Speaker 0 00:00:00 Since episode of the Atlas society S my name is Vicky Rodino and I'm with the Atlas society, the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of iron Rand in creative ways, such as through animated videos and graphic novels. Today, we'll be, we will be discussing current events with a panel consisting of our very own Atlas society, scholar, um, economist Richard Saltzman, and our founder, David Kelly. We'll also save time at the end to take some audience questions. So throughout the discussion, please type your questions into the zoom Q and a, or the chat, or if you're watching us live on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, you can just type those into the content stream today. We're going to cover three topics. First, the Afghanistan exit second, the $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan and third, the renter eviction moratorium. So thank you so much for joining us and let's go ahead and get started with the first topic. I think we've all seen the images coming from Afghanistan, please from those abandoned there, and also the response from the white house. So I'm going to go straight to the panel on this topic and David, I'm going to start with you.
Speaker 1 00:01:16 Okay. Thanks Vicki and welcome everyone. Um, yes, I, I, I'm sure we've all been glued to the news, uh, whatever resources we use, uh, uh, watching the disaster. That's been unfolding in Afghanistan over the last week and a half. Um, when the top man managed to conquer, uh, not only a great number of provincial capitals, but the, the, the three leading cities, um, in, in Afghanistan and then a couple itself, um, in the latter case, apparently without any opposition and the scenes that we've seen on, uh, the media are just awful, awful. Um, you know, I think from what I've read, there's no question that this was mismanaged by president Biden. He was warned about various things and, um, uh, by his own military. So I don't want to engage in hindsight bias here that we should have seen this coming. This is an extreme case, uh, but you know, military and, and, uh, foreign policy people do worst case scenarios, um, which should've included this.
Speaker 1 00:02:32 Um, however I'm not, uh, uh, you know, I'm not necessarily opposed to withdrawal if it were done in a rational and safe way, if there is one. Um, and also I'm not, I'm not an expert in military foreign policy. So, um, but I do want to comment on some of the underlying, um, philosophical issues. Um, let me start, would touch on three areas. One is a bit of about Afghanistan and the Taliban. A second one is the role of pragmatism in the U S policy there. And, uh, and finally the issue of the reliance on principle, it's really the other half of the pragmatism issue. So to start with the history, um, Afghanistan on the became an independent nation in 1921, uh, it had from 33 to 73, it had eight Marquis. Um, and it was, you know, it was a monarchy. It was not a, um, you know, uh, uh, us like Republic, but it was reasonably safe.
Speaker 1 00:03:39 They, there was a lot of development. Um, the monarchs were reasonably good as monarchs. Um, they protected, uh, women's rights in particular that attempted to monitor more modernizing of the economy. Um, but then in the seventies, a communist, uh, internal communist party took over. And then shortly after that, the Soviet union invaded in 1979. And they were opposed by the Mujahedin, um, who didn't like communism. And during the eighties, uh, we funded those people on, I guess the assumption that the enemies of our enemy must be our friends, even though they were, you know, if anyone in that Reagan era who had more within say, Brent, snow crop and ask, what are these people believe? What do they want? We should have been much more careful about funding, um, and not just have been overwhelmed by trying to, um, counter the communists really.
Speaker 2 00:04:57 David, can you hear us? Looks like you've frozen. I
Speaker 0 00:05:02 Wasn't sure if that was him or me.
Speaker 2 00:05:05 No, I could see it as well.
Speaker 0 00:05:07 Hi Richard, why don't you
Speaker 2 00:05:08 Can jump in until, yeah. Until David comes back. Um, uh, David and I have been talking about the pragmatists element of it. So when he comes back, um, I'm sure he'll elaborate on it as well as the history of it. I do remember Reagan and others seeing the Soviet union bogged down in Afghanistan in the eighties, and they got very excited about the idea that it actually might bring down and weakened Soviet, and it actually did. Okay. David you're back. Okay. Yeah. Sorry, my, um, that's okay.
Speaker 1 00:05:38 My computer, uh, went south, like some of the Afghan soldiers anyway. Um, the, um, but that was talk a little bit about the Taliban. Who are they, where were they kind of Islamic fundamentalists? Um, they were followers and trained by, um, uh, various schools of thought, um, wrongly called the modernizing Islam who, um, spring up across the Islamic world, uh, both in Egypt, but also in India, uh, in the form of the Taliban, uh, Deobandi school. And the, uh, the Taliban leaders were trained in madrassas, right. Run by, or, you know, their, their teachings all came from Deobandi a very fundamentalist, very, um, and their leader. Um, my duty had been quite explicit that the restoration of fundamentalist Islam would mean was totally incompatible with Western values. Um, they still wanted Western technology and as we've seen Al-Qaida and other groups are very sophisticated in their use of social media, computers and so forth, but they're totally against the underlying science and philosophy that made those devices possible in the first place.
Speaker 1 00:07:03 So that's the Taliban. Um, the point I'm wanting to make about pragmatism, um, you know, ma many people have compared the, the recent fall fall of Afghanistan and false couple with Saigon at the end in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam war, when you know, the famous image of the last helicopter leaving from the roof of the us embassy as the Vietcong and the north Vietnamese streamed in and took over and everything we'd done in the war up to that point, trying to build a, you know, a premier society in south Vietnam collapsed, um, and then analogy is perfectly right, but there's an deeper in analogy. I want to emphasize Iran was writing on the seventh at the time, and she pointed out and I'm, this is a quote from, uh, um, an essay she wrote at the time called the wreckage of the consensus.
Speaker 1 00:08:03 She says, no, there is no proper solution for the war in Vietnam. It is a war we should never have entered to continue. It is senseless, but to withdraw from, it would be one more act of appeasement on our long shameful record. And boy, that record has gotten longer and more shameful ever since the, uh, she went on to play pragmatism, the absence of a coherent set of principles governing the war why'd. We went into, uh, what our goals were. Uh, we didn't fight to win, uh, as we had in world war two. Um, and we, we, our goals kept changing. Afghanistan has been the same thing we went into to get rid of, uh, kinda which we drove them out and finally killed bin Laden. But along the way, we try to you building a free society, uh, creating, uh, a democratic society, um, protecting women, um, uh, to, to achieve, you know, Western levels of knowledge, uh, science and respect.
Speaker 1 00:09:10 Um, and I don't want to diminish the respect that they cut the, um, what we achieved there on that score in particular, 20 years ago, over the last 20 years, women are now, um, going to school, getting doctorates teaching college there in the legislature. Um, and that's going to change the equation for the, um, uh, Taliban going forward too. I don't, I have no idea what will happen, but there's going to be harder for them to impose traditional, um, uh, you know, um, their traditional values on which, which diminish women and keep them under control. Um, however it wasn't, our goal was pragmatism. And my final point on that, um, really, uh, part three of what I wanted to say. Um, you know, we, I think we were, we were, um, we were engaged beyond the, um, retribution to Al-Qaida in 2001, we were trying to build a nation.
Speaker 1 00:10:20 I don't, I'm not against nation building has become a dirty word. I, I'm not sure that that's the bad thing. We did a reasonably good job in Germany and Japan after world war II. Um, but we had defeated those countries complete. There, there was wiped out the governments and went in and stayed long enough to create new new governments, uh, and train people and so forth. We didn't do that. Afghanistan. We just tried to implement democracy, but politically democracy is way down the chain of, of, uh, uh, institutions and principles that govern a free society. It's, it's, it's the last step before you can have a workable democracy. People have to be prepared to accept, you know, electronics, the outcome of elections. And, you know, so w in other areas we've tried this and the joke has been, or the equip has been a one man, one vote one time, you know, we elect someone like, uh, the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and, um, you know, elections are over.
Speaker 1 00:11:27 So, um, for people to accept the outcome of elections, they ha they have to be continent that there is some fundamental framework, the constitution, or its equivalent that protects the system that people operate within that, that there are some basic rights and rules, um, that either party or all the parties to an election will respect if they win the election. Um, and that in turn requires, um, the principle of the rule of law. And none of that, none of those foundations were present in either in, uh, Iraq or in Afghanistan. And so we're dealing with a society that had remained in many respects, tribal, lots of warlords, um, lots of corruption, which we never managed to eliminate. So, um, I don't know what the solution is. I'm I don't have a global vision of what a proper foreign policy would be, but I know that this one was ill conducted. Um, and it was ill conducted for philosophical reasons on the part of the us government and its pragmatist, uh, outlook. So I'll leave my comments there.
Speaker 0 00:12:42 Let me just add something really fast before, um, Richard, you take it over. You just reminded me of something. Cause I recently read a book called nothing to envy, um, about North Korea and people who escape have escaped from North Korea. Great book. If anybody's looking for a book and one of the, um, common threads throughout was everybody interviewed who escaped North Korea wanted to go back. And a lot of them did go back because they couldn't handle freedom. They were conditioned to follow what they were told to do, and they never had to make decisions for themselves. And it was a very, very painful transition. And most of the people who did make it to South Korea via China usually ended up going back. So I just thought that was along the lines with you talking about, you know, just saying we're going to have democracy. It's a lot more complicated than that.
Speaker 1 00:13:39 If I could just respond briefly Vicki, I think that's a very good point. Um, it was true also of people who escaped from the communist countries came here, were cleaning one of mine, rents relatives, or, or maybe her mother or something, and couldn't stand the freedom and number of choices and what back to Russia, um, yeah, democracy and even deeper basis for democracy is a culture of individualism where people are prepared to take they where they want the freedom and they're prepared to take responsibility for their lives and their choices. And that's, you know, that's a deep cultural thing that is very, you know, we're in America and the west more broadly is still unique in that respect.
Speaker 0 00:14:30 Thanks, Richard, what are you, what are your thoughts?
Speaker 2 00:14:33 I, uh, philosophically, just to make some philosophic points before historical points, um, you know, in objectivism, we were, we have to be very careful as we were very careful about telling students and others is a difference between psychological egoism and ethical. So the first says that people are automatically self-interested and we say, no, it's not automatic. You have to learn what your self-interest is. You have to learn how to identify it. The means for attaining a, your values. And I think of the same thing. It sounds very elitist for someone to say these people aren't ready for Liberty, because there's a view out there among some what sounds like psychologic logical legalism, where they'll say everybody wants Liberty. Everyone wants to be free. It's automatic. That's not true. So I think there's a parallel here just as ethical legal legalism is the right view. If people do have to be taught to be civilized, to like civilization, to like civilize things, to be in the enlightenment.
Speaker 2 00:15:35 And this is one of the great problems of course, of modern Islam is it's not honor. It's, pre-modern still, it's still 17. It's still seven seventh century, not 17 sentence. Um, I remember 20 years ago, I mean, Afghanistan, wasn't just a failed state. It was a non-state, it was a anarchy. It was like a hiding place, a training ground for, uh, Islamic terrorists. And the Taliban themselves were financed by Pakistan. So it was an enemy of India, India being an ally of the United States. And there's a whole bunch of bad relationships there. They help build up the Taliban and Al Qaeda to some degree. And so I I'm with David, I think at the time they should have just gone in for its sheer retribution and, and got Al Qaeda and got bin Ladin way sooner than they actually did. And if they wanted to beat up a bit on the Taliban, fine, but I don't think they should have ever expected the Taliban to go away because that place is just a breeding ground for a medievalist.
Speaker 2 00:16:41 Uh, so I really didn't like the whole 20 year thing. I thought it was altruistic. I thought it was self-sacrificing I've jotted down here. The idea of you could go in to a place for retribution. You could go into liberate, liberate might even be quick, you liberate and then leave, but often that doesn't work. So then the next one is occupied while we did, we kind of occupied it for 20 years. And then the last one nation building, I like your point, David, I think also Germany and Japan had intellectual civilized history. And so the nation building idea, I think you're right. You can't just dismiss nation building. It's the context, but certainly here in Afghanistan, or even in Iraq or Libya, the nation building, there isn't any foundation philosophically or intellectually for that is there. So, so what are we thinking? What are we doing?
Speaker 2 00:17:32 The other thing I think philosophically, um, national interest or foreign policy should be based on self-interest, but nationalized, however you would, how would that like, so what is our national interest that has to be identified? And if a venture is not in our interests, we shouldn't do it. So that is a, I think in foreign policy, it's called the realist approach versus the idealist approach. You take the facts as they are, but it is also, and here's a word we've heard under Trump America first. It didn't mean America imperialist. It simply meant we should not be, uh, you know, sacrificing or subordinating American interests to be UN or to enemies. Don't appease them. That is why actually Trump had a more hands-off foreign policy approach. Trump was very much against the Bush approach of running all over the world and very much against the Wilsonian approach of making the world safe for democracy, the left and the liberals didn't like that.
Speaker 2 00:18:32 They, they wanted to be in as many wars as the neo-cons did. So I think of it also this way, that we're getting a false choice to libertarian Ron Paul approach, isolationism pretty much passivism, almost no reason to ever to engage militarily, but then, then neoconservatives go the other way and they tend to be militaristic a bit imperialistic, a bit the occupation oriented. And then the Democrats are these idea of while it's okay to democratize and it's okay to put America second, third, fourth, fifth L actually tout the sacrifice as noble of the troops and the treasure. And I'm really worried about this. I said to David offline beforehand that I don't think America has won a war since 1945. Now I'm not saying it should have been in all these wars, but these are, these are fairly lame enemies, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, that these, this is not Nazi Germany or the Soviet union.
Speaker 2 00:19:37 These are lame terrible places. And we never went in there and got the job done. So either we shouldn't have been there or we should have gone in there and got the job done very quickly. Uh, these things not take this long and it really hurts the U S reputation, I think, but I'm worried about that. And, um, let me on a positive note though, I was thinking about this today. One of the best books on foreign policy written by an objective, which doesn't get much attention is something called nothing less than victory. So I want to shout that book it's by the late great John Lewis, John, I think wrote this in 2012 or 13. I want to say about around that time, just before he died. And I think the subtitle was lessons from major wars. Uh, and it's, it's a very objectivist account, but it's not like a militaristic.
Speaker 2 00:20:31 Uh, if there's wings of objective and some of them are more hawkish than others, John's not a dove, but he's not a hockey there, but he does have this idea that we need to lay down principles of when to go to war and when not, and then how to execute them and come out with honor. You know, I think something like a withdrawal, I'm not a military guy, but even if the war went badly, I don't know how you can mess up a withdrawal withdrawal. Is that kind of a logistical thing that involves planes and protect it, I'm appalled at how they couldn't just exit the place in a civil manner. Uh, but to me, it also kind of symbolizes where the whole 20 year thing was, it was a wreck and this exit, I really wish it could have been quieter. And below the radar, you don't see people running all over tarmacs and falling off. I mean, it's just outrageous that the Pentagon could not manage the exit in a civilized way. If there's a way, if that's a way to put it
Speaker 1 00:21:31 Well, I'm not sure it's dependent on how much it's their fault, as opposed to Biden's because from what I've read, they were warning about this is not going to be easy. Right. We've got it. We've got to get all the Afghan prince letters out, um, in an orderly way, instead of just saying, we're leaving on this date August 31st or whatever. And, uh, oh, let's see. Well, how are we going to get people out? You know, you know, we'll, we'll, I'll think about that tomorrow. Like a little heroin.
Speaker 2 00:22:04 That's the pragmatism thing. Yeah, exactly. The other thing I wished is someone said today, well, however, messy, this is at least Biden will get credit for ending the war in Afghanistan. I thought what a missed opportunity for Trump, because that was basically Trump's view, but that we shouldn't be there for 20 years. He used to, he used to say what these endless wars, one of the best things he could have done in 2020 was to get out of there. And I'm assuming he would have got us out of there without this craziness. And then he could have taken credit for ending the war in Afghanistan, but they didn't. There's a lot of things that Republicans didn't do when they were in charge.
Speaker 1 00:22:48 But also, I mean, remember that in February of 2020, he signed a deal, a treaty, so to speak with the Taliban, a cockamamie deal and the tile ban that required that we let out of jail 500 captured fighters and guess what they did and so on. And so the guy, this was not the art of the deal. No, no. That's for sure.
Speaker 0 00:23:25 Well, let me ask you, we did get a question that has a philosophical bent that I would like to hear before we move on to the next, uh, the next topic. I'd like to hear what you have to say about it. This is from Gabriel, Harry Harrison. Isn't the idea of a national, self-interest a collectivist perspective. How has national self-interest than racial self-interest or other collectivist notions?
Speaker 2 00:23:50 That's a really good question. I think, um, the concept of a nation isn't arbitrary, I hope you will get started with that. At least if, if nationalism means that the individual is subordinated to the nation or to the state, that's bad, we don't want that. We want individualism. Uh, but when you start thinking of the concept of a nation or a nation state, and then that state having an interest, I think that's perfectly fine, just because we're speaking of a, of a concept, including lots of people, including its leaders and hierarchy. I don't think it's collectivist to say, uh, you know, what is in the self-interest of the United States. Now you do have to go to core issues though. You have to say, what is the United States? And if you can define it as a constitutionally limited Republic that respects individually and its government is obliged to provide security and safety to its citizens.
Speaker 2 00:24:46 Suppose that was what this entity is. Well it's self-interest would be in taking on, uh, enemies, attackers, deciding who are our friends and enemies. You know, what states are our allies versus our enemies and the United States. Hasn't been very good at that in the last 50 years. They just haven't then. And whether this is due to internal doubts, which we all can see happening among American institutions. Um, but again, not to go on too long, but that's a really good question. If you don't want to just say whatever my country does, I'm for it. I think actually some of the conservatives do that, they'll say, you know, we went into Afghanistan, so we should stay there as long as we've stayed in Korea for 50 years. I mean, I've heard conservative saying that. And that to me is more the idea of my country, right or wrong, my country I'm going to advocate, but whatever, whatever it wants, whimsically that make any sense, David, I don't know if that, if you disagree.
Speaker 1 00:25:43 Yeah, no, I don't. Um, I might come at it from a slightly different angle. You know, when people talk about the public interest, that's, that's almost always used in a collective sense because it means, uh, the government decides what we're all gonna have to sacrifice for paid for et cetera. But there is a valid notion of brace limited valid notion of the public interest. We have one government which protects our rights. We all it, what, so what it's doing is serving the rights of all of its citizens by protecting their rights, um, and offering judicial services and so forth. So the, in that limited sense public interest is, is valid it's public because it involves everyone. And because it involves the government. So from that, you can kind of extend it to if that's your basis for starting, then you can extend it to foreign policy and say, you know, part of the government's function is to protect our safety in the world at large. And that's a procured question because it involves identifying what's, what's a threat, what's an actionable threat, um, and so forth. So, but it, it, I still think in this context, national self-interest is valid. It does not mean anything the government wants to do and does not mean imperialism or a sacrifice or anything like that.
Speaker 2 00:27:07 Let me add that. I think when I was asked this last week, because we were discussing it at a convention of young libertarians students who leaned in the direction of the Ron Paul strategy and they, and I said, you know what? I actually simplifies with that approach because the last three or four U S wars have been so badly managed. So in other words, I understand the frustration of people beginning to say, we shouldn't do anything because we can't do anything right. And I'm not pretty sure that's that was not positioned in the nineties. And, you know, after world war II, there was great, I think, pride about what had been achieved and even after the vanquishing of the Soviet union, which was done without violence, really. Uh, anyway, I just wanted to throw that in. I didn't want to think, I don't want to suggest that the libertarian approach have no involvement anywhere, you know, has no plausibility. It's just been that the tracker has been so bad, I think for the U S slightly,
Speaker 0 00:28:06 Thank you for that. And before we move on to the next topic, let me just remind everybody, if you have any questions, feel free to type them in the comments section or in the chat section, and we will get to those at the end. So for our second topic, um, last week, the Senate passed a trillion dollar infrastructure pack package, and it also passed the framework of a 3.5 trillion human infrastructure plan. And Richard, should we be concerned about this?
Speaker 2 00:28:38 I think we should. I think the terminology here is very interesting, and this has been going on for years, right? The change of the word liberal from true Liberty to statism or the change of the word, progressive, this goes on and on. And now infrastructure, they have pulled infrastructure and however, Americans might be upset about government spending and government excess. They like infrastructure. Why? Because they drive on the roads every day and they get stuck in tunnels. And they're running over bridges and waiting in lines at the airport and the electrical grid goes down sometimes. So if you call it, if we call that as I do an economics, we call this in public economics, um, physical infrastructure. And I think even their government is way too involved, involved in infrastructure. And ironically, the Cato Institute has done a study of this. When you think infrastructure, you think, well, how, how much of it is privately built in owned versus publicly built an own something like two thirds of that is built in homes.
Speaker 2 00:29:42 So that, that might surprise people. And it's some of the better infrastructure. So the, the, the, uh, the feeling we get up crumbling roads and, and congestion and bridges and stuff like that is really government failing, even in that area to provide for physical infrastructure, but rather than like wasting moneys in terrible wars abroad, even a badly built bridge that won't last as long to most people, it feels like, well, at least there's some physical manifestation of my tax bonds. Now, the reason I wanted to stress this, uh, topic is because now they've moved to human infrastructure. And so they're using the word infrastructure, which has a good, uh, cache value among Americans and putting human in front of it. And of course, who can be against humans. So if you've got human and infrastructure, really what it is, and I've looked at it now, this is going to be not 1 trillion.
Speaker 2 00:30:35 The first package, 1 trillion, I looked at it, it was mostly conventional roads, bridges, ports, and things like that. Most of it, not all of it. And over 10 years. So it's not 1 trillion per year. I think the annual budget now is 5 trillion. So it is over 10 years and there'll be a lot of waste and boondoggles in that. But at least if that old batch and physical infrastructure, but next up is three and a half trillion and they're calling it human infrastructure and it is just Redistributionist stuff. And I would say it's actually anti physical infrastructure. Some of it actually involves tearing down bridges and, and tearing up roads and getting rid of them. I mean, it's, it's literally anti infrastructure, but here's what the real purpose is. And I've just checked off some of these categories when they mean human. They mean spending on what they call human capital.
Speaker 2 00:31:29 It's actually a legitimate phrase in economics. Human capital means things like your skills, your knowledge, uh, what, you know, at work, uh, your, your connections in business and things like that. So those are real things, but the government here thinks that it's going to invest in that and build up your human capital. But it really is just a laundry list of favorite groups, mostly for the Democrats, but some for Republicans and much of that, people don't know this is bringing new deal stuff. So not, they're not really passing the green new deal, because that has a battery reputation there there's, there's, they're pushing the green new deal stuff, which was earlier released into this. And my estimate was is that half of the three and a half trillion is a disguised green new deal. Now, what does that mean? I mean, it means things like they're literally mandating them buildings, be retrofit.
Speaker 2 00:32:24 They're mandating that money be spent on quote unquote, renewable energy like solar and wind panel, but here's other examples, childcare family leave free tuition, job trading, quote, quote, unquote, decarbonizing the power grid that that'll lead to blackouts, retrofitting buildings and buses and trucks, public housing subsidies, plant land, and forest preservation, and what they call reverse development preservation products. That that means taking something where there's development and stripping all the development offered and returning it to nature, climate change, research, domestic violence, curbing programs, to see how these aren't really, they're not built. They're not bridges tunnels roadways, but they're pitched as well. Who would not invest in these things? What are you in humane inhumane for not wanting family leave childcare? So I don't know how update David you've studied the welfare state and how it expands and how redistribution, uh, you know, can corrupt a country that this is doing this, but under the pretext of infrastructure.
Speaker 2 00:33:33 So that's, that's pretty much my interpretation of this as a very bad trend. I I'm guessing this thing will get passed, but if so, it's, uh, it'll, it'll, it'll be the beginnings of a total corruption of the word infrastructure. And, and I was always sketching on infrastructure before this even even could do, but at least I could be a fan of road bridges and tunnels and things like that that would help us possibly become more productive. This is just straight redistribution and favors to special groups. Oh, one last thing bailing out over leveraged Democrat states. I mean, that's part of the infrastructure spending to, you know, to help California, Illinois and others, you know, who are, uh, who borrowed too much during this. So there it is. Human infrastructure think got very bad trends I'm to keep an eye on. And it isn't a small piece of this thing. It's 70 to 80% of it what's going on now. So that trend
Speaker 1 00:34:35 Was very bad. I mean, and, uh, if I had more time to prepare, I would have gone back to my, uh, 1988 book, uh, 98 book brother, um, uh, lipoma zone where I had numbers on the size of the welfare state at that time. Yeah. I mean, I, I take your point. Absolutely. Take your point about infrastructure as you know, um, uh, kind of grotesquely, false advertising. I mean, there's no private company would get away with, uh, um, and it it's of a piece with the way liberals have redefined every other term that stands for good things, like Liberty rights, um, justice and so forth. But, um, when I looked at the bill and the elements of it, it seemed like it broke down those, the climate piece. Yeah. And then, um, in, in tandem with that, but not entirely, you know, for climate purposes, uh, industrial planning, like to build chip factories in the west.
Speaker 1 00:35:50 So we solve that problem and other, you know, other things, a lot of, you know, green, uh, quote, unquote, clean energy, um, things, but also, you know, this, you know, we, we already have a public education system. What they want to do in this bill is that two years at the beginning and pre Gaye and two years at the end in free community college free, I say paid for by taxpayers. And, um, you know, what, one of the things that bothers me about this is that it is making more, it's going to make more people dependent on the government. Yeah. And, um, if it isn't when it passes, um, I I'm beginning to think if it's, if, as, as larger question as when, um, but in any case, uh, it, it will pass on the same way that Obamacare did by a narrow partisan vote in Congress, um, recruiting everyone into a new government program that consists as much of regulations as subsidies.
Speaker 1 00:36:56 And, you know, despite, you know, looking back and using Obamacare as a, as a model, um, there was huge resistance to it in the form of the tea party rallies in the, um, early, um, uh, early two thousands, uh, I'm sorry, 2010s. And, uh, you know, the Obama law, the Democrats lost the house shortly thereafter, but meanwhile, we still have Obamacare and people are now so used to it. It's become, there's a huge vested interest. Every time you give people something, a transfer money to them, they begin to think of it as a right and entitlement. It isn't an entitlement, it's not a right, but, uh, then it becomes a very, very hard to undo it. And one of the things I also noticed that this bill, um, I was reading something by a group called the, uh, the committee for a responsible budget. I'm not real familiar with them, but, um, they said, look, the bill, the 3.5 trillion has a lot of gimmicks in it because it's a 10 year bill and they left open that some of the programs would not last all 10 years.
Speaker 1 00:38:12 That's how they got the price down to three, three and a half. But if you assume as is, seems quite reasonable that everything, that every program they pass is going to be eternal. Um, then it's their estimated it's about five, 5 trillion. Yeah. Five and a half trillion, maybe. Um, so the vast amount of which is, um, uh, did you say transfer payments, just taking money from people who learned it and giving it to those regions? Yeah. Uh, and I think my sense is that this is, this is a really major expansion of both the welfare state down the industrial policy state.
Speaker 2 00:38:58 Yes. It's, it's almost a change in kind data because the way they're classifying it, I, I think is that, I mean, I did a piece recently on the expansion of the welfare state as a transfer state, crowding out traditional infrastructure spending. So I did that study last year and, but it went over like a 50 year period. And it was remarkable to me as I'm looking at this and say, wow, things that people actually want, roads, bridges, tunnels, sports. The government is not spending on those things because they're spending on transfers so much, you know? And then I thought, um, well then you see something like this happening, and it's almost like government is saying, okay, we hear you, yes, we're going to spend more on infrastructure. You should be applauding us, but like deep down, they don't really want to spend it on roads and bridges and things.
Speaker 2 00:39:50 They want to spend it on transfers. And whatever's left of the American ethic, the American ethic still doesn't like transfers to people don't work and don't deserve it and engage in bad behavior and stuff like that. Right. So it has to be dressed up as we're investing in human capital, we're building up human capital me in, in a year, what's going on two years now in a year when the government policy on public health has so destroyed human capital and contaminated the things they're doing to kids. I mean, I forget about it even two years ago, if we just stood there and say, what have they done to the children's minds in these public schools? I mean, that is the most direct historical experience we have of spending money on human capital. And I hate to say it, they ruined a lot of human capital and wasted a lot of human and economist here. I don't sound very compassionate here, but these are human minds skills, motivations, corroded by public educations. And this, this is, would not be the kind of entity that you want to see doubling down tripling down on this quote unquote investment that maybe that's too dark a view of it, but,
Speaker 1 00:41:07 Well, yeah. Um, I mean, it'd be one small piece of this, for example, um, to your point, there is, um, about a fifth of the, um, the cost will be well, will be the, um, extension of tax credits to families, uh, you know, uh, the earned income tax credit and sober. Most of these programs had work requirements. Yeah. Those are going to be eliminated, no work requirements. Right. I know. So, I mean, this is, that that to me is, is, um, really revealing of motives. I mean, one of the things that I mentioned in, uh, I remember when I was running a life of one's own way back, um, I was, I found some philosophers saying that people should have a right to be idle not to work. And you're thinking, you know, what, what planet are you living on? Well, no planet cause any plan requires, you know, sustenance for life. Um, but that's what they're doing. You're saying you can, you know, you can be an idler, your kids can be an either, um, the money is yours.
Speaker 2 00:42:24 And the, you know, we know that, uh, failure, failure of these public investments are often used to say, well, we need more money. Yes. The public schools are crumbling. Yes. The kids don't have a school supplies even good. Then we need more money. People do not think of it in terms of, oh my gosh, wait a minute. I think I heard once that socialism failed and socialism ownership of the means of production. So maybe this is failing because it's government ownership of the means of instruction. I mean, that's what public schools are public worship of the means of instruction, instructing kids. They're not instructing kids, they're indoctrinating them and they're make, and they're, and they're bringing them into the workforce without the skills necessary to have a productive job. So then they give them checks to stay home. And, uh, it's just, uh, I sound like an old fogy complaining about how things have changed. And so I'll stop. Well, I'm probably guilty of the same thing,
Speaker 0 00:43:28 But so good thing that I noticed, um, going off of what David was saying is this idea of making more people dependent on government. And actually that's not something I hear people concerned about and using that word dependent, um, you know, even among people that I know who have kids who are in their twenties, uh, people don't seem to be quite as concerned about being independent. And so dependent doesn't have quite as negative of a connotation as it's now I'll be the old fogy as it certainly did when I was cropping up, want to be independent, but, you know, and those, those checks every month just make people more and more dependent. Definitely.
Speaker 1 00:44:13 No, I w when I was growing up, um, too, I knew I knew of people, um, who would not take welfare as a matter of pride. I don't want to be awarded state. Yeah. However poor they were. And maybe that's that, that, that view persists in, in some areas. But, um, you know, the, so much that everyone gets from the governor already between social security. I mean, I think with this way, where we're w the us has been described as a capitalist economy, but retirement is socialized through social security education is socialized to the public education system. And essentially medicine is now socialized, thanks to all you know, 50 years. Um, but combination Obamacare and this 3.5 trillion will add to it. Um, so those educating your kids, planning for retirement and taking care of your health, uh, three of the biggest tasks in the human being has to do, and we all three of those are socialized and that, but when people talk about socialism, it's like a floating concept that they not it to, to reality the reality around us.
Speaker 2 00:45:42 Well, I mean, one of the, one of the concepts I deal with with duke students on some of the material is paternalism political paternalism. So the, the, uh, the nation model as a family, so daddy's inch of daddy and mommy are in charge and we, citizens are kids. And, you know, we hope they'll take care of us. Yeah. They'll let us go outside and play. And maybe we'll skin our knee, take a few risks, start a lemonade stand before it fails, but we will get dinner at night and they will talk us into bed. And, and I think they, it seems like the attitude is so long as these are benevolent. Parents were fine so long as they don't do Hitler and Mussolini type stuff. We're just fine. As long as there's no domestic violence in the house, we're just fine. You know, I, you know, is that a model that, but it's not a model of an independence, you know, grown up human being, if they're large infants walking around wanting to be taken care of. Um, I hope it's not a majority, but it does. I agree with you, Becky, that there's very few people who say, wait, I'm losing my independence here. God damn. And I'm in America. And it did that. There's less and less of that. I noticed
Speaker 0 00:47:01 Definitely. Well, let's move on to the third topic again, if you have any questions, be sure to type them in the comment section or into the chat here on zoom. And for the last topic last September, the CDC placed a federal freeze on evictions in an effort to mitigate the consequences of locking down and the closing of untold numbers of businesses resulting in millions losing their jobs. And then earlier this month, the CDC extended the phrase, and this brings up so many issues that concern me such as property rights and legislation by bureaucracy to name a couple Richard can, can you give us a little perspective on this? Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:47:42 I didn't want to spend too much time on this, but I thought the principle, the main thing was the principal of the precedent, uh, Biden last week basically saw a Supreme court decision, which said, this eviction moratorium is unconstitutional. The CDC cannot do this. We don't need to get into the details of that. But the key thing to me was Biden said, I don't care. I don't give a damn, uh, that's. I don't say that's completely new. There's a long history in the U S that something called nullification. Juries can sometimes nullify what a judge says. Uh, so, uh, this idea of every branch of government gets to decide ultimately what's constitutional or not. But the long history also has been the judicial review that the only real power the courts have is to opine on other legislation as being constitutional or not. So when they say it's not usually the other branches say, okay, we agree.
Speaker 2 00:48:39 We're going to have to either change the law or something that I, as president of in here to execute the law by basically said, I'm not going to execute the law. And it just knowingly embracingly brazenly saying, um, I don't care what the Supreme court said. I'm going to do it anyway. That's autocracy, obviously that's authoritarian, but I also think there's a, you know, why does this kind of thing happen? No one, no one likes the landlord. No one likes the capitalist and likes the banker. So, unfortunately we're all caught up in this idea of, Hey, I can't pay the rent. You know? So there's a more term on ramp. That's just very compassionate humanitarian of you. Thank you very much. I was actually shocked. The Supreme court did say it was unconstitutional because for many, many decades, they have not really opined on economic regulations and redistribution.
Speaker 2 00:49:27 They've deferred to the legislature. I myself couldn't understand why the CDC did this. Not even etude, not even help the what's it, the housing agencies. And I looked it up and Vicki are absolutely right. They named some provision in the public health services act that said they could prevent people from being evicted. Of course you're being evicted because they lost their jobs, right? So they can't pay the rent. So normally you would evict them. And the CDC said you can't evict them because that will spread coronavirus. Incredible. They need to stay home. Yeah. They need to stay home, not pay their rent. We will send them a check. They can keep watching Netflix or MSNBC or whatever, and it's just maddening. But this thing has been extended now to walk over there, basically going like this to the Supreme court. It's it's, to me, it's just the rule of law plus-minus continues.
Speaker 2 00:50:19 And, uh, I'm not sure what's going to happen here. I, I, I noticed they allocated, I looked up today, $46 billion Congress allocated to pay people's rent. It's huge. And it affects by the way, this moratorium now extended out to August through October three, affects 90% of rental properties. By the way, initially, they said, just because you can't be evicted, doesn't mean you're not still owing the rent. Uh, they're moving now toward though. You don't have to pay the rent either. That'll be the next, then that'll be the next step. And I think it goes back to David's point about, okay, they may not have planned it this way, but the ultimate result is you depend on the government for your housing as well, and your medical needs and your kids' education and your food and your clip. Right. And now it's housing. So, um, not a good thing. We'll see what happens on October. But, uh, that's, that's a huge thing. I think, especially the precedent of the president saying follow what the Supreme court decided.
Speaker 1 00:51:26 Yeah. I couldn't agree more. There was, I mean, and he kept saying to 40, he made that call. I can't do it. My hands are tied. The courts have ruled against it. Right. And then, you know, I don't know, AOC talked to him or something. They said, okay, I'm going to do it.
Speaker 2 00:51:43 Right. And, you know, and then they said, well, you're going to get lawsuits and this and that. He won't buy them. The people will cut their money. Total privates. It works. I can tell labor day. So let's do it. Um,
Speaker 0 00:51:59 Well that idea of dependence, we actually have another question about the thought that dependence on the government, um, seems to be accelerating and is going to lead to even really more authoritarian government. And do either of, you know, anything about any scholarship on the study of the stages of this sort of a progression and where we might be in this progression. I don't know if either of, you know, anything about that.
Speaker 1 00:52:31 Well, you know, this has been something objective is talk about, um, I'll just make two points. One is the only, um, model I've seen of this is the narrative of Alice rock ranch. And you look at her notes, carefully, work out what are the stages that our society go through as, um, it collapses as power expands becomes more discretionary and so forth. Um, there are a few other novels who do that, that do do that as an imaginative exercise. I think that will show this at best, but there's a more the person that, um, just I have a philosophical problem or this monological problem with, um, theories, any actual theory that would try to do that we can, you know, then that means predicting the politics and economy and culture of a society. Well, we know from Von muses and hike, you cannot predict an economy.
Speaker 1 00:53:39 Uh, you can, you can make good guesses, uh, you know, well-informed, uh, guesses. And a lot of people do that in the financial markets and some are successful. But, um, you know, I don't, I think correct me if I'm wrong, Richard, but I don't think many economists would say I can. I know for sure, uh, what the, where the stock market's going to be in 30 days. Um, well, uh, a culture and society, including its economy orders and multitude. So the idea of predicting something, um, I think you didn't name some principles that are, that we know can learn from history, but bring them all down into one calculation. I, I just don't,
Speaker 2 00:54:21 That's fine. One thing I have seen apropos this question, Vicky. One thing I have seen is sometimes they'll do studies of whether the rulers, the regime is getting more brutal than what the people want, if that's the way to put it. And those things usually ended complete disaster. Now imagine another case where they've trained people to want that, you know, through public education and years and years of indoctrination, or you could see why as it, even though it becomes more authoritarian, that doesn't seem to be any widespread revolution against it because the people want this. I think that's actually what's happening in the United States. I think people are gradually being convinced and indoctrinated that it's good that you depend on the government. Yeah. You lose some liberties and you have to wear a mask and you can't breathe. You can't fly airplanes need hamburgers anymore. But notice that I graduated, like, okay, okay. Okay. Whatever. Okay.
Speaker 2 00:55:19 But are there cases where you keep getting more and more authoritarian and the whole thing doesn't just collapse? It, it collapses, it eventually collapses into complete chaos. That then being a Venezuela is actually the best example. There's only 20 years that is relevant from voting for these people to, uh, you know, eating their paths. And that, that took only 20 years to, and now they can't even overthrow Moderno, you know, like, well, why not? Why can't they March in the streets and get rid of them? Um, because it's a total totalitarian country, but they voted for it. So it's shameful. You gotta be educated in that way. Right. People would vote for it. The anti-capitalist mentality, they voted for Chavez and Maduro and were voting for authoritarians as well. They're not as bad as those guys, but it could be in our future.
Speaker 1 00:56:07 You know, I should add, since I mentioned Atlas, um, there was a book called it can happen here. I, I think that was Hazlitt who wrote that? And it was maybe during the fifties or something in it within memory of the communists and Nazi regime. Yeah. Uh, more economically
Speaker 2 00:56:29 A, he wrote a book, I think, called it at the time runs back or something like that, where he reversed it and had the book, there was a fiction, started with a totalitarian regime and then deregulated it over time and like what would have to be deregulated first, what would have to be done first? And what would you have to argue for the citizens to make them go from infants to independent adult beings? So it was clever Hazlitt did it in reverse instead of speaking of the road to serfdom in effect, he was saying, let's start with them. How would you get back to Liberty? I think it's the name of that book. I think it's called time will run back by Haslam. The only fiction he ever wrote pretty well. I think it was written in 59.
Speaker 1 00:57:16 I'm wrong about that? It can happen here, I guess it wasn't Haslett, but, um, it was, I think during that era also, but I now, I, I didn't know that that was, um, a time we'll run back. I got to read that now
Speaker 0 00:57:32 We'll be doing the same and I hate to say this, but we're already up at the top of the hour. This always happens. We had a few questions we didn't get to. I apologize. I apologize do that. We didn't get to some of those questions, but I do want to thank both of you for joining us today. And again, I'm Vicki Rodino. And if you enjoyed this video or any of our other materials, I would ask that you please consider making a tax deductible [email protected]
, and be sure to tune in next week when aunt Anella Marty will be our guests for the next episode of the Atlas society asks. So thanks again. And we'll see everyone soon.