Why Should We Heavily Regulate or Break Up Big Tech?

 

It wasn’t long into my reading of last weekend’s Wall Street Journal essay “Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped?” that I realized the author must be the same one who wrote “Is It Time to Break Up Google?” back in the New York Times last April.

Indeed, the writer of both is Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. I found that first essay sort of odd because I really didn’t discover a strong argument for government action. Oh, Taplin made some assertions and declarations such as “It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale” and that we need to stop “pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.”

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Has Any Nation Ever Chosen Communism?

 

I’ve been reading John Lewis Gaddis’s book The Cold War: A New History, and a question occurred to me that I’d never actually thought about before.

Communism, at least as formulated by Marx and pursued by Lenin, was supposed to be a natural consequence of the failings of capitalism. It was supposed to be the masses, the proletariat, overthrowing the small minority that was oppressing them. As such, it was supposed to be what would make life better for the vast majority of people.

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Maternal Inadequacy and a Musical Son

 

I’m not a music person. I’m just not. Yes, I used to play the piano. Still do, when I happen across one, but otherwise? I barely even listen to music on the radio anymore.

I wouldn’t have said that my children’s dad was especially musical either, yet somehow we managed to produce Peter. Who has been working on, working with, working toward music — specifically the drums — since he was about 11 years old.

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Cutting Tax Rates Leads to Larger Tax Takes

 

After reading James Pethokoukis’ latest piece and the comments following, I thought members might be interested in this exchange in the British House of Commons today. The issue under discussion was the corporate tax rate which has fallen from 28% to 19% since the Conservatives-Liberal coalition came to power in 2010. Conservative backbench MP Philip Hollobone asked:

“Will the Minister tell the House by how much the corporation tax take has gone up since the corporation tax rate was cut?”

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Jamie Gorelick and the Persistence of Memory

 

I awoke on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at about 7 Mountain Time in Arvada, CO. I needed to get to the campus of the Colorado School of Mines for class that morning — a multidisciplinary engineering lab having to do with measuring water flow — and I was running slightly late. Getting into my Blazer and turning on the radio, the local morning hosts on 103.5 The Fox weren’t telling the funny jokes I was so accustomed to hearing. I specifically recall them using the term “Day of American Tragedy” which seemed pretty serious for a Tuesday.

As we all know now, the nation was under attack by the icy, nettled hand of Islamofascism. I recall thinking to myself (as memories from that day tend to be painted in sharp relief) “How could our intelligence agencies and counterterrorism people miss something this big?”

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Causing Offense from the High Ground

 

In recent passionate, well-written, and engaging posts, Susan Quinn and “Martel” (I can only assume his first name is Charles) call for a new boldness, a kind of rhetorical trench warfare that rejects the strictures of nobility, decorum, and the high ground in favor of what the left has demonstrated actually works: insults, personal exposé, and relentless attack.

There’s a lot to like in this. I agree that timidity is a signature trait of conservatism, ill-suited for engaging an opponent only too ready to abandon any pretense of reason and moderation and dive down into the muck. Calls to meet our political foes on their own level are growing more common and more strident – largely, I’d argue, because the left has sunk to such depths of discourse that effective yet principled engagement seems impossible.

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The Single-Payer Siren

 
Shutterstock.com

The United States is facing another crisis in organizing its health care system. It is clear that the private exchanges concocted under the Obama administration are failing at a record rate for the simple reason that they violate all known sound principles of insurance. The planners who put these programs together unwisely thought that universal coverage would overcome the standard insurance problems of adverse selection and moral hazard.

But that didn’t happen. Under the Obamacare plans, the insurers are allowed to compete only on the cost of providing a fixed set of government packages of mandated services. They have no power to select their own customers, or to charge those customers rates sufficient to cover insurance expenses. People are allowed to game the system by signing up just before they need treatment, only to leave once the treatment is received. The young dump plans that require them to pay for the insurance of the old. The old sign up in droves. Systems with cross-subsidies are inherently unstable. Yet the insurers are unwisely limited in what they can spend on administrative expenses, which unhappily limits their ability to recruit new customers or to monitor the behavior of their existing ones.

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Obama’s “Iran-Contra”

 

I read the following in July 16th’s Wall Street Journal:

The Obama Jus­tice De­part­ment made a prac­tice of set­tling law­suits against cor­po­rate de­fen­dants by re­quir­ing they make large do­na­tions to groups like La Raza. It was, in the words of House Ju­di­ciary Com­mittee Chair­man Bob Goodlatte, “a scheme to fun­nel money to po­lit­i­cally fa­vored spe­cial in­ter­est groups.” In a let­ter sent to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch in the clos­ing days of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, Mr. Good­latte noted that “in just the last two years, DOJ has di­rected nearly $1 bil­lion to ac­tivist groups, en­tirely out­side of Con­gress’s spend­ing and over­sight au­thor­ity.”

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Are Our Immigration “Policies” Basically Affirmative Action for Lazy People?

 

This is not a post about illegal immigration (so calm down. lol). This is a gripe about the limitations imposed by the nonsense that is our current immigration system. I have always thought that as an employer I should hire the most qualified people available, regardless of race, gender, or whatever. That is the smart as well as correct thing to do.

One of the best ways to differentiate your company from others that provide similar services is by having the best people working for you. This is getting harder and harder to do because we are all hiring out of the same limited labor pool. I fundamentally oppose affirmative action in the workplace or in education and it’s starting to feel to me that our convoluted immigration system is pretty much an affirmative action program for the country at large, specifically unqualified and/or lazy people.

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Why I Will Never Abandon Trump

 

Lately there’s been a lot of talk among pundits on what it would take for Trump’s base to abandon him. For me, the answer is: nothing. I feel I must support Trump, regardless of what he does, because I fear what would happen if he got impeached. That’s not to say I don’t criticize Trump from time to time. But said criticism has no bearing on my generic support for him.

Ever since World War II, American elites have tried to build this narrative that democracy is about impersonal public policy, not power/status competition between groups. If you believe that policy is all that matters, than of course there won’t be any consequences to impeaching Trump, certainly not for his base. He’ll just be replaced by Pence, and things will go on mostly as they have before.

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Obamacare Replacement Bill Now Lacks Votes to Pass; Update: McConnell to Introduce Straight Repeal Bill

 

Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced Monday night that they will not support the GOP bill to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare. With the previous defections of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the bill no longer has enough votes to pass.

“In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes,” Lee said, “it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

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Still the Party of Tax Cuts? There May Be a Big Shift Happening in the GOP

 

In my most recent The Week column, I argue it’s a pretty big deal in GOPland that the Senate health bill keeps Obamacare’s investment tax hikes. And it’s not just any tax hike, mind you. It’s a capital gains tax hike, something Republican economic orthodoxy — especially as espoused by the supply-side wing — identifies as particularly harmful for savings and investment. As I note in the piece:

The Club for Growth called the tax “an anathema to conservatives as it suppresses economic growth and opportunity throughout our nation.” And this from Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform: “The faster we get the capital gains tax cut down, the faster we’ll get further growth and investment.” Conservative economist Brian Riedl even claims “killing the [tax] is key to unshackling the sluggish economy.”

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It’s Time to Fight Back!

 

I hate to admit it, but it’s time to meet the other side, head-on. A new narrative must be created to convince people that the conservatives, represented by Republicans, are willing to fight for our values and proposals, and do it with every resource we have, and we don’t care whether the Dems like it or not.

Martel, in his recent post persuaded me that we must be creative, determined, and unapologetic about what we have to offer this country. The process will be painful, difficult, and discouraging at the beginning, because people won’t believe us. They won’t. And the Democrats will use everything in their arsenal to fight us. But an adamant truth-telling must begin.

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It’s Time for the President to Address the Nation, What Should He Say?

 

Personally I’d love a pimp-slapping to everyone obstructing him. Obviously he can do better but we are witnessing unprecedented behavior on the part of Democrats in congress, the media, and government in general. I doubt our President is going to take this coup lightly and I suspect it might get pretty ugly, including our President’s reactions to the non-stop assault on his family, regardless of what level of justification there may be. I expect him to fight and I hope he fights intelligently. But even if he throws wild haymakers, I want people hurt because of their actions. The opponents of democracy have made their beds, I hope there are nails waiting for them when they are forced to lie in them.

I do seriously want your ideas about what he should say. Health care, tax reform, budgets, foreign policy, terrorism, Russia, media, intelligence agency issues, Obama’s spy machine, leaks, trade deals, immigration, walls, and the lot of it. NT’s and skeptics I hope can come up with something better than resignation because that’s not happening.

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Family: The Dumb One

 

I am the middle of three brothers. Of the three of us, I am the dumb one.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not stupid. Based on my academic achievements, standardized test scores, and intellectual accomplishments, my IQ is somewhere in the 130s. That is smart. Whip smart. Smarter than 95% of people. Smart enough to be a rocket scientist. Or at least the space navigation software engineer I was for the better part of three decades. If most people are 40-watt bulbs, I am 75-watts.

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Three-Sentence Movie Review

 

My middle son, in the still-dark theater as the credits rolled after two hours and twenty minutes of War of the Planet of the Apes:

Wow. It’s like a group of screenwriters made a really stupid bet. “Who can write a movie that will make an audience boo humans and cheer monkeys?”

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Book Review: Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth

 

The following is a repost of a piece I wrote 3 years ago here. With all of the Russian Collusion kerfuffle I thought it apropos to revist it. You see, “collusion with the Russians” is hardly a new problem, and JFK himself actively and secretly colluded with Khrushchev, using his brother Bobby as a clandestine intermediary. JFK told no one in his cabinet, or in the Secret Service, that he was doing this. Why? Well, for starters Kennedy was not particularly keen on the continuing defense of West Berlin, and had practically no concept of its extraordinary value to NATO as a bastion right in the middle of the Warsaw Pact. In his mind, when he assumed the presidency, it was as best a distraction from his desired rapprochement with Moscow. Kennedy wanted to “reset” Soviet relations after 8 years of Eisenhower refusing to “play ball”.

Secondly, Khrushchev did actually interfere with the 1960 presidential election in his own way by managing international events such that he made Nixon look paranoid against Kennedy’s openness. Khrushchev therefore often claimed that he himself got Kennedy elected (Chicago notwithstanding, of course), and he thus felt Kennedy owed him. The Berlin Crisis of 1961, the precursor to the Cuban Missile Crisis, was in no small part of this mutual dalliance between Khrushchev and Kennedy. The passing of US intelligence secrets to the USSR via Bobby, the feeding of Soviet propaganda and misinformation back to Kennedy, and the dangerous near-loss of Berlin were all JFK’s doing. We should bear all this in mind today when we are so quick to decry what Trump may or may not have done, just as we should remember that JFK learned from his early mistakes. It hardly need be mentioned that many historians today, in their near-saintly portrayal of Kennedy, or in their endless vituperation against Trump, have ignored this episode when the US nearly bungled one of its most valuable protectorates in the Cold War.

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My Afternoon with David Brooks

 

“Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named ‘Padrino’ and ‘Pomodoro’ and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.” — David Brooks, NYT columnist

This account by David Brooks reminded me of an awkward encounter I had some years ago with, of all people, David Brooks himself. Fortunately, I made a contemporaneous record of it in my journal, and so can reproduce my experience here with perfect accuracy.

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Leadership and Laziness

 

In my latest op-ed for the local fishwrap, I tell the tale of an old German general with the mouthful of a name Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord. Between the world wars, he was tasked with restructuring the military, at least until he tried to kill Hitler, which got him into a spot of bother. But how he decided whom to promote and whom to fire fascinates me from a business perspective.

He divided the entire officer corps into four quadrants, which I illustrated in the chart to the right:

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One Conservative’s Lament

 
Father George Rutler.

I’ve quietly withdrawn from the public square as I lament the sorrowful condition of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. If this is what winning looks like, then I’m not sure that it was worth it. Obviously “establishment” Republicans and conservatives would just as soon see a smooth-talking political party animal in the White House; they don’t know what to do with an unpredictable, inelegant, sometimes vulgar leader who despite his clumsy manner is trying to do what the majority of Americans want done.

I have to admire the Left. Like zombies, they just keep coming at you; they are relentless. Whether they win or lose, they never stop their pursuit of power. In the end they will win — that’s my fear.

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