Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone. And welcome to the 62nd episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Vicki Dino I'm with the Atlas society, the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran and creative ways, such as do animated videos and graphic novels. Today, we'll be discussing current events with a panel consisting of our very own Atlas society scholars, Dr. Steven Hicks and Dr. Richard Saltzman. And we'll also save time at the end to take some audience questions. So throughout the discussion, please feel free to type your questions into the zoom Q and a or the chat, or if you're watching this live on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, um, feel free to type your questions in the comments stream today. We're going to cover three topics what's going on in Cuba, billionaires in space, as well as Biden's anti-big business competition order. So thanks for joining us and let's go ahead and get started with our first topic within the last couple of weeks. Cubans protested in the first antigovernment demonstration that's occurred in decades. There were, there were reports of human security forces beating into your guessing protesters before Cuba shut down the internet human Cuban immigrants with Florida staged their own protests and support. But politicians in the United States have struggled with how to respond initially blaming the protests on COVID and eventually, and apparently reluctantly acknowledging the communist government for the unrest. So, Steven, I'm going to start with you. What are you, what are your thoughts on what we're seeing going on in Cuba?
Speaker 1 00:01:43 Well, uh, I'm encouraged, uh, overall, by what we're saying, obviously Cuba has been, uh, a disaster for over half a century. Uh, now, uh, essentially my, my lifetime and you feel sorry for Cuba and, you know, can anything possibly happen so that there is a sign of life and a significant life. Uh, those mass protests are, are, uh, are heartening. Uh, I'm not sure how much is going to come of it. Uh, and this is a lot of crystal ball gazing that we would have to do, but I just have right now five, uh, somewhat random observations to make about it. Uh, partly this was driven by retinol. I'm actually in South Dakota at the, uh, the big freedom Freston speaking for, for Atlas society here on the theme of democratic socialism. So I've got a couple of democratic socialists, uh, tidbits to, to put against, what's obviously a very authoritarian form of socialism now, uh, inspired originally by, uh, a Marxist violent form of socialism.
Speaker 1 00:02:45 That's been, been highly, highly refreshed. So let me share my screen. And so my first tidbit has to do with, uh, this guy, uh, can you see a Battista picture of Battista? Okay, good. So, uh, one of the striking things I only learned this quite recently is obviously Battista is a bad guy, strong arm, uh, very corrupt through a bunch of the 1950s or the popular story that we learned is that, uh, Fidel and the gang were idealistic young communists rising up against this CIA backed a right-wing puppet Battista and overthrew him. And that's a lot of the more moral fervor of, of the, of the revolution, but what's not known very much is a, this is a picture of Battista in 1938 comes from a military background, but a very politically connected guy. And, uh, he was democratically elected in 1939. And the party that he was the head of was the democratic socialist party.
Speaker 1 00:03:53 So he was elected as a democratic socialist. And the difference then is here, you have someone who comes to power on a democratic socialist power. Uh, then some years later replaced by someone coming to power on a more violent socialists or authoritarian socialist socialist party. And it's interesting that this was a coalition party that was put together in the late 1930s, including, uh, you know, what we'd now call a democratic socialists or social Democrats, uh, some more nationalistic collectivists, but also a part of the cultural coalition was the, uh, the Cuban communist party. They outright supported this coalition and supported that piece to end and so forth. So this is a, an interesting bit of history that often gets swept under the carpet, obviously for ideological reasons and political reasons. And then there's an important, uh, interesting follow-up issue was, was Battista really opportunistic in his heart of hearts and merely nowadays some democratic, so listings in order to come to power, uh, or was he in his heart of hearts, a democratic socialist, but then once he got into power, he became corrupted and so on.
Speaker 1 00:05:03 So those are interesting questions, but it is the case that when you look at Cuba's history, ideologically, politically, ideologically, it's all thoroughly collectivistic as far back as I have been able to look and really the 20th century, uh, the 20th century, rather, it's been either some sort of war kind of dictatorship that explicitly came out of Marxist socialism. And what that means for the future of Cuba is I don't think it's anything, anything good, and other, a democratic socialists to tidbit. This is a one, uh, the, the talk I just gave a little while ago on democratic socialism in the United States. So I spend a certain amount of time on socialist social media. Uh, and so this is the, uh, the Twitter feed of the democratic of America. And, uh, they, uh, you know, as a follow on tweeted something about Cuba, well, what's very interesting here is of course the democratic socialists will build themselves as we, we, we don't believe in Marxist socialism.
Speaker 1 00:06:12 We don't believe in a violent revolution and all of that terrible dictatorial stuff. And all the lessons of the 20th century are relevant to our true socialism, which is going to be a democratic socialism. So it was very striking to see that in this case here, uh, what they're tweeting is support for the regime in Cuba right now. So you've got real people, real workers, real students, real ordinary people, rising up protesting, protesting in the streets. And the so-called democratic socialists in, in America are not on their side. They're on the side of the, uh, the dictatorial regime that's currently in power. So they're saying here are the democratic socialists, uh, Alliance stands with the Cuban people and their revolution. And the revolution means that Del Castro Che Guevara. That's the revolution, that's what they are supporting. And so they are against the people protesting on the street.
Speaker 1 00:07:06 And I think, again, that speaks to, uh, uh, what's actually going on in the minds of many people who disingenuously call themselves democratic socialists. My next, uh, item here is, uh, this was one that was roommate cognitively dissonant, uh, with respect to me. So, uh, the current, uh, department of Homeland security had Biden appointee as this fellow in may orcas, uh, getting up, uh, as the head of, uh, of, uh, Homeland security saying to Cubans who are trying to, in some cases, get out of Cuba, come to the land of freedom or what, uh, what we'd like to think of as the land of freedom for freedom, for opportunity. And so on saying explicitly to them, don't come to America, right? Allow me to be clear if you take through the sea, blah-blah-blah do not attempt to enter the United States. So it's a very strong, you are not welcome here.
Speaker 1 00:08:04 And then the part of the cognitive dissonance is that, uh, may orcas himself was as a young boy, brought to the United States by Cuban immigrants, fleeing communist repression in, uh, in Cuba. So, uh, even his own personal biography is not strong enough. Now, of course he might be, uh, even though he's the head of department of Homeland security, you still might just be amongst police for policy formed at a higher level, but nonetheless, this does seem to be current American policy. It also, uh, just, uh, there's a broadened the point a little bit about this kind of reaction from the U S government administration and the very tepid reaction to freedom fighters in Hong Kong that we've seen over the course of the last couple of years. Uh, and then of course, uh, uh, the, uh, anti Mexican and, and more broadly central American people trying to come up, uh, to, to make a new life for themselves in the United States.
Speaker 1 00:09:02 So it does seem that we, uh, have lots of indicators pointing in the direction that, uh, us political par policy on both parties is shifting away from being immigrant friendly land or the free send us your poor, your huddled masses. You know, we don't want Mexicans, we don't want central Americans. We don't want Hong Kongese. We don't want Cubans. These are just three data points, but it, uh, they all are pointing in the same direction. That to me is a little disturbing when one final thought I have is, let me stop the screen sharing here is a, again, I don't know how this is going to play out, but, uh, you know, either there could be significant changes or it could fail, but there is a, you know, a serious question, even if it succeeds about, uh, what our goals can and should be for Cuba, given that for pretty much close to a century.
Speaker 1 00:09:55 Now they have no cultural history or cultural ethos of freedom of entrepreneurship, of, uh, of responsible self-government, all of that's been destroyed for many generations now. So, uh, my sense is that we have a kind of an incoherent dissatisfaction with whatever's going on right now. And I hope, uh, that it goes well. I hope the current regime is ousted and or replaced, but my sense is that the best we can hope for, even with support from the rest of the world is that coupe would become just kind of another kind of just weekly or badly gunned Caribbean nation. So I'll stop on that point for now.
Speaker 0 00:10:36 Uh, before I go to Richard, can I just ask you a quick question, Steven, what do you make of, um, the difference in policy of, um, what's going on in Texas regarding illegal immigrants coming over, and then this statement about Cubans? Absolutely. Do not come over.
Speaker 1 00:10:56 Yeah, well, the ones from, uh, Texas are, uh, more coming from conservatives and this one is obviously coming from a not conservative source. Uh, and I think that's, uh, uh, somewhat irrelevant. There's a kind of economic nationalism. Uh, that's I think at work in input plays to this, and it's something that's, uh, now shared by both so-called conservatives and so-called conservatives, it's cutting across, uh, the party lines.
Speaker 0 00:11:26 Thanks, Richard, did you have anything you'd like to add?
Speaker 2 00:11:29 I do I have some thoughts on Cuba? My first thought is I'm always, of course, uh, eager to see people who are oppressed, uh, revolting against their government. What seems to be lacking in Cuba, and I'm no expert, but if you know, history, you know, there has to be some kind of leader or group of leaders with some, uh, consistent message. It can't just be a bunch of disgruntled people, the streets. So, um, to the extent that hasn't happened yet, this is probably not a sustainable. The other thing I think is worth noting is how quickly and easily the Cuban government shut down the internet and having just heard this past week, uh, Jen Kosaki and others in the byte, administration talking, you know, kind of caviar, literally about how they just call up internet service providers and tell them what to do and tell them what to, uh, class as misinformation and, you know, openly talking about working with Facebook.
Speaker 2 00:12:26 I wonder if anyone wants to make that connection that authoritarian regimes, you know, have their finger or wish to have their finger on the internet. And that's important because of the Cuban, uh, realtors can't get their message out, um, over the internet or over the phone service. That's a, that's a problem, but it's similar things are happening in the U S not the complete shutdown of the internet, but the control of it by the U S government. Uh, you mentioned the DSAs, uh, comments on this. It should be important to note that it is important. I think to note that BLM came out against the protesters as well. So BLM a well-known, uh, Marxist inspired organization, uh, not surprisingly came out on behalf of the Cuban dictators. I don't know if that's not widely reported, but it's, it's out there. And, um, they issued statements all about this and by the way, another key figure in recent controversies, uh, Nicole Hannah Jones, who started the 16, 19 project for New York times, that kind of discredited lying and account of the source of racism and slavery in America.
Speaker 2 00:13:32 She was actually found to have been interviewed by Ezra Klein a couple of years ago. And he asked her if there was any kind of country, she might point to this isn't recent. This is a couple of years ago, but still she was already famous for the 1619 project. And as our client asked her, um, I think it's Axios. What country might you point to with, which has the kind of equity achievements you're looking for in the United States, namely equal results or close to equal results between blacks and whites. And she said, Cuba, that's her role model? Nicole Hannah Jones. Her role model is Cuba because as she put it the differences economically and socially between blacks and whites and Cuba is minimal. Well, that's true because they're both equally impoverished, both equally impressed just shows you the kind of priorities people like that have there. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:14:28 Jump in Richard. Uh, just on that, uh, why the founder of the 16, 19 project back when she was a reporter journalist for the Oregonian? I think it was, uh, uh, newspaper up west. She, uh, this is brought to my attention by, uh, uh, economic historian, Phil Magnus, who does yeoman work on, on the 16, 19 project that she wrote a long encomium to Cuba and how wonderful things were, and, uh, on, on the basis of a firsthand journalistic trip to the nation. So, you know, in the best tradition of fellow travelers, going to the Soviet union, you know, back in the thirties and talking about how wonderful everything was under Joseph Stalin, uh, she's doing the exact same thing with respect to Fidel.
Speaker 2 00:15:17 Yeah. That's my 2 cents. And I saw that too. And I thought that was way earlier actually than the Ezra Klein interview. Yeah. So it's on paper, it's on documents and verbal elsewhere. So the view is pretty obvious. I wanted to say something else about AOC too. And what was referred to as the blockade in the DSA tweet. Did you see that in the blockade? Yes. What they're referring to is the embargo, and that's maybe more of an economic question. I just want to do address it because AOC said this, a, I said, well, beyond saying they were in the streets because they want their COVID shots. That's just nonsense. So that was one, excuse. Another excuse was there. Uh, the embargo is the thing that's making their lives miserable. Now just quick, very quickly here in 1961, only two years after Castro took over the Kennedy administration imposed an embargo on Cuba.
Speaker 2 00:16:11 Now we know that there was a Cuban missile crisis the following year, but that embargo basically blocking any trade between the U S and Cuba was pretty much maintained until Obama. So Obama lifted it. Uh, I think halfway through his term, it's not important because he went down there and glad handed with the Castros and lifted that. And then Trump reimposed it. Now, the reason I want to mention this is that is just not an explanation for why Cuba is impoverished and repressed. Uh, the, the first point to make is cubic and trade than anybody else in the world wants. It can trade with China. It can trade with Venezuela and trade with anyone. So that, that can not be, that is more of a blame America first approach. And, and by the way, there are some libertarians as well, who would make this critique. There are libertarians who believe that if the embargo were lifted and they'd been arguing this for decades, then, then, then Cuba would become freer because they're trading with us. But anyway, I just want to set that aside. So in case anyone's hearing the argument about, well, the reason the problems are going on in Cuba is they have this embargo. Uh, no, that's not it, um,
Speaker 1 00:17:23 Jump in just a little bit on that too. Yeah. Another good example is Taiwan in the shadow of China, right? So sometimes they have more trade. Sometimes they have less trade, but the point there is Taiwan is extraordinarily wealthy by 21st century standards and even a country under the shadow of a huge unfriendly country that sometimes puts trade restrictions and blockades pace. That's the issue. What are your internal policies, not your big bed neighbors.
Speaker 2 00:17:55 Exactly. A couple more things that I did not know that about Battista, the, the stuff you brought up there was really fascinating. Now, the first thing I thought of Steven was what was the 1930s, but a real push globally for fascist fascistic regimes. Oh yeah. The democratically elected fascistic regime, right? Like the Nazis. And so the fact that this was going on as well in the Caribbean and in the south America is, is, is interesting and fascinating to me because you are in a, wouldn't it be true statement. If you asked someone in the DSA today, you get, give me your two prior leaders of Cuba, Battista and Castro, which one was democratically elected. It wasn't Castro. Yeah. So, but they endorse Castro, but not Battista. So, um, anyway, I just want to bring that out. Last thing I'll say is the Majorca's quote is interesting also, because if you look at the reason he gives for not coming, he says, do not risk your life.
Speaker 2 00:18:54 So notice the attitude there. They're not risking their life. Apparently being in Cuba, whether or not risking their life being in Venezuela. Now they're risking their life trying to escape those places. Now, of course, these are risky moves, but that's also happening south of the border in Texas, right. Really risky, uh, actions to get into the U S and you do not have the administration standing up and telling people from Mexico, Guatemala and elsewhere, do not come here because you're risking your life. That's their choice to make, right. And their view is we'd rather risk it. So those are just, um, some of my comments I actually heard the other day and looked into it. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. This is also interesting that Cuba's going on, apparently a large contingent of secret police from Cuba. And part of the military is actually running then as well. So when, um, Maduro purged some of his military guys, he was worried about the precariousness of his whole in that terrible place and the Cuban sent over assistance. So the assistance they sent over to Venezuela as they had some of their own military guys helping and as well. And so, yeah,
Speaker 1 00:20:08 One more thing I'd like to just add on the, uh, on the embargo point. This is the one that is just very shake my head, irritating to me about socialists and apologists for, for Cuba on this. Because on the issue of trade, the in entire socialist argument for all of Latin America and basically the whole rest of the world is that capitalist trade is a bad thing. That's the reason why in all of these poor nations were so poor is that the capitalists are leading us and oppressing us. And we don't have a chance to get rich because all the damn capitalists are commiserating it. But then of course, then they just immediately do a 180 and say, oh, it's the kind of the lack of trade with, with the capitalists. And, uh, and, and we're not allowed to trade with them and that's why they're poor. So it might be an intelligence issue, uh, for some socialists, but a lot of them, you know, they're just going to use any argument they can and it's it's excuse making.
Speaker 2 00:21:08 Yeah. And this wasn't even an issue of aid you're right. And, and if, if by their own doctrines, the capitalist is the parasite and everyone else is the host. What are they whining and complaining about that they've lost the host, which is the United States. That means they need us more than we need them. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:21:26 So the logic then seems to be a no come down and oppress and exploit us. Of course they won't use that language.
Speaker 2 00:21:33 Right. But the other way of looking at this would be, Hey, dear Democrats explained to us why Obama's lifting of the embargo did not liberate Cuba. I mean, why are they complaining literally three or four years later? It can't really be because Trump reimposed at where was the loosening? Where was the, where was the advancement being made when Obama did what he did? Um, yeah, that's all I have on Cuba. I mean, again, I hope, I assume you do Steve. And I mean, I hope something happens, but it's more, um, an article down there than anything. I mean, among the rev revolt or not the oppressors.
Speaker 1 00:22:12 Yeah. I think it's, I think it's in, uh, in Kuwait, um, you know, in my heart of hearts, I think what Obama did was the right decision. I don't have full information on that, but I do like the business brings reform thesis attended. There are windows open and it becomes easier for people to get out of there if they want to more easy for aid to flow in more exposure, to healthier governance models from outside the world. So, um, uh, so, you know, thumbs up to Obama on that to a baby step, at least
Speaker 0 00:22:50 I really appreciate that. Thank you. Well, what a great informational discussion. I really appreciate that. And remember, if anybody has any questions on, um, Cuba for Steven or Richard, please type those in. We'll get to those at the end, but I want to move on to the next topic. And for the next topic we want to acknowledge billionaires in space earlier. Richard Branson was the first and then only days later, Jeff, Jeff Bezos became the second private citizen has successfully launched their rockets to space, bringing them one step closer to commercial space travel while some celebrate this incredible feat. Others are not so complimentary. So Richard, I'll start with you. What are your thoughts on this huge achievement? Yeah. I
Speaker 2 00:23:33 Don't have a lot on this, but two or three points. One, I think it's a very nice, wonderful, encouraging, uplifting development. I mean the three really involved in this are the Elon who has space X as well as Tesla and Bezos, uh, with, is it called blue horizon, I think. And then, um, um, what am I missing? Oh, Branson of course I watched the Branson performance, uh, two straight hours. It was very uplifting. It was very, uh, inspiring. Now. I th this is part of a trend as you know, of what might be called the privatization, uh, and commercialization of space. And that's a good sign as well. It shouldn't be, uh, run by the government. I don't mind the government through NASA being somewhat involved, but, um, when they started defunding, uh, NASA and losing kind of ideas after the shuttle was shut down, um, they, to their credit, um, NASA did start working with private sector to do this.
Speaker 2 00:24:39 Now they're, they're, they, these guys are so creative. And so I kind of classic. You can see why they would be ones who would want to be pushing it. But I also liked the fact that all three of them basically have other businesses. It's not like this is a dilettante type thing. It's not like, this is just like vacationing. They've all built other businesses. So they're substantial people. We can, we can, uh, dispute a little bit, whether there's subsidies helping some of them, we can dispute some of their politics, but I don't think that's relevant to this case. So now on the negative side, not my negative side, but to hear some of the commentary, uh, it was, it was somewhat disturbing to see the kind of standard thing you would get. Uh, uh, these are just billionaires with their play things. These are just billionaires, like going up into space that some, some would say they didn't really accomplish anything cause they didn't really Pierce.
Speaker 2 00:25:32 So whatever 52 mile outer limit, which is required to formally be SPE this kind of nitpicking of these guys in this kind of envy and resentment is very telling. But if you're old enough to remember what happened during the Apollo program and the moonwalk similar things happened, these there on the one hand, a wonderful achievements on the other hand, people complaining about, well, that money should be spent, you know, to, to clear the slums and things like that. Well, I think these guys should be applauded and, um, and I hope they inspire other things. I, myself, I'm not entirely sure what the economic value is. Uh, I know that Elon Musk is really revolutionary in the revolutionizing, the idea of how satellites should be put up. So when the government did it, they would put satellites way up into space and they would have bigger, more expensive ones that were hard to maintain. And sometimes we crashed to the ground. Elon has come up with an idea of a lower orbit and many, many more satellites, which will make, um, and they're much more affordable, easier to fix. And so he's doing some fascinating things as well. Overall, I give this like an a plus what a great story and what a, what a revelation of the nitpickers and the resentful ones that'll always be there. And they just reveal themselves when they start criticizing this. I don't know what you think, Stephen, what do you think?
Speaker 1 00:27:00 Yeah, I, uh, let me do a share thing. You're again, I wanted to show a couple of pictures. Now. I second entirely the, uh, Richard's remarks about the inspirational nature of this. It really is a, an amazing technological achievement, but the thing I, I, I liked the most about it is the idea of the American dream or not also the British dream, but it really should be the, the global dream for any kid that you can be inspired. And all three of these guys, it's the same story. You know, they were eight year old kids looking up at the sky and saying, you know, their dads or their moms, or someone pointed out, you know, that's, that's Mars, right? And that's, uh, I think get inspired and they say, wow, I want, I want to go there. And then they are very creative. They make a lot of money and then they, uh, they start these business and they make their, their space dream happen.
Speaker 1 00:27:52 That's an incredibly inspiring, and I hope, uh, you know, there's now about 2 billion people under the age of 16, I think around the world that a significant number of are inspired so that they can, they can make their dreams to, it's an outstanding example. Now I know I spend more time than is healthy for me at a socialist websites, part of my, my research and so forth. So the, uh, the nitpickers, uh, there are a few of those, but there are some, uh, darker occurrence that I, uh, are a little bit more prominent. I mean, I can, uh, you'll remember when, uh, Apollo 11 went to the moon, uh, is actually the same month that my, my, my little brother was born. So it's very strong in my memory and not huge exploration guide, but I can remember how thrilling and exciting it was. So the idea of, uh, of nitpicking, but in that even more strongly.
Speaker 1 00:28:50 So this, uh, editorial or political cartoon caught my eye. Can you see this screen? Yes. So, uh, you know, this is very clear, you know, capturing this, uh, anti entrepreneurial anti pursue your dream ethos, the idea that, you know, as long as there are people anywhere in the world, and we're supposed to be thinking of the entire world as our family and all have obligations to our family. So if you have a little bit more money first, you should give that money to anybody's need anywhere out in the world. And otherwise you're just an immoral you bed person. So in some sense, they're, you know, they're throwing money, that's going to get blown up, but they've, despoiled the environment totally in order to get it. And there's their brothers and sisters and the rest of the animal species, you know, within plain sight in view and how callous and cold hearted they are to be, to be doing.
Speaker 1 00:29:44 So this is a huge part of the mindset that we are up against. Uh, we celebrate entrepreneurship. They don't have that model at all. Wealth creation, dream pursuing is a very much, uh, communal, uh, despairing for anybody who, uh, has a problem anywhere in the world in the sense that when really should set aside one's dreams in order to cater to anybody anybody's needs. So I don't even think it's a, it's a, it's a benevolence, uh, or a misplaced benevolence. There's a real malevolence here. I think, uh, they're using the poor people. And then the people who are in a difficult situation as a way of tacking people, who've actually gone out and accomplished something with respect to their dreams. And I'm not going to show any of these pictures, but I think one step further down the wrong of immorality is large number of cartoons and wishful thinking, uh, you know, that they hope their rockets explode, uh, once they get up into, into space, it wouldn't that be good.
Speaker 1 00:30:46 Uh, uh, so in fact, explicitly wishing for the death of, uh, these people, uh, there's a lot of sickness that's out there now. I mentioning this not to dwell on it. This really is an awesome achievement. I think majority of people in the world have the healthy response to it, but I do think we have more envy, more resentment, more politicized collectivism out there in the demographics now than we did a generation ago. So it's a, it's a real moral fight that we have on our hands and force. Uh, objectivism is all about that moral fight.
Speaker 2 00:31:24 This may seem completely disconnected, but I think I find a parallel of the resentment toward these guys, Steven and Trump. And it goes like this Trump, uh, was independently wealthy. He financed his own campaign. He didn't have to get contributions from anybody. Therefore he could throw off the cronyism argument, right. That, which is totally surrounding by the corruption of Biden and all the money that's been given to him. And, and, and so I think there's a resentment similar to what's being held against these three, uh, space guys, namely, wow, it's really terrible that they have so much, well, they can do whatever they want, including run for president and not have to go through the system, not have to go through NASA, not have to go through the DNC or the RNC, you know, and whatever is causing that in a week. That's a whole different discussion.
Speaker 2 00:32:17 The left would call it plutocracy rule by the wealthy, right? And now here rule of space by the wealthy. And I actually actually heard someone said that Trump is in on this because you created the space force, that sixth element of the Britta of the, of the military to, to pave the way for these three guys, these three guys. So as far as I know, it don't even like Trump, but, um, that, that idea of, you know, well, uh, carving out a space of independence for things you can do, I think is, is resented as well. I just wanted to say, by the way, the whole history of capitalism in terms of plate things for rich people, I'm glad we have that because that worry of almost every product of any consequences ever been delivered, especially on the consumer side. So whether it was cars or cell phones or whatever, any kind of a technological event, which in the beginning was very expensive and affordable only to the wealthy while they had the money to try it.
Speaker 2 00:33:21 And first triers and first users, you know, obviously often, you know, face danger and trying new things, electricity and other things. Uh, but they paved the way for others to follow. I don't, I don't want to use that as a kind of social utility justification for, for him, but it's just a fact of what happens. And then once, once these kind of trial balloons go out and people say, yeah, I'd like to do that too. I like to buy a seat on the next trip that Bezos makes they start pricing it and they start finding ways to make it affordable and mass produce it. I don't know if that'll happen here, but that's another thing to keep in mind, all the great products we have of any technological. It started out very expensive and the play things, the toys of the wealthy. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:34:05 And just, uh, the generalize on that point. Uh, the same thing is true of all great artistic achievements and many major scientific achievements. It's people. This is just cool. This is interesting to me. I have no idea what it's going to have down the road. And those are the people, the people we want, but to speak to your earlier point, uh, I'm not at all a Trump fan, but I can see the point that you're making that he is symbolically at least an iconic class outside the mainstream, doing his own thing as are all of these gentlemen. And you can see that from certain political culture. That's just, just, just not what they want. They want the iconic class. You will be assimilated to the system, right?
Speaker 2 00:34:50 That's all done.
Speaker 0 00:34:53 Well, one of my favorite, you showed that cartoon. And one of my favorite cartoons from this is if you've seen that picture of the Wright brothers first flight and overlaid on that, or a couple of people in the corner, and it says typical narcissistic, rich guys, which I
Speaker 1 00:35:12 Was, I haven't seen that one. I would like to
Speaker 0 00:35:15 Though. Yeah. That's, I'll send it to you. Um, also a real quick question here regarding the cartoon from David Kelly, who actually will be joining us for the panel for next month on August 18th.
Speaker 1 00:35:30 So share screen again so we can look at it.
Speaker 0 00:35:33 Um, you know what, I don't, I've got it on my phone. So I'll, I'll put that. Oh, you mean your cartoon? Yeah. Why don't you go ahead and do that. There's the cartoon. Yeah. So David is asking, oh, well now I can't see what David asks, but basically he was asking, um, whether the point of this is that I can't see the question now, can you unshare the screen for a second? And let me ask the question, then you can show it again. Um, in the cartoon you showed was the point, not only that the money spent on space could have gone to help the starving people, but also the money spent on space came at the expense of those people making them impoverished.
Speaker 1 00:36:18 No, that's exactly right. Yes. Yeah. So the, all of the, the entire environment has been despoiled all of the people are, are basically Nate. They don't have anything available to them. So yeah, clearly as an implication, they are just takers and, uh, uh, and the spoilers and exploiters. So exactly right.
Speaker 2 00:36:38 You know, I, I, I I'm, uh, if I could, I'm sorry, Vicki, go ahead. Can you hear me? Oh, no, go. Okay. I'll pass.
Speaker 0 00:36:57 I thought you were going to ask something else. The last comments, any last comments on, um, the billionaires in space, the, those narcissistic rich guys, before we move on, are we good to move on? And if anybody else has any questions again, you know, throw them in the chat, type them up in your comments section, and we'll get to those at the end. But I did want to move on to our last topic, which I'm actually going to start with Richard on, and it has to do with the executive order president Biden's signed on July nine sets. I looked it up and it's officially titled the executive order on promoting competition in the American economy. So maybe Richard, you can tell us a little bit about that and what your concerns are.
Speaker 2 00:37:42 Okay. This is a very disturbing development, but just as context and background, when presidents issue executive orders, they're, they're perfectly okay. They're perfectly legitimate per the constitution. There's a sort of prerogative that the executive branch has for managing the executive branch, but what I've noticed, and I have studied this in the past, collected all the executive orders. What are they about? What kind of power do they have? Why do presidents come in later and re and rescind the ones that prior ones were doing that's happening a lot. If you remember when a Biden, just when got in, like, remember the first day, they was just like piles of executive orders on his desk. It was just signing one after another. So just visually you see this kind of thing going on now, that's what they spend the first week doing. And so it sounds dictatorial.
Speaker 2 00:38:33 It sounds like decrees are being issued and in a way that's exactly what they are. They call the egos, they're called executive orders. But the pattern I've seen is EOS used to be, I don't call them EEO. Sorry about that. Washington talk, egos used to be rare, brief and procedural. Uh, they were issued, you know, to get something done in the executive branch, some bottlenecks somewhere. Um, and so they weren't all that substantial. Nobody could name them. Nobody could remember them, but over the last decade or so, starting with Obama actually, they'd become, uh, not rare but frequent, um, and not brief but long and not just procedural, but substantial. And remember Obama was famous for saying, well, if the Congress isn't going to pass what I want, I do have a pen and a phone. What did he mean by that? I'll just write an executive order.
Speaker 2 00:39:25 And now it's verging on legislation in the sense of passing rules and passing mandates. Um, that aren't strictly procedural. Well, I guess I say all that because I have never seen an executive order that is so egregious in those regards, then this one, uh, even any prior ones Biden issued, and he has issued a lot in six months. This one, it's not just the page numbers, but just saying this one is 16 pages long. I mean, they're typically a page or two page. This is 16 pages long. It refers to 17 different government agencies that must do this. And that according to the Biden administration, it particularly targets what they call big tech, big pharma and big ag, big ag means big agriculture. So they're targeting large tech companies, large pharma companies and ag they claim they're trying to, uh, uh, they claim they're trying to control price inflation.
Speaker 2 00:40:26 Well, the price inflation of course, is being caused by the federal reserve and the treasury. And so that alone is disturbing that the idea that they think inflation's to be fought by imposing what amounts to price controls or trust busting on these groups. I've never heard a breakup of big ag before then has to do with the food supply. You might want to worry about that. If you know anything about what Venezuela has done to its food supply. So I read this thing cover to cover. So you didn't have to, and I can only tell you that basically what it does is turbocharge the antitrust laws. Now, again, a little context for Objectivists. The antitrust laws are the devil antitrust laws themselves, even when not fully enforced are such a hash of arbitrary and contradictory dictum. That really the question over the last 130 years since they were first adopted in 1890, was an issue of how, uh, much they'd be enforced.
Speaker 2 00:41:25 Because if these laws were fully enforced, every business would be shut down. That's how much power the antitrust agencies have. So it becomes an issue of selective enforcement, which is another example of arbitrary law, which is non objective. And what we saw, I would say starting with the Reagan years was lax enforcement on the grounds that the antitrust laws were being used by disgruntled loser competitors, that there wasn't really any harm being shown to anyone but laggard competitors. So the Reagan administration, unfortunately they didn't drop any of the laws. They didn't amend and get rid of any of the laws they just told the justice department with the antitrust group is to, uh, not enforce them so strongly on certain grounds. Biden is reacting against them, all that in the, in the executive order, he says, not just I'm reversing what Trump did. He says, I'm reversing 30 years of lack of enforcement, of antitrust loans.
Speaker 2 00:42:26 And he names a very interesting, but fundamentally a collectivist standard just to show how far he's going when the conservatives and Reagan and, and Robert Bork and others in the 1970s and eighties criticized the antitrust laws and criticize him on the ground. Zine ran would namely, they violated individual rights. They criticize them on the grounds that they were longer being enforced in a way that helps consumers, consumer welfare. So they had what they call a consumer welfare standard. Namely, if you can't prove that certain competitive behavior is actually harming consumers in the sense of higher prices or lower cost goods or lower choice than we're not going to indulge, we're not going to allow the trust busters to go in. Um, the, the, the latest controversy is the binding people have dropped that they, they claim they're working for the consumer, but they think even that is too much of a selfish standard.
Speaker 2 00:43:24 So this is how far away we're getting from the objective, because this view of this antitrust laws are bad enough. What you have here is an executive branch willing to just take the reigns of antitrust and run them all through every possible agency, the government, and go after any business they want, for any reason, it's the closest thing, by the way I've ever seen to that famous directive, ten two eighty nine in Atlas shrug, except for the universal these controls. I remember part of directive 2 89, 10, 2 89 was, um, was the idea that the economy was out of control and we had to freeze it. This one, I think, is more of a, a power grab that would permit the administration to go or after any sector, in any company, in any industry at once and in a, in a very arbitrary way. Now, I just want to bring up a couple of things, um, counter to this, or just giving different color to it.
Speaker 2 00:44:22 If you heard, imagine what you would think if the president got up and the executive order was named executive order on promoting competition in American sports, not the American economy, right? The first thing you'd say, w what did they talking about? There's competition in sports has competition is going on all the time. Millions of dollars are being made. There's people in the stands who call themselves fans, which means they're fanatically loving this. And why is there not a competitive problem in competitive sports? And when you think about it, it's because there are already rules of the road they're objective and understandable. Everybody knows the rules of baseball, football, basketball, hockey. They're basically run as private leagues. They're not really government run, and they're based entirely on meritocracy, you know, may the best man of the mess, the girl, the best team win. And so there's competition, and nobody complains about it.
Speaker 2 00:45:21 And I think this is an indication of how wrong this is, that the problems that Biden is identifying, which are actually real problems, say a lack of innovation. He said at one point, although that's not entirely clear higher prices, uh, a less mobile workforce, um, those things are all due to government interventions. They're not due to capitalism. There is one good thing, by the way, I should say there is one good thing in all these 16 pages. And I've been harping on this for awhile on occupational licensing. Increasingly I think it's something like a third of the jobs out there. Now you need to go to the government and get a license permission in effect. And, and it's not just to admit, it's not just administrative like that. Sometimes you have to go take courses, you have to spend money. You have to spend time away from work.
Speaker 2 00:46:12 And it's a real barrier to entry. And he does say in here that bill, that he's asking certain government agencies to loosen or lower the occupational licensing standards. And that's a good thing. Um, he only says certain, so I don't know how sweeping it'll be, but, um, let me just finish with, I know we're running out of time, just a little flavor of how he talks about this. Um, this is from his press conference where he's introducing the executive order. So Biden says, quote, think of this and think of you agree on this quote, the heart of American capitalism is a simple idea, open and fair competition, where companies that want your business have to go out and offer better prices, services, new ideas, new products. Competition keeps the economy moving and growing fair competition. Notice that suggests there's unfair competition somewhere is why capitalism is have been the world's greatest force for prosperity.
Speaker 2 00:47:15 Danny says, I'm a proud capitalist. I know, oh, America can't succeed unless business succeeds, but capitalism without competition, isn't capitalism, it's exploitation. Instead companies competing for consumers. We now have companies consuming competitors, unquote very clever, very clever wording there. And I have to give a credit to the speech writers there, but a couple things fair competition. What does that mean versus unfair competition? We should be stressing free and open trade. And that is really the essence of why America has become wealthy and, and why it became wealthier when the anti-trust laws didn't exist. So, um, this is an important point it's made by, by the way, a lot and trenchant laid by Iran in her essay. Um, America's persecuted minority, big business. There's a whole section in there. You might want to read two or three really good pages on the meaning of competition and why it's not an essential feature of capitalism, but rather a by-product of it.
Speaker 2 00:48:21 And so to put this as a primary or as economist do to teach in econ 1 0 1, this model of pure and perfect competition, where basically you set up this bizarre kind of platonic world where no one can really win competitions. They're there they're modeled in such a way that if they have any quote unquote market power, if they have any power to, to set their prices or even advertise advertising is considered a market imperfection by this model that is what's driving this kind of Eagle attorney and approach that, that everyone starts the same and ends the same. That's what the perfect competition model actually demands, um, that that's driving this a lot. And now that also the hyperbolic discussion of capitalism without competition, I mean, the idea that the American economy has no competition is just laughable. It's bizarre. And it's, it's perfectly easier of course, for the government on its own, without calling up any business, to get rid of its own monopoly in schools, it monopolizes the school system.
Speaker 2 00:49:25 There's no competition or not enough of it in the schools. Why isn't it doing something about that? It's actually shutting down school choice, same thing with health insurance, the government blocks buying health insurance, first-class mails and obvious one pensions. I would go so far as to say money and banking, but that's even more radical, um, abiding despite the language. And I'm not sure why he feels the need to use the language. I'm a capitalist, um, is really not a capitalist. And I'll just leave you with this last quote a year ago. Literally. I don't know if he picked the date, but on July 9th, 2020, not July 9th, 2021. He said this quote it's way past time. We put an end to the era of shareholder capitalism. The idea that the only responsibility a corporate a corporation has is with its shareholders. That's simply not true. It's an absolute farce.
Speaker 2 00:50:21 They have responsibility to their workers, their community, their country. It's not newer, radical notion. These are basic values and principles that help build the nation in the first place. Unquote. So he's in this tradition of stakeholder, not shareholder capitalism. And I, my view has been that shareholder capitalism is a redundancy. That's the only real capitalism there is. And stakeholder stakeholder capitalism is a oxymoron. And I think the reason to a way to untangle this is the reason he's saying I'm a capitalist. And then Liz Warren has done the same thing. Senator Warren, she has said the same thing. Their view is as long as they don't advocate public ownership of the means of production, the typical socialist definition, then they're capitalists. But actually what they're advocating is private ownership and government control private ownership of the means of production. They're not going to nationalize anything, but this kind of directive is basically nationalizing ubiquitously, the decision-making of business, which is the fascistic model to be fair, not to get hyperbolic about it. But that combination is what fascism is. Capitalism is private ownership and private control. Socialism is public ownership and public control set. Fascism is this hybrid. And that's what this order represents, how, how far it will be applied. I'm not sure, but it's really ominous and I'll leave it at that
Speaker 1 00:51:50 A couple of quick points. So, uh, I do to have some time for questions as well. Uh, so sketch the last 30 years, it strikes me that we're kind of at a cultural tipping point that some trends are, are, are becoming normalized. So to go back to the 1990s, for example, the official ideological policy of the United States was the so-called third way. When, uh, bill Clinton became president of the exact same movement in great Britain, under a president, a prime minister, Tony Blair. So the idea was, you know, we've had this, uh, Reaganomics and supply side stuff, and everything has gone too far down the capitalist road at the same time. This is the early nineties. We've seen the failure of socialism and we don't want to have authoritarian socialism. So we are announcing, and it was a big fan fare marketing, public relations Madison avenue, the third way.
Speaker 1 00:52:43 And it's explicitly going to be private ownership, working hand in hand with government management. And we were all brothers and sisters under the skin. We're all going to be harmoniously managing and operating the economy together, government and business as equal partners in this, uh, this great adventure of the American economy. Now how much of that was, you know, genuine, how much did a cover story and so on, but that's no longer the official ideology and what has happened to see just a potted history here is, uh, you know, bailouts, uh, you go to the stream of bailouts that used to be unusual, extreme. Those have become normalized. So there's some barrel outs in the nineties and increasing number in the two thousands big numbers and oh 7 0 8. And so on, on through there, and now the idea of bailouts, we don't really even argue about that anymore.
Speaker 1 00:53:34 It just happens, you know, billions and trillions of dollars bail out any time, and it's going to be totally a government government initiative so that the private business side of it seems to have dropped the way Richard's mentioning the executive orders, the same trendline that over the course of nineties, 2002 thousands and 10. And so now, you know, some people are grumbling about the executive orders and so on, but again, it's normalized, of course the president or the, yeah, the president comes in and just does whatever he wants. So we've gone away from entirely, even that mixed economy. Third way interventionists model to the really the president is the chief executive, uh, officer, not of the government, but of the whole economy. Now we know, of course in the person of Joe Biden, that he is not actually writing all of these executive orders behind him are thousands and thousands of government workers and unelected bureau frats at various kinds of agencies. And he is the, uh, the mouthpiece and spokesman and the, and the moving pen for it. So we now have an unelected bureaucracy running the show, and we have normalized. The government can basically do what it wants with the economy. That's a big cultural shift over 25 years.
Speaker 0 00:54:49 Um, quick question, I went ahead and put the link to the executive order in the chat section of zoom. Um, but mark, you did ask if there's a particular section, since it is 16 pages, if you don't have this at the tip of your fingers, that's fine. He can dig through it. Um, but this particular section that reverses the consumer protection standard.
Speaker 2 00:55:12 Now it's spring. Now that standard is sprinkled throughout and there's mentions of it.
Speaker 0 00:55:18 Got it. So really you need to kind of read through the whole thing to get the comprehensive understanding of what this is all about. Huh? Is
Speaker 2 00:55:26 That there's a shorter version called the fact sheet of the order. You know, you know, the executive orders are getting too long when they have summary sheets of the executive orders, but you can look at that too. If you just search the internet for fact sheet on Biden executive order, that one's a little shorter. The first one's more legally,
Speaker 0 00:55:47 I'm sure it's shorter, but see, now I'm such a skeptic. I've taught summary long enough that I don't know that I even trust the fact sheets to summarize.
Speaker 2 00:55:59 So there's all that, by the way, they, they borrowed something from Trump called the whole of government model. I don't know if you remember that phrase. First time I ever heard the phrase was from, uh, pens. So he put Pence in charge of the response to COVID and pens came out one day and said, we have a whole of government. That's what, w H O not H who hold back. And the idea was every agency, all hands on deck, we're all going to tell you what to do. We're going to blanket the economy with this COVID reaction. And the Biden people use the same language. We're going to use a whole of government approach to promote competition. So that alone, I mean, even the language of the totalitarian approach, whole government, but it's just called whole government. Maybe they should call it a wholesome government, but that, but that's what they mean by whole government. They don't mean one or two agencies are going to work on this. They mean the, that every possible agency and department you can find will be on the case.
Speaker 0 00:57:04 Well, I hate to say this because we're already at the top of the hour, there have been questions. And this has happened in the past. That really are not on topic and even questions about, um, trying to reach Steven or Richard, and definitely go to the Atlas society website, www dot Atlas, society.org. And there's a contact link there. And if anybody has any ideas of things that they really would like to hear about, and one of these panels send that out, that will come directly to me and we can incorporate that in the future. And also I can forward any emails to either Steven or Richard as appropriate as well. So, um, please feel free to do that. I just wanted to mention that as well, but we have got to the top of the hour. So I think we probably need to wrap this up.
Speaker 0 00:57:56 I want to thank everybody for joining us today. And again, I'm Vicki Rodino. And if you enjoyed this video or any of our other materials, please consider making a tax deductible donation at that same, um, website, Atlas society.org. And then also please turn in next week when Mustafa Abdul, who was the author of reopening Muslim minds or return to reason, freedom and tolerance will be our guests for the next episode of the Atlas society asks. And I hope everybody has a great rest of the day and a great rest of the week. And we'll see,
Speaker 2 00:58:33 Can I make one more plug Vicky tomorrow night at, oh, now as I'm pretty sure it's 8:00 PM Eastern time, another morals and markets on big tech. So the Suskin discussion will be somewhat similar to the competition issue on big.
Speaker 0 00:58:53 Absolutely. Where can people find that?
Speaker 2 00:58:56 So if you go to the Atlas society website under events, it has morals and markets, which is a monthly, uh, on Thursday nights, pretty much under events, I think. Okay, great. Thank you.
Speaker 0 00:59:11 All right. And enjoy freedom Fest and.