Tucker Carlson Fails at Capitalism

tucker

Conservative Commentator Tucker Carlson

This weekend I was on a long road trip, and while I drove, I decided to listen to the Daily Wire’s Sunday Special with Ben Shapiro.  Shapiro hosts a different guest every week to discuss various political and social issues, and his guests have included people on both the political left and political right.  This week, Shapiro’s guest was Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Many conservatives love Carlson’s commentary, and to be fair, I’ve liked how he’s approached some recent political issues.  For example, he was one of the only mainstream news commentators that I know of who actually questioned whether or not Assad was responsible for a chemical attack in Syria this past April.  None the less, I was extremely disappointed with what Carlson had to say on the Sunday Special.

While Carlson claims to be a proponent of capitalism (around the 30:07 mark in the interview he says capitalism is the best economic system he can think of), he openly advocated for one of the most non-free market practices known to history.  Carlson actually thinks the government should outlaw technological advancements in order to “save” the jobs of Americans.

About 29 minutes into the interview, Shapiro asked Carlson about a concern that Carlson raised regarding the prospect of self-driving vehicles in his recent book Ship of Fools.  It’s no secret that from taxi cabs to eighteen wheelers, many Americans drive vehicles for a living.  However, assuming technology continues to advance and artificial intelligence becomes proficient enough, it’s not difficult to see that self-driving vehicles could rapidly replace these drivers on the road.

Shapiro asked if Carlson believes that the government should introduce regulations to prevent this automation from happening, and Carlson said that he would do so without hesitation.  In particular he said,

“In a second.  In a second.  In other words, if I were President would I say to DOT, Department of Transportation, we’re not letting driver-less trucks on the road.  Period.  Why? Really Simple.  Driving for a living is the single most common job for high school educated men in this country in all 50 states.  By the way, that’s the same group whose wages have gone down by 11% over the past 30 years.  The social cost of eliminating their jobs in a 10-year span, 5-year span, 30-year span is so high that it’s not sustainable” (29:27-29:59 in interview).

While I understand this concern in principle, this is yet another example of how neo-conservative economic policies are anything but capitalist and are grounded in the same economic misunderstandings that plague progressives.  To understand why, one must ask the question of how wealth is created in the free market, and why it is that people seek jobs in the free market at all.

So what is the answer to how wealth is created?  In the simplest sense, one could say wealth is created when a person expends time combining labor with resources to produce something useful.  When our ancestors spent their days putting seeds in the ground by hand and then watering those seeds, they did so in order to grow produce that was useful for survival.  By choosing to farm, they demonstrated that they believed that time spent farming was better spent than time spent sitting and doing nothing, and I don’t believe they were incorrect in this assessment.

However, farming by hand took a great deal of time, and producing enough food to feed a large family required that everyone had to pitch in.  A single storm could ruin your crop, not to mention all the insects and other animals that would seek to deprive you of it.  Without modern conveniences such as tractors and pesticides, farming took a great deal of work, far more than it takes today.

But how did tractors, pesticides, and other modern conveniences become a reality?  From the simplest hand tools to the most technologically advanced machines, modern conveniences were also the result of people expending time combining labor with resources.  Someone had to have an idea for how to create something, and then they had to decide that spending time making that idea a reality was worth more than using their time to do something else.

However, with this type of innovation there’s always a measure of risk.  When our ancestors who farmed by hand expended time trying to create tools, that was time that they weren’t spending farming.  The risk was always there that their idea wouldn’t work, and they’d never get that time and those expended resources back.  For this reason, they would be more inclined to experiment with new ideas in times of abundance when the resources they needed to survive were plentiful and required less time and labor.

It’s here that we realize that there’s more to creating wealth than simply expending time combining labor with resources.  What truly creates wealth is not simply a combination of time, labor, and resources but rather finding ways to achieve your desired ends without expending as much capital as you did before.  When a new technology allows one worker to accomplish what it previously took five to accomplish, you can still achieve your desired end, but now you have time, labor, and resources freed up to be used for new endeavors.

Now, on to the question as to why people seek out jobs in a free market.  When a person takes a job, they are choosing to exchange their time and labor for a particular compensation that leaves them better off.  As we just discussed, they’ve decided that the time they spend working is better spent than using that time to do something else.  Given this, it seems intuitive that having more jobs is better than having less, and for this reason, people like Tucker Carlson sometimes advocate that government regulations should be used to maintain conditions where more people are required to accomplish a task than less.

But what this type of thinking doesn’t account for is what new endeavors will become feasible once capital has been freed up.  Returning again to an age of primitive farming, imagine if a farm hand had come to a man working on a new farm tool and said, “Stop that.  If your invention works, we won’t need as many people working in the fields every day.  Don’t you care about the jobs of hard-working farm hands?”

Now, jump ahead to the age of the first automobiles.  Imagine a rancher coming to Henry Ford and saying, “Quit working on that Model T.  Don’t you know how many people make a living raising horses, making saddles, and building wagons?  If your invention works, thousands of people will find themselves without jobs!”

The list of examples could go on, but a search of history will not reveal a period of time where thousands of former employees starved to death due to technology taking their jobs away.  Instead, what we see is that as their time was freed up and they sought new ways to make a living, entirely new industries emerged that no one had even dreamed of as much as a decade earlier.  Do you think farm hands would have been nearly as concerned about the prospect of losing their jobs if they could look into the future and see the internet, smart phones, and drive through restaurants?

A recent example of how increased economic efficiency helps everyone can be seen in the discussions about the effects of international trade with countries like China.  Some people point to the correlation between Chinese imports and the loss of American manufacturing jobs as evidence that the government should intervene with trade restrictions, such as tariffs, to save American jobs.  However, research conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis found,

“Increased import competition from China leads workers to relocate to other sectors; thus, the share of employment in services, wholesale and retail, and construction increases. The role of intermediate inputs and sectoral linkages is crucial to understanding these relocation effects. Import competition from China leads to decreased production among U.S. manufacturing sectors that compete with China, but it also affords the U.S. economy access to cheaper intermediate goods from China that are used as inputs in non-manufacturing sectors. Production and employment increase in the non-manufacturing sectors as a result. As an example, we found that in the long run, about 50 thousand jobs are created in construction as a result of the China shock” (Caliendo, Dvorkin & Parro, 2018, p. 28).

Admittedly, the prospect of losing one’s job isn’t fun.  There’s always a measure of uncertainty about the future, and many people would like for the government to make that uncertainty go away.  However, if and when it does, it only forces employers to do business in a less efficient manner, preventing the freeing up of capital for other purposes.

Tucker Carlson may believe that government intervention like what he proposes saves jobs, but it actually prevents the creation of newer ones that make better use of the labor.  In the short term, self-driving vehicles may lead to the layoff of many professional drivers, but as the costs of transportation go down and therefore the prices that customers must pay to use those transportation services, there will be more money in the pockets of Americans who pay for transportation and a large pool of workers available to provide labor in new sectors.  This is a recipe for innovation and an improved standard of living for everyone.

Bottom line, don’t discourage innovation with government regulation Tucker.  Embrace it and watch as our society reaches heights we never thought possible.

And that is my 2 cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

Citations:

Caliendo, L., Dvorkin, M. A. & Parro, F. (2018, September 26). Trade and labor market dynamics: General equilibrium analysis of the China trade shock. Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis, Working Paper 2015-009F. doi: https://doi.org/10.20955/wp.2015.009

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Why Wealth Inequality is Awesome (Vox Debunked)

Vox put out a short video explaining how dangerous wealth inequality, and its little brother income inequality, are to society. Putting aside the fact that income inequality decreases the more economically free a country is, people often forget that wealth inequality is a good thing. Wealth inequality is what allows the market to take the luxuries of today and turn them into the necessities of tomorrow.

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Citations/Further Reading:

Economic Freedom Graphs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shanedk/sets/72157646459874723/

Economic Freedom and Inequality: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1465-7287.2012.00343.x?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false&

70% of Lottery Winners Go Bankrupt: https://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2016/01/why_do_70_percent_of_lottery_w.html

Ludwig von Mises, Economic Freedom and Interventionism (FULL TEXT): https://mises.org/library/economic-freedom-and-interventionism/html

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Are Libertarians “Holding the Door Open for the RADICAL and RABID Left?” A Response to Black Pigeon Speaks

antifa rioters

Members of Antifa Plan to Silence Opposition by Force

We’ve all seen it coming for a long time. First there was the Adpocalypse of 2017. We all cringed when we saw Alex Jones kicked off just about every social media platform within a matter of days. Now Google has been caught red-handed. In a leaked document, Google admitted that they are moving away from a platform of free speech and towards one of active censorship.

This is truly disturbing, especially to those of us on the political right who know all too well that big tech firms like Google, Twitter, and Facebook are actively collaborating with the left to censor opinions that conflict with the progressive agenda. Many commentators have made a living using these platforms, and the fear that their primary methods for content distribution and income could disappear at a moment’s notice is daunting.

For a long time, conservatives and libertarians were largely in agreement about the right of private businesses to do business or not do business with whoever they pleased. However, many conservatives and even some libertarians are now saying that big tech has gone too far. We tried to play fair and let market competition work, but big tech is simply too powerful. Unless we want to be silenced forever, we need to abandon free market principles and fight for direct government regulation in order to save our place in public discourse.

In particular, the YouTube commentator Black Pigeon Speaks (BPS), with a following of nearly 400,000 subscribers, released a video this past week calling for the government to begin regulating social media as publishers. In doing so, such platforms would lose their legal immunity regarding content posted by their users and then bare liability for any and all content that appears on their platforms. If platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are going to censor some content, they might as well be held liable for what they censor and fail to censor just like CNN, Fox News, or any other publisher. At least, this is how the argument goes.

Other commentators such as Styxhexenhammer666 and Paul Joseph Watson have likewise called for an internet bill of rights to provide for free speech on big tech platforms. Their message is clear. Libertarians are simply naïve and will be promptly done away with by progressive elites unless they stand up and utilize the power of government to fight back. As BPS stated in his video, libertarians are, “Holding the door open for the RADICAL and RABID left.”

bps tweet

Tweet from BPS’s Twitter Account @navyhato

Before I explain why this response is misguided, I’d like to say that I have a great deal of respect for BPS. While I have a number of significant disagreements with him, I enjoy his content very much, and no one can deny that his videos are well researched and very informative. None the less, I believe that he, and everyone else advocating for government intervention to save online free speech, fails to recognize why this type of government intervention will give the left exactly what it wants in the long run.

All the arguments for government intervention in big tech boil down to some variation of the arguments for so called “natural monopolies.” There are certain utilities such as water, electricity, and now the internet that are simply more profitable and efficient when everyone is using one centralized delivery system, or so we’re told. As a result, one large monopoly inevitably forms due to convenience for the users and profitability for the owners. However, once that monopoly has had an opportunity to function free of competition, they realize that they now have significant sway over society in that they have the power to double prices at will, or deny service to certain citizens in order to manipulate them. As a result, these natural monopolies must be allowed to exist, but only under heavy regulation from the state to protect the citizens.

This argument has led to the rise of many so called “public utilities.” Be it water, electricity, or the internet, we are told that the market simply cannot stop these powerhouses from forming and gaining control over society once their services become a necessity to live day to day. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the big tech world have become de facto public utilities, and now the only way we can save right wing speech is to introduce the same sorts of government regulations that prevent the electric companies from turning the lights off in homes with the wrong political views.

However, the evidence from history simply does not demonstrate that natural monopolies are the result of the market. After thoroughly examining the history of the electric, telephone, and cable television industries, author Thomas Dilorenzo concludes,

“The theory of natural monopoly is an economic fiction. No such thing as a ‘natural’ monopoly has ever existed. The history of the so-called public utility concept is that the late 19th and early 20th century ‘utilities’ competed vigorously and, like all other industries, they did not like competition. They first secured government-sanctioned monopolies, and then, with the help of a few influential economists, constructed an ex post rationalization for their monopoly power” (DiLorenzo, 1996, p. 58).

Does the evidence suggest that big tech resulted solely from free market forces, or like DiLorenzo suggests, did it result from government intervention, thereby resulting in ex post facto calls for legal status as a public utility? The evidence would suggest the latter.

It’s well documented that Google and other big tech firms benefit from generous tax credits and government subsidies not available to their competitors. While providing tax credits is not necessarily the same as direct subsidies, the government choosing to tax certain industries more heavily while drastically cutting the tax rates for corporations like Google ends up tipping the scales heavily in the favor of those corporations and not allowing market competition to function as it normally would. Combine this with the receipt of lavish government contracts, and big tech firms become confident that they will be considered “essential” by the government. If they ever cease to be profitable, they can rest easy knowing that the government will keep them afloat as they did with Chrysler and General Motors between 2008 and 2014.

It’s also worth noting that big tech firms were some of the biggest proponents of net neutrality and other FCC regulations. As with other regulations pertaining to so called natural monopolies, the American public was told that net neutrality was for their own safety and to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from having control over what they could and could not view on the internet. However, it went virtually unnoticed by masses of people as to just how much big tech stood to gain from net neutrality. See articles here and here to learn more.

This isn’t to say that big tech firms became the powerhouses they are solely because of government intervention. Obviously, millions of people use these services because such services are useful and were found to be more effective than other competitors (i.e. Bing, Yahoo, AOL, MySpace, etc.). It is to say, however, that unlike industries in a free market where even the most successful businesses must constantly be wary of the threat of losses, these big tech firms are significantly more likely to be swayed by political pressure and not by the sentiments of their user base.

Take for example the ban of Alex Jones from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Jones had more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube with monthly earnings of up to $68,200. Since the YouTube Partner Program allows YouTube to pocket 40% of all earnings from participating channels, it is ridiculous to think that YouTube would’ve banned one of their highest earning channels if they were operating solely from a standpoint of trying to ensure profits instead of losses. In fact, YouTube would stand to make far more profits if they allowed advertisements to be played on a higher volume of videos without demonetizing “controversial” content.

Consider also a sort of reverse scenario. What if a committed white nationalist restaurant owner decided to act on his convictions and ban all non-whites from his restaurant even though some of the most regular and highest paying customers weren’t white? Even assuming the government took no action, ridding himself of paying customers could only result in a restaurant with lower profits, even if there were no ensuing boycotts from the white customers. The restaurant owner may feel better about himself, but he is none the less worse off.

To be clear, I am not saying that big tech firms are not profitable or were never profitable. It may be the case that they currently remain profitable even without people like Alex Jones. I’m saying only that ridding oneself of paying customers and partners only makes sense if a business has more to gain from doing so than will be lost in profits. In the case of big tech, there is definitely something more to gain.

Predictably, as with every other discussion of natural monopolies in history, the drama of internet censorship has led to calls for the internet being regulated for the safety of the people. Content creators like BPS are understandably concerned about losing their primary sources of income. However, economist Greg Jarrell’s research has suggested that the actual results of these types of regulations will be higher prices for consumers and guaranteed profits for the regulated industries (Jarrell, 1978).

Even if an internet bill of rights is passed and big tech is forced to allow right wing voices back onto their platforms, this will only give credence to the idea that big tech firms are “essential” services and must be guaranteed by government as a public utility. This will finally give government the complete control of the internet that they crave, and leave big tech firms without any incentive to do things in the best interest of their customers. In the short term, commentators like BPS may see their income saved, but they stand to lose far more in the long term. As the saying goes, “The same government that has the power to give you everything you want is a government that has the power to take everything that you have.”

As a final point, it is simply wrong to say that competition cannot mitigate this problem. After Alex Jones was banned from big tech, he reported that traffic to his website and number of subscribers hit record highs. In addition, the user base of the alternative platform BitChute nearly doubled overnight, with more and more users agreeing to donate to their platform. Even if someone like BPS was kicked off YouTube, I seriously doubt that his 400,000 subscribers would simply say, “Oh well,” and move on as though he never existed. If they truly enjoyed his content, the loyal fans would follow him to a new platform and support him with crowd-funding.

It’s also worth noting that in their current form, big tech is not in fact immune from going under. Ironically, one day after publishing the video that this article is a response to, BPS posted another video noting that big tech firms are now on the decline.

The bottom line is that libertarians are not holding the door open to be run over by the left. We are simply trying to avoid solving a problem by invoking the very entity that made this problem possible. That entity is of course the government. It always is. We don’t need an internet bill of rights or any other form of government regulation for big tech. We need to get the government to remove its dirty fingers from the industry entirely.

I hope that more people will come to see the state for what is, a cancer that destroys everything it touches.

And that is my 2 cents. Take it for what it’s worth.

Citations:

Dilorenzo, T. J. (1996). The myth of natural monopoly. The Review of Austrian Economics, 9(2), 43-58.

Jarrell, A. G. (1978). The demand for state regulation of the electric utility industry. Journal of Law and Economics, 21(2), 269-275.

Note: It is worth noting that websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are not entirely in the clear simply because they are private corporations. In many cases, they have defrauded their users by banning them for “hate speech” even though they have failed to offer a consistent definition of hate speech. These platforms also defraud their customers by not being forthright about their explicit banning of right leaning content. As such, I believe banned users may in fact be able to bring civil suits against these platforms.

Why Capitalism is Awesome (Non-Compete Debunked)

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Citations/Further Reading:

Economic Freedom Graphs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shanedk/sets/72157646459874723/

The Link Between Lack of Economic Freedom and Wealth Inequality: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1465-7287.2012.00343.x?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false&

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Kate Upton Debunks Karl Marx on Class Theory

What does Kate Upton have to do with Karl Marx’s class theory and class struggle? Well, quite simply, the fact that Kate Upton is a member of Marx’s proletariat and yet a member of the 1% proves that Marx’s theory is wrong.

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Taxation is Theft and The Social Contract is BS. Get Over It!

Every good libertarian knows that in a discussion with a statist, they will inevitably claim that taxation is not theft because you are provided public services in return. They will further argue that you consented to this through the so called social contract. In this video, I debunk this oft repeated myth.

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Citations/Further Reading:

Locke, J. (2008 [1689]). Second Treatise on Civil Government (J. Bennett, Trans.). Retrieved August 29, 2018, from https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/locke1689a.pdf

Galles, G. (2013, November 20). Social Security: The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme in History | Gary Galles. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://mises.org/library/social-security-most-successful-ponzi-scheme-history

Ponzi Schemes. (2013, October 09). Retrieved August 29, 2018, from https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answersponzihtm.html

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Do We Need Government? NO! (The Infographics Show Debunks Itself)

The Infographics Show recently released a video called “What If The US Government (Suddenly) No Longer Existed?” In this response, I correct their faulty assumptions and demonstrate not only that we don’t need government, but that we’d be better off without it. Thank you to my patron Skorch88 for suggesting this video.

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Original Video:

Hidden Secrets of Money Episode 4:

Money vs. Currency:

The Truth about the US Dollar:

Citations/Further Reading:

Belgium Is Thriving Without A Government. (2011, September 29). Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.businessinsider.com/belgium-is-thriving-without-a-government-2011-9

Worstall, T. (2016, October 27). Spain Has No Government For 10 Months – Economy Grows, Unemployment Falls To 18.9%. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/10/27/spain-has-no-government-for-10-months-economy-grows-unemployment-falls-to-18-9/#6e1e42afb62c

https://www.culliganwater.com/residential/drinking-water-systems/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/19/there-are-more-guns-than-people-in-the-united-states-according-to-a-new-study-of-global-firearm-ownership/?utm_term=.fd3ab093b94f

https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2017/09/22/median-household-incomes-by-age-bracket-1967-2016

http://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/391364-social-security-isnt-going-broke-its-already-broke

https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_offenses.jsp

https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/private-prisons-united-states/

https://fee.org/articles/free-enterprise-is-the-worlds-only-successful-strategy-for-reducing-poverty/

Leeson, P. T. (2007). Better off stateless: Somalia before and after government collapse. Journal of Comparative Economics, 35 (2007), 689-701. Retrieved August 20, 2018 from http://www.peterleeson.com/better_off_stateless.pdf

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The Deal with Scandinavian “Socialism”

Had a discussion with The Red Pill Dragon, MAG, and Nightshift10000 about the ridiculous claim by leftists that the Nordic countries are an example of socialism. In fact, Denmark and Sweden are more economically free than the United States, and the Nordic countries reject many policies that socialists fight for.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Complete IDIOT

Alexandria O”Commie”o-Cortez has received quite a bit of coverage in the news lately. None the less, she’s just another democratic socialist, espousing ideas that have been soundly debunked for decades.

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Original Video:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Comments on Comedy Central:

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for -fair use- for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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Citations/Further Reading:

https://mises.org/library/truth-about-swedencare

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43933056

https://www.mercatornet.com/careful/view/euthanasia-could-save-canada-millions-in-healthcare-costs/19285

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/

https://mises.org/wire/free-college-comes-price

https://mises.org/library/high-cost-centrally-planning-global-climate

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/hausers-law-reality-isnt-negotiable-veronique-de-rugy/

https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&hl=en&dl=en

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/7/30/17631240/medicare-for-all-bernie-sanders-32-trillion-cost-voxcare

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/

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How the State Fixes Problems IT Caused (w/ Filthy Heretic)

Does the state fix our problems? Or Cause our problems?

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