate him, his work is indispensable.

Have you heard about the nationwide teacher shortage? Or the construction trade labor shortage? Or the current avocado shortage vexing millennial hipsters? We wring our hands trying to imagine a solution for these gaps in the otherwise seamlessly supplied market of everything we need.

To fix these and so many other problems, Americans increasingly turn for help to the most powerful person in the world. Who is the most powerful person in the world? Well, he’s not really a person but his name is Mr. Price.

Mr. Price works behind the scenes. Nobody has actually met him. He can take all the information in the world about something and convert it into one number.

If there’s a crop failure and people can’t find food, Mr. Price will find a way to get food to them. He can tell you if something is rare. He can tell you if something is inefficient. He sets your salary. He determines how much you have to pay for gas.

A copper mine in Chile can produce copper without having any idea who it’s going to sell it to. Mr. Price can efficiently get that copper to China to make Christmas lights, an art foundry in Colorado to make bronze, and a construction site to be used for plumbing. He quickly distributes food that’s perishable before it can spoil. He can make some pigmented oil and canvas into a multi-million-dollar asset. He can take a delicate orchid harvested in Florida on Tuesday and put it in the hands of a bride in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

He makes salmon caught in Alaska appear at a Costco in Kansas City the next day.

We all agreed energy prices were becoming insane a few years ago. So Mr. Price created fracking and horizontal drilling which toppled the $100 per barrel oil cartel. Now the Saudis are (gasp!) borrowing money to keep all of their little projects going.

A Builder and a Destroyer in One

You can love Mr. Price. You can hate Mr. Price. I hear people complain endlessly about Mr. Price’s decisions. Teachers aren’t paid enough. It costs too much to live in New York. Why does it cost so much to get my car fixed?

People have tried to overrule Mr. Price’s decisions. He doesn’t take it personally. In the 1970s, America passed laws against Mr. Price’s decisions on gas. But then something terrible happened. More people wanted to buy gas. Fewer people wanted to sell gas. Lines formed. Stations ran out of gas.

A few years ago, a pharmaceutical company named Turing raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a tablet to $750. People screamed for government action. Mr. Price took notice of this turmoil. He recruited another pharmaceutical company to do something about it and within a month it was announced that Daraprim would be offered at $1 per pill.

Mr. Price does not allow ridiculous prices to persist for too long. He looks for lower-cost alternatives and this time he did it faster than the politicians could clear their throats to begin screaming for government intervention.

Mr. Price can also be vengeful. When a company finds a way to exploit its customers, it’s usually because some consumer regulation sets up huge barriers to competition. But Mr. Price often finds a way around that.

Protected by the government for years from any serious competition for local calls, telephone companies eventually fell like a house of cards. Mr. Price invented telephone over internet. At first it was offered as a gimmick, but major companies and individual consumers alike took notice of the substantial savings. I don’t know anyone who gets telephone over a telephone line now. I wonder if any calls still pass under the birds perched on the old telephone lines.

Mr. Price destroyed Blockbuster Video. He’s currently dismantling the taxi and limo industry using Uber and Lyft. Mr. Price says that an enterprising teenager can make $500 in a weekend cutting lawns. Because of Mr. Price, delicacies from the far corners of the world are always on demand. Hotels, flights, cars, food, and clothes all increasingly have become commodities available to almost everyone. Things that take an impossibly long time to plan, organize, ship, fabricate, and design are now just a click away.

Mr. Price conducts an intricate orchestra with billions of moving parts. He feeds the hungry. He employees the unemployed. If you let him do his work, he will enrich only those who find a way to do what they do better, faster, cheaper. Mr. Price hates waste. And when a company doesn’t efficiently employ its workers or wastes resources, Mr. Price looks for a way to do better.

We Mess with Mr. Price at Our Peril

We all agreed energy prices were becoming insane a few years ago. So Mr. Price created fracking and horizontal drilling which toppled the $100 per barrel oil cartel. Now the Saudis are (gasp!) borrowing money to keep all of their little projects going.

And Venezuela, the country that invented an alternative to capitalism has again proven Margaret Thatcher’s timeless quip that socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money. In Venezuela, the government passed a law against Mr. Price’s decisions on food. If stores can’t make a profit on food, starvation is the inevitable result.

Empty grocery stores, unemployed workers, lines at gas stations—these are all indications that Mr. Price is being prevented from doing his work. Taxes, subsidies, regulation or all three usually are at the root of our economic problems.

If an imbalance between supply and demand cannot be resolved by Mr. Price, then somebody is almost always interfering with his important work—even if the “how” is not always obvious.

There is no teacher shortage. The good economy has finally made it possible for teachers to demand higher wages. Teachers, nurses, the construction trades can now command higher wages. Mr. Price says it’s time to give them a raise. When we do, the “shortages” will disappear.