"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families." That was Trump in January 2017 at his inaugural address.
"The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult... to earn a middle class wage." That was presidential candidate Trump in 2016.
Contrast those clarion "America First" statements with the apparent hysteria of Trump's current acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was caught on tape telling a private audience of elites in England last week: "We are desperate—desperate—for more people. We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we've had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants."
Mulvaney reportedly went on to push for "expanding" merit- and employment-based immigration to fill all the high-skilled jobs that Americans purportedly aren't capable of filling. By how much, for how long, in which visa categories and under what conditions this "expansion" should happen, Mulvaney is not reported to have detailed. (He will be featured at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning. It would be nice if someone asked him to elaborate, wouldn't it?)
"Running out of people" is typical Beltway swamp talk from a big business lobbyist trafficking in open borders "Chicken Little" alarmism. Has Mulvaney opened a newspaper or browsed the internet in the last 10 years? How about the last week? Over a 48-hour period, I compiled a Twitter thread of more than 50 stories of tens of thousands of recent U.S. worker layoffs in tech and other high-skilled industries. Among the U.S. corporations and institutions responsible for laying off, replacing, offshoring, and outsourcing tens of thousands of American jobs:
Wayfair, TripAdvisor, LogMeIn, Inc., Zume Pizza, VMWare, Shutterfly, Intel, Comcast, Xilinx, 23andMe, NortonLifeLock, AT&T, Macy's,Walgreens, Uber, Lyft, UCSF Medical Center, Baptist Health, Sysco, WeWork, American Family Insurance, Tennessee Valley Authority, Amway, UPS subsidiary Coyote Logistics, Comcast, Lime, Bird, Unicorn, Getaround, Cerner, Oracle, Samsung US, Edmunds.com, Textron Aviation, Morgan Stanley, Spirit AeroSystems, Mozilla, UiPath, Plexus, Cisco, Ancestry.com, Clover Health, State Street Corporation, Anthem, Transamerica, Verizon, MassMutual, Disney, Carnival, Abbott Labs, EmblemHealth, Harley Davidson, Cargill, Eversource Energy, Best Buy, Southern California Edison and Qualcomm.
Do we "need more immigrants," as Mulvaney claims? Marie Larson, an American mom who founded the American Workers Coalition with Barbara Birch and Hilarie Gamm, told me: "I talk to Americans almost daily who are being discriminated against, who keep getting laid off by Indian managers, who have to train their foreign replacements to get the much-needed severance packages, who have to pull kids out of college because they can't afford it, even having to sell their houses. These are STEM workers, who got the 'right' degrees and did everything they were supposed to do, only to have our government turn their back and sell out to big businesses push for even more H-1Bs." Tech firms cut 64,166 American jobs in 2019, up 351% from 14,230 in 2018.
Are we so "desperate" for more bodies to "fuel economic growth?" Let's recap the demographic math: We live in a nation of 330 million, 44 million of whom are foreign-born. Upward of 30 million immigrants are currently living, working and going to school here illegally. One million new legal immigrants are granted green cards every year. An estimated 600,000 temporary worker visas are issued annually, including the H-1B, H-2A,H-2B and H-4 programs. That doesn't include spousal visas or the more than half a million foreign "students" now working through the stealth guest worker plan known as the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign students to work with little monitoring, no wage protections, no payment of Social Security payroll taxes and no requirement for employers to demonstrate labor market shortages.
Remember: The only persistent tech worker shortage in America is a shortage of workers at the wage employers want to pay. Beltway swampers gnashing their teeth over barren American worker recruitment pools are full of it.
Malkin is author of the book, "Open Borders, Inc.: Who's Funding America's Destruction," available directly from VDARE.com in hardcover. To find out more about Michelle Malkin and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
latest ad from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) asks Trump
to reject the mass illegal and legal immigration policies supported by Wall
Street, corporate executives, and most specifically, the GOP mega-donor Koch
Efforts by the big business
lobby, Chamber of Commerce, Koch brothers, and George W. Bush Center include
increasing employment-based legal immigration that would likely crush the historic wage gains that Trump has delivered
for America’s blue collar and working class citizens.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley investors
are uniting with the Koch network’s consumer and industrial investors to demand
a huge DACA amnesty
A handful of Republican and Democrat
lawmakers are continuing to tout a plan that gives amnesty to nearly a million
illegal aliens in exchange for some amount of funding for President Trump’s
proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
MULTI-CULTURALISM and the
creation of a one-party globalist country to serve the rich in America’s open
“Open border advocates, such as Facebook's
Mark Zuckerberg, claim illegal aliens are a net benefit to California with
little evidence to support such an assertion. As the CIS has documented, the
vast majority of illegals are poor, uneducated, and with few skills. How does
accepting millions of illegal aliens and then granting them access to dozens of
welfare programs benefit California’s economy? If illegals were contributing to
the economy in any meaningful way, CA, with its 2.6 million illegals, would be
booming.” STEVE BALDWIN – AMERICAN SPECTATOR
Josh Hawley: GOP Must Defend
Middle Class Americans Against ‘Concentrated Corporate Power,’ Tech
Republican Party must defend America’s working and middle class against
“concentrated corporate power” and the monopolization of entire sectors of the
United States’ economy, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) says.
In an interview on The Realignment podcast,
Hawley said that “long gone are the days where” American workers can depend on
big business to look out for their needs and the needs of their communities.
Instead, Hawley explained that increasing “concentrated
corporate power” of whole sectors of the American economy — specifically among
Silicon Valley’s giant tech conglomerates — is at the expense of working and
middle class Americans.
“One of the things Republicans need to recover today is a
defense of an open, free-market, of a fair healthy competing market and the
length between that and Democratic citizenship,” Hawley said, and continued:
At the end of the day, we are trying to support and sustain here
a great democracy. We’re not trying to make a select group of people rich.
They’ve already done that. The tech billionaires are already billionaires, they
don’t need any more help from government. I’m not interested in trying to help
them further. I’m interested in trying to help sustain the great middle of this
country that makes our democracy run and that’s the most important challenge of
“You have these businesses who for years now have said ‘Well,
we’re based in the United States, but we’re not actually an American company,
we’re a global company,'” Hawley said. “And you know, what has driven profits
for some of our biggest multinational corporations? It’s been … moving jobs
overseas where it’s cheaper … moving your profits out of this country so you
don’t have to pay any taxes.”
“I think that we have here at the same time that our economy has
become more concentrated, we have bigger and bigger corporations that control
more and more of our key sectors, those same corporations see themselves as
less and less American and frankly they are less committed to American workers
and American communities,” Hawley continued. “That’s turned out to be a problem
which is one of the reasons we need to restore good, healthy, robust
competition in this country that’s going to push up wages, that’s going to
bring jobs back to the middle parts of this country, and most importantly, to
the middle and working class of this country.”
While multinational corporations monopolize industries, Hawley
said the GOP must defend working and middle class Americans and that big
business interests should not come before the needs of American communities:
A free market is one where you can enter it, where there are new
ideas, and also by the way, where people can start a small family business, you
shouldn’t have to be gigantic in order to succeed in this country. Most people
don’t want to start a tech company. [Americans] maybe want to work in
their family’s business, which may be some corner shop in a small town …
they want to be able to make a living and then give that to their kids or give
their kids an option to do that. [Emphasis added]
The problem with corporate concentration is that it tends to
kill all of that. The worst thing about corporate concentration is that it
inevitably believes to a partnership with big government. Big business and
big government always get together, always. And that is exactly what has
happened now with the tech sector, for instance, and arguably many other
sectors where you have this alliance between big government and big business …
whatever you call it, it’s a problem and it’s something we need to address.
Hawley blasted the free trade-at-all-costs doctrine that has
dominated the Republican and Democrat Party establishments for decades,
crediting the globalist economic model with hollowing “out entire industries,
entire supply chains” and sending them to China, among other countries.
“The thing is in this country is that not only do we not make
very much stuff anymore, we don’t even make the machines that make the stuff,”
Hawley said. “The entire supply chain up and down has gone overseas, and a lot
of it to China, and this is a result of policies over some decades now.”
As Breitbart News reported, Hawley detailed in the interview
how Republicans like former President George H.W. Bush’s ‘New World Order’
agenda and Democrats have helped to create a corporatist economy that
disproportionately benefits the nation’s richest executives and donor class.
The billionaire class, the top 0.01 percent of earners, has
enjoyed more than 15 times as
much wage growth as the bottom 90 percent since 1979. That economy has been
reinforced with federal rules that largely benefits the wealthiest of
wealthiest earners. A study released last month
revealed that the richest Americans are, in fact, paying a lower tax rate than
all other Americans.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on
Twitter at @JxhnBinder.
Carlson Exposes D.C. ‘Conservatives’ for Doing Big Tech’s Bidding
Fox News host Tucker Carlson slammed establishment conservatives
for taking money from big tech companies to do their bidding, on Tucker
Carlson Tonight, Friday night.
The popular host, known for his no-holds-barred denunciations of
establishment conservatives as well as Democrats, revealed massive spending by
the establishment conservative Koch Foundation to protect big tech in
Tucker revealed that Americans for Prosperity, a “purportedly
conservative group” controlled by the Kochs, launched an ad campaign trying to
stave off the closing net of antitrust enforcement against Google and Facebook.
The ads targeted Republican and Democrat state attorneys general that were
investigating alleged antitrust violations by big tech companies.
The Koch-funded group also targeted members of the Senate
Judiciary Committee with digital ads urging them to “oppose any effort to use
antitrust laws to break up America’s innovative tech companies,” reported
The Fox host ran through a laundry list of allegedly
“conservative” D.C. think tanks that take money from big tech, and often
advocate against regulating them over political bias or any other matter.
“In all, the Koch network quietly spent at least $10 million
defending Silicon Valley companies that work to silence conservatives.”
“Google has given money to at least 22 right-leaning
institutions that are also funded by the Koch network,” reported Carlson.
“Those institutions include the American Conservative Union, the
American Enterprise Institute, the National Review Institute, the Competitive
Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Mercatus Center.”
Carlson explained that this spending gets results.
“In September of 2018, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and
three other groups funded by Google and the Kochs sent a joint letter to
the Attorney General at the time, Jeff Sessions, expressing grave concerns over
the DoJ’s plans to look into whether search engines and social media were
hurting competition and stifling speech.”
Carlson also called out The Heritage Foundation, arguing that
its shilling for big tech meant that it “no longer represents the interest of
conservatives, at least on the question of tech.”
“A recent paper by Heritage,
entitled ‘Free Enterprise Is
the Best Remedy For Online Bias Concerns,’ defends the special
privileges that Congress has given to left-wing Silicon Valley monopolies. And
if conservatives don’t like it, Heritage says, well they can just start their
This is despite the fact that Google
publicly snubbed the foundation last year, canceling the formation of a planned
“A.I ethics” council after far-left employees of the tech company threw a hissy fit over the fact
that Heritage president Kay Coles James was set to be one of its members.
Are you an insider at Google,
Facebook, Twitter or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal
wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his
secure email address email@example.com.
Allum Bokhari is the senior
technology correspondent at Breitbart News.
In truth, the Golden State is becoming a semi-feudal kingdom,
nation’s widest gap between middle and upper incomes—72 percent, compared
with the U.S. average of 57 percent—and its highest poverty rate. Roughly half
of America’s homeless live in Los Angeles or San
Francisco, which now has the highest property crime rate among major
The Golden State is on a path to high-tech feudalism, but there’s
still time to change course.
the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta.
California has the ideas of Athens and the power of Sparta,” declared then-governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. “Not only can we lead California into the future
. . . we can show the nation and the world how to get there.” When a movie star
who once played Hercules says so who’s to disagree? The idea of California as a
model, of course, precedes the former governor’s tenure. Now the state’s
anti-Trump resistance—in its zeal on matters concerning climate, technology, gender, or
race—believes that it knows how to create a just, affluent, and enlightened
society. “The future depends on us,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at his
inauguration. “And we will seize this moment.”
truth, the Golden State is becoming a semi-feudal kingdom, with the
nation’s widest gap between middle and upper incomes—72 percent, compared
with the U.S. average of 57 percent—and its highest poverty rate. Roughly half
of America’s homeless live in Los Angeles or San
Francisco, which now has the highest property crime rate among major
hasn’t yet become a full-scale dystopia, of course, but it’s heading in a
didn’t have to happen. No place on earth has more going for it than the Golden
State. Unlike the East Coast and Midwest, California benefited from
comparatively late industrialization, with an economy based less on auto
manufacturing and steel than on science-based fields like aerospace, software,
and semiconductors. In the mid-twentieth century, the state also gained from
the best aspects of progressive rule, culminating in an elite public university
system, a massive water system reminiscent of the Roman Empire, and a vast
infrastructure network of highways, ports, and bridges. The state was
fortunate, too, in drawing people from around the U.S. and the world. The
eighteenth-century French traveler
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur described the American as “this new man,”
and California—innovative, independent, and less bound by tradition or old
prejudice—reflected that insight. Though remnants of this California still
exist, its population is aging, less mobile, and more pessimistic, and its
roads, schools, and universities are in decline.
In the second half of the
twentieth century, California’s remarkably diverse economy spread prosperity
from the coast into the state’s inland regions. Though pockets of severe
poverty existed—urban barrios, south Los Angeles, the rural Central Valley—they
were limited in scope. In fact, growth often favored
suburban and exurban communities, where middle-class families, including
minorities, settled after World War II.
last two decades, the state has adopted policies that undermine the basis for
middle-class growth. State energy policies, for example, have made California’s
gas and electricity prices among the steepest in the country. Since 2011,
electricity prices have risen five
times faster than the national average. Meantime, strict land-use
controls have raised housing costs to the nation’s highest, while taxes—once
average, considering California’s urban scale—now exceed
those of virtually every state. At the same time, California’s economy has shed
industrial diversity in favor of dependence on one industry: Big Tech. Just a
decade before, the state’s largest firms included those in the aerospace,
finance, energy, and service industries. Today’s 11 largest companies hail from
the tech sector, while energy firms—excluding Chevron, which has moved much of
its operations to Houston—have disappeared. Not a
single top aerospace firm—the iconic industry of twentieth-century
California—retains its headquarters here.
lionized in the press, this tech-oriented economy hasn’t resulted in that many
middle- and high-paying job opportunities for Californians, particularly
outside the Bay Area. Since 2008, notes Chapman University’s Marshall
Toplansky, the state has created five times the number of low-paying, as
opposed to high-wage, jobs. A remarkable 86 percent of new jobs paid below the
median income, while almost half paid under $40,000. Moreover, California,
including Silicon Valley, created fewer high-paying positions than the national
average, and far less than prime competitors like Salt Lake City, Seattle, or
Austin. Los Angeles County features the lowest pay of any of the nation’s 50
No state advertises its
multicultural bona fides more than California, now a majority-minority state.
This is evident at the University
of California, where professors are required to prove their service to “people
of color,” to the state’s high
school curricula, with its new ethnic studies component. Much of California’s
anti-Trump resistance has a racial context. State Attorney General Xavier
Becerra has sued the administration numerous times over immigration policy
while he helps ensure California’s distinction as a sanctuary for illegal
immigrants. So far, more than 1
million illegal residents have received driver’s licenses, and they qualify
health care, too. San Francisco now permits illegal immigrants to vote
in local elections.
policies may make progressives feel better about themselves, though they seem
less concerned about how these actions affect everyday people. California’s
Latinos and African-Americans have seen good blue-collar jobs in manufacturing
and energy vanish. According to one United
over half of Latino households can barely pay their bills. “For Latinos,” notes
long-time political consultant Mike
“the California Dream is becoming an unattainable fantasy.”
past, poorer Californians could count on education to help them move up. But
today’s educators appear more interested in political indoctrination than
results. Among the 50 states, California ranked 49th
in the performance of low-income students. In wealthy San Francisco, test
black students are the worst of any California county. Many minority residents,
especially African-Americans, are fleeing the state. In a recent UC Berkeley
poll, 58 percent of black expressed interest in leaving California, a higher
percentage than for any racial group, though approximately 45 percent of Asians
and Latinos also considered moving out.
the biggest demographic disaster is generational. For decades, California
creating trends like beatniks, hippies, surfers, and Latino and Asian art,
music, and cuisine. The state is a fountainhead of youthful
wokeness and rebellion, but that may prove short-lived as millennials leave. From
2014 to 2018, notes demographer Wendell Cox, net domestic out-migration grew
from 46,000 to 156,000. The exiles are increasingly in their family-formation
years. In the 2010s, California suffered higher net declines in virtually every
age category under 54, with the biggest rate of loss coming among the 35-to-44
families with children leave, and international migration slows to one-third of
Texas’s level, the remaining population is rapidly aging. Since 2010,
California’s fertility rate has dropped 60 percent, more than the national
average; the state is now aging 50 percent more rapidly than the rest of the
country. A growing number of tech firms and millennials have headed to
Low rates of homeownership among younger people play a big role in this trend,
with California millennials forced to rent,
with little chance of buying their own home, while many of the state’s biggest
the nation in long-term owners. California is increasingly a greying refuge for
those who bought property when housing was affordable.
Schwarzenegger morphed into a progressive environmentalist, climate concerns
began driving state policy. His successors have embraced California
“leadership” on climate issues. Jerry Brown recently
crowd in China that the rest of the world should follow California’s example.
The state’s top Democrats, like state senate president pro tem Kevin DeLeon,
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, and billionaire Democratic presidential
candidate Tom Steyer, now compete for the green
policies have worsened
many middle- and working-class Californians. Oblivious to these concerns, Greens
ignore practical ideas—nuclear power, natural gas cars, job creation in
affordable areas, home-based work—that could help reduce emissions without
disrupting people’s lives. Ultra-green policies also work against the
state’s proclaimed goal of building more
than 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. In accordance with its efforts to
reduce car use, the state mandates that most growth occurs in already-crowded
coastal areas, where land prices are highest. But in cities like San Francisco,
the cost of building
one unit for
a homeless person surpasses $700,000. California’s inland regions, though
experiencing population gains, keep losing state
funding for decrepit
favor of urban-centric, mass transit projects—yet transit use has stagnated,
especially in greater
state, nevertheless, continues its pursuit of policies that would eliminate all
fossil fuels and nuclear power—outpacing national or even Paris Accord levels
and guaranteeing ever-rising energy prices. Mandating everything from electric
electric homes will only drive more working-class Californians into “energy
poverty.” High energy prices also directly affect the manufacturing and
logistics firms that employ blue-collar workers at decent wages. Business
relocation expert Joe
that industrial firms account for many of the 2,000 employers that left the
state this decade. California’s industrial growth has fallen to the
bottom tier of states; last year, it ranked 44th, with a rate of growth one-third to
one-quarter that of prime competitors like Texas, Virginia, Arizona, Nevada,
the high energy prices tend to hit the interior counties that, besides being
poorer, have far less temperate climates. Cities like Bakersfield, capital of the state’s
once-vibrant oil industry, are particularly hard-hit. High energy prices will
cost the region, northeast of the Los Angeles Basin, 14,000 generally high-paid
jobs, even as the state continues to import
oil from Saudi Arabia.
leaders apply climate change to excuse virtually every failure of state policy.
During the California drought, Brown and his minions
blamed the “climate” for the dry period, refusing to take responsibility
water storage that would have helped farmers. When the rains returned and
reservoirs filled, this argument was forgotten, and little effort has been made
to conserve water for next time. Likewise, Newsom and his supporters
blamed recent fires on changes in the global climate, but the disaster had as
much to do with green mandates against controlled burns and brush
anything occurring on a planetary scale. Brown joined greens
and others in blocking such
climate advocates ever seem to ask if their policies actually help the planet.
Indeed, California’s green policy, as one
may be increasing total greenhouse-gas emissions by pushing people and
industries to states with less mild climates. In the past decade, the state
ranked 40th in per-capita reductions, and its global carbon footprint is
minimal. Renewable energy may be expensive and unreliable, but state
policy nevertheless enriches the green-energy
investments of tech
even when their efforts—like the Google-backed Ivanpah
to deliver affordable, reliable energy.
It’s not so surprising,
given these enthusiasms, that progressive politicians like Garcetti—who leads a city with
paralyzing traffic congestion, rampant inequality, a huge
rat infestation, and proliferating homeless camps—would rather talk about
becoming chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
is asserting itself, though. Tech firms already show signs of restlessness with
the current regulatory regime and appear to be shifting employment
to other states, notably Texas, Tennessee, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona. Economic-modeling
firm Emsi estimates
that several states—Idaho, Tennessee, Washington, and Utah—are growing their
tech employment faster than California. The state is losing momentum in
professional and technical services—the largest high-wage sector—and now stands
roughly in the middle of the pack behind other western states such as Texas,
Tennessee, and Florida. And Assembly Bill 5, the state law regulating certain
forms of contract
reclassifies part-time workers. Aimed initially at ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft, the legislation also
extends to independent contractors in industries from media to trucking.
At some point,
as even Brown noted, the
ultra-high capital gains returns will fall and, combined with the costs of an
expanding welfare state, could leave the state in fiscal chaos. Big Tech could
stumble, a possibility made more real by the recent
$100 billion drop in the value of privately held “unicorn” companies,
including WeWork. If the tech economy slows, a rift could develop between two
of the state’s biggest forces—unions and the green establishment—over future
levels of taxation. More than two-thirds
of California cities don’t have any funds set aside for retiree health care and
other retirement expenses. The state also confronts $1 trillion in pension
debt, according to former Democratic state senator Joe
Nation. U.S. News & Report ranks California, despite the tech boom,
42nd in fiscal health among the states.
rebellion against the state’s energy policies is already under way.
with total population exceeding 8 million, have demanded changes in
California’s drive to prevent new natural gas hookups. The state’s Chamber of
Commerce and the three
most prominent ethnic chambers—African-American, Latino, and Asian-Pacific—have
joined this effort.
need less bombast and progressive pretense from their leaders and more
attention to policies that could counteract the economic and demographic tides
threatening the state. On its current course, California increasingly resembles
a model of what the late Taichi Sakaiya called “high-tech feudalism,” with a
small population of wealthy residents and a growing mass of modern-day serfs.
Delusion and preening ultimately have limits, as more Californians are
beginning to recognize. As the 2020s beckon, the time for the state to change
course is now.
And it all got much, much worse after 2008,
when the schemes collapsed and, as Lemann points out, Barack Obama did not
aggressively rein in Wall Street as Roosevelt had done, instead restoring the
status quo ante even when it meant ignoring a staggering white-collar crime spree.
The Rise of Wall Street Thievery
How corporations and
their apologists blew up the New Deal order and pillaged the middle class.
America has long had a
suspicious streak toward business, from the Populists and trustbusters to
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. It’s a tendency that has increased over
the last few decades. In 1973, 36 percent of respondents told Gallup they had
only “some” confidence in big business, while 20 percent had “very little.” But
in 2019, those numbers were 41 and 32 percent—near the highs registered during
the financial crisis.
Clearly, something has
happened to make us sour on the American corporation. What was once a stable
source of long-term employment and at least a modicum of paternalistic benefits
has become an unstable, predatory engine of inequality. Exactly what went
wrong is well documented in Nicholas Lemann’s excellent new book, Transaction
Man. The title is a reference to The Organization Man, an
influential 1956 book on the corporate culture and management of that era.
Lemann, a New Yorker staff writer and Columbia journalism
professor (as well as a Washington Monthly contributing
editor), details the development of the “Organization” style through the career
of Adolf Berle, a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s brain trust. Berle argued
convincingly that despite most of the nation’s capital being represented by the
biggest 200 or so corporations, the ostensible owners of these firms—that is,
their shareholders—had little to no influence on their daily operations.
Control resided instead with corporate managers and executives.
Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the
Decline of the American Dream
by Nicholas Lemann
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 pp.
was alarmed by the wealth of these mega-corporations and the political power it
generated, but also believed that bigness was a necessary concomitant of
economic progress. He thus argued that corporations should be tamed, not broken
up. The key was to harness the corporate monstrosities, putting them to work on
behalf of the citizenry.
exerted major influence on the New Deal political economy, but he did not get
his way every time. He was a fervent supporter of the National Industrial
Recovery Act, an effort to directly control corporate prices and production,
which mostly flopped before it was declared unconstitutional. Felix
Frankfurter, an FDR adviser and a disciple of the great anti-monopolist Louis
Brandeis, used that opportunity to build significant Brandeisian elements into
New Deal structures. The New Deal social contract thus ended up being a
somewhat incoherent mash-up of Brandeis’s and Berle’s ideas. On the one hand,
antitrust did get a major focus; on the other, corporations were expected to
play a major role delivering basic public goods like health insurance and
then turns to his major subject, the rise and fall of the Transaction Man. The
New Deal order inspired furious resistance from the start. Conservative
businessmen and ideologues argued for a return to 1920s policies and provided
major funding for a new ideological project spearheaded by economists like
Milton Friedman, who famously wrote an article titled “The Social
Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” Lemann focuses on a
lesser-known economist named Michael Jensen, whose 1976 article “Theory of the
Firm,” he writes, “prepared the ground for blowing up that [New Deal] social
and his colleagues embodied that particular brand of jaw-droppingly stupid that
only intelligent people can achieve. Only a few decades removed from a crisis
of unregulated capitalism that had sparked the worst war in history and nearly
destroyed the United States, they argued that all the careful New Deal
regulations that had prevented financial crises for decades and underpinned the
greatest economic boom in U.S. history should be burned to the ground. They
were outraged by the lack of control shareholders had over the firms they
supposedly owned, and argued for greater market discipline to remove this
“principal-agent problem”—econ-speak for businesses spending too much on
irrelevant luxuries like worker pay and investment instead of dividends and
share buybacks. When that argument unleashed hell, they doubled down: “To
Jensen the answer was clear: make the market for corporate control even more
active, powerful, and all-encompassing,” Lemann writes.
best part of the book is the connection Lemann draws between Washington
policymaking and the on-the-ground effects of those decisions. There was much
to criticize about the New Deal social contract—especially its relative
blindness to racism—but it underpinned a functioning society that delivered a tolerable
level of inequality and a decent standard of living to a critical mass of
citizens. Lemann tells this story through the lens of a thriving close-knit
neighborhood called Chicago Lawn. Despite how much of its culture “was
intensely provincial and based on personal, family, and ethnic ties,” he
writes, Chicago Lawn “worked because it was connected to the big organizations
that dominated American culture.” In other words, it was a functioning
democratic political economy.
came the 1980s. Lemann paints a visceral picture of what it was like at street
level as Wall Street buccaneers were freed from the chains of regulation and
proceeded to tear up the New Deal social contract. Cities hemorrhaged
population and tax revenue as their factories were shipped overseas. Whole
businesses were eviscerated or even destroyed by huge debt loads from hostile
takeovers. Jobs vanished by the hundreds of thousands.
it all got much, much worse after 2008, when the schemes collapsed and, as
Lemann points out, Barack Obama did not aggressively rein in Wall Street as
Roosevelt had done, instead restoring the status quo ante even when it meant
ignoring a staggering white-collar crime spree. Neighborhoods drowned
under waves of foreclosures and crime as far-off financial derivatives
imploded. Car dealerships that had sheltered under the General Motors umbrella
for decades were abruptly cut loose. Bewildered Chicago Lawn residents
desperately mobilized to defend themselves, but with little success. “What they
were struggling against was a set of conditions that had been made by faraway
government officials—not one that had sprung up naturally,” Lemann writes.
Toward the end of the
book, however, Lemann starts to run out of steam. He investigates a possible
rising “Network Man” in the form of top Silicon Valley executives, who have
largely maintained control over their companies instead of serving as a sort of
esophagus for disgorging their companies’ bank accounts into the Wall Street
maw. But they turn out to be, at bottom, the same combination of blinkered
and predatory as the Transaction Men. Google and Facebook, for instance, have
grown over the last few years by devouring virtually the entire online ad
market, strangling the journalism industry as a result. And they directly
employ far too few people to serve as the kind of broad social anchor that the
car industry once did.
his final chapter, Lemann argues for a return to “pluralism,” a “messy,
contentious system that can’t be subordinated to one conception of the common
good. It refuses to designate good guys and bad guys. It distributes, rather
than concentrates, economic and political power.”
is a peculiar conclusion for someone who has just finished Lemann’s book, which
is full to bursting with profoundly bad people—men and women
who knowingly harmed their fellow citizens by the millions for their own
private profit. In his day, Roosevelt was not shy about lambasting rich people
who “had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere
appendage to their own affairs,” as he put it in a 1936 speech in which he also
declared, “We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous
as government by organized mob.”
concentrated economic power is a bad thing, then the corporate form is simply a
poor basis for a truly strong and equal society. Placing it as one of the
social foundation stones makes its workers dependent on the unreliable goodwill
and business acumen of management on the one hand and the broader marketplace
on the other. All it takes is a few ruthless Transaction Men to undermine the
entire corporate social model by outcompeting the more generous businesses. And
even at the high tide of the New Deal, far too many people were left out,
especially African Americans.
writes that in the 1940s the United States “chose not to become a full-dress
welfare state on the European model.” But there is actually great variation
among the European welfare states. States like Germany and Switzerland went
much farther on the corporatist road than the U.S. ever did, but they do
considerably worse on metrics like inequality, poverty, and political
polarization than the Nordic social democracies, the real welfare kings.
for how threadbare it is, the U.S. welfare state still delivers a great deal of
vital income to the American people. The analyst Matt Bruenig recently
calculated that American welfare eliminates two-thirds of the “poverty gap,”
which is how far families are below the poverty line before government
transfers are factored in. (This happens mainly through Social Security.)
Imagine how much worse this country would be without those programs! And though
it proved rather easy for Wall Street pirates to torch the New Deal corporatist
social model without many people noticing, attempts to cut welfare are
typically very obvious, and hence unpopular.
Lemann’s book is more than worth the price of admission for the perceptive
history and excellent writing. It’s a splendid and beautifully written
illustration of the tremendous importance public policy has for the daily lives
of ordinary people.
According to a recent report, the
Masters of the Universe in Silicon Valley have plans to further expand into the
world of finance in the new year — falling just short of opening their own
A recent report from CNBC
claims that Silicon Valley tech giants are likely to expand their business into
the world of finance even further in 2020, but many want to avoid the hassle of
becoming a fully-fledged bank. With Facebook announcing its own cryptocurrency,
Googles plans to introduce consumer bank account sin collaboration with
Citibank, and Apple’s new credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs,
finance seems to be a major focus for tech firms.
Though their products are different,
both firms share something in common: they have no plans to become regulated
financial institutions like Citi or Goldman. While Big Tech — a group of
companies that includes Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — will undoubtedly push deeper into finance this
year, their progress in banking will be “more of a slow creep than big
strides,” said Sarah Kocianski, head of research at fintech consultancy 11:FS.
“The big tech firms will continue to
add services that are peripheral to banking to their existing offerings,
without going full-stack banking,” she said. “The headache of getting, and
maintaining, a banking license would likely be considered too big a risk for these
companies. Instead, they will continue to operate with licensed partners.”
But, Accenture’s global payments lead, Sulabh Agarwal stated when asked
that it makes little sense for tech firms to become banks. “Do I expect them to
become banks? I don’t think so do. I expect them to create new services to
enhance their propositions,” Argawal stated.
Facebook is making moves on two
fronts in the world of finance, with its digital currency Libra and with its
payment processing platform Facebook Pay. CNBC writes:
“The theory goes that if 2 billion
people were to withdraw their deposits from the banking system and move them
into Libra tokens, you’d effectively have a run on the banks,” said Simon Taylor,
co-founder and blockchain lead at 11:FS. “Facebook is absolutely big enough for
that to be plausible, but whether or not it happens depends much more on what
consumer problem is being solved.”
Aside from libra, Facebook is also
consolidating its payment products under a new brand called
Facebook Pay. Uber, like its Southeast Asian competitor Grab, is moving further into finance with a division called Uber Money that houses a digital
wallet and upgraded payment cards. They’ll face competition from the likes of
Google Pay and Apple Pay in the U.S. and Chinese payment apps like Alipay and WeChat Pay.
E-commerce giant Amazon is already
in the process of lending out money but has yet to break into consumer banking.
It should be noted that Amazon at one point set up a student loan scheme in
2016 with Wells Fargo which shut down shortly afterward. Sarah Kocianski,
head of research at fintech consultancy 11:FS, stated that there
was “every reason to suspect they’ve learned from that.”
Rep. Mo Brooks
(R-AL) says the “Masters of the Universe” want more legal immigration to the
United States to further diminish the incomes of American working and
In an exclusive interview with SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Tonight, Brooks said
recent demands to increase the number of foreign workers coming to the U.S. to
compete against American citizens for jobs is merely an effort by corporations
to deplete the earnings of Americans.
I’m not a part of the Masters of the Universe crowd who thinks we
ought to be bringing in all this foreign labor and the reason for it is pure economics. This is the chance for Americans and lawful immigrants who are already here who are working
in the blue-collar trades, who are working in the places where
wages are not as high they ought to be, this is their chance to prosper. [Emphasis added]
And to the extent you import a lot of foreign labor, then you are
artificially increasing the labor supply which in turn means that you’re
artificially suppressing the wages of American families who are often hard-pressed to make ends meet So I
respectfully disagree that we need more foreign labor, to the contrary, I would like to see us reduce the foreign labor that comes into
America so that American families who are struggling to make ends meet, particularly those of us who are earning the least
amounts, would be better to take care of
their own families and less likely to be dependent on the welfare. [Emphasis added]
Brooks said Democrats support for mass legal immigration is
centered on the premise that increasing the number of foreign workers in the
U.S. will decrease Americans’ wages, thus forcing many into poverty and
becoming welfare recipients. This, Brooks said, is how Democrats create a permanent
dependent class of Democrat voters.
“Don’t get me wrong, [Democrats] want to decrease the incomes of
Americans so that they’re dependent on welfare,” Brooks said.
That makes them in turn likely Democrat voters and the best way to
do that is to have a huge surge in the labor supply, particularly illegal
aliens, that will depress their wages therefore creating more Democrats who are dependent on welfare at the same time as they
bring in illegal aliens who also under Democrat doctrine will be allowed to vote
and those types of voters, they’re also dependent on welfare. [Emphasis added]
“About 70 percent of illegal alien households are on welfare …
plus this is a bloc of voters that seems unusually susceptible to the racial
divisions that the Democrats advance,” Brooks said. “You have to look at the
big picture in all of this, and to me, we should not be importing as much
foreign labor as we are. We should be helping the least among us earn more and
importing foreign labor that suppresses wages is not the way to do that.”
Currently, the U.S. admits more than 1.2 legal immigrants
annually, with the vast majority deriving from chain migration, whereby newly
naturalized citizens can bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the
country. In 2017, the foreign-born population reached a record high of 44.5 million.
The U.S. is on track to import about 15 million new foreign-born voters in the next
two decades should current legal immigration levels continue. Those 15
million new foreign-born voters include about eight million who will arrive in
the country through chain migration, where newly naturalized citizens can bring
an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the country.
Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM
Patriot Channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to Midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m.-9:00
John Binder is a reporter for
Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.