Ending Poverty by ‘Ending Capitalism’ Is Absolute Nonsense

 

It’s hardly to Teen Vogue’s credit that its dreadful story “What ‘Capitalism’ Is and How It Affects People” isn’t nearly as wrongheaded and offensive as the viral tweet promoting it: “Can’t #endpoverty without ending capitalism!” But let’s start with the grotesque, clickbaity tweet. End poverty where, exactly? Is Teen Vogue referring to the United States, which it identifies as an example of a “modern capitalist” country along with Britain and Germany?

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Another Example of So-Called Tech Monopolies Not Acting Like Monopolies

 

When one looks at the size, scale, and influence of America’s tech titans (companies that jealous Europe would love to have), it’s not surprising to think of them as monopolies. But as competition scholar Nicholas Petit explains in a recent conversation with me, “When you look at what those companies do it seems very different from what the old school textbook monopolist would do.”

They don’t act like fat and happy forever companies with not a competitive care in the world. Such as being in cutthroat competition with other dominant tech titans. As Andreessen Horowitz tech analyst Benedict Evans recently tweeted:

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How America Can Beat China in the AI Race

 

If you believe Kai-Fu Lee — the Beijing-based AI scientist, venture capitalist, and former Googler (he ran Google China) — China has the edge in AI, a case he makes in “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order.” As Lee sees things, China’s internet economy generates lots of data with few restrictions on hoovering it up. China is also massively investing in the sector. In addition, he praises Chinese-style cutthroat entrepreneurship vs. the softer Silicon Valley version, at least as he see it. (This interview with McKinsey gives a good sense of Lee’s views.)

Whether or not Lee is correct in evaluating how the two nations stand in relation to each other, it makes sense for US policymakers to assume more could be done to reduce barriers to AI advancement and encourage the technology’s development. And to that, it’s certainly worth taking a look at “Reducing Entry Barriers in the Development and Application of AI” by Caleb Watney of the R Street Institute. The analysis finds that one goal of policy should be to increase the supply of AI talent and speed AI diffusion by importing more AI talent and allowing companies to better deduct the cost of training AI workers.

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The Last Time Unemployment Got This Low, the Economy Got Weird

 

The US unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, the lowest rate since December 1969. That’s even lower than the jobless rate during the 1990s internet and productivity boom. Other bits of good news in the report include decent monthly job growth of 134,000 — probably a depressed number because of Hurricane Florence. With upward revisions to the previous two reports, job gains have averaged 190,000 per month over the past three months. Such gains are consistent with “steady declines in the unemployment rate and solid increases in aggregate household income,” according to Barclays. There was also a 0.3 percent gain in average hourly earnings, a tick higher employment rate, and a 420,000 rise in the household measure of employment easily outpaces a 150,000 rise in the labor force.

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Remember the EITC Amid Amazon’s Move to a $15 Minimum Wage

 

A $15 minimum wage might well be great for Amazon. But it is unlikely to be great for America if imposed across the country, as I write in my new The Week column. Even raising the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour by a buck or so every year until it hits $15 would almost certainly risk significant negative job effects.

New research from University of California at San Diego economist Jeffrey Clemens and my AEI colleague Michael Strain finds that increases of over $1 in states that raised their minimum wage between January 2013 and January 2015 “resulted in employment declines of just over one percentage point among teenagers, among individuals ages 16 to 21, and among individuals ages 16 to 25 with less than a completed high school education.”

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The Freest People in the World

 

There’s been a lot of media buzz and debate this week over Amazon’s decision to raise its internal minimum wage to $15 an hour for its 250,000 regular workers and 100,000 seasonal hires here in the United States. Conversations are flying back and forth about the long and short-term economic impact. Will this force higher […]

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Today on the Daily Standard Podcast, reporter Haley Byrd and deputy online editor Jim Swift join host Charlie Sykes to discuss the latest with the Kavanaugh nomination and Trump’s recently inked NAFTA remix. Will the “USMCA” get a vote in Congress?

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Make Texas More Competitive: End the Margin Tax

 

In Texas, we take pride in being the best. We like to think that Texas is a business friendly state that welcome new companies to Texas. However, the Tax Foundation newly released ranking of economic competitiveness lists Texas as the 15th most competitive state in the country (down from 13th place last year). The Tax […]

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America Ranks as a Top 10 Nation for Economic Freedom. But There’s a Twist…

 
Economic Freedom of the World: 2018 Annual Report from the Fraser Institute.

To the extent “Make America Great Again” is an economic argument, it’s one that doesn’t make much sense. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump described America as pretty much a failed state, even using the phrase “third world country” multiple times. As he told The Washington Post, “I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we’re a poor country now.” This dystopian view was also part of the claim that 2016 was the “Flight 93” election where the nationalist 99% had one final chance to “charge the cockpit” and seize control from globalist Davoisie oligarchy running Washington and ruining America.

Of course, exploiting economic discontent is what so-called populists do, whether they are of the left or right. And they aren’t going to let facts — such as America having a net worth of over $100 trillion — get in their way. Yet it’s worth making sure those facts stay front and center as much as possible. Helpful in this endeavor is the new “Economic Freedom of the World” report from the Fraser Institute, which “measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom.” And some good news: America is back in the top ten. The US economy scores particularly high in areas such as “sound money” and “regulation.”

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Jill Lepore’s Slanted Truths

 
President Herbert Hoover.

Few books have received as much instantaneous acclaim as Harvard historian Jill Lepore’s These Truths: A History of the United States. Her aim is to distill in 932 densely packed pages the history of an entire nation. The title of the book is an explicit echo of Thomas Jefferson’s famous words in the Declaration of Independence. But if Jefferson was a small government thinker, Lepore is not. The book covers many cultural and social issues—as well as constitutional and regulatory matters, on which she takes a strong and uncritical progressive stance that sees government intervention as an essential tool to correct the imbalances of the market.

In developing this idea, Lepore’s book covers multiple topics with stunning rapidity, elegant compression, and apparent erudition. One constant theme traces the interaction between constitutional law and technological development from the Founding period to the present, covering everything from the printing press to the Internet. But even that subject is too extensive to receive a full account, so on this occasion I will confine my attention to a small portion of that topic, covering the years between 1920 and 1945 dealing with the rise of broadcasting by radio and the government’s attempt to regulate the airwaves. This case study offers a contrast between the classical liberal view of limited government with strong property and contract rights that I have long defended, and Lepore’s clear endorsement of the progressive tradition that has in many ways displaced it.

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If the Old US-China Game Is Over, What Comes Next?

 

Phrase it whatever way you prefer. As my CNBC colleague said today on “Squawk on the Street,” “I think the president is saying, ‘Hey, listen guys, you are not going to make as much money in China as you used to. That game is over.’”

Or as my AEI colleague Derek Scissors writes in a new blog post, “…the Sino-American economic relationship is going to shrink, sooner or later.”

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The Bezos Busters

 

Trust the New York Times to go gaga over bad ideas concerning antitrust law. This past week, the front page of the print version of its business section featured an article entitled, “Be Afraid, Jeff Bezos, Be Very Afraid.” The drumbeat continued with the online version, entitled “Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea.” Its author, the journalist David Streitfeld, profiles Lina Khan, a recent Yale Law School graduate, in his lead article. Khan, he claims, “has reframed decades of monopoly law” with a student note published in the Yale Law Journal entitled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” Khan thinks Amazon should be broken up because its large size and pervasive reach allows it to extend its tentacles into too many markets at the same time.

The title of Khan’s note is intended to be an attack on the late Robert Bork’s influential 1977 book, The Antitrust Paradox: A Policy at War with Itself. Bork’s Chicago-school critique of antitrust law was largely directed to what he called the “reckless and primitive egalitarianism” of Chief Justice Earl Warren’s Supreme Court, which sat from 1954 to 1969 and wrought havoc over many fields of legal study, antitrust included. On antitrust, the Warren Court often held that mergers that resulted in virtually no increase of market power could be enjoined by the government, even though they had no adverse affect on either the price or quantity of goods sold. In so doing, the Court deviated from the original antitrust design which was intended to supplement state law, as argued in another Yale law student note, in dealing with large combinations—the so-called trusts—that did exert enormous market power.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos tackle the latest accusations of Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, leaving Republicans with the unpleasant choice of ditching a Supreme Court nominee over an eleventh hour allegation missing many specifics or confirming a nominee who many Americans now believe to be a sex offender just one month before the midterms. They also get a kick out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flailing and failing to explain how she would pay for $40 trillion in new government programs over ten years. And they sigh as evidence mounts that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un hasn’t stopped his nuclear or missile programs but just isn’t boasting about it anymore.

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The Virtue in Jeff Bezos’ $2 Billion Fund to Help Preschoolers and the Homeless

 

The $2 billion Bezos Day One fund might do a great job at helping the homeless and educating preschoolers from low-income families. Or it might be a bust. It’s obviously too early to make any sort of reasonable prediction about whether Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will succeed as a philanthropists.

For critics, however, all that is pretty much beside the point. The effort is inherently “morally complicated.” Some see it as a tax dodge on the Amazon founder’s $160 billion fortune. They would prefer — in the name of “democratic accountability” or some such — for Uncle Sam to somehow grab a big chunk of that massive wealth to fund government efforts to help preschoolers and the homeless. (As if Bezos’ efforts wouldn’t be accountable to the democratic process that produces laws and regulations or accountable to parents who voluntarily choose to enroll their kids.)

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Today on the Daily Standard Podcast, Politico reporter Kyle Cheney joins host Charlie Sykes to discuss Manafort’s plea deal, the New York primaries, the upcoming midterms and GOP messaging, the future of House leadership, and the 11th hour Brett Kavanaugh letter.

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How’s the US Economy Doing? Incomes Up, Inequality Stable

 

So let’s look at the numbers: US median household income rose for the third straight year in 2017, according to new Census Bureau figures. And that’s where the good news seems to stop, at least according to the top line numbers. The 1.8 percent growth rate in 2017 lagged behind the previous two years, when median household income rose 3.2 percent in 2016 and 5.2 percent in 2015. And while a scan of the numbers shows household income level to be the highest on record, that’s only due to changes in how the Census Bureau calculates the numbers. Essentially incomes are about the same as where they were at previous peaks in 1999 and 2007.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of Hillary Clinton trying to damage efforts to confirm Brett Kavanaugh by spreading a birth control lie that was thoroughly debunked days ago – even by liberals. They also recoil as an angry anti-Trump voter tries to stab a Republican congressional candidate in California and the mainstream media largely ignore the incident. And they blast MSNBC host Joe Scarborough for arguing, on 9/11, that President Trump is damaging the United States far more than any terrorist ever has or could.

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