The start of a new legislative season always brings out the crazy. There’s always the one or two or squad of people who propose pet project or pipe-dream legislation. We always get think-pieces from both sides of the aisle hoping to advance their thoughts beyond the pages of newspapers or our eyes on the web.
So, it should come as no surprise that the New York Times put out a piece late last week telling us that we need a “reality czar.”
I know, if you’re reading 1984 along with us here on the show (Our Critical Thinking Book Club airs every Thursday), you’re likely thinking, oh, ya, The Ministry of Truth, that’s a great idea. Does this writer even read?
But, according to him, we must hear out the experts. They’ve got plenty of reasons that are vastly different than plunging us in the dystopian nightmare of 1984. They have your best interest at heart, and that’s what matters. Don’t pay attention to the cons, there are way too many pros on the list.
Take Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, who told us last month, “We must open the hood on social media so that civil rights lawyers and real watchdog organizations can investigate human rights abuses enabled or amplified by technology.”
That was just one of many moments of brilliance and you can hear even more in the course of a 15-minute interview Donovan did with The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.
But, she is not alone, as Renée DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory, believes that there should be a centralized counter-conspiracy task force. As she notes, those that are spreading the Covid-19 lies are also spreading other lies, so why shouldn’t there be a centralized force to deal with it all?
This is her in the New York Times piece later last week:
Often, she said, the same people and groups are responsible for spreading both types,So instead of two parallel processes — one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aimed at tamping down Covid-related conspiracy theories, and another at the Federal Election Commission, trying to correct voting misinformation — a centralized task force could coordinate a single, strategic response.
How does one get rid of the QAnon types? Well, according to DiResta, you’d do it by simply taping in to the data of the users of platforms.
“This task force could also meet regularly with tech platforms, and push for structural changes that could help those companies tackle their own extremism and misinformation problems. (For example, it could formulate “safe harbor” exemptions that would allow platforms to share data about QAnon and other conspiracy theory communities with researchers and government agencies without running afoul of privacy laws.) And it could become the tip of the spear for the federal government’s response to the reality crisis.”
Yes, we have a crisis and that means it can’t go to waste for those who love some more government control. But, if only there was a way to counter conspiracies out in the open? Maybe we could call it speaking the truth and presenting the facts in a transparent way?
But, it’s not just think-tank academics that are proposing this type of government interference with our thoughts and speech. There is also Politifact’s founder Bill Adair alongside Duke Professor Philip Napoli, who said the following about what government should and shouldn’t do to combat the scourge of misinformation:
“should announce a bipartisan commission to investigate the problem of misinformation and make recommendations about how to address it. The commission should take a broad approach and consider all possible solutions: incentives, voluntary industry reforms, education, regulations, and new laws.”
Now, Libertarians and Conservatives may be want to just laugh off these suggestions as the ramblings of crazy people. But, we have a long list of things that we thought to be crazy, but are now part of
Critical Race Theory? That joke of an idea would never seep in to our government and be enshrined as part of the teachings of every department. Wait, what’s that? Biden just signed an executive order reversing the ban on Critical Race Theory being taught in the federal government?
So, we should take it seriously. But, we also have a serious thing on our side — the Constitution. It’s the only weapon we should need to wield against this growing idea on the left, because it is a weapon that is crystal clear in what it tells us about the matter of speech — even speech you and I know to be untrue to its core.
In fact, the very first amendment to the Constitution expressly forbids Congress from infringing on our right to free speech or the freedom of the press. It’s right there for us all to read, and in fact, even tests of the limits of free speech have time-and-again been rebuffed by the Supreme Court.
Even that body recognizes that even “misinformation” or “disinformation,” I forget which Newspeak term I should be using, but even the Supreme Court has said Congress gets no say in what information is and isn’t seen or heard or spoken by the people of this country.
There couldn’t be a clearer set of jurisprudence on the matter on any other amendment in the Bill of Rights.
But, let’s say John Roberts continues his turn to the authoritarian side of the Supreme Court (if he isn’t already completed his Darth Vader makeover already) and allows this stuff to pass muster.
Do we not remember the fight over the centralization of power that came from the creation of the Department of Homeland Security under the George W. Bush administration? It was sold to all of us as a way to speed up our response to potential terrorism, make our intelligence community smarter and more agile.
Well, that’s not exactly how that played out. Want to stand in a TSA line for screening or give them your retina scan to skip the line? Could it be more invasive and inefficient?
I could go on and on about the examples of centeralization of power and information in the hands of the few that already control our lives so much.
Do you trust the Oligarchs to have your best interest at heart? Do you trust that by shrinking the public square, we’ll be able to persuade those on the fringes to move towards the middle?
If 1984 is any lesson, it should be that the more information shared, the more we’re able to speak freely, the better off we are.
But, hey, war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength, right?
Ron DeSantis is Not a Hero to Liberty
I know, Ron DeSantis is the man! He owns the libs, stands up to those propagandists in the media and speaks bluntly. What’s not to love, right?
There’s no politician that is more liked by the right side of the political spectrum than the Florida governor. So much so that DeSantis is seen by most pundits as the 2024 Republican presidential front-runner.
It’s easy to see why all of those things are happening. He took on our Lord, President, Savior, Dr. Anthony Fauci and all of the nonsense that came with the Cult of COVID. He’s stood up to the woke mob and has the gaul to call out the looters and rioters involved in ANTIFA and BLM.
He’s easily the best governor in the United States of America today. I salute him for taking stands against the powerful and well-connected. I salute him for following “the science” when it came to lockdowns and doing what was best for his state, not in the best interest of politically-motivated scientists in Washington, D.C.
But, just because he’s done some good and he stands up to those who demonize him doesn’t mean he is good for the fight that is really in front of us. We have to remember that the fight is between authoritarianism and liberty, and when we keep our eyes on that fight, I’m afraid that DeSantis fails the test of being on the side of liberty.
Dare I say that DeSantis is actually a foe to liberty? I do.
What other conclusion can one come to if principles matter and the evidence is considered?
Hear me out, because like I said before, I’m firmly of the belief that he’s the best thing going in the GOP today, but just because he’s top of the class doesn’t mean he’s infallible or even right for the fight in front of us.
Just take a look at his instincts when it comes to every question of liberty the past few years.
Vaccine Passports? DeSantis worked to use the power of his position to ban them in the state of Florida. He used an executive order, not advocating for a law to be passed by the state government, but by the stroke of his own pen.
Now, I hate the idea of vaccine passports. They are pure evil in my book, to say nothing of the question of their constitutionality. But, just because they are something I don’t like doesn’t mean centralized government power should have the say over whether businesses can or can’t require them for entrance.
Personally, I wouldn’t require any proof of vaccination, but if an owner of a business is of the Cult of COVID, do they not have the right to require it for entrance to their private property? We aren’t talking about DeSantis using the stroke of his pen to ban the vaccine passport in state-owned or public spaces, it was a blanket ban on their use by anyone, in any capacity in the state of Florida.
Is that idea not an erosion of private property rights? Haven’t we suffered enough usurpations against those rights already? Yes and yes, and even furthermore, how does the left continue it’s march through society? It attacks the idea of private property and that’s already in full-swing in many parts of our society.
So, then why would an allegedly liberty-minded individual actively want to work towards helping the far left’s ultimate goal — the elimination of all private property rights? Do that and we loose the foundational principle of Western society, because property rights and who owns property (whether that be private or public) forms most of our understanding of what human rights are.
But, he isn’t really against private property rights, right? My guess would be no, but again, why are we helping to chip away at the foundation while the leftists are already going there?
But, DeSantis’ instincts being against liberty aren’t just limited to the arena of COVID either.
Take his instincts when it comes to Big Tech censorship — to rush to make sure that politicians in Florida wouldn’t be censored by those Big Tech giants.
“We’ve seen the power of their censorship over individuals and organizations, including what I believe is clear viewpoint discrimination,’’ said DeSantis back in February of this year. “Under our proposal, if a technology company de-platforms a candidate for elected office in Florida during the election, a company will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored again.”
At least in this case DeSantis wanted to work through the channels of the state government and attempt to push a law instead of his pen as the answer. That was a step in the right direction, but in pursuit of an authoritarian viewpoint.
Do as we tell you to do as a business or face a fine, damn it.
However, neither of those decisions and instincts put in to action compare to something DeSantis did earlier this month. You see, his new project is a “Combating Public Disorder” bill.
Once again, on it’s face I get the point he’s trying to make here — finding a way to make sure extremists like ANTIFA and BLM, Inc. are actually punished for their looting, rioting and violence in the state of Florida.
But, once again, he wants to do it with the iron fist of centralized power. So much so that he even noted this bill will go so far as to not allow local governments to fund or de-fund police as they see fit. “”we’re not going to let local governments defund police…It’s something that could happen in some of these other ‘enclaves’ in the state of Florida…If a local jurisdiction tries to do that we’re restoring the funding,” said DeSantis in a recent press conference about this bill.
Is his heart in the right place here? Have we seen the disastrous consequences of actual defunding or re-allocating funding from police to elsewhere? Absolutely to the latter and maybe to the former.
But, if DeSantis can just create a law that supersedes the needs of local municipalities when it comes to funding for “public safety” what other areas of life will the state just simply grab power over?
If you care about the decentralization of power — the enemy to all those socialists who look to the gaining of power by government — then all of this should be scary to you. Not because the laws are bad or flawed or even made with the best of intentions, but because it’s in the DNA of DeSantis, the supposed savior of conservativism.
Now, if you don’t believe the decentralization of power is a good thing, then DeSantis should continue to be your hero. But, for those who are more interested in the fight to maintain liberty over government control of all kinds, maybe it’s worth taking a step back and double-thinking the DeSantis butterflies.
Essentially, DeSantis doesn’t believe that local control is a worthwhile goal. Every action he’s taken is not in the interest of allowing local governments to execute what is best for their citizens, it’s in the interest of making blanket policies for all parts of the state.
So, if a locality believes their money is better spent on roads or some other legit function of local needs and decides to maybe reduce how much they give to the local police, DeSantis would support simply restoring the funding gap.
If a locality wanted to stand up to teaching of Critical Race Theory and decided that pulling funding from schools was a measure of getting that objective done, what would DeSantis do? After all, isn’t educating the children at public expense a “public good” that should be funded?
He’s the one that began that ball rolling down the hill and once it starts, good luck stopping it.
That’s why all of this matters. If he’s willing to do it to our enemies of today, won’t he be willing to do it to you if he sees you as an enemy of his power tomorrow?
Liberty is the cornerstone of everything else that we hold dear as Americans. If someone as good as DeSantis is willing to subvert liberty because power is so intoxicating, than who or what institution can we turn to to help us gain that liberty we’re so desperate to hang on to?
Maybe I’m wrong, but we’ve seen countless GOP politicians speak a great game about liberty only to turn around and stab us in the back before. It’s time that we hold those in the upper echelons of our political life to minimum standards.
Is it too much to ask that they uphold liberty ahead of security? It shouldn’t be, but even with the so-called “best governor in the country” we are still left wanting liberty to be his first instinct instead of his last resort.
That’s a shame and a telling moment about where we are as a society.
What is Really Behind the Corporate Outrage Over Georgia’s Voting Law?
Is there anything more outrageous than the voter law changes made in Georgia? To listen to corporate America and far-left activists like Stacey Abrams, the answer is no. To actually read the law, one could come up with a very different conclusion and that means there are plenty of people left wondering what to believe and whom to believe.
That isn’t anything new to those that have been paying attention though, because it seems like we’ve been playing that same song-and-dance for over a year now.
But, don’t worry, I’m not here to scream outrage or tell you all the stats about Georgia’s law and what it really does or doesn’t do because honestly none of it matters one bit. I’m also not here to tell you how hypocritical Major League Baseball or Coca-Cola or the countless number of companies are for their opposition, all the while playing footsie with the state government for all sorts of competitive advantages.
Nor am I here to scream about Major League Baseball moving it’s All-Star game to a state that very arguably has more restrictive voting laws than Georgia just passed. Again, none of it matters if you take the time to pay attention to what is really going on.
You see, for the woke corporate set and their allies in leftism, the chaos of accusation and faigned outrage is exactly what they are going for. Call in the shiny object that everyone is supposed to be paying attention to, and it’s worked, because for the better part of a week the outrage machines has kicked in to overdrive.
For the right, they can’t believe the claims that this law is racist. How dare they continue to slander us with this term of emense power. For the left, they get to sling that claim of racism around all while claiming the moral high ground. It’s all lined up perfectly for the woke power set.
Meanwhile, the woke powers-that-be are continuing to push something much worse for America and the power structure of our government upon us. We’ve completely missed the point and once again the right has fallen in to the trap of appeasment and advancing the ball down the leftists court for them.
What am I speaking of, you might be asking? I am speaking of the idea of federalizing our elections.
That’s the real goal here and if the woke power brokers can get you and I to concentrate on the red meat, they get to play with the idea of fundamentally altering our republic. Lest you just think this idea is just an exercise in academia, I present to you H.R. 1 (House Resolution 1).
It’s a bill the left has attempted to put through congress on multiple occasions with only the fringe of the Democratic Party daring to put their name to it. However, there is no mistaking this for an exercise in 2021, because it was the first bill put before the house and it was in reaction to the “dangerous” election cycle we just went through. Something must be done now, and by the end of the first quarter of this year a once-fringe bill actually passed the House of Representatives.
What exactly does H.R. 1 and the corporate moral outrage over Georgia’s voting law have to do with one another? Everything.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Just listen to Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, who went on record on April 1 and said exactly what I’m alleging their goal is in front of a microphone and to reporters.
“Our focus is now on supporting federal legislation that protects voting access and addresses voter suppression across the country,” Quincey said according to The Mercury News. “We all have a duty to protect everyone’s right to vote, and we will continue to stand up for what is right in Georgia and across the US.”
Yes, Quincey is not directly mentioning H.R. 1 by name, a bill that would flip our constitutional republic on it’s head. It literally would make election law the role of the federal government even though the constitution expressly hands out that role to each state as it shall see fit.
Yet, have you heard any single talking head on the right or in libertarian land talking about this? Sure, we’ve all fallen for the shiny object of MLB’s hypocrisy. Sure, we’ve seen the shiny object of United Airlines supporting the bill right up until others in the woke corporate world began to oppose it and then began piling on itself.
We’ve all fallen for the notion that these companies oppose this out of some fundamental value of “free and fair elections.” Isn’t that a really great idea, a really swell goal and something we should all strive to achieve? Who doesn’t want fair elections and for all those who are eligible to cast a ballot?
But, like much of the rest of the issues brought before us today, what the textbook meaning of “free and fair” is and what the leftists mean it to mean are two different things. The woke set aren’t speaking plain English, they are speaking their own language using the same words but with very different meaning to them.
Equity and equality don’t mean what we’ve all been taught they meant from our youth to relatively recently. Racism isn’t what you were taught it to be. None of the terms of our civic life have common meanings anymore and understanding that is vital to understanding what is going on here.
Major League Baseball isn’t just attempting to “live up to its values,” it is attempting to bend Georgia and our overall election system over a barrel so that it’s woke partners in corporate and civic America can get their way. After all, it’s only the stupid Senate that is blocking this bill’s passage.
Shaming the opposition is the left’s tactic, it’s the shiny thing to pay attention to while it moves the goalposts of our society further and further away from our founding principles and closer and closer towards their ideal version of socialism.
H.R. 1 is the mechanism that creates that fundamental transformation and here we have Coke telling us in no uncertain terms what the real goal is. Yet, do we listen? Do we take seriously what seems so unserious? No, because we haven’t learned the lesson yet.
We’d rather give them an inch and not be called racist, while they are busy taking the mile in front of us already.
Now, will MLB or Coke or United or the countless others who piled on the false narrative of Georgia’s voter laws actually say that they want a fundamental transformation of our political life? That they want to federalize our entire election system, that they support H.R. 1? No. That would be dumb of them. That would expose them as what they really are — another arm of the leftist movement in Western society.
Coke wasn’t the only one making statements signaling towards support of federalizing our elections either. Wells Fargo echoed Quincey’s thoughts and called for the federal government to at least make election day a federal holiday (never mind that would kind of make “mail-in voting” and absentee balloting a moot point).
They want election laws to be universal across every state too. They want to take Article 1, Section 4 of the United States constitution and strip one half of it of their rights. Remember, the Constitution tells us that both the states and federal government are supposed to have the power to “regulate the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives.”
Prior to this recent barrage of Article 1, Section 4, the federal government has only stepped in to enforce constitutional rights being infringed or to speed up the process by which election results were to be decided so that the functionality of our entire federalist system could work properly.
We’ve seen the enforcement of the 15th amendment and laws that gave a time and manner in which states had to decide gridlocked Senatorial campaigns (which were a thing until the states legislatures gave up their right to elect Senators altogether). That’s but one example of a few really important things that the federal government has been able to step in and regulate state election procedures on.
There are many more, but I won’t bore you with the details. Instead, I will ask you, what is the point of federalism as an idea if states are all the same? If they hold exactly the same electoral process, not of their own free will and because ideas tried elsewhere work or are so good they can’t be passed up, but because the feds have superseded their authority and having nothing to really do with actual constitutional rights being denied?
What would be the point of state government’s existing at all?
There would be none, and wouldn’t that be the ultimate goal of the leftist? You know, the elimination of means of slowing down federal power and uniqueness and the rise of an all-powerful, centralized state who also has the corporate interests in their pocket as well?
I’m not saying that would happen overnight, but the chipping away at fundamental elements of our Republican apparatus would be a very big help towards that ultimate goal. With the help of corporate America and its economic power (lest we forget Atlanta and it’s nearly 60% black-owned businesses are about to lose $100 million in economic activity from the All-Star game), this could be a real possibility before we know it’s even coming at us.
Which means it’s time to stop watching the shiny object known as the wholly unwatchable MLB All-Star game and time to start watching what these people are actually saying and doing when it comes to the structural posts of our Republic.
That’s the real fight ahead, not the hypocrisy of changing locations of an All-Star game to places with more restrictive voter laws. MLB doesn’t care about Georgia’s laws other than to help its friends in woke corporate America get what they want — federalized elections.
If you believe in federalism, this must be opposed now and forever more. Federalism isn’t a one-way, up the political hierarchy path. It’s a two-way street and we need to fight to keep it that way, both politically and economically.
Cotton, Romney play left’s minimum wage game
Coming your way soon from the Republican Party? Apparently it’s going to be engaging on a federal minimum wage bill.
On Tuesday, Republican Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced their plan to introduce legislation to move the federal minimum wage up to $10 an hour, while also making sure to shore up the E-Verify system as well.
This coming on the heels of the left’s continued push for a $15 an hour minimum wage at the federal and state levels. It’s already part of the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill being tossed about in the halls of the United States Capitol.
So, naturally, the right must meet the left on their playing field as they always seem to do.
In this case, Cotton and Romney are positioning this bill as a way to save jobs and increase security for American workers jobs.
“American workers today compete against millions of illegal immigrants for too few jobs with wages that are too low — that’s unfair,” said Cotton in a statement. “Ending the black market for illegal labor will open up jobs for Americans. Raising the minimum wage will allow Americans filling those jobs to better support their families. Our bill does both.”
Meanwhile, socialists like Ro Khanna (D-CA) have stated that businesses unwilling to pay a $15 minimum wage just shouldn’t be welcome in America.
“They shouldn’t be doing it by paying low wages. We don’t want low-wage businesses,” Rep. Khanna (D–Calif.) said on CNN earlier this week. “I think $15 is very reasonable in this country.”
It’s an all-too-familiar refrain from the left though, because they believe anyone making below that to be paid starvation wages. Case-in-point, leftist commentator David Sirota, telling us that “Ro Khanna effectively makes the case that if a business is predicated on paying workers starvation wages, then that business should not be considered a viable enterprise.”
Which, to those on the libertarian side of things reeks of government picking and choosing the winners and not free-market principles. Given the status of our economy during this pandemic, one would think that tipping an already fragile economy even further over the edge of the cliff wouldn’t be wise.
But here we are with two prominent Senators from the GOP playing in to the left’s wage demands as if they are legitimate to begin with.
What do I mean?
How about a real-world example of the $15 minimum wage hike? As Reason.com points out, Fresno, Calif. is a prime example of the effects on low-wage, low cost of living areas and quick increases in minimum wages.
According to Reason’s reporting, they found that even the New York Times investigative arm reports bad results for areas that should be helped by this increase, at least according to leftist economic theory.
“In January, California hiked its minimum wage to $14 an hour. Businesses in Fresno, where the median wage is $17 an hour, have responded by either raising prices, cutting staff, or both, the Times found.”
That’s to say nothing of the effects of having to also look at all those wage earners above the previous minimum wage who would also have to see increases in keeping with the new law and old numbers above the minimum wage.
It’s a refrain we’ve seen time-and-again in localities and states that have passed these types of increases. Seattle, Portland and other areas have all seen the same issues happen. Why? Because it’s the natural law of economics at play. When you increase the cost of doing business, a good business doesn’t just eat the cost of the changes as a price of doing business.
When costs go up, they pass it on or they stop hiring — neither of which help the lowest wage earners a bit. That McDonald’s trip that used to maybe cost you and your family of four around $20 bucks, try $40 today. That doesn’t happen by inflation alone. It happens because of cost increases in every part of the business.
Yet, the GOP also apparently hasn’t learned that lesson. Instead, Cotton and Romney are attempting the good old technocrat game of “just how close to the edge can we come without falling over the cliff.”
Instead of just sitting back and watching the left tell us exactly how callous and uncaring for those of us who take chances and create businesses and jobs they are, what do they do? What is their response to a bill that even Joe Biden is admitting doesn’t have a chance of passage in the COVID stimulus bill?
Naturally, it’s to propose their own terrible idea to meet the left on their playing field. You see, “if we just give them half of what they are asking for, we’ll be seen as compromising and compassionate people.”
If the GOP were to be honest, they would be the ones pointing out the fools errand of the minimum wage debate to begin with.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), just 1.9% of all wage earners in America make the current federal minimum wage. That translates to 1.6 million people of working age in this country.
But, those of non-college age, well according to BLS statistics, just 1.4% of those over the age of 24 are earning the federal minimum wage today.
Do you hear the right talk about that? Do you hear them talk about the positive news that fewer and fewer people are earning minimum wage despite the government’s lack of interference?
In 1980, when the minimum wage was $9.89 (in 2019 dollars), 13% of all wage earners were there. Today, again, that number is down to 1.9%. Put another way, some 7.7 million workers were earning just minimum wage back in 1980, by 2019 that number had moved to just 1.6 million. That’s a movement of 6.1 million people off of minimum wage salaries in 40 years.
Some of this can be attributed to state and local governments having higher minimum wage standards than the federal level, but it only explains a fraction of the movement away from minimum wage numbers.
It’s important to understand those numbers, because the left has done a great job of selling the American people that if we just fix this problem, poverty in America can be fixed. But, in reality, we’re talking about shifting our whole economy for just over 1% of the hourly-wage-earning population.
Does that make sense to you? It shouldn’t, and yet the GOP seems to want to perpetuate the story rather than call it out for its ridiculousness.
This has been the pattern of the right for nearly two decades and it’s time to stop playing their game if we want to get some sanity back to our fiscal and governmental policies. It’s time to stop accepting false premises as worthy of discussion. It’s time to stop compromising on bad ideas.