Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi everyone. And welcome to the hundred and 17th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Lawrence Olivo. I'm the associate editor here at the Atlas society, the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of iron Rand and fun and creative ways through our Atlas university seminars, our graphic novels and social media content. Today I'm joined by our founder, Dr. David Kelly, along with senior fellow and, uh, objectiveist writer, Robert Suski. And we're gonna be talking about current events going on in the country through an objective lens. We have two topics today, the signed today, Biden inflation reduction bill, along with a Supreme court decision regarding executive power. We're gonna start things off today with Rob when it comes to the inflation bill. So Rob, take it away.
Speaker 1 00:00:56 Oh, okay. So I want to talk about this because this is the big, this is the big legislative accomplishment that, uh, that Joe Biden is claiming, as you know, he's, he's sort of been up against the ropes politically. And so he had had to put a win on the board and said, okay, we passed this reduction act. So the first thing to say about it is like a lot of acts in, uh, you know, Washington is the land of a, is not a, uh, like a lot of bills. Uh, the name of this bill has nothing to do really with what it actually does. What the name of this, the inflation reduction act is just that this is the build back, back better act, which is this big stimulus bill that they were going to try to pass last year, that didn't pass. And then they scaled it down and repackaged it.
Speaker 1 00:01:36 But when they repackaged it, they said, well, wait a minute. Everybody's concerned about inflation. So let's call it the inflation reduction act. I think we're gonna see a lot of bills with the words, inflation reduction in their names, which will have nothing necessarily to do with any of the content of those bills. Um, I actually think they do think this is gonna reduce inflation in a twisted way. I'll get to that in a moment, but really let let's back up a little bit on this issue of inflation, because I think that's, that's the context for this. So what happened with inflation? I, you know, Richard Salzman could give probably more detailed explanation. Uh, one of our other Atlas society scholars, but the, the simplified version of it that I would give it goes something like this, the pandemic hit. And because the pandemic, we had a slow down in protection in production, there was about a four or 5% contraction of the economy in 2020.
Speaker 1 00:02:24 So because of that, there was a slowdown in production, which means fewer goods and services are being made. But the political leadership decided, well, we don't want anybody to actually feel the effects of this slowdown. Uh, for various ITOs bipartisan for different reasons, the Republicans and the Democrats both decided we don't want anybody to actually feel the effects of this. We don't want it to feel like a recession for people. So we're gonna pass stimulus bills, trillions of dollars of money, free money going out from the government to, you know, to into people's bank accounts. Uh, with the, of course the obligatory letter signed by the president of the United States saying, Hey, I just gave you $5,000 in stimulus. Aren't I a great person? And that's the usual politics, but you know, like I said, Paul Washington is the land of a, is nine. A, the idea is that we have a recession, but maybe if we pump enough money out there, nobody will notice we're having a recession.
Speaker 1 00:03:16 It won't feel like a recession. We could have a recession that isn't a recession. Uh, so what they, you know, the, the effect of, if you have fewer goods being produced and a lot more cash going out there, a lot of money going out there that's naturally going to lead to inflation. Now, it, it didn't do it right away because, you know, people were still kind of hunkered down in 2020. They were still, you know, a lot of people took that stimulus money and it went into their savings account and they didn't spend it. But by late 2021, you had the vaccines that were reducing the effect of the pandemic. And of course, also a lot of people just decided we're over the pandemic we wanted to be over with were, were gone. We're done taking people who started going out and started wanting to have fun.
Speaker 1 00:03:58 They wanted to go out to eat. They wanted to, to buy things they wanted to, uh, they wanted to spend, they were ready to spend all of that money that was sitting in their accounts at the same time that you still had a lot of, uh, effect from their recession of supply chains being disrupted and not really rebuilt back to normal. And, um, uh, uh, there were still stimulus checks, stimulus payments and, and, uh, uh, child's tax credit payments going out to people that made it less necessary for people to go back to work. So there was a lot of things there that were still, you know, people started spending again, but there were a lot of things preventing the production from ramping back up to match that spending. So naturally what you got is you get a big wall up of inflation that hit us really at the end of last year and early this year.
Speaker 1 00:04:45 Um, so this is a totally government creative problem because of the fact that they, we had a recession and nobody wanted us to feel that we had a recession. And of course, politicians still don't want us to feel as if we have a recession. So they wanna keep on doing the stimulus payments. And this is what this bill, this so-called inflation reduction act is just a scaled down version of the, uh, the, the big stimulus packages, the big multitrillion dollar stimulus packages that caused this inflation in the first place. So it's an inflation reduction act that consists of doing the same thing that caused the inflation, but doing it smaller. Uh, and you know, this is why we have, I mean, this is the product of sort of the moderate Democrats in Congress, right? So you had Joe mansion Senator from West Virginia, who is the one who bulked at another big multi-trillion dollar spending bill, but, you know, he's a moderate Democrat, you know, he's a moderate, but he's a moderate Democrat.
Speaker 1 00:05:42 So he still eventually got talked into, well, maybe if we only spend a couple hundred billion, then that would be okay. And so he, he agreed to the scale down version of it. Uh, so it's, it's again, it's Washington is land of, of, of non a where, uh, uh, every, you know, they wanna have everything at inflation reduction act. That's based on the same thing that caused inflation. And the thing that caused inflation was we had a recession that we didn't want to admit was a recession. All right. So that's the big picture. And the interesting thing is why they think they talk, they've talked themselves into thinking this is inflation reduced. Now there's a couple things in there. One is that they have a, uh, a provision here, which gives new funding to the IRS to hire a lot more agents. So this is the, the theory is that, well, the problem is you have all these rich people who are evading taxes and you hire all these new IRS agents will be able to audit all these rich people and, and get more money in taxes.
Speaker 1 00:06:37 Now, by the way, most of the auditing that's done by the IRS is not targeted toward the, the very wealthy it's targeted to the middle class. And a whole bunch of it is targeted toward people who have been claiming these tax credits and, uh, stimulus payments that their, that, that were, that were part of the, the previous stimulus bills. So if you look this up, a huge number of the audits that are going on are somebody claiming one of these child tax credits or some other tax credit that was made, uh, available as part of the stimulus. And the IRS sent the of the letter saying really, you know, prove to us that you actually are eligible for this thing, because of course, there's, you know, rampant possibility for, for fraud or for people to, uh, to either by error or deliberately claim a tax credit and claim a, a, a subsidy payment, uh, a stimulus payment that, that they're not actually entitled to.
Speaker 1 00:07:30 So of course, you know, they're saying, this is, this is to audit the rich. It's probably a lot of it's going to go to audit the middle class and even the poor, but, um, this idea that taxing the rich, why this is in the inflation reduction act is that they actually have the idea that while the problem with inflation is basically rich, people are driven by profit and they're greedy and they want profits. And so they're raising prices. And so therefore if we tax, if we put a lot of taxes in the rich people, somehow that will tamp down the greed, or that will, that will somehow, um, you know, by taking money away from the rich people that will help a fight inflation. That is the literal mindset that they have. It's, it's sort of a, a running joke, uh, on, on the internet that, you know, this idea that greed causes inflation, you know, people put graphs of, well during periods of low inflation.
Speaker 1 00:08:19 Does that mean that there was no greed, right? <laugh> so, so the, the graphs of rising inflation and falling inflation is actually the graphs of increasing greed and decreasing greed among the wealthy. And of course it makes no sense, you know, that, of course, you know, people want to make money. People want to make a profit. That is the one constant of the business world. It, you know, the question of whether they're able to, or have to raise prices or lowered prices is obviously caused by something else. Um, now the other aspect of this is the other thing that was thrown into this stimulus bill, or, sorry, I call it the same as bill cause that's my mindset on it, into this inflation reduction act that they think is inflation. Reducing is they actually also managed to sneak in. And I think it made it to the final version of the bill.
Speaker 1 00:09:06 They managed to sneak in a, um, a provision for drug, uh, uh, price controls. So price controls on pharmaceuticals. And again, this is the mindset that, you know, the cause of inflation is greedy businessmen. And so if we want to reduce inflation, the way to do it is you have the government put price controls to the, the, to, to control that greed. We say to pharmaceutical manufacturers, in this case, you can't raise the prices and we're gonna, we're gonna determine, uh, uh, uh, impose on you, what the prices are that you can charge for these things. And, you know, we all know how well price controls work to stop inflation under Richard Nixon. And they, they are totally undetermined. And they're going to try to do it again. Um, and, uh, so that's, I think that's the big, the big picture of the inflation reduction act is from the name to the context to the various things they're trying to do.
Speaker 1 00:10:02 It is basically it's this, it's this carnival of evasion of reality, uh, that they don't want to face up to what the facts are that are actually leading to inflation and what the facts are that actually drive the economy. And they want to pretend that, well, we can keep spending all this, you know, money that we don't have. We can keep spending it endlessly over and over again. And we could do that while not, you know, they, the original claims we could do that while not having inflation. And now they're saying we could do that while rela only it as fighting inflation. Uh, but none of it deals with any of the fundamental problems. The only good thing about the inflation reduction act, uh, from what I could tell is the fact that it's smaller. It's not that big. And so maybe it won't be enough hundreds of trillions, you know, the old saying, uh, they used to say a billion here at billion there pretty soon, you're talking about real money. These days, it's a hundred billion here, a hundred billion there, pretty soon, you're talking about real money. Maybe this won't be enough hundreds of billions to have a big impact.
Speaker 0 00:11:06 All, all right, David, any, uh, thoughts you'd like to also contribute to that David you're muted.
Speaker 2 00:11:17 There's also the, um, it, it's a snuck in some, um, climate, um, environmental stuff into it, uh, with big subsidies for electrical vehicles and for, um, uh, other changes in, you know, in to manufacture. Um, there's a, there's also those big industrial policy, um, part of it, which I do is mainly in another act, uh, that provide money to chip makers. Um, yes,
Speaker 1 00:11:50 The chip.
Speaker 2 00:11:50 Yeah. So it's, it's not only, um, you know, a not only, uh, a fraud in terms of inflation reduction, it is an, an expansion of an old bad idea of industrial planning. I mean, we've been reading about this since the seventies or earlier, and it, you know, goes back, actually goes back to fascism and the new deal. Um, so the idea, you know, just one of those ideas that will not die.
Speaker 1 00:12:24 Yeah. And, and interesting thing is that, you know, you got Joe Biden in office. Who's supposed to be the non-Trump, you know, he's, he's not Donald Trump, but on trade and immigration, he kind of is, you know, he's not that different. He has not really done major things to reverse policy. Uh, the, the, uh, Trump administration policies on those two issues. Because again, he's an old fashioned Democrat, the old, and I remember the days in which the old fashioned Democrats were, you know, uh, they represented Detroit and, you know, these Chi, the Japanese back then it was a Japanese big Fort became China. The Japanese are taking our way, our jobs. And so we have to have quotas and, and limits and huge tariffs on automobiles. Uh, and you know, it's that same instinct of, of, of being anti-trade. The funniest thing actually emerged from the, uh, uh, the, the so-called inflation reduction act is that they combined the subsidies for electric cars.
Speaker 1 00:13:17 They combined that with the buy in America provisions. So their sub massive subsidies for electric cars, if those electric cars are mostly made in the us, well, most of the batteries in the electric cars, I mean, every model of electric car that's on the market, the batteries are made in China, and they don't qualify for the subsidies because their parts aren't not enough of their parts are made in the us. So they pass this massive subsidy for electric electric cars in theory, that is basically taken back by their, by America, make it made in America provisions, right. Uh, so the government, the government giveth and the government take it away. Um, and, uh, uh, that's the other thing I wanna mention about the environmental stuff, cuz you know, again, expect to see inflation reduction tacked onto everything out there because they decided, okay, the public cares about inflation.
Speaker 1 00:14:06 If we name soft inflation reduction, the public will love us for it, but then they use it to pass whatever legislation they already wanted to do. So one of the things here is to do a sort of, you know, not just a scaled version of back version of, of a stimulus bill, but also a scaled back back version of the green new deal, massive subsidies. The only good thing about that is again, this is a product of Joe mansion from West Virginia and you know, from West Virginia, what's he concerned about he's he, he wants to save coal. So I mean, that's, that's the interest of his home constituents he's representing them. And so the thing that he did that I find interesting about this is that you got a lot of environmental stuff, but Joe mansion basically took out the more punitive aspects of the green new deal. So it doesn't really ban anything. So instead of banning things that subsidizes things, so it was more like we're going to, we, we're not gonna ban coal. We're not gonna take these measures to eliminate these things, but we're gonna throw in lots of money to subsidize these things. And then, and then we're gonna mess up the subsidies, uh, so that they, they won't necessarily work
Speaker 2 00:15:10 Well. The power to subsidize is the power to destroy. That's an old, you know, political
Speaker 1 00:15:15 Originally it was the power to tax. It's the power to destroy, but the power to subsidize has,
Speaker 2 00:15:19 Well maybe I didn't just invented that, but if you, whatever you subsidize is gonna, um, be better able to compete against what the market would've done, um, on a pure cost, um, and, and um, consumer demand basis. So that, um, you know, the only reason I, the electric car sells so well is that, you know, you can buy one for 50, 60,000 whatever, however, many thousand dollars, but you get, uh, a tax credit or, um, refund back. Yeah. And,
Speaker 1 00:15:54 Uh, I've also, I know some people who have, who have installed, uh, satellite, uh, not satellite, but uh, solar panels on the roofs. And it's something that economically would not really make sense. The, you know, you, you pay this huge amount and you, you know, you get free electricity, but it takes so long to pay for it that it doesn't make sense, but with the massive subsidies, it makes sense. So, you know, so it pays itself off. It pays for itself in five years or seven years, right. Instead of 30 years. And so, yeah, that's, what's gonna happen is gonna be massive mal-investment in terms of people building lots of things, they wouldn't have built under market price signals because it wouldn't have made any sense, but the government's gonna push them into saying no, no, no, no, build this instead. Uh, and they're gonna build things that, that don't make economic sense, but they're, they're doing it because they're getting a subsidy for it.
Speaker 2 00:16:41 And in that respect, this is another tool of industrial policy, uh, government planning because, uh, you can plan, uh, exert control either by regulation, by forbidding or mandating something or by, um, it less directly subsidizing what you want at the, at the cost of, um, any of its market competitors.
Speaker 1 00:17:04 Yeah. Well, I, I think, you know, one of the things I'm interested, I'm endlessly fascinated by and you see it in politics all the time is this sort of undid ideas, right? Yeah. Ideas that have been tried have failed repeatedly ha have basically been refuted, but people clinging to them. And well, I think we'll get to a second to why they cling to them. But the two big examples that I'm seeing here are central planning, you know, industrial policy is just a, a new rebranded term for more scaled back indirect, more modest. So central planning and, and the other one is, uh, uh, basically the idea of, of just government throwing Mo money everywhere and spending as much money as it likes, uh, that, you know, the government had can, can spend money endlessly. So the two things that have come up here is industrial policy is the name for central planning, reborn under a new name.
Speaker 1 00:17:59 And let's act as if it will work this time. And then the other one is modern monetary theory. So part of how we got into this mess with inflation is you had a BU there's a little clique of economists, or I would call those more pseudo economists. Cause it's not really a theory, but they had this thing called modern monetary theory, which they basically said, you could spend endless amounts of money. The government could print money and spend it endlessly. And that will cost inflation. Now, you know, would have a brain. Anyone who's lived more than, you know, 40 years, uh, will remember a time when that wasn't true. When, when we saw that happen, when we saw inflation hit, because we were spending too much money, but again, these ideas just stay alive and people find a new name for it and they find the new catch phrase and they find new rationalizations and try the same old thing over and over again.
Speaker 1 00:18:46 But of course, you know, uh, from the standpoint, you know, objectiveism, uh, uh, understands the importance of people's philosophical convictions and especially their moral convictions. And they're so wedded to those, to, for certain basic moral premises that, you know, to make those, to make that moral code work. You know, the real undead idea here is the moral code of altruism, which says, you know, it's, it's your job, every everyone's job to sacrifice, to help other people. And, uh, that instead of having a society based on mutual, self-interest where we all pursue our self-interest to engage in trade and build things and grow society should be based on sacrifice. It should be based on you being taxed in order to provide money to the poor. And that's, what's going to make for an ideal society. And it's been tried in its various implementations so many times, but that fundamental moral commitment people have that, you know, altruism is considered practically synonymous with morality.
Speaker 1 00:19:47 If you don't believe in the welfare state, you're cruel SCR who, you know, who hates the poor, um, that those, those ideas are so deeply ingrained that people will then come, try to come up with, keep resurrecting all the implementations of that theory and say, oh no, you know, government planning everything and telling us all what to do. Yes, that will actually work this time under this new version that we call industrial policy or, you know, government endlessly spending money to, to, to give things away that people that'll work this time under this new theory that we call modern monetary theory. And it, it, it's, it's new and it works because it's called modern, right? It's not the old one it's called modern. We put modern in the name. So you know, that it's due and it it's, it's progressive. And, and, you know, we've got some bright new idea behind it. So again, I think it's, it's the, it's these fundamental sort of philosophical and moral commitments people have that they want to keep alive. They don't wanna give up on them. And so they, they, they resurrect these, these discredited theories and discredited practices again and again.
Speaker 2 00:20:53 Well, and the other, the flip side of that is, I mean, the, the, uh, altruism, the idea of sacrifice is the, the direct expression of that is a welfare state. Um, but the others, but the other aspect of that is greed is evil. And the market runs by greed. So people can't can't accept the idea that, you know, markets are, are not chaotic, that they're not exploitative, um, that they're driven by trade win-win kind of transactions. And so there's gotta be something wrong. And government is, you know, government at least is not about greed.
Speaker 1 00:21:33 Right, right. I mean, greed greed is the pejorative way of referring to self-interest and they, you know, if self-interest is evil, then it must be the source of many evil results. It must be the, the must, the reason why we have inflation must be because people are acting on their self-interest and, you know, it leads to these bizarre claims that, you know, when inflation wasn't happening, were people not self interested, were, was there a wave of altruism that, that hit hit America from, you know, do we become an altruist, uh, an ideal altruist society from 1980 to roughly two, you know, uh, to, until 2020, you know, we had a 30 year period with very low inflation. Was that a wave of altruism that turned distance into an ideal altruist society? Were people not acting according to self-interest? I mean, you know, it's an absurdity, but you can see why they have to, why they,
Speaker 2 00:22:21 It make a lot of money during that time. A lot of money,
Speaker 1 00:22:25 Well know, eighties was the era of, of greed is greed is good and, and yeah. And of, of, of wall street and all that. So, um, but you see that, you know, they have to sort of create these absurd rationalizations in order to cover up in order to not have to question the underlying absurdity, which is what's the matter with self-interest, you know, and I, I, it, one thing that continually strikes me is we live at a society in which most people actually act on what you would call rational self-interest or enlightened self-interest they act on it implicitly. Yeah. Right. In their, in their business lives, even in their personal lives. For the most part, they actually act on this on, on, on this theory that what we would explicitly call and identify as a theory of rational self-interest. But in theory, they all accept that altruism is essence of morality. That self that self-interest is bad and self-sacrifice is, is good. And so they live by one creed, uh, while accepting and endorsing another. And that's how you get all these, these contradictions and absurdities that keep popping up is they cannot, they can't figure it out. They haven't either they through not encountering the right arguments or through stubborn resistance. They're not willing to harmonize how they actually live with their actual, with their theory of the world.
Speaker 2 00:23:43 And, and when you act on one morality, um, but believe in another, that's a prescription for guilt. And I think guilt is a big driver of a lot of things, uh, on the part of people who are, uh, wealthy. Yeah. Um, I mean, and again, there's pride, it ends in success well earned in, in most cases and guilt about success. How did this happen to me? And you see it all the way from Warren buffet on down.
Speaker 1 00:24:15 Yeah. You see a lot of talk recently about recent years, about the term virtue signaling the various things that people do and causes the endorse in order to signal their virtue. And it raises the question of, well, why are people so desperate to signal to the outside world that they're, that they're good guys, and that they're virtuous by adopting whatever the latest, uh, you know, the sort of, uh, mainstream or social acceptable causes. And I think that that issue of guilt of living by one code and, and believing another and having to sort of, to, to cover up that contradiction, I think that explains a lot of why people become so susceptible to that virtue signaling impulse of, well, you know, I mean, a Tesla, for example, a Tesla electric cards. We're talking about that at Tesla's a really nice car, you know, the deal on Musks big, uh, the big achieve in a Tesla, uh, under, under, especially under Musk has been that, you know, before that electric car were sort of environmental hair shirts, like you bought, you got a P Prius, it was this tiny little tin can of a car.
Speaker 1 00:25:12 It was small, it was underpowered, but you did it to show you're being a good person. And Elon Musk realize no, no, make it a really big, expensive luxury car, uh, make, you know, and, and make it a really nice car so that you could have a really nice car. You could buy a really nice, nice car, which is what you wanted to do, because that's your self-interest, but you could do it while also saying I'm doing something that's good for an environment. So I'm a good person. And that I think the Tesla sort of, uh, uh, encapsulate that aspect of the Tesla encapsulates that issue of people living by one code, uh, and believing another and having to then sort of cover up that disjunction by saying, well, I bought myself a really nice car, but I did it for the environment.
Speaker 2 00:25:53 Yeah. <laugh> yes. My little contribution
Speaker 0 00:25:58 <laugh> well, to that point and speaking of extra cars, um, I have gotten a lot of questions coming in and I wanna encourage everyone who's watching that. Please submit your questions through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, zoom, anywhere you're watching. We're gonna try to take some now and we'll take more at the end, but speaking about electric cars, like you just mentioned, uh, a four L asks, if we really care about the environment in electric cars, why not subsidize Elon Musk, which I guess this is in reference to that big climate meeting at the white house where everyone except, uh, Elon Musk was invited from all the big car companies.
Speaker 1 00:26:36 Well, I mean, the reason Elon Musk since invited is cuz he sort of turned more vaguely to the right and sort of can anti cancels culture and that sort of thing. And so he's become, uh, you know, from being a hero to the left, he's become sort of an unperson to the left. Um, but the, the answer to that actually is we have been subsidizing Elon Musk. We've been doing a lot of subsidizing of Elon Musk all along. Um, I mean, you know, the whole, his whole business has, you know, like I said, the, the, the subsidies for electric cars have been central crucial to his business. And the fact that we've never cut off the subsidies, they they're, you know, we've always, they always kept them flowing. That's been central to the success of, of Tesla. And that's not counting also the fact that his more successful business than Tesla was, is SpaceX, which by the way, huge accomplishment.
Speaker 1 00:27:23 And I'm a big fan of SpaceX, but you know, it's a government contractor essentially. I mean, a lot of, uh, now some of it does, I'm a big fan of SpaceX. Cause I'm talking to you right now from Starlink, which is, is satellite internet service, which works way better than the old diversion I had. I'm extremely grateful to Elon Musk for that. Thank you Elon. But a lot of what Starlink does, what, uh, what SpaceX does is it's a government director. It, it makes money from, you know, big government contracts. So that's been a, you know, a source of his business. Now, he, he does this more cheaply for the federal government. Then they were doing it for themselves. And that then other contractors were doing before this, the price of launch has gone way down per, per kilogram of payload. So, you know, if he's gonna be living off the government, at least he's, he's providing a better value for them, but you know, we happen subsidizing, um, uh, Elon Musk.
Speaker 1 00:28:15 I think the more budget question is if we really carry everything, go all electric and we really cared about global warming. Why don't we, why aren't we subsidizing nuclear energy? And the answer to that is simple, which is that, you know, the, the environmentalist movement did not start to address global warming. It started to scare monger about various forms of modern technology foremost among which was nuclear power, right? So they stopping a three mile island and stopping nuclear energy. That was the thing that environmentalism as a movement was doing before they discovered global warming. And so they can't, now that they've discovered global warming made that their central cause they can't just turn back and say, okay, let's build nuclear power plants. But I mean, if we really wanted to go all electric, um, I don't think we have to, I, I do. I agree that, you know, fossil fuels are still a good fuel. They're still the most economical thing in many, in many cases. But if we really wanted to go all electric, we'd go all nuclear. But again, these, the effect of undead ideas, you know, that anti-nuke sentiment was part of the founding ideology of environmentalism. And so they can't give it up.
Speaker 0 00:29:29 Okay. Uh, got another question here. Uh, sort of going back to the IRS portion of the, uh, inflation bill. This comes from Jackson Monroe on Twitter, asking what is your take on the now deleted post by the IRS for armed agents. This was in relation to, I believe it was, uh, an article posted last week talking about how a job posting mentioned. They need people with law enforcement capabilities within the IRS to use both skills, to track down those who are potentially committing fraud.
Speaker 2 00:30:02 Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:30:02 Yeah. Um, well, you know, I, it doesn't, I don't think it matters actually, because here's the thing that the IRS gets its power of enforcement from its ability to throw you in jail. Right? So even if the IRS agents don't have the guns behind everything the IRS does behind its entire ability to collect money from you is the fact that at some point, if you resist, if you don't wanna pay that money, at some point, guys with guns are going to show up, right? They're gonna show up to repossess property, um, actually your bank and say, uh, this person, you know, this is something you used to be able to do. They can go to your bank and say, this person owes this money. We're seizing it from their bank account. Well, <laugh>, uh, that now one thing that their good thing the Republicans did in the nineties is they did pass some laws that, that, that ratcheted back some of the enforcement powers of the IRS and they can't just go take your house or take your property as E and nowhere near as easily as they used to be able to, uh, or seize your bank account as nowhere near as easily as they used to be able to.
Speaker 1 00:31:07 But you know, the thing about, you know, government is forced and it doesn't matter whether one agency or another is hiring armed agents. Yeah. The fact is that somebody with a gun is gonna show up to enforce that eventually
Speaker 0 00:31:20 David, anything you'd like to add?
Speaker 2 00:31:22 Uh, Nope. Good answer. I agree with Rob.
Speaker 0 00:31:25 Okay. Uh, in that case, we're about the halfway mark. So I'd like to sort of pivot us to the second topic of today, but as I mentioned, those of you, I see your questions. I'm logging here. We'll try to get to as many as we can closer to the end, but David, please, uh, talk to us about the Supreme court decision in executive power.
Speaker 2 00:31:43 Okay. Yeah. This, uh, this term of the court that ended in June was, uh, one of the more significant ones. Um, of course the, uh, you know, the major headline here is the overturning of RO V Wade, but there, uh, which I, you know, I'm very sorry to, at that decision, I think it was poorly argued and is not a step in the right direction, but be that as it may, um, there's also some good news and one of them, uh, was another case that may turn out to be fairly important. Uh, and that was a case in which, uh, that involved the EPA and the administrative powers that the, uh, executive agencies, uh, can, can, uh, exercise. Um, it starts with a clean Interac of 1970, which, um, gave the EPA authority to set limits on, um, they, you know, at that time, the pollutants in question were mostly particulates, um, led sulfur oxides and stuff like that.
Speaker 2 00:32:51 Um, but first that, and it also applied a lot to, um, putting controls on, on automobiles. Um, but for stationary sources like power plants, uh, there was a provision that, um, the I EPA was authorized to create best practices, best standards, um, to apply, um, to reduce pollution there. Um, fast forward to the Obama administration, they created something called the clean power plan, which, um, would, uh, it was a radical extension of the clean air act in the sense that the clean air act and, and, um, the, um, amendments, since that time had looked at power plants, um, as, as stationary sources and you, you, each one is limited and on how much you can put out, um, what the Obama, uh, clean power plan wanted to do was to systematize. It was called, uh, um, uh, generation shifting that is, it, it, it, it was an attempt to give the EPA EPA power to require a shift from one source of generation like coal to another, like, um, natural cast.
Speaker 2 00:34:17 And eventually what it envisioned was, um, that there would be shifting across industries and regions, um, where each company where all the different power plants would be, you know, recruited into one herd and managed that way and, and, um, manipulated into changing, uh, or forced into changing all their, uh, method, but ultimately to use, um, wind and power so-called renewables. Um, I, for example, the goal, I mean, they, they, it had plan involved a pretty radical, um, goal of reducing, um, coal generation from 38% of all power generation to 27%. And although that doesn't seem like a huge change, um, when it is happening through force and not through, you know, improvements in technology or market forces, it was, it would've come at a tremendous cost. Um, according to one point made in the Supreme court decision, um, no company would've been able to comply fully with it.
Speaker 2 00:35:28 So, um, the, the Supreme court, you know, um, it, it put a stay on that plan in 2016 when it came out and then Trump got elected and he replaced that, you know, new staff at the EPA, they come up with a different plan that was much more modest, um, and restricted to just individual plants, um, and their whatever admissions they had. But then of course, um, what happened since, um, Biden came in, um, the EPA and a number of environmental groups sued to reinstate that plan or some updated version of it. And the, um, the court held against it. It said the clean air act does not give the EPA this, um, this power that the burden was on the, uh, regulatory agency to show that it actually was given this authorization by Congress. And it couldn't cuz it, it wasn't given it. And so the ruling, um, the ruling is significant potentially because, um, the, the, um, decision written by chief justice Roberts was involved.
Speaker 2 00:36:48 Something called the major questions doctrine, which had been introduced or used, uh, occasionally in, in recent decisions, but he you've made a front and center in his, um, opinion. And what is said is that, um, if an agency wants to, um, take exercise a regulatory power, if that power is extensive, if it involves a, um, uh, power over a substantial part of the economy, uh, then it, it must be subject to stricter scrutiny by the courts and among the test for whether something is a major question is not only the extent of the, uh, impact on the economy as a whole, but also whether they, and very importantly, the issue of whether con Congress authorized this, you know, when Congress passes a law, there's always some discretion evolve. And when you, when the executive branch comes to executed, enforce it, and know laws are written in, in language was conceptual, but then you have to specify, um, some of the details.
Speaker 2 00:38:04 So there's room for discretion, but, uh, the court was saying there's a very limited amount. And if, if what you're trying to do is a major change in regulatory policy and consequences, you, you better be able to show that Congress gave you that power. And, um, and just first of all, speaks to a real problem. Congress has been, you know, just waving its hands, creating powers, uh, creating these regulatory agencies. It's been doing this, you know, for a, a long time really, but it, especially in the last four decades and just saying, okay, uh, do this and invade language or unspecific language that the regulatory agents, uh, agencies have said, okay, well, it, it's up to us to interpret the law, not just to enforce the law as written, but to interpret it and figure out what it means and what it, um, implies. And in this particular case, um, Congress had, as the court said, conspicuously not authorized this expansion of power bills had come up and they never passed even during, uh, you know, the Obama years when, uh, you know, when the Democrats had all three branches, I'm, I'm sorry, both branches of Congress and the presidency.
Speaker 2 00:39:28 So, um, this is a doc when that's important procedurally, um, uh, and it it's, uh, in a way, a culmination of some re other recent decisions over, over the last three while where the, where the government is, um, or the court's Supreme court in particular is, um, trimming back the expansive grants of power that have been exercised by the regulatory agencies in this respect that it's, it's a step against something called the Chevron doc, the Chevron deference, which let me explain, uh, this comes from a, a, uh, case called Chevron USA versus the national resources defense council in 1984, uh, in previous decade, um, or, and early into the, um, in Reagan's first term, they were, the, the administration was trying to do a lot of deregulation, but the judiciary, especially at the circuit court level, the appeal court level were, um, largely liberal appointed with an expansive view of legitimate government power.
Speaker 2 00:40:45 And so they, they shot down a lot of the, uh, regulatory efforts, but, uh, that tide was turned. And, um, it, it was unfortunately in way, it was turned by this Chevron doctrine, which established a legal test, um, for reviewing an administrative agencies, um, interpretation of the statute that it's governed by. And it Accords a great deal of judicial deference to the agency's interpretation. Um, if the statute is ambiguous, that is if Congress has not clearly forbidden the agency from doing this, then the presumption is that, uh, the agencies honestly interpreting it and going forward, um, on, on, on this interpretation, because after all, they are the experts in this field, the judges are not experts. That was, that was the rationale. So it's a doctrine of deference it's called Chevron deference, deference, where the course have been very reluctant to, um, uh, do anything to limit the power of, um, agencies.
Speaker 2 00:42:04 And, uh, it kind of gives the burden of proof that it, it pushes the burden of proof onto the plaintiffs who were opposing onto the de regulators or opponents of a given regulation. Um, and it essentially gives, gives the, uh, the agencies primary role of not just enforcing it legislation, but interpreting what it says. Um, so I mean, the government, uh, government regulation had been expanding for decades before 1984, but this, uh, doctrine accelerated. And, um, and we've seen, you know, continuing acceleration, um, over the years just might what parties in power. So this is, um, the West Virginia versus EPA decision is a step back from the Chevron doctrine and says that, uh, the Supreme court is as set as, as a test that if a major question is involved, if the more significant that an agency's, um, action will be the more closely we're gonna watch to make sure that it was authorized by Congress.
Speaker 2 00:43:21 Congress is the only source of law and, um, agencies are just supposed to be executors. Um, however, there's, this is my third point. I'm, I've been kind of giving you the case briefly, and then secondly, the, the Chevron, um, counter Chevron implications, but there's a third level here that goes back even further historically. And that is that since a new deal, economic freedom has been considered a second class citizen under, uh, federal law and Supreme court decisions, a second class citizen, as opposed to the, uh, things like freedom of speech, um, freedom of religion, uh, the, uh, equal treatment by the law, uh, non-discrimination equal protection. And this was made explicit in a, a case from 1938 called, uh, us versus Caroline products, which had a famous footnote number four. <laugh>, it's funny that the best remembered thing about this case. Um, but it, I mean, it said, there's this, it is this hierarchy of rights.
Speaker 2 00:44:36 Okay. This was a Caroline, the, the casing was a milk producer who was, um, um, adding some, I think, um, harmless oil to the milk, and that made it cheaper, uh, during their depression. And, but there was a ban on it, the book producers cartel now not a cartel, but the, the industry group said, now we don't want any competition for cheaper products. So there was a rule against it. Um, and Caroline is, was saying, no, we, you know, this is legitimate. We, you know, you're, you're violating our economic freedom to produce a, a safe, honest product. And, uh, anyway, so the court, uh, ruled against the company and, um, in favor of the ban, uh, that had been imposed by a number of states.
Speaker 2 00:45:28 And in the course of it, it, it explicitly established a distinction between two tiers of rights on the top tier. There was, um, some of the first amendment, uh, I'm sorry, some of the bill rights, like first rights, like the, uh, first amendment, um, search and seizure, um, can speak not the eighth, uh, ninth and 10th amendments, which, um, say that there are rights UN enumerated that, uh, have, are not, uh, given up by the people. So anyway, just the named ones and, um, uh, access equal access to votings, uh, civil procedures, equal treatment of, um, minorities, all of that is top tier, and we give it strict scrutiny. Any, any limitation on that has to be shown to be, um, narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest. I mean, these are legal terms, narrowly tailored to a compelling legal interest, which is the same standard that applies to things like, um, first amendment libel laws, or shouting fire in a credit theater causing a Stampe those things that are they're banned, but only because they're, um, extraordinary and they, or, or they're their, their special and limited.
Speaker 2 00:46:55 Uh, but the bottom tier, the second tier, um, is the non fundamental, uh, liberties are the right to own property, the right to earn a living the right to contract. And in these, um, these are the government may regulate and control them, um, by various means. And the course will only give a, a RA what's called the rational basis test not strict scrutiny that, that the agency or government has to prove that this is the only way to get a job done, but only do they have a rational basis. And that rational basis test is pretty easily passed. And, uh, when I was talking about before the Chevron doctrine made it really easy to pass, because the courts granted that, that discretion and authority to the agencies. So, um, the underlying problem here, the basic philosoph basic political problem is the separation of into two categories of rights, the important ones and the less important ones. And that's why we have for many years have had, um, government, government regulation of the economy, but relative freedom of, uh, speech, religion expression. Um, I think that's being eroded now by, in various factors, but it's ultimately, and I'll, I'll leave you with this philosophical spot. Um, this is
Speaker 2 00:48:31 An expression of the mind body issue. It's things of the mind, things of the spirit are elevated and sacred and to be protected things of the body like production, trade, commerce work, all of that is more mundane of less moral significance and less worthy of protection. And, um, that's the underlying problem. We it's that's so woven deeply. So, so woven, woven so deeply, sorry, uh, into our, uh, political, um, system that, you know, it's not gonna get changed, but you know, this is something that is an objective. Um, I wanna point out cause ultimately this is a philosophical premise at a very deep level driving, um, this entire issue of, uh, and in that respect, I think the west Virginia Case at Supreme court's decision in June is, is great. It's hopefully a step in the right direction. Um, but we still have a long way to go.
Speaker 1 00:49:42 Okay. Thank you, David. Rob, anything you wanna share? Yeah. I I'm really glad you brought up that point about body dichotomy. It, it, it actually goes back to one of the very first things I read by iron Rand many, many years ago. Yeah. That made me, or they set up and say, whoa, this, this, this person has something really interesting to say was that point that she was making, um, about how I think she had this thing, you know, that this, uh, because this is the old 20th century liberal thing is that we're gonna, we're all gonna be free spirited, free thinkers, but we're gonna live in a totally planned regulated economy. And, you know, there's a contradiction there. And so she described it as was that there were all gonna be, uh, uh, uh, three spirits freewheeling to the farthest quarters of the galaxy in our minds, but wearing chains from those to toes would cross the street to buy AAF of bread.
Speaker 1 00:50:25 Right? And so this is, you know, brilliant identification of how that attitude of, of, uh, they wanna have that concentration of total freedom in one realm and total control in the other. And ultimately it it's, there's no way you could possibly make that work. It was, I think Margaret Thatcher about that time, who said about the time I read that Margaret Thatcher said, uh, freedom is indivisible, that you can't have freedom in one area and not freedom in another. And I think that this, um, west Virginia Case and the whole, you know, Chevron deference and all, and, and the rational basis test that's, that's splitting up of rights. That is a demonstration of that because what we got really is we decided we're gonna downgrade, uh, economic freedom. So prior to that was what was called the Lochner era as Lochner versus New York was a famous case in which the, uh, the Supreme court basically says we're gonna protect property rights and freedom of contract the same way we would protect freedom of speech and the first amendment actually, probably more so, uh, given how lightly protected that was at the time.
Speaker 1 00:51:27 Um, so they said, we're gonna treat it like a fundamental, right. And it's gonna be protected by the, by the courts. And then what happened is, you know, FDR railed against the nine old men on the court and eventually got, was in office long enough to replace them all with replaced enough for them, with his guys, that he got them to make this, you know, re repudiation of the Lochner, uh, standards. And so we had this experiment of, okay, well, what happens if you decide that we're gonna make that differentiation, we're gonna have strong protections for freedom of speech for, you know, for the, for these other kinds of freedoms and no protection for economic freedom. And one of the results was you actually get essentially a regime when it comes to, uh, uh, you, you end up undermining a free society and on a very fundamental level, because what you create is a government bureaucracy that has essentially unlimited and unchecked power.
Speaker 1 00:52:22 Yeah. That is able to create all these rules and regulations and basically do whatever it wants. And that in the, uh, this recent case, West Virginia versus EPA, um, one getting at it, you mentioned this earlier, is that it wasn't just that they were saying, oh, we're gonna put limits on this particular pollutant or, or emission. It was, they had a plan for literally central planning, restructuring of the entire energy industry, uh, the entire, the economy. They, they had the central planning reconstruction based on the very flimsiest basis in, in, in, in actual legislation passed by Congress. Yeah. But the way they could do that, is that the sense of deference. And I think you said that, um, the, the great formulation of that was, uh, um, oh, basically that under, under Chevron deference, uh, which was built on top of the rational basis act, there was this rule that basically anything that is not explicitly forbidden is permitted to the, to the agencies and that rule anything that's not explicitly forbidden.
Speaker 1 00:53:22 Forbidden is permitted. That's a great rule when applied to individuals out there in the world, applied to citizens, right. That's supposed to be what a free society is applied to citizens, right? Anything not explicitly permitted you is, or anything not explicitly forbidden is permitted. The default is you could do what you want. And government has to come up with a reason and what this attempt to regulate economic freedom did, is it totally inverted that yeah. And it created a system in which anything that is not explicitly forbidden to the government, it can do whatever it likes. It can restructure whole industries. It can, it could dispose of your life as it likes. So I think it's good that, you know, John, this is the great promise of John Roberts by the way, is that he and the, on the lower courts, he had expressed that skepticism toward that, uh, overarching regulatory power of Congress.
Speaker 1 00:54:12 And when he was nominated, I got very excited cause I thought, okay, maybe somebody's gonna finally pull back these powers and he's doing it, but you're right. That fundamentally was driving. It is this idea that we could have, you know, totally, totally freewheeling free spirits in every other realm, but have total control over economics. And that that's, that you can divide freedom that way. And of course you can't. Now I'd also point out that these days, of course, you know, the left has moved on from the 20th century, left 20th century liberals, and now they don't really believe in, in freedom in, in the, in the free speech realm. Uh, they don't believe they don't have a strong belief of that anymore.
Speaker 2 00:54:49 Well, many of the arguments that were, uh, made by, uh, sort modern welfare state regulatory liberals for most of the 20th century, um, of those arguments, uh, about why we needed of, um, of, of, uh, industry and commerce are began being applied and are now being, um, extensively applied to realms of speech and religion. And the key one being the idea of coercion, the idea, you know, people, businesses coerce their work, they coerce their consumers, uh, and on and on and on. Well now people are applying that to ideas. We coerce each other by what we say, we harm each other and therefore it has that's, two's gotta be regulated. That's the direction we're going. I mean, and I mean, it's another indication that freedom is one, uh, freedom is single unitary. Um, and so anyway, I, yeah, that's a great point. I, I, I know we're getting to the, uh, near the end and Lord, you have some more questions. I, I think <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:56:04 Yeah. So, uh, we, we have about four minutes left, but I do wanna get at least this one question, uh, for the, both of you to consider this comes from Malcolm's. Uh, no, this comes from, uh, Carolyn trimmer, that's it. And she asked, do you think the Supreme Supreme court should take a more active role in interceding on the laws that are being passed by Congress? Or should it be far more reserved in its rulings?
Speaker 1 00:56:35 Okay. I wanna take that one. Cause I think active versus reserved is, is the wrong category. You know, it, it's sort of like, you know, um, they should be active when they need to be active and reserved when they ought to be reserved. So you have to have some other, some other principle. And I think the, the other principle is that they're, they should be in the business of protecting rights, uh, protecting individual rights. Yeah. They should be active and vigorous vigilant at reigning in government when it violates people's rights, including their property rights and their rights of trade in commerce. Um, and it should be reserved when it comes to, uh, um, uh, uh, to things that do not affect either, you know, that lower decisions that do not affect rights or, or to, um, uh, to not blocking things that give us greater freedom.
Speaker 1 00:57:21 Uh, now one of the thing we meant, just something I wanted to bring up today, which is that I think this interesting book add between this West Virginia versus EPA and the Roe V the overturning of Roe V. Wade, I think Jackson women's health do versus Jackson women's health organization. Yeah. So there's interesting book in the overturning Wade. Part of that was that they were basically limiting the recognition of UN enumerated rights. Now they're put, they're creating a, their Supreme court in my view of, of that decision. And I think we've done a show on this before, um, uh, that they were limited. They were putting limits and restrictions on, on what they would recognize as UN enumerated rights under the ninth amendment. And on the other hand, then at least in here that they're and the Jack in the, in the West Virginia versus EPA case, they're kind of going the other direction.
Speaker 1 00:58:16 They're putting some limits on recognize as the enumerated powers of the, of the government. And that's that, that's the two sort of twin issues in the constitution that I think are crucial central to the whole thing is that we're supposed to be a government, which has very strict, limited enumerated powers for the government. And it sticks only to what is strictly necessary for those enumerated powers, the government that's the free wheel and create powers that has only what's enumerated to it, but on the other hand, the ninth amendment has, and that, so that's article one, you know, has the go, the Congress shall have power to do this. And it lists a bunch of things. And the idea is that's the list. That's what you get to do and nothing else. And on the other hand, we have the ninth amendment, which says, well, you know, we've recognized certain rights in the, in the, in the bill of rights, but there are other rights, not enumerated that are retained by the people.
Speaker 1 00:59:09 So that's supposed to be the rule. The government just limited. The government just limited. The people are unlimited. The government has only its enumerated powers. The people have many UN enumerated rights and you see the Supreme court and, and the conservative majority kind of go in two opposite directions here. Uh, when it comes to abortion, they're limiting the UN enumerated rights mm-hmm <affirmative>. But when it comes to the economic regularly, cuz they have the, I mind body dicho too on the right. Right. They, they, they want to have more limits and more controlled. They would've controlled the realm of, of personal morality and have us more free in the economic realm. So they're at least they're tamping down the enumerated powers, you know, strict limiting Congress more to its enumerated powers when it comes to, um, to economics.
Speaker 2 00:59:55 So yeah, and I think, uh, you know, there's long been this, uh, issue of judicial activism, conservatives, uh, accused the liberal justices, uh, and uh, court of judicial activism. Uh, and then the, you know, now people on the other side are accusing conservative justices of judicial activism. Uh, probably I think you're absolutely right. The issue is not activism. It's what are you acting for defending rights or limiting government if it's not there? Uh, yeah. In one case you should be in that case, those cases you should be active, otherwise deferential.
Speaker 1 01:00:40 Yeah.
Speaker 2 01:00:41 Okay.
Speaker 0 01:00:43 All right. Well thank you so much, David Rob for coming to do this current events panel. Um, I know there were a lot of other questions that people had, but we just ran out of time. So I encourage you all to, uh, come back next week and ask any other questions you have there. Um, next week on the Atlas society ask, we're gonna be interviewing Charles NEK, a professor from the university of central Florida about his book, white shaming bullying based on prejudice, virtue, signaling, and ignorance. And then if you would like to ask any questions of David or Rob, be sure to check out our events page next week on Monday, Robert GSKi will be with our book club talking about his book, what went right? An objective, this, uh, theory of history. And then on Thursday, David will be doing a special ask me anything on clubhouse. So again, thank you everyone for watching David Rob y'all take care.
Speaker 2 01:01:45 Thank you.
Speaker 1 01:01:46 You too, Lawrence.