Saturday, October 31, 2020

Conservatives Must Fight Big Tech or Lose

October 26, 2020 @ Sultan Knish Blog  

Long before, “In Soviet Russia, television watch you” became a staple of Cold War comedy routines, George Orwell’s 1984 novel had telescreens that broadcast propaganda and watched their citizens. Behind the satire is the core question of the struggle against Big Tech today.

Is technology going to be a tool of individual choice or social control?

Facebook and Twitter’s desperate attempts to block a damaging story about Joe and Hunter Biden is the culmination of four years of work to transform social media into the media. Under the guise of false claims about disinformation, foreign election interference, bots, networks, deepfakes, public health risks, and assorted tech paranoia, free speech died on the internet. 

The moment when the White House Press Secretary had her account locked for tweeting a damaging news story about Joe Biden brought home the Big Tech reality to most Republicans.

Just like the media, Big Tech is the Democrat Party, and the Democrat Party is Big Tech. But, unlike the media, Big Tech controls the marketplace of ideas to an unprecedented degree.

Facebook controls 80% of social media and Google controls 80% of internet search traffic.

And that’s bad news because Democrats see the internet in the same terms as Xi, Putin, or your average dictator just about anywhere in the world, as a dangerous system spouting disinformation, damaging social ideas, and disruptive political rhetoric that must be controlled using a combination of economic and social pressures, along with government regulation.

Republicans and Democrats are both unhappy with the internet. Republicans are upset because there’s too much censorship and Democrats are upset because there isn’t enough censorship.

That Democrats, who once championed a free internet, now view it the same way all totalitarians do, speaks volumes not only about the death of liberalism but also about the transformation of the internet from a vox populi to a walled garden controlled by a handful of Big Tech monopolies whose cultural views and politics closely align with those of the Democrats.

‘Bigness’ has its own political and economic gravity. Big cities are more likely to have big governments and their inhabitants are more likely to vote for big government policies. They’re also more likely to use and generate the core companies and cultures that make up Big Tech.

The old political alignments based on questions of philosophy are being tossed aside and replaced with a new alignment based on the primevally simple questions of size and power.

The struggle is less defined by abstractions, than by the question of how much power you have.

In the Trump era, the more proximity to power you have, the more likely you are to be a Democrat, and the less proximity to power you have, the more likely you are to be a Republican.

The most striking thing about the Never Trumpers and the Rust Belt and Southern Democrats voting for Trump is how much power the former have and how little power the latter do.

Politics is being reduced to naked power.

Democrats shifted their stance on the internet because they gained control of core national institutions, in no small part through the growing fortunes pouring out of Silicon Valley which have tilted elections, financed political movements, and transformed public perspectives on social issues. And they are using their newfound power to do what the powerful always do, dismantle the safeguards of an open society so that there are no more threats to their power.

They’re doing this under the guise of fighting for equality and justice, and of waging a revolution for the oppressed, but so did most modern tyrants from Stalin to Hitler to Mao.

The Democrats are no longer interested in a free internet, for the same reason that they’ve tossed away free speech, the filibuster, or any institution or procedure that isn’t serving their interests this very minute. This isn’t due to a new progressive enlightenment, Republican obstinacy, grave new threats to democracy, or any of the other talking points they serve up.

The simple answer is that they won.

The Democrats of the 90s who welcomed an open internet were waging an uphill struggle against the open institutions of a generally conservative country. The country is now much less conservative, the institutions are much less open, and every major institutional force, from the biggest companies to the media, is unreservedly and uncritically backing them every step of the way, while suppressing any suggestion that they shouldn’t rule unopposed for all eternity.

All that’s left is collecting their winnings by shutting down the opposition.

Support for free speech is a matter of principle and practical politics. America was built on principle, but the Founding Fathers had a common-sense assessment of human nature. Free societies may be built on principles, but they survive through a balance of power. Every major faction must go on believing that it is in its interest to maintain free speech, checks and balances, and other protections against tyranny because it might end up needing them.

The Democrats have accumulated enough power that they no longer think that they need firewalls because if they play their cards right, the future, the right side of history, is their own.

That’s the fundamental development that explains the current crisis, not only of free speech, but of free elections, and a free country. The internet, like any society’s marketplace of ideas, is a symptom. Free countries have a robust marketplace of ideas. Unfree ones are obsessed with censoring speech and monitoring their citizens, all the while spinning paranoid fantasies about foreign interference, the threat of dangerous ideas, and the risk to political stability from speech.

Anyone who came out of a coma and spent an afternoon listening to CNN (owned by AT&T), reading the Washington Post (owned by the CEO of Amazon), and perusing the latest round of Democrat complaints about election interference and disinformation would know what we are.

The problem isn’t simply radicalism. It’s power.

Democrat radicalism isn’t being driven by the powerless, but by the powerful. That’s why Democrats with PhDs are more radical than those with a high school diploma. The problem of Big Tech can’t be separated from the problem of a political movement with too much power.

The culture of political censorship isn’t merely radical, it’s powerful. Cancel culture by college students or Big Tech censorship aren’t disparate phenomena, they’re the same phenomenon, often practiced on the same platforms by members of the same inbred ruling class.

America has been reconstructed to favor some classes at the expense of others. This new machine combining political institutions, activist groups, and corporations controls public life.

Conservatives can combat it or, like Soviet citizens, make jokes, and wait for it to collapse.

Big Tech is at the nexus of the political, economic, and cultural power of this new machine. That’s why breaking its power must be the objective of any winning conservative movement.

The massive monopolies control political discourse and as they tighten the noose around conservatives, political speech on the internet will consist of media narratives, a few tame conservatives, and little else. Imagine the high point of media dominance with no talk radio or cable conservative news. That’s the future. And it’s not going to arrive a year from now, it may already be here by Election Day. And if not, certainly when the next presidential election arrives.

But Big Tech also holds the key to the radical money machine. AOC and the Squad wouldn’t exist without a founding engineer from Stripe. The founder of eBay is responsible for everything from The Intercept to The Bulwark, the former is the media arm of the Sanders campaign and the latter of the Never Trumpers. The Washington Post was transformed from a fussy government paper into a den of furious radicals by the CEO of Amazon. Google money financed the Bernie Sanders campaign. Big Tech has poured a massive fortune into Black Lives Matter, from Steve Jobs’ widow, to Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, to Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg considering Facebook’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.

The cultural power of Big Tech is even vaster. Google and Facebook determine what most people see on the internet. Amazon and Netflix are swallowing the entertainment industry. In a decade, a handful of vast, mostly, tech companies, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Disney, Google, Netflix, and Verizon will control the culture far more than the old entertainment industry ever did.

By then it will be much too late to do anything except huddle in a few dark web outposts and mutter hate speech like the controversial words of the First Amendment.

If conservatives don’t fight Big Tech now, they will lose. And they will lose everything.

Big Tech’s power is growing exponentially, but it’s still vulnerable. The companies that will become immovable oligarchies in a decade can still be brought down and broken up. The internet and the marketplace of ideas can rise again from the ruins of those monopolies.

Now is the time. If we don’t fight Big Tech now, America has no future.


Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
 
Tags:

The Two Necessary Approaches for Ending Big Tech Dominance

Roger L. Simon October 30, 2020 

The captains of Big Tech who appeared before a Senate committee a few days ago revealed once again what a pernicious force they are.</p> <p>Moral narcissists of the highest order, they are all the more dangerous because they think they are good. They are convinced they are helping the world, making sure we in the great unwashed are not propagandized by what they deem disinformation or misinformation, when in actuality they are making a frontal assault on free speech via various forms of censorship.

This reached the level of Theater of the Absurd when Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, 

responding to Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), testified that Holocaust denial did not meet Twitter’s definition of misinformation while, evidently, the New York Post’s reporting on Tony Bobulinski’s widely-authenticated emails did.

Dorsey also told Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) his site had not censored tweets from the president when they had done so literally dozens of times.

The most flagrant Orwellian prevarication, however, was when Dorsey stated Twitter had no influence on elections. (Why then would he bother to censor the New York Post?)  Google and Facebook are at least as disturbing and arguably vastly more powerful.

In a manner even the Chinese might envy, “The ends justify the means” has come to America via unseen algorithms dictating what is displayed on our laptops, cellphones and, soon, just about everything else.

But what do we do about it?..........To Read More....


The Gaslight Election

Dominated by a fraudulent reality created by a Leftist media and academia echo chamber

By Scot Faulkner

2020 is the single most important election since 1860.

This is not hyperbole. The future of America’s representative democracy is at stake.

The Left plans to change fundamental policies that will cripple earnings and economic vitality. More ominous, the Left is planning to change the rules that have governed America since 1789.  Their sole purpose is to achieve permanent all-pervasive power.

More frightening is that these threats are being successfully hidden from the electorate – thanks in large part to “legacy” media, social media, academia, and the Deep State. They have collaborated nonstop for years to advance liberal-progressive-socialist agendas, protect their favored candidates, and censor, cancel, shame and intimidate moderates and conservatives into silence, meekness and irrelevance.

America’s news media took a sharp left turn in the 1960s. During the 21st Century, what is now considered the “Mainstream Media” (MSM) dropped all pretense of being professional journalism. They are now overtly the Left’s propaganda arm.

“News anchors” and talk show “moderators” are no longer selected from working reporters, but from career political operatives. The result is an echo chamber of anti-Americanism, and now anti-Trumpism.

This Leftist echo chamber dominates over 95% of television, radio, print and digital “news.” Except for a handful of conservative radio personalities, Fox Cable News shows, and conservative blogs, the Left’s echo chamber shapes an alternate reality that almost totally controls political, historical, cultural and scientific discourse – and permits virtually no deviation or dissent from their reality and agenda.

Their worldview, talking points and intolerance have even taken over our sports, entertainment, religious institutions and K-12 education. There is virtually no relief, no sanctuary anymore from their anger, political ideologies, or quest to rule every aspect of our country and lives.

This dominant echo chamber may well propel the Democrats into the White House and a Senate majority, while retaining their House majority.

The classic 1944 movie “Gaslight” is about a diabolical villain who creates an alternative reality to drive his victim insane, to steal her riches. The term “gaslighting” is based on this process of creating a fraudulent reality so that the victims make wrong decisions, to their detriment.

That is what 2020 is about. It is the Gaslight Election.

Since the Summer of 2016, the Left’s echo chamber has created a narrative, fueled by the bogus Steele Dossier, that Russian leaders are puppeteers controlling Trump and his inner circle. Wild assertions went (and still go) unchallenged. A fake whistle blower, coached by Congressional Democrats and shaped by secretly backdated regulations, launched a reckless impeachment. 

While the entire scheme of lashing Trump to Russia, and then Ukraine, was exposed as a fraud, the Left’s echo chamber barely reports this fraud or how it was accomplished. In fact, most of the echo chamber reprises Russia, unchallenged, whenever it can.

Tragically, Judicial Watch has had to sue even Trump agencies to force their release of exculpatory information. Career bureaucrats have successfully delayed these facts from entering the public domain.

At the same time, former Vice President Biden is on video bragging about doing exactly what was the basis of Trump’s impeachment, to laughter and applause by the Washington, DC elite. Efforts to hold Biden accountable have been thwarted by FBI and intelligence officials for years.

The Left’s echo chamber remains silent – just as it is about the shocking revelations of Biden Family questionable to even criminal collusion with Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian other foreign organizations, as exposed in great detail in emails from Hunter Biden’s and his associates’ computers.        

It is just as important to not report something.

The Lefts’ echo chamber also set the ultimate trap for Trump’s re-election. COVID-19 remains Trump’s Achilles’ heel because scary and highly inaccurate models generated by the Imperial College on March 16, 2020 forced America’s economic near-suicide. The Left’s echo chamber demanded that Trump shut down his booming economy, supposedly to prevent millions of deaths.

The model turned out to be fundamentally flawed. Now the Left’s echo chamber blames Trump for this year’s economic downturn, while ignoring the devastating medical, psychological and other effects of the lockdowns. Leftist Governors use their independence under Federalism to enforce draconian measures that are not based on current science. This slows the economic recovery through Election Day.

Biden, Harris and their media allies wear masks every time they are on camera. They wear masks when they are outdoors and over thirty feet from others. No science or health organization recommends this. But it serves as a symbol for COVID-19 remaining a “dire threat,” with Trump to blame. The Left’s echo chamber makes no effort to question this shameless propaganda ploy. Instead, it promotes it and will continue to do so until just after the election (if Biden wins).

The Left creates visual equivalency by providing only tight shots of Biden and Harris at their podiums, ignoring the fact that fewer than ten people are in the audience. Trump’s 20,000+ rallies are either not covered at all or show only tight podium shots, making his huge crowds appear as small as Biden’s.

Biden’s countless lies about his attending Black churches and colleges, his groundless assertions, and his fiction about awarding medals, remain unchallenged. His radical agenda for the Green New Deal, tax increases, medical and medical insurance takeovers, and aggressive gun control goes unreported.  Meanwhile, debunked accusations, like Trump hating the armed forces, dominate news cycles.

The Left over-samples registered Democrats, sometimes over 50% to only 38% or less for Republicans, to generate polls showing Biden trouncing Trump.

The Left’s Gaslight Election may succeed because over 60 million have early-voted, just as facts about the Biden family’s foreign influence peddling slowly seep out. Some early voters have already voiced “buyer’s remorse” of having voted before they knew about the Biden family’s corruption. Congressional Republicans’ glacial investigative pace enables the Left’s reality.

A Democrat sweep in November will be tragic for everyone except liberal elites. Trump’s tax cuts will be erased, and new taxes added. Four years of regulatory relief will evaporate. All of Trump’s government reform Executive Orders will be voided within hours of Biden’s inauguration. 

Gun control will rapidly expand. The 1619 anti-American indoctrination curriculum will be forced into every classroom. Illegal aliens will be granted wholesale amnesty and added to the voter rolls. American energy independence will vanish, and Americans will suffer from the absurd policies that have made California the land of pricey energy and rolling blackouts. Hollywood and sports celebrities will roar back into prominence, virtue signaling Americans about race relations and carbon footprints. 

Even worse, all investigations of Biden, Obama, Clinton and the Deep State will end within hours of a Biden/Democrat victory, extinguishing any hope that truth and justice will prevail. America and the world must hope and pray that this Leftist echo chamber fails despite its size and power.

Scot Faulkner is the best-selling author of: "Naked Emperors: The Failure of the Republican Revolution." He also served as the first chief administrative officer of the US House of Representatives and director of personnel for the Reagan campaign and went on to serve in the presidential transition team and on the White House staff. During the Reagan administration, he held executive positions at the FAA, GSA and Peace Corps.  

Read his reports here

 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Cartoon of the Day

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ejv1a8LXYAIaM1m?format=jpg&name=small

Class Warfare and Traffic Fines

 One of the best political cartoons I’ve ever seen was this gem from Glenn McCoy.

 https://i2.wp.com/media.townhall.com/Townhall/Car/b/gmc12559320141205021300.jpg

It very effectively captures how greedy local governments breed resentment and create conflict by using the law to fleece residents (and it definitely will be featured if I ever do another political cartoonist contest).

This is not a trivial topic. I’ve previously written about how fees, fines and charges can wreck the lives of the less fortunate.

So how do we solve this problem?

, in a column for the New York Times, argues we should impose much higher fines on rich people.

For people living on the economic margins, even minor offenses can impose crushing financial obligations, trapping them in a cycle of debt and incarceration for nonpayment. …Across America, one-size-fits-all fines are the norm… Other places have saner methods. Finland and Argentina, for example, have tailored fines to income for almost 100 years. The most common model, the “day fine,” scales sanctions to a person’s daily wage. A small offense like littering might cost a fraction of a day’s pay. A serious crime might swallow a month’s paycheck. Everyone pays the same proportion of their income. …Finland…handed a businessman a $67,000 speeding ticket for going 14 miles per hour above the limit.

He argues this is a matter of fairness.

…scaling fines to income is a matter of basic fairness. …The flat fine threatens poor people with financial ruin while letting rich people break the law without meaningful repercussions. Equity requires punishment that is equally felt. …while punishment is supposed to prevent undesirable conduct from happening in the first place, flat fines deter the wealthy less than everyone else. …That’s particularly true in cities like Ferguson that went easy on wealthier residents but treated poor people like cash cows. After all, the city would get more bang for its buck pulling over a rich driver with a blown blinker.

I think Schierenbeck is both right and wrong.

He’s correct that his approach would be more fair. An income-based speeding ticket would be akin to a flat tax – i.e., take the same proportion of everyone’s income. For what it’s worth, I made this argument with regard to traffic offenses back in 2015.

But that approach won’t do anything to help poor people (to be fair, the author doesn’t claim it would).

If we want to protect low-income people from greedy governments, that are several options.

 https://i2.wp.com/media.townhall.com/Townhall/Car/b/141208biggovRGB20141209024255.jpg

  •  Have fewer nuisance laws that lead to fines, fees, and charges.
  • Have income-based fines, but at a low level for rich and poor alike.
  • Perhaps most important, control government spending so politicians have less incentive to grab more money from people.

The bottom line is that I don’t want government to screw over poor people, just as I don’t want government to screw over middle-class people or rich people.

P.S. My point about higher fines on the rich not helping the poor is the same an my argument that class-warfare taxes on upper-income taxpayers don’t do anything to help the less fortunate. Indeed, poor people actually suffer collateral damage because of diminished prosperity.

 

Deconstructing Socialism, an Ideology Based on Government Control October 28, 2020 by Dan Mitchell

Given my complete and utter disdain for socialism, I’m obviously a big fan of this discussion between Rand Paul and John Stossel. 

 

In the video, Paul and Stossel draw a distinction between market-friendly welfare states in Scandinavia and genuinely socialist nations such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and modern-day Venezuela.

That’s because, from a technical perspective, the defining feature of socialism is government ownership and control of the “means of production” and government-directed allocation of resources. In the most extreme cases, you even get policies such as state-run factories and collective farms.

Usually accompanied by central planning and price controls.

On this basis, Scandinavian nations are not socialist. Yes, they make the mistake of high tax burdens accompanied by lots of redistribution, but there’s very little government ownership and control. Markets drive the allocation of labor and capital, not politicians and bureaucrats.

And it’s also fair to say (assuming we rely on the technical definition) that politicians such as Obama and Biden aren’t socialist.

But what if don’t use the technical definition?

YouGov did a survey late last year to ascertain what ordinary Americans think. Here is their view of the policies that are (or are not) socialist. As you can see, the most-socialist policy is government-run utility companies and the least-socialist policy is separation of church and state.

I’m fascinated to see that so many Americans view government-run schools as socialist, much more so than a wealth tax or income tax.

It’s also interesting that Republicans and Democrats have somewhat similar opinions, other than on the topic of gun control.

But my main takeaway is that ordinary people aren’t that different than economists. They think – quite correctly – that socialism means control rather than redistribution.

But they had a better understanding after World War II, as noted by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute.

When someone calls themself a “socialist” or says they think “socialism” has a lot of good ideas, what do they mean? …Back in 2018, Gallup updated a question it first asked in 1949: “What is your understanding of the term ‘socialism’?” …23 percent of Americans today understand socialism as referring to some form of equality vs. 12 percent in 1949; 10 percent think the means something about the public provision of benefits like free healthcare vs. 2 percent in 1949; and 17 percent define socialism as government control of business and the economy vs. 34 percent in 1949. …this idea of “control” is an interesting one. …The danger this view holds for human freedom and progress is obvious to us today — or should be… Skepticism of applied socialism — or any socioeconomic system without political freedom at its core — stemmed from harsh experience, not learned ideology. For many people, “socialism” meant “control,” with that control inevitably leading to terrible outcomes. One should hope these lessons do not need to be relearned.

Even some folks on the left draw a distinction between market-accepting left-wing policies (redistributionism) and market-disdaining control-oriented policies (socialism).

A few years ago, Jonathan Chait made those points in an article for New York.

…in the United States, liberalism faces greater pressure from the left than at any time since the 1960s, when a domestic liberal presidency was destroyed by the VietnamWar. While socialism remains highly unpopular among the public as a whole, Americans under the age of 30 — who have few or no memories of communism — respond to it favorably. …Meanwhile, Jacobin magazine has given long-marginalized Marxist ideas new force among progressive intellectuals. …Sanders’s success does not reflect any Marxist tendency. It does, however, reflect a…generational weakening of the Democratic Party’s identification with liberalism over socialism. …Years ago, he supported the Socialist Workers Party, a Marxist group that favored the nationalization of industry. Today he…holds up Denmark as the closest thing to a real-world model for his ideas. But, while “socialism” has meant different things throughout history, Denmark is not really a socialist economy. …it combines generous welfare benefits…with highly flexible labor markets — an amped-up version of what left-wing critics derisively call “neoliberalism.” While Denmark’s success suggests that a modern economy can afford to fund more generous social benefits, it does not reveal an alternative to the marketsystem.

David Brooks of the New York Times started out as a socialist, but he figured out that government-controlled economies simply don’t work.

I was a socialist in college. …My socialist sympathies didn’t survive long once I became a journalist. I quickly noticed that the government officials I was covering were not capable of planning the society they hoped to create. It wasn’t because they were bad or stupid. The world is just too complicated. …Socialist planned economies — the common ownership of the means of production — interfere with price and other market signals in a million ways. They suppress or eliminate profit motives that drive people to learn and improve. …Capitalism creates a relentless learning system. Socialism doesn’t. …living standards were pretty much flat for all of human history until capitalism kicked in. Since then, the number of goods and services available to average people has risen by up to 10,000 percent. …capitalism has brought about the greatest reduction of poverty in human history. …places that instituted market reforms, like South Korea and Deng Xiaoping’s China, tended to get richer and prouder. Places that moved toward socialism — Britain in the 1970s, Venezuela more recently — tended to get poorer and more miserable. …Over the past century, planned economies have produced an enormous amount of poverty and scarcity. …Socialism produces economic and political inequality as the rulers turn into gangsters. A system that begins in high idealism ends in corruption, dishonesty, oppression and distrust.

And, from the Wall Street Journal, here are George Melloan’s first-hand observations on the track record of socialism.

All economic systems are capitalist. A modern economy can’t exist without the accumulation of capital to build factories and infrastructure. The difference lies in who owns the capital—individuals or the state. …Having first visited the mother of socialism, the Soviet Union, in April 1967, I can extract a few historical nuggets… The Soviet state owned everything. State enterprises compensated their workers with rubles. …And those rubles bought very little, because the command economy produced very little (except weapons), and most of what it produced was shoddy. …stores were short on goods. …Rents were cheap, if you didn’t mind squalor. …Prices and production quotas were set by a huge Soviet planning bureaucracy called Gosplan, staffed by thousands of “economists.” Free-market pricing efficiently allocates resources. Price controls created waste as factories produced a lot of what nobody wanted. …Britain, where I was living at the time, was conducting a socialist experiment… After World War II, the Labour Party of Prime Minister Clement Attlee had nationalized coal, steel, electricity and transportation, with damaging and wasteful consequences. …I interviewed a steelworker in Sheffield who lived with his wife and two children in a “back to back” house with only a single door, at the front. …He didn’t own a car and had few other conveniences. A worker for U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh would have been appalled at such conditions.

Based on the above excerpts, which come from the right, left, and center, it would seem that capitalism has prevailed over socialism.

I like to think that’s true, but I do wonder whether there’s a point when redistributionism gets so extensive (and the accompanying taxes become so onerous) that it morphs into control. In other words, socialism.

And I also worry that there are indirect ways for government to control the allocation of resources.

In a column for the Washington Post, George Will wisely frets about backdoor socialism from the Federal Reserve.

…the Federal Reserve has, Eberstadt says, “crossed a Rubicon.” Wading waist-deep into political policies, the Fed is adopting, Eberstadt says, “the role of managing and even micromanaging the American economy through credit allocation, potentially lending vast sums not only to financial institutions but also directly to firms it judges suitable for government support. …It is by no means inconceivable that the current crisis will propel it to a comparably dominant position in domestic commercial credit.” If socialism is government allocation of economic resources (and hence of opportunity), …in the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve launched “creditor bailouts, propping up asset prices to keep investors from losing money, buying unprecedented assets.” The risk of moral hazard — incentives for reckless behavior — is obvious. …Central banks buying trillions of assets are thereby “allocating credit.” Which is the essence of socialism. The Fed buying government and corporate debt creates something difficult to unwind — what Cochrane calls “an entirely government-run financial system”: an attribute of socialism. …Near-zero interest rates…create, Eberstadt says, “zombie companies” that “can only survive in a low-interest [rate] environment.” The result is rent-seeking and economic sclerosis, because “America cannot succeed unless a lot of its firms fail — including its largest ones. Bankruptcy and reallocation of resources to more productive ends are the mother’s milk of dynamic growth.” The pandemic has propelled government toward promiscuously picking economic winners and losers. As has been said, governments are not good at picking winners, but losers are good at picking governments.

Let’s close by returning to the YouGov survey.

Here’s a look at the nations that the American people think are (or are not) socialist. Their top choices are correct, but they’re wildly wrong to have the Nordic nations ranked as more socialist than France, Spain, or Italy.

It’s also bizarre to rank New Zealand below the United States when the Kiwis routinely score higher than the United States in the major measures of economic liberty.

I’m equally baffled that people Mexico and India have more economic liberty than Canada.

The moral of the story is that the countries with the biggest welfare states are not necessarily the nations with the most government control over the allocation of labor and capital.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Will coddling China ever end?

Now US social media aid and profit from Chinese censorship skills, instead of challenging them

Duggan Flanakin           

What is it about Communist China that makes the world’s most populous nation such a favorite of the international globalist, socialist community?

In 1997, China was granted an exemption from any obligations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol (as was India), on the ground that it was a “developing nation.” Despite its posturing over the Paris climate agreement, China’s carbon dioxide emissions have soared ever since, as the country became an economic and military superpower.

One reason cited by President Trump for pulling the U.S. out was that the Paris treaty committed the U.S. to massive, immediate CO2 emission reductions (26-28% by 2025). China merely committed to its previously announced goal to increase non-fossil-fuel electricity to about 20% by 2030. 

Today, China has the world’s 59th highest per capita income (IMF data, with India at No. 139) and  is building or planning over 300 coal-fired power plants around the world, from Egypt, Turkey and Zimbabwe to Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The world’s leading CO2 emitter is also building what Wired magazine calls “an insane number” of new coal-fired power plants at home, with little objection from United Nations gatekeepers and climate alarmists.

Meanwhile, over half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity, largely because United Nations “sustainable development goals” dissuade investment in coal, natural gas or even nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, while favoring dung, wood, wind and solar – and anti-development banks refuse to provide loans for even the cleanest, most efficient coal or gas power plants.

China’s government sees human rights as an “existential threat,” says Human Rights Watch, a stance that “could pose an existential threat to the rights of people worldwide.” The Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization says the Chinese Communist Party “has constructed an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state and a sophisticated internet censorship system to monitor and suppress public criticism.”

Human Rights Watch singled out for blame “a void of leadership among countries that might have stood for human rights, and a disappointing collection of democracies willing to sell the rope that is strangling the system of rights they purport to uphold.”

Now, with massive help from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Google, and other social media and search engine collaborators, the Chinese Communists are aiding, abetting or approving Chinese largesse to a China-coddling veteran, in his quest for the U.S. presidency. (Son Hunter Biden worked with Chinese investors to fund China General Nuclear Power Corp., which the FBI recently charged with stealing American nuclear secrets.)

Hiding behind the façade of “private enterprise,” these organizations have led an assault on First Amendment freedom of speech by censoring, shadow-banning and deplatforming content unfavorable to their favored causes and candidates. But these same organizations never objected to infringement of the rights of an Oregon bakery’s First Amendment claim for refusing to bake a cake.  

They have been joined by governors who used executive orders and the COVID pandemic to impose outright bans on church attendance – even Bible studies in private homes – and effectively destroy numerous businesses, while excusing, blessing and even encouraging violent protests.

Universities have imposed Draconian bans on freedom of speech, assembly, religion and other rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Some even insist that the Constitution itself is outdated and should be replaced immediately – along with its protections for individuals against the imperial state.

The world now knows China wants Joe Biden in the White House. Perhaps that’s why Democrats have unilaterally attacked “Russian interference” with the U.S. elections and totally ignored the massive in-kind and financial contributions being made by the Chinese government.

New evidence of Chinese collusion reveals that Chinese Communists are advising Facebook on how to censor, de-platform and shadow-ban information that might favor the Republican candidate or cast the Democratic candidate in a poor light. Disturbing new revelations are reported almost daily.

Journalist Sorrab Ahmari obtained (and confirmed) information from a Facebook insider that the social media giant’s “Hate Speech Engineering” team includes Chinese national PhDs whose specialty is “machine learning” – teaching computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed, so that certain content ends up at the top of the news feed, while disfavored content shows up “dead last.”

A Facebook spokesperson haughtily condemned as “absurd” any suggestion that “these employees have an outsized influence on our broader policies.” But Ahmari is quite correct in asking what’s to stop these Chinese engineers from delivering intelligence to the Chinese government? More important, why would Facebook and China help each other improve this technology – and skew U.S. news and election results?

Facebook’s ban on negative information on Biden family business dealings with Chinese companies is a strong indicator that the company is serving China’s interests in securing the election of ”the Big Guy.” According to a new Project Veritas exposé, Google is intentionally manipulating results to benefit Democrats and hinder President Trump’s campaign. Google now faces a federal antitrust case.

Together with the Attorneys General of eleven states, the Justice Department alleges that: “For years, Google has entered into exclusionary agreements, including tying arrangements, and engaged in anticompetitive conduct to lock up distribution channels and block rivals.”

Despite the angst of intellectuals, “mainstream media” stalwarts, socialists and many Democratic Party leaders, a new poll by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that a majority of Americans view China negatively and believe (as does Human Rights Watch) that it is the country that presents the greatest threat to the United States, and the rights of individuals.

Broad-based support for banning China’s Huawei Technologies from 5G networks reflects worldwide concerns over Chinese human rights violations. Scott Kennedy, Chinese business and economics chair at CSIS, says “Americans and others around the world have given up on the idea that the goal should be to change China into a free-market economy.” His assessment is dispiriting, but realistic.

A recent MSN News article claims Joe Biden had historically embraced the idea that the U.S. could coax China into acting as a “responsible stakeholder,” but insists he no longer adheres to that viewpoint.

The former vice president has taken few questions from the media about his China policy, though he did claim he would end Trump tariffs on Chinese imports. But even that statement was almost immediately walked back by aides, who said Biden would only “reevaluate the tariffs upon taking office.”

Acceptance of Chinese-style restrictions on human rights by the Biden-Harris campaign and many of its supporters may be a signal that America’s progressives and tech giants see the Xi-led Chinese Communist Party as a kindred spirit, especially on what people should be “allowed” to read, hear, see, say and even think.

Yet, despite the media blackout on recent revelations about Biden family and Chinese business (hence military) mutual interests, a President Biden might have to show a new toughness toward China to douse what could become a raging inferno of criticism. Too many Americans do not want to see U.S. jobs (recently reclaimed from Chinese slave laborers) returned to the Middle Kingdom.

Of course, if the Democrats and their social media and old media allies have perfected censorship enough to drown out any learning, thinking or opposition that would threaten their absolute reign, who would dare challenge China’s environmental, climate or human rights callousness?

Duggan Flanakin has a BA in History, an MA in Public Policy and a lifelong passion for human rights.