Friday, July 12, 2019

BET founder Robert Johnson praises Trump, says Democratic Party 'moved too far to the left'

Black Entertainment Television founder and longtime Democrat Robert Johnson said in an interview that aired Tuesday that the Democratic Party has become too liberal to defeat President Trump in 2020, unless major changes are made.

“The party in my opinion, for me personally, has moved too far to the left,” Johnson told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

Johnson – the country’s first African-American billionaire, according to Forbes – went on to say that because the party has become so liberal, he isn’t supporting a particular 2020 candidate at this time.

“I think at the end of the day, if a Democrat is going to beat Trump, then that person, he or she, will have to move to the center and you can’t wait too long to do that,” Johnson said. “The message of some of the programs that Democrats are pushing are not resonating with the majority of the American people.”

Johnson said the current far-left state of the Democratic Party will work well in the primaries but won’t help in a general election, especially since he feels Trump has his base locked up. The BET founder, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, even praised some of Trump’s recent accomplishments.

“I think the economy is doing great, and it’s particularly reaching populations that heretofore had very bad problems in terms of jobs and employments and the opportunities that come with employment,” Johnson said. “African-American unemployment is at its lowest level…  I give the president a lot of credit for moving the economy in a positive direction that’s benefiting a large amount of Americans.”

Johnson also told CNBC that he thinks tax cuts clearly helped stimulate the economy, whereas partisan politics have gone too far.

“I think business people have more confidence in the way the economy is going,” Johnson said. “If business people are concerned about anything, it’s the clear, clear partisan politics that’s become very wicked and very mean.”

Johnson said he gives Trump an “A+” for the economy but added that divisive politics are “not helping America as a global nation.”

The 73-year-old entrepreneur founded BET in 1980 with a $150,000 loan and sold it for $3 billion in 2001, according to Forbes.



Democratic Socialism Newspeak

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled his vision of “democratic socialism“ during a recent speech at George Washington University. Unfortunately, he did more to confuse the meaning of democratic socialism than to clarify it.

The words capitalism and socialism have meanings, so let’s get things clear up front. Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of property coordinated through voluntary exchange in markets.

Socialism is an economic system that abolishes private property in the means of production—the land, capital, and labor used to make everything—and replaces it with some form of collective ownership. Whenever socialism has been implemented at a national level, collective ownership in practice has meant state ownership, and government plans have replaced markets as the primary mechanism to coordinate economic activity.

Capitalism and socialism can be thought of as two poles of a spectrum. Some countries are more capitalistic, and some are more socialistic, but all fall somewhere between these two poles. This is where Sanders starts mucking things up.

He claims that “unfettered capitalism” is causing economic problems in United States. The reality is that capitalism in the United States is far from “unfettered.” The Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report is the best measure of where on the socialism-capitalism spectrum a country lies. In the most recent rankings, the United States scored an 8.03 out of a possible 10 points, and even a 10-point score would fall short of “unfettered.”

However, this score does rank the United States the sixth most capitalist in the world. The five countries ahead of us—Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Ireland—are all pretty nice places. This fits with research that overwhelmingly finds that greater economic freedom (i.e., capitalism) produces good socioeconomic results.

Meanwhile, Sanders contrasts his democratic socialism with the “movement toward oligarchy,” which he conflates with unfettered capitalism. The problem is that none of the six authoritarian regimes he calls out—Russia (87th), China (107th), Saudi Arabia (102nd), the Philippines (49th), Brazil (144th), Hungary (59th)—is close to the capitalist end of the spectrum.

More disturbingly, he leaves socialist countries off his list of authoritarian regimes. Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela explicitly identify as socialist and come closest in the world today to practicing real socialism. The governments in these countries own and/or control much of the means of production and attempt to direct and plan their economies.

Sanders stated that he faces attacks “from those who attempt to use the word socialism as a slur.” But it is not “red-baiting” to recognize that socialism means a particular form of economic organization and that those authoritarian countries come closest to using that form of organization. I visited them while researching a new book, and they are all economic disasters as well as authoritarian nightmares. It’s incumbent on Sanders to recognize these countries as socialist and explain how his socialism would differ.

So does Sanders want real socialism? The closest he got to specifics was to argue that his democratic socialism would entail an “economic bill of rights,” which would include the right to a decent job that pays a living wage, quality health care, a complete education, affordable housing, a clean environment, and a secure retirement.

But listing aspirations tells us nothing about how he would achieve them. Based on his voting record and advocacy, his program would likely involve massive new interventions that would curtail our economic freedoms and place greater reliance on government planners.

Would those interventions be enough to label them socialist? They would likely make the United States less capitalistic than the Nordic countries that are often labeled democratic socialist. Yet those countries—Denmark (16th), Norway (25th), Sweden (43rd)—all rank high in economic freedom, so they likely don’t represent the right standard. Whatever the answer to my question, a national debate would be more productive if both Sanders and his critics were clearer on the definition of socialism and on whether his policies are, or aren’t, socialist.



Right-to-Try Legislation Helps Patient Battling Bone Cancer

Millennial Natalie Harp has battled stage two bone cancer for most of her life. To make matters worse, a medical error made in 2015 while receiving treatment left her wheelchair-bound and in constant pain. There was no known cure for her condition, and her quality of life was in quick decline.

Natalie was quickly running out of treatment options. Two rounds of chemotherapy failed to eradicate her cancer. Opioids, medical marijuana, and barbiturates were unable to relieve her pain. She was denied entry into numerous clinical trials. As her condition worsened, Natalie was also advised to consider voluntarily stopping all eating and drinking (a method commonly shorted to VSED).

Courageously, she refused, insisting, “No, I just want to get better.” Miraculously, she did.

After receiving access to experimental treatments through right-to-try legislation, Natalie’s condition improved substantially. In her own words, “I’m walking. I am healthy. I am living the quality of life that I always wanted.” She continued, “I’m not dying from cancer any more thanks to President Trump, I’m living with cancer.”

In May 2018, President Trump signed national right-to-try legislation in law. The law provides patients with terminal illnesses access to potentially lifesaving treatment options before the Food and Drug Administration fully approves them. By requiring permission from only the patient, their physician, and the drug provider to administer treatment, right-to-try laws cut the FDA out of the picture. As a consequence, patients are granted more options to prolong their lives with less regulatory barriers.

Natalie is grateful for the opportunities that right-to-try laws have provided. Before right-to-try became national law, she endured four years of being denied treatment options she hoped would help her condition. As she expressed, “it took President Trump going to Washington to be able to get that [more treatment options] for me.”

An unfortunate consequence of government involvement in healthcare is that medicine becomes more political. Despite the testimonies of patients electing to utilize right-to-try laws and being grateful for them, the laws continue to suffer from defamatory comments from political figures. Among the most common attacks are those calling the legislation “false hope” and declaring it hasn’t helped. Natalie’s inspiring conviction to keep fighting for her life, and her remarkable recovery, provide overwhelming evidence otherwise.

As long as the government remains involved in healthcare, the rights of terminally ill patients to try experimental medication to prolong their lives are at risk. Let’s hope stories like Natalie’s work to secure them. With 42 million US citizens suffering from a terminal illness or knowing someone with one, it’s a fight that affects us all.



Trump Compares Ocasio-Cortez To Argeninian Fascist.  She Takes It As A Compliment

For a fuller coverage of Peronism as Fascism, see here

President Donald Trump compared socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to former Argentine first lady Eva Perón — often called "Evita" — in a new book that is set to go on sale in mid-July.

Ocasio-Cortez took the comparison as a compliment, despite the fact that Evita was a Nazi sympathizer who helped her husband, Argentine President Juan Perón, destroy Argentina's economy by implementing socialism and eroded civil liberties in the nation.

Ocasio-Cortez responded to the comparison by tweeting out quotes from Eva Perón, writing: "'I know that, like every woman of the people, I have more strength than I appear to have.' - Evita Perón".

Ocasio-Cortez added: "'I had watched for many years and seen how a few rich families held much of Argentina's wealth and power in their hands. So the government brought in an eight hour working day, sickness pay and fair wages to give poor workers a fair go.' - Evita Perón".

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Latin America’ aims to highlight a series of little known controversies about leading leftist figures in the history of the continent...

...Mr Peron helped many Nazis fleeing Europe after the Second World War to find a safe haven in Argentina, including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele.

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) noted that Eva Perón "demagogued her way to a cult following among those who depended on the favors she dispensed and stepped on anyone who stood in her way. A law which obstructed her ambitions was, in her view, a law to be bent or broken.

Any fair assessment of her must note that she delivered numerous vapid harangues and gave away lots of other people’s money, but she never invented, created or built anything."



It’s Not Robots That Hurt Workers

Education is the job-killer lurking beneath the economy’s surface. Consider an exemplary employer making major investments in training for each of his 100 workers, even covering tuition for those who might benefit from technical courses at a local college. Say the investments have incredible returns, too—by the end of the year, each worker is twice as productive and 50 can do the work that last year required 100. That means 50 jobs have been destroyed.

Does that sound nonsensical? It should. Yet change “education” to “automation” or “technology” and you have the conventional wisdom that countless economists and politicians are spouting. If the employer invests in equipment that allows 50 workers to produce what previously required 100, we are suddenly concerned and upset. No one anthropomorphizes a worker’s enhanced skills, but a robot—well, a robot can “take” and “steal” and “destroy.”

In either case, with training or technology, the effect is to improve productivity—the amount of output per unit of work. Such productivity gains, whatever the mechanism, are the key to rising wages for workers and rising material living standards for society as a whole. We react differently to the two stories because our intuition fills in differently what both stories omit. In each case, worker productivity doubled. But what does the firm do next?

When it comes to training, we probably assume the firm takes advantage of these gains to produce more output. Those 100 workers produce twice as much, sales can rise, profits and wages can rise. When it comes to technology, though, we might assume the firm lays off workers who suddenly seem superfluous. It continues to produce the same level of output, with a workforce half as large.

This question of what happens next is thus central to the economy’s trajectory. Without the productivity gain, nothing happens. Workers able to produce more than before, for whatever reason, is the sine qua non of economic progress. But only if accompanied by rising output are the effects for workers undeniably positive.

Historically, that has been the dynamic. From 1947 to 1972, for instance, economy-wide productivity roughly doubled. But output surged as well and, at the end of the period, the same share of the population was working and men’s wages were up 86 percent. In the manufacturing sector, productivity rose by 3.4 percent annually, but real value added rose by 4.2 percent annually; employment during the period rose by more than three million.

Compare that period to the 21st century, when America has lost nearly five million manufacturing jobs. Was any of this because of extraordinary technological breakthroughs that caused productivity to surge, allowing firms to do much more with many fewer workers? No. In fact, the average rate of productivity growth in manufacturing this century has been 3.1 percent—lower than 1947–72 and no different than 1972–2000. But output growth has been only 1.3 percent, less than a third the rate of the earlier period. We’ve gone from the world where firms use a doubling of productivity to double output, to one where they use it to lay off half their workers. Had output growth this century equaled that of 1950–2000, manufacturing employment today would be near an all-time high.

So when policymakers blame automation for job losses, they are looking in the wrong place. Productivity gains have always been with us—in fact, they used to come faster. If anything, the American economy is suffering from insufficient automation—as reflected in declining productivity growth, stagnant wages, and remarkably little use of robots. American manufacturers use only 200 industrial robots per 10,000 workers, the standard measure of adoption. In both Germany and Japan, that level exceeds 300. In South Korea, it exceeds 700. With greater automation and higher productivity, American firms would likely be more competitive in the international economy.

If firms no longer invest to expand output as they used to, the explanation is not some irresistible technological force but an economic malady—the sort of thing policymakers bear responsibility to address. This means acknowledging the many things they have gotten wrong: imposition of environmental restrictions that make industrial development slow and costly, obsession with college enrollment to the exclusion of the many non-college pathways that might better prepare people for relevant fields, nonchalant tolerance of a massive and widening trade deficit, entrenchment of an outdated system of organized labor that workers and employers both dislike, and so on.

No wonder our politicians prefer throwing robots under the self-driving bus.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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