BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Category: Economy (Page 1 of 5)

The Paradox of Silicon Valley Progressivism on Display in Compelling New Film ‘General Magic’

Tribeca Film ‘General Magic’ Shows How Capitalism Pulls Big Success Out Of Big Failures
One of the great paradoxes of Silicon Valley is that while its denizens are monolithically progressive, its creatives and entrepreneurs illustrate in their own lives the virtues of the free enterprise system that progressives loathe.

While the propensity for risk-taking is in part cultural, the ability to create and bring new goods and services to the public requires favorable social, political and economic conditions. This is why a communist nation like China resorts to stealing intellectual property to compete. It’s why innovation in progressive Europe pales in comparison to what we see in America.

Innovation requires the protection of individual liberty, private property rights and free markets. But Silicon Valley’s progressive political allies are often hostile to these principles.

A compelling new film featured at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival reflects this tension. While the liberal audience at the world premiere for “General Magic” — a new documentary about the “failed” tech company of that name — might not have realized it, the movie is an exceptional story about capitalism that viewers of all stripes will appreciate.

I recently reviewed this documentary at The Federalist.

Here’s a taste from the piece:

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My Interview with Lord Conrad Black on Trump and Populism

Check out my Encounter Books Podcast interview with the always provocative Lord Conrad Black on the history of American populism and President Donald Trump’s place in it, an assessment of Trump’s populist political agenda, the poisonous legacy of Watergate, The Resistance, the 2018 midterm elections and much more.

I thought the below exchange towards the end of our conversation was particularly compelling:

Ben Weingarten: The ultimate goal of the litany of charges against the President, as we all know, but which is left unsaid frequently, is to, as you said, undermine his legitimacy, and ultimately, from the Democratic perspective, to try to remove him from office — to create, kind of build the case, real or imagined, and then be able to apply high crimes and misdemeanors, and seek to impeach him. All of the signs look fairly ominous for what will happen at the very least in the House, in the midterm elections, for the Republican Party. What do you anticipate happening if Republicans do, in fact, lose the House?

Lord Conrad Black: Well, I agree. I think they’re trying to either remove him…First of all, sort of taint him and plant this generalized view that there’s something illegitimate about him, and therefore, he shouldn’t receive the respect normally offered to a [president]…Secondly, if they can’t push him out altogether, to distract him so much that he can’t perform properly, so they can then accuse him of being a do-nothing president and a mere controversialist, and have him as a sort of…immobilized president sitting in the White House, awaiting the end of his term.

On your specific question, if the Democrats got control of the House of Representatives, certainly there would be a much greater danger that they would try and put an impeachment bill through. I doubt that…On anything we can see at this point, there would be no really serious reason to do it, other than their own partisanship. And there are some sane people in that party and in their House of Representatives delegation. I think Trump would have to do something that the media could successfully represent as really seriously outrageous before they could get a positive vote. I don’t think they…unless Trump actually committed a crime, which he’s not going to do, has not done and will not do, but unless he did that, they would have less chance of actually getting a vote to remove him in the Senate, a two-thirds vote, than the Republicans had when they tried it with Clinton.

So I think the price we paid essentially for the terrible overreaction to Watergate, accompanied by the fact that Mr. Nixon didn’t handle the investigation properly — I don’t think there is any evidence even now that Nixon himself committed illegalities in Watergate, but some people in his entourage did — but the price we paid for that is the routinization of the criminalization of policy differences. “I don’t agree with this person. We’re imaginative and adaptive Americans. Let’s see if we can avoid this policy option we don’t like, and as a bonus, get rid of this President we don’t like ’cause he’s in the other party” — like accusing him of crimes, as if it was just a confidence vote in a parliamentary system like Britain or Canada. And that is not what the authors of the Constitution intended.

Mr. Nixon was a patriotic man who, in fact, was convinced himself that he did not commit crimes; and if he was judged fairly, would be judged not to have committed crimes. But as a patriot, since impeachment had not been mentioned in the presidential context for over a century, for a president, he just didn’t want to put the country to such a demeaning process. And Bill Clinton had no such reservations, but he did achieve something by showing that it wasn’t a process that would necessarily be very successful. They had not even got that far with Reagan and the Iran-Contra nonsense.

But what should happen at some point soon is both parties, and the powers that be politically in the country generally, should realize that impeachment of a president is something that should be regarded as an absolutely extreme measure, as it was intended to be, in the case of utterly profoundly unconstitutional conduct. It was really designed to prevent a domestic George III coming in. Not that he was that bad a king either, but…he wasn’t. He wasn’t that good either. And he was mad half the time, but he was not a madman…I mean, a mad despot, an autocrat, as he was accused of being. But again, that’s beside the point.

But if the United States — and Alan Dershowitz speaks very well about this, he’s a liberal Democrat who supported Clinton — if the U.S. is going to criminalize in an accelerated and unjust way, or purport to criminalize the conduct of people who are just doing what they said they would do when they ran for election, and then psychiatrize them too, and claim that they’re mentally unbalanced and so forth, you’re going to get chaos in the country. The whole system will break down.

What should happen as a result of all this talk is, have an all-party, nonpartisan resolution and agreement, not legislation, but just a state of mind that is agreed upon, that discussion of the impeachment or removal from office of a president should only be entertained in the event of high crimes and misdemeanors on which there’s real evidence, and not in a routine and frivolous and dangerously irresponsible way, which is what we’ve got now.

[Additionally] I don’t think the Democrats will win the House. I think what will happen is that the President will carefully assemble his healthcare reform that the Republican Party is pretty much agreed upon, and an immigration reform that it’s pretty much agreed upon, put those out very firmly to the voters, stand on his high economic growth and continuing excellent economic numbers, and order the release by the Justice Department, relatively close to the midterm elections, of everything to do with the collusion investigation, to reveal in its ghastly infirmity the absolute vacuity of that argument, the falsity, the malice and the defamatory destructiveness of the entire argument that he or anyone closely associated with him ever colluded with a foreign power to rig an American election. Just administer a bone-crushing defeat to the Democrats, and their echo chamber in the national media. And do it right…just coming into the midterm election campaign. And I think he will gain seats in both the House and the Senate.

My Interview with Victor Davis Hanson on Trump, Trumpism and Russiagate

In connection with the release of Encounter Books’ Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism, I interviewed the author of one its more provocative essays, the often-contrarian and always-compelling Professor Victor Davis Hanson.

During our discussion we discuss among other things:

  • The populism of President Trump
  • The insights President Trump has into the American people that his political opponents lack
  • The significance of the 2016 presidential election in history and what it augurs for the world
  • Whether Trumpism is a full-blown political movement or an outlier in U.S. history
  • How Trump is doing when it comes to constructing the four core pillars of Trumpism
  • Russiagate and Deep State subversion
  • And much more

You can listen to our interview in full here, and read a transcript of our discussion here.

My Latest at The Federalist: Iran Deal Shills Sell the Mullahs the Rope with Which to Hang Us

The Iran Deal echo chamber has been ratcheting up its rhetoric in the days around the Trump administration’s deal decertification announcement, seeking to protect the non-treaty at all costs.

Among the most honest and simultaneously sordid rationales for defending the deal, especially by leaders of the EU, is this: The JCPOA means big business for the West. As long as the money is good for the major corporations trading with Iran (who contribute to the politicians’ campaigns), who cares if the commerce is materially supporting the world’s leading state sponsor of jihad.

I explore this shameful episode in the history of the West in a new piece at The Federalist, detailing how the West is indeed selling out to a jihadist regime whose economy is expressly dedicated by Iran’s constitution itself to spreading its pernicious Islamic revolution.

Here’s a taste:

Now we understand why then-Secretary of State John Kerry was at pains to push Western entities to trade with Iran. Sec. Kerry served as Iran’s lobbyist-in-chief because he knew deeper economic integration between the West and Iran would make it that much more difficult politically to unwind the culmination of his life’s work undermining U.S. interests. Left unspoken is that such dalliances with Iran inextricably intertwine the West with those who directly threaten and undermine us.

Providing the world’s leading state sponsor of jihad with billions of dollars in cash, and trading it essential goods and services, merely bolster its malicious activities.

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Where Democracy Really Does Die in Darkness

In the Trump era, members of the mainstream media have fashioned themselves as tribunes of the people and arbiters of truth. “Democracy dies in darkness,” warns the Washington Post; the New York Times intones, “Truth. It’s more important than ever.”

With the election of a Republican president, the media have rediscovered constitutional government. Suddenly, executive power must be constrained again. Checks and balances are all the rage. Federalism and states’ rights are no longer racist “dog whistles,” but essential antidotes to a domineering central government.

And yet, while the media clang their alarms about how Donald Trump is supposedly turning America into a fascist dictatorship, they largely neglect the fact that democracy really is dying in other parts of the world. I explore this phenomenon, and the dire consequences the media has been tellingly blacking out from Turkey, to Hong Kong and Venezuela in a new piece at City Journal.

You can also listen to me discuss this topic at length during a radio interview with WNTK New Hampshire’s Keith Hanson here below:

My Dennis Michael Lynch Appearance on Immigration: ‘America Isn’t Just an Economic Entity’

On Monday 2/8, I sat in as a guest on Newsmax TV’s DML Unfiltered.”

During the episode, we had the chance to discuss several points including a supposed stand-down order given to border patrol agents and America’s immigration policies more broadly, the useful idiots being produced by America’s education system and what Donald Trump (or other Republicans) have to do to defeat Hillary Clinton.

You can watch the relevant clips below.

Immigration

America’s Useful Idiots and Our Education System

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My Interview With Pacific Research Institute President Sally Pipes on ‘The Way Out of Obamacare’

Check out my interview on behalf of Encounter Books with Pacific Research Institute President Sally Pipes in connection with her newly released broadside The Way Out of Obamacare.

During the interview, which you can listen to below, Sally and I discuss the current and future perils awaiting America’s healthcare system under President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, how progressive healthcare policy has caused regressive consequences, what “single-payer” healthcare looks like and why Ms. Pipes thinks we are headed down that road, the Pipes plan to fix America’s healthcare system, her cameo in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” and much much more:

My GenFKD Series on Misleading Government Economic Statistics

The first of my two posts for GenFKD on the misleading economic statistics our government peddles are now available:

My friend George Rasley over at ConservativeHQ did a write-up on my piece on the flawed U-3 “headline” measure of unemployment, which would lead Americans to think that the economy is rip-roaring given that the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.0%.

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker followed up on my piece as well in a post titled “Obamanomics explained in one chart.”

Government Thinks You’re Too Dumb To Try Crowdfunding

Over at The Federalist, I write about how the SEC is subverting perhaps the only piece of pro-market legislation passed during the Obama administration in the so-called “crowdfunding” component of the JOBS Act.

This bill was supposed to democratize startup funding by allowing you and I to invest in the next Uber. Instead, in its implementation of the law, the SEC is completely undermining that aim and discouraging companies from availing themselves of crowdfunded equity altogether.

Here is a taste of the piece:

Market participants in crowdfunding would invest in companies with varying levels of disclosure on varying terms based upon risk-reward payoffs they deem appropriate. In fact, while startups are loathe to provide detailed information on their operations, some companies would voluntarily provide more robust disclosures to entice greater investment on more company-friendly terms, thereby creating a potential race to the top without government coercion.

Moreover, market participants are perfectly capable of determining for themselves how much money they should invest in speculative startup ventures. Americans are free to spend as much as we want on everything from doughnuts to liquor and lottery tickets. Investing in startups may provide only marginally better odds than the latter; at the very least it has the upside of leaving us thinner and sober. Why should government leave us free to choose on how we spend on some things, but not others?

Read the whole thing here.

 

Featured Image Source: JoBlo.

‘Inequality’ Does Not Cause ISIS, Or How Our Western Materialist Worldview is Killing Us

Recently, world-renowned French socialist economist Thomas Piketty proffered the argument that “inequality” is the cause of ISIS.

While it may not be surprising given that Piketty’s life work has been dedicated to studying inequality (and arguing that to eradicate it we ought to tear down the capitalist system), Piketty revealed a critical insight about the Western elite: It believes global jihadism is attributable to materialist factors.

I challenge this thesis in my latest piece over at the indispensable City Journal titled Did Inequality Cause ISIS?, and argue that in order to effectively combat the global jihad, we must look at the world through the same prism as Islamic supremacists, not the materialist one apparently subscribed to by our entire foreign policy Establishment, including but not limited to the Obama administration (see “jobs for jihadis”).

Also, the great Dan Bongino spoke about my piece during his Conservative Review podcast. Listen starting at 21:13 below:

 

Featured Image Source: LiveLeak screengrab.

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