[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hello everyone, and welcome to the 173rd episode of the Atlas Society. Asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I am the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit engaging young people with the ideas of Ayn Rand in fun, creative ways, including our graphic novels and animated videos. Today we are rejoined by John Tamney. Before I even begin to introduce our guest, I want to remind all of you who are joining us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube you can get started with your questions. Just use the comment section and type them in. We'll get to as many of them as we can. So John Tamney is back for a second star turn on our webinar. He previously joined us back in 2020 when he discussed his book They're Both Wrong a Policy Guide for America's Frustrated Independent Thinkers. He has published additional books since then, including When Politicians Panicked, which I highly recommend. And it's a little bit different than some of the guests that we've had on to talk about the COVID interventions and their impacts, as well as the money confusion, how literacy about currencies and inflation sets the stage for the crypto revolution. He is, of course, also the director of the center for Economic Freedom at Freedom Works and editor of Real Clear Markets, with many published articles on the areas of tax, trade, and monetary policy. John, thanks for joining us again.
[00:01:56] Speaker B: Hey, Jen, thanks so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
[00:02:00] Speaker A: So, John, while I wanted to have you on primarily to talk about your two most recent books, in preparing for this interview, I treated myself to one of your earlier works, The End of Work Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job. And given the Atlas Society's target audience of young adults, I think the book actually has a lot of great advice for Gen Z, especially young people who are just entering the job market, worrying about maybe getting started on the wrong career path, or going into a very competitive field where only a tiny sliver have a shot of becoming top performers. And I think your book actually has a lot of encouraging news for young people. Particularly Instructive, I found, was how you described in some detail your own sometimes meandering professional path, in some ways reminded me of my own, to finding your spot, doing what you love, and making a decent living from it. So in that context, can you share a little bit about that path and what young people can take away from it as they embark on their own careers?
[00:03:25] Speaker B: Well, I'm so glad you brought it up, because that was my favorite book that I ever wrote, which naturally means no one bought it or read it, so I'm glad that you have.
I am strongly of the belief that the future of work is going to be about passion, of people so in love with their job, that they're doing it all the time, not because they have to, because they want to. I'm reminded of something of what you told me years ago. You said that one of your employees once said to you, TGIF. And you said, I didn't fire her that day, but it was a data point in my analysis of her.
I don't ever look Friday as different from Monday or Sunday. For me, work is what I do to relax, to be happy. I can't get enough of what I do and the End of work the way I titled it. And I'll forever be mad at the publisher for changing the title. I titled The End of Laziness. The theme of the book is there are no stupid people, there are no lazy people, but small economies, economies without dynamism, economies that lack robots and job destroying technology, suffocate a lot of genius on the job. The reason young people have so much to look forward to, and I would give anything to be 20 years old today is that the addition of not just machines that do for us, but machines that think for us. Is setting the stage for work that we are so passionate about, that we're all charismatic. As in we can't wait to do work because it elevates what's unique and brilliant about all of us. This is what division of labor does. And machines are the personification of labor division. They allow us to specialize. And so I think the future is going to be amazing. What I give to be born today, what I'd give to be 20 today. Anyone listening, please keep in touch with me. I want to hear about your jobs because they will be all of they pay you to do that. Variety. There are literally I'll stop here, but there are literally people who make lots of money today for their sleeping.
They make money because they teach girls how to get into the right sorority. The range of work today is staggering for its specialization of human skills. And it's beautiful.
[00:05:55] Speaker A: Thank you, capitalism. And I remember that conversation and it is one of my big pet peeves. But it tells me something about someone, whether they are working with us or it's just somebody else. Like maybe it's somebody that might be a friend or somebody to do business with. And if they think that Friday is the celebration day, to me, my favorite days are Monday because I'm continuing to work throughout the weekend because it's again, what I like to do, what I enjoy doing. It's my highest purpose.
But also I can count on Mondays at least everyone that's working with me will be back and fully engaged. And so it's our team day to hit the ground running.
Talking about the young people who are starting out today, you wrote The End of Work in 2018, but in some ways I think it's even more relevant today with all of the conversation about the artificial intelligence revolution and how it will change the nature of work. We have the techno pessimists on one extreme, seeing a future dystopia in which robots will be our overlords. And then we have the techno utopians on the other who believe that technology will meet all our needs. What is a more objective way to view how AI will change the job market and the economy in 510, 15 years from now?
[00:07:36] Speaker B: Well, I think the first question that's got to be asked is name me a society in history that's attracted a lot of investment because it's stuck in the past.
By definition, technology is a lure for the very investment that creates all jobs.
What's the job market going to look like? If I knew exactly, I'd be a billionaire right now. But what I will say is that precisely because machines that do and think for us are going to create abundance on a level that we can't fathom, what we can do for a job will be a reflection of what we can't get enough of.
I believe we started out as an agricultural economy, then we became the manufacturing economy, then we became a service economy. I'm strongly of the belief that the next economy will be described as an entertainment economy, as in people will work. They'll have three and four day work weeks, but they'll be working all the time because work will be a reflection of what they're best at, of what they can't get enough of doing.
I'm so glad that you brought up the book. Came out in 2018, but it continues to write itself right now. Pick up a Wall Street Journal and these two jobs that I mentioned. Wall Street Journal has recently had a cover story about how people get paid a lot of money for sleeping, and they post their sleep online and they make a fortune for doing it. Sorority consultants are another big job out there right now that's growing by the day. Boy, we must be a rich capitalist society. If people can do this for a living, and thumbs up to that, they get to do what they love, what they're passionate about. I read something the other day that high school football kickers are now specialists and they have kicking coaches in high school, certainly in video games now. Video game is now profession, as is video game coach. When you and I were growing up, if we had said we were going to be a video game player for a living or a coach, they would have had us committed. But so the future is work that you and I will look back on when we're aging and say, wow, the greatest gift of capitalism is that it freed people to do what elevates them the most. And that wasn't true when Rand was really alive. So many people had to work just to live.
Now in the future, people will live to work and it's going to be beautiful.
[00:10:03] Speaker A: Yeah.
When I'm asked by younger people for career advice, one of my biggest pieces of advice is, what is it that you really can't help doing? And that could even be a negative one. And without mentioning names, I'll mention a very good friend of mine, and I've known her for 30 years. We both kind of entered politics and media at the same time. And one thing that always a little bit annoyed me about her, she was a big complainer. She was a big critic.
Everything that she saw, she had something negative to say about it, which is like the opposite of my personality. But she's making tens of millions a year now because she found a way to take this tendency and become a professional critic on television. Right. And now that's what she does. So sometimes even some of those things that people would say would be bad habits of yours that could be turned to your advantage. All right. Now, what I wanted to definitely talk to you about in today's interview when you joined us on the Atlas Society asked it was in October of 2020, and we started the program in March of 2020, and it was about seven months into the government's various interventions to fight the virus. Your book when politicians panicked came out in March of 2021. And what I find different about your account is that while a lot of the other authors have drilled down on various impacts of interventions, from masks to mandates and impacts on learning or impacts on health, you really focus on the economic interventions and their aftermath. You preface the exploration by contrasting the extraordinary efforts to manage the economy with what was known as early as February about Cohen's relative lethality used the example of FedEx in Wuhan. So tell us a little bit about that because now, you know, the accepted narrative is, well, we really didn't know, but I think we did. And you have some data to suggest.
[00:12:30] Speaker B: That, oh, we very clearly knew. Now, let me be clear. I think the worst arguments against the Lockdowns are medically. The best arguments. The only arguments against the Lockdowns are freedom. Free people produce information. Very importantly, they produce wealth. That is the biggest enemy that death and disease have ever known. But the simple truth is, the more threatening something is, the more superfluous is government action. Which means that the worst excuses for the Lockdowns were the original ones, that we were going to overflow hospitals and we were going to die. No one needs to be forced not to get sick and die. So let us alone so we can figure out how to deal with the virus. Freedom works, plus it creates the wealth.
But we also knew that the virus was many things, none of them lethal. And we knew this from China. People can love or hate China, but what they can't deny is that it's a massive market for some of the most valuable US. Companies. Apple sells a fifth of its iPhones in China. McDonald's second largest market is China. There's 6200 Starbucks in China. It's the second largest market for Nike. On and on and on. Look at the share prices of those companies in February of 2020. They were in just about every instance at all time highs. Well, markets always tell what governments are late to tell us, or what governments don't know, or what governments don't want us to know. And so if the virus that originated in China had been a mass killer, we would have seen it in the collapse of US. Shares to reflect the fact that the biggest non US. Market for us. Producers was in decline.
But in fact, they were hitting all time highs. Market evidence that the virus is many things, none of them terribly lethal. The FedEx example is apt. FedEx had and has a very large operation in Wuhan, over 900 people. And Fred Smith made the point. Know, we tested everyone in this shipping plant.
You know, some of them tested positive, but they're all healthy. Elon Musk saw something similar. He had operations over there, especially young, just it wasn't a threat to them. And so they knew this. Yet despite this, politicians panicked anyway, and it will go down in history as an unmitigated disaster. So anti life, it made us less safe, and it caused global starvation and poverty in a way that we haven't seen in our lifetimes. It was just a true tragedy, which is what happens when you separate when you basically let politicians separate themselves from the marketplace.
[00:15:15] Speaker A: Starvation, the return of young children, girls being bartered off in child marriages, return of a lot of diseases that we thought that we had beaten. So it was just a real kind of collective act of suicide, sabotage. All right, back in 2020, there was a lot of talk about recession, but you stress that such a diagnosis misread what actually occurred. You write, quote, recessions are healthy and force the change that leads to better economic times. But this was something entirely know.
[00:15:58] Speaker B: Economies are just individuals. And so as individuals, we're always enduring recessions, and they happen at different times. Recessions are the signal. Atlas Society Chairman Jay Lapare once said to me, he said, the hangover is not the recession. That's the cure. That's the signal telling you you've been doing something wrong. And so we go through recessions, and that's when we're in recovery. That's when, oh, I don't feel well after a big night out. Oh, I hired the wrong people, I'm in the wrong job, and I'm not prospering. And so recessions are the process whereby we're released from a job that doesn't make sense, or businesses release workers who aren't a fit, or they realize they've made a bad decision. Good businesses routinely rush to their errors. And so that's what happens in recessions, is that we're forced to realize our mistakes and fix them. And so recessions signal recovery on the way in 2020. This wasn't a recession. This was the imposition of command and control.
This was government substituting itself for the marketplace, which is the people. What did experts say back then? They said, if we don't act, there's a crisis. Well, that was a self fulfilling prophecy. Whenever you substitute the unlimited, expansive, collective knowledge of the people, which is the marketplace for politicians, you get a crisis. We saw this in 2008, we saw it in 2020. We see it every time government intervenes. What's notable and frustrating for me is so often we see this under Republicans who claim they're for limited government, yet because they're rhetorically for limited government, they have the bandwidth to create major damage and crises every time they're in power. We need Republicans for once to act like Republicans and say, you know what? The markets are telling us something. Something is happening. We better let markets speak, because if we speak for the markets, we will get the very problems that we're trying to avoid.
[00:18:03] Speaker A: Let's talk about some of those economic interventions, including the so called Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, which, for the record, the Atlas Society unequivocally rejected taking any government bailout money, while other objectivist outfits, I think, disgracefully pursued it. Of course, one would expect those on the left to enthusiastically embrace such government spending schemes. But how to explain why conservatives, including the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, got behind the idea of a federal loan program?
[00:18:42] Speaker B: It staggers the mind. And I think the problem is there's not congenital libertarianism or Randianism at either place. And because there isn't, they constantly stumble because they don't lead with freedom as the first principle. The PPP was an insult to common sense, because who was calling for it in February of 2020? No one. And the reason they weren't is that the economy was broadly in fine shape. So the answer wasn't PPP.
It was just ending lockdowns. That made no sense. And to be clear, they would have made even less sense if millions of Americans had already died from the virus. You don't need to be forced to avoid what might kill you. In this case, there was no reason for lockdowns. But let's be clear about that. And so to me, I'm so glad you brought this up, because the biggest tragedy of this is what businesses were theoretically forced to do. Remember, a government, in shutting down the economy, effectively shut down capital markets. Let's be clear that in a free economy, businesses never run out of money. They run out of investor trust. Well, in this case, with the economy shut down, business owners had nowhere to go. And that's the sickest thing about there's so many sick things about this.
We don't talk enough about how government basically forced proud people into their hands. They never wanted government money. But to some degree, I will accept them doing what was a non sequitur, what was unnecessary, because they had nowhere to go. And so proud people were forced into the hands of government.
And it occurred as Republicans and conservatives were cheering this on at the most important page of opinion in the world.
It's something we can't let be forgotten. It was a tragedy. And it's so against what you believe, and it's so against what Atlas Shrugged is about being forced into the hands of the takers who were only so happy to be handing out the money of others at a time of desperation.
[00:21:01] Speaker A: So other than the waste and the fraud, which has been documented, what was the economic impact of PPP? You write about it in the book, but what were the consequences?
[00:21:14] Speaker B: Well, by definition, the impact was twofold for one.
It was horrifying because they were extracting precious resources from the economy and centrally planning their redistribution so that on its own, all that trillions of spending overseen, dare I say it, by Republicans. It was a Republican president in office. Can't Republicans for once act like Republicans when we need them to? And so the trillions in spending was an obvious downer on the economy. Remember, the argument was, unless we spend this money, the economy will collapse. No, it was government action that caused the economy to collapse. Why would we then hand government trillions more in precious resources to hand out? But this is the first thing. The second thing, the US. Economy is the biggest, best in the world precisely because tomorrow never looks like today. Businesses are always dying. Jobs are always being destroyed as precious resources are pushed relentlessly to higher uses only for the government to step in and basically freeze 2020 in time. We're going to keep everything in business, regardless of whether it merits more money, because the capital markets would have chosen very differently from what government did. And so we'll never know how much further along we'd be economically today. But let's be clear, we would be much further along. Opportunity would be much greater. We'd be a much richer, happier, more advanced society if this hadn't happened.
[00:22:46] Speaker A: Yeah, a lot of the focus was on this job preservation aspect, and I sympathize with that, particularly if you're in a business where you are being forcibly shut down.
You have a theater, let's say, and you're not able to offer movies and do your service.
But to me, among many other reasons, it's very important for employers to be able to preserve the ability to make decisions. I mean, companies and even nonprofits, we're not job banks, right? We have an objective. We either have shareholders or we have trustees and donors who have invested in us to get particular things done. And in a crisis, I also want to make sure, how are people going to be responding? Are they getting creative? Are they figuring out other ways and workarounds to get things done. And if they're not, I might not want to keep that person on the payroll. And people are looking for ways to be creative about how they deploy resources. So talk about that job preservation aspect and why that was a problem.
[00:24:08] Speaker B: Well, it was a problem because in a growing society, the nature of work is constantly changing. One of the big themes of the book is if you go to the poor parts of the world, work is generational. And for some people, this generational work is literally cleaning out gutters and eating every night with a stench of human matter unavoidable.
And so with these lockdowns, people who literally clean out gutters for a living in Pakistan were suddenly unable to send their kids to schools, schools that were going to free them from the work that they had to do. And so this notion of job preservation is so backwards.
It's what failed societies do. So on its own, it was a tragedy. But let's look at this in a bigger perspective.
Nothing is more important when something is spreading that people say is dangerous than freedom. Because people will make different choices. It's the different choices that protect us.
I knew libertarians who never went into a restaurant for a year. Now I don't get that. But that was their choice. And we learned something. We learned did it work? We learned that it wasn't very effective because most of the people hospitalized in New York had been sheltered in place.
In my case, the highlight of my day was going to the grocery store. And I liked it so much that I would purposely forget things so that I could go twice. And the minute restaurants opened outdoors, indoors, I was in them and I wasn't wearing masks. Well, you need people like me too. You need my decisions to see if they're problematic. I've got science denying parents in Pasadena, California, who said we're our late seventy s and we're healthy. You're not taking away our ability to live our lives. We will continue to live our lives and play bridge, and we're not wearing masks around our friends. You won't take that from us. Well, you needed people like my parents too. You needed to find out from people making different choices and businesses doing the same thing. Businesses saying, hey, we're going back to work. We're going to work in the office. No we're not. Different choices are what illuminate, what is safe and what's unsafe. Different choices of businesses show bigger businesses that might have the means to shut down, how to reopen what do people want instead? We blinded society and we blinded business to how to respond to a virus. And so if there's one thing I would take out of my book, I stand by every single thing in the book. At one point, I'm so embarrassed about this. I put in government's only role in this should have been be careful. Oh, how stupid. I was to say that government can't put its thumb on the scale because in doing so it can make comments without a market response. Businesses needed to make these choices and individuals these choices free of a panicky government they needed to make this on their own.
The challenge of government is they can say things without consequence. No, we needed private actors to make all these choices.
[00:27:13] Speaker A: John, don't be too hard on yourself. This book came out in March of 2021. So you were writing this while all of this was going on but I also appreciate your ability to say in retrospect I was wrong and this is why we needed to take a different path.
Spring of 2020 lockdowns US economy already in the tank and the focus of policymakers was all on stimulating consumption which came at the cost of investment. So why was that the wrong focus?
And talk a little about that mindset historically as this is a classic case of bad theory leading to bad policy.
[00:27:58] Speaker B: With devastating consequences well, why do we go to work? Most of us go to work because we want to get things. So the last thing a government would ever do is, quote try to stimulate consumption. There'd be no need. But let's never forget that what drives progress are those brilliant productive people who say you know what, I've got so much but I want to save too. And in saving they are providing capital to the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow. Economists when people tell me they're economists I look at them with contempt. I think why would you even want to admit that you're part of profession that says that economic growth causes inflation, that government spending powers progress, that war is the way out of an economic slowdown. This is what economists believe almost monolithically. So when people say they are I just think oh gosh, sometimes people refer to me as an economist and I say please, that's insulting. Don't ever call me an economist.
But economists believe near monolithically that consumption drives economic growth. Well, no it doesn't. I mean consumption is an effect of economic growth. We are all producing to get things. Sometimes we save in order to delay the getting but the production is what powers the consumption at which point those who save some of their production provide capital to the Jeff Bezos's and Mark Zuckerberg's and Bill Gates and Michael Milkens of tomorrow. And so when politicians create incentives to buy things as though that's going to create growth they're looking in the rear view mirror it's savings, it's a lack of spending that powers economic growth. And that's why I always argue if you want economic growth you better put rich people on the highest of high pedestals because they by virtue of being rich can't spend it all. And in not spending it all they provide the crucial capital without which there is no progress, there's no job opportunity, nothing.
[00:30:07] Speaker A: Yeah, I was just in Guatemala giving a speech called Putting the Capital Back in Capitalism. And I was making the case for why I vastly prefer the term capitalism to free markets. Because in a market, market is about transaction, but before transaction comes production. And in order to have production, whether you are opening a nail shop or you have a huge new technology that's going to change the world, you need investment. You need somebody to put that money in.
And so let's talk a little bit about the stimulus, so called stimulus spending legislation that the Trump administration crafted with Congress first. What did it comprise? There was the PPP, the individual checks. What else? And what were the effects of all of that spending?
[00:31:07] Speaker B: It was 2.7 trillion. It was the PPP, it was keeping businesses afloat.
There were individual checks, of course, that went out.
What a tragedy. Government has no resources. So in order to redistribute all this wealth, it had to extract it first.
Well, it's only the rich generally that have access, that have unspent wealth. And so we turned 3 trillion that in a normal world would have found its way toward new ideas and existing businesses on the way to advance and job creation and technological advance.
Government took that 3 trillion and just handed it to people to buy things. But see, that's what economists believe. They believe consumption is the answer. No, consumption once again, is what happens after production. And so government spending as a rule is a wet blanket on economic growth. And it's particularly frustrating right now because you'll see the stuff again from centers of opinion that are on our side. They say, well, isn't it OD that there's deficit spending now when the economy is good?
That implies that no governments should really when they really should waste money is when the economy is bad. No, it's when the economy is worse off that you want government to do the least because that's when businesses and individuals are most in need of capital. Why would you hand it to politicians to waste? Yet there's this Keynesian mindset that has infiltrated our side in sick, sick ways. We saw it with the lockdowns. We still see it.
[00:32:51] Speaker A: So speaking of economists, with some people that I love and have had on this space, you had Larry Cudlow directing Trump's National Economic Council, outside advisors like supply side Luminaries Art Laffer help us make sense of where this policy advice might have been coming from. I know you weren't in the administration, but were these advisors sidelined? If so, by whom? Any guesses? Or do you think that they unfortunately bought into this kind of this time.
[00:33:31] Speaker B: Is different frame of mind, as the book title says, that everyone should buy? When politicians panicked, I think there was a lot of panic.
It's very unfortunate, and this is the problem when people aren't pure in thought. And I don't want to get too jingoistic about it, but. If you don't lead with freedom, you can get into a lot of trouble. And this is what I always tell people. I say lots of people on our side. Yeah, we'll see that. We cut taxes and economic growth. GDP grew 6.8%.
Look, I'd be for tax cuts even if you could prove to me that it led to slower economic growth. Freedom is my deal.
Growth is what look, in a free society, we'll get all the growth we'll ever want. And so the mistake here was and instead of saying, wait a second. This is a country founded on freedom, founded on skepticism about government, we will never take away the right of free people to make choices, particularly when times are fraught, particularly when there's a virus. The last thing we would ever do is take away freedom. The last thing we would ever do is reach into the pockets of the rich and hand out wealth. And so I think the problem is the Trump administration was like any other administration.
They don't quite believe their rhetoric. I'm sorry. There's no way of getting around it. Larry Kudlow should have resigned over this. Arthur Laffer should have put and if he sees this, I would say it to his face. He should have resigned. What Trump did went against everything he's ever believed. How does he begin and end his shows? I believe free market capitalism is the answer. It's something like that. You run away from this and Laffer should have they all should have spoken out and said, this will not work. We have a problem of lockdowns. We don't have a problem of a lack of money.
[00:35:32] Speaker A: All right, we're going to turn to questions in just a moment. Let me get in this last question of my own regarding inflation. How much of the inflation that we've seen over the past three years is due to the expansion of the money supply? That 2.7 trillion to fund all of the stimulus spending. How much is due to other causes including rising oil prices due to biden's environmental policies like canceling the Keystone pipeline. Would love to get your take on this.
[00:36:04] Speaker B: Yeah, none of it.
Hey, Jen, I want to buy your house in Malibu. I'm going to pay you an Argentine pesos here. Would you take them?
[00:36:16] Speaker A: I'll take bitcoin.
[00:36:18] Speaker B: Well, see, you wouldn't take pesos. Well, guess what? Neither will argentinians. But they will take dollars. Now, are the dollars circulating in Argentina?
Did the Fed put them there? Did they supply the dollars? Is an economy reliant on people at the Fed supplying money? Certainly not. The dollar is the world's currency because it's trusted around the world. That's not to say it doesn't have Demerits, but it's what the world uses. If you go to Pyongyang Tehran, you go to Buenos Aires, you go to Crocus, you better have dollars if you want to buy things. The local currencies, they won't take.
And so I say this as a way of saying that government couldn't increase, quote, money supply on its best day. Markets decide what money circulates. Government can do no such thing. And so inflation is a devaluation of the Unit excess. Quote, money supply is what happens after inflation. Now, you look at what happened here in recent times. Let's just do a brief digression to the opening pages of wealth of nations. What did Adam Smith observe? A pin factory. In that pin factory, one man working alone could maybe produce one pin per day, but several men working together could produce tens of thousands. What is the lesson from all this? When work is divided across more and more hands, machine and human, the price of everything declines because we can produce more and more for less and less. Well, in 2020, politicians on both sides eviscerated freighting and working in global cooperation that had built up over decades.
And they took away that freedom for people to work together for quite some time, only to wake up months later and say, oh, you're free again. Don't mind what we did in causing so much destruction.
You think prices are going to be higher after this. And this isn't a supply and demand thing.
This is when you break up what was so sophisticated.
Of course, it's going to be more expensive to produce after the fact, and it's going to be more expensive because it took decades to build this. I mean, this was the ultimate insult to what Randians should be all about. They are about these industrialists basically spreading labor around the world on the way to massive amounts of production, only for the right to do that to be taken away.
Vet prices are higher after what happened is a statement of the obvious. But it's got to be stressed that command and control is not inflation. Inflation is a devaluation of the Unit, which we saw in the 1970s, we saw during George W Bush's presidency. We haven't seen it under Biden. Look, Biden's an empty headed clown, settled science, but we haven't seen the dollar decline in any notable way. And so to call this inflation is like me. Jen. You know, I know that it's green over there, but can we call it blue? No, inflation is one thing, but of course, politicians love where we're going with this, because if they can blame the Fed that has never had the dollar's value as part of its portfolio in all of its existence, if they can blame the Fed, maybe it causes everyone to forget what they am as. But as the book makes these, I am very much on the outside looking in, making lonely arguments. I argue in the book's penultimate chapter that this is not inflation. And to say it is misunderstands what inflation is, it avoids a discussion of what happened under Trump with the lockdowns, and it excuses politicians on both sides who thought that the answer to a spreading virus was taking away our freedom and crushing our ability to produce. And so I know I'm alone here, but I will make the argument for the rest of my life that this was not inflation. Inflation is a currency phenomenon born of devaluation. We did not see it in modern times. Yet politicians are loving that we're talking about inflation right now.
[00:40:28] Speaker A: All right, well, and I want to let people know that. John, how often do you write your column? I was looking at real clear markets, and it looks like you've got sometimes you have two columns out a day.
[00:40:43] Speaker B: Oh, Jag, thank you for that's. True. No, true. As I told you, one of the reasons I'm so optimistic is I think technology is just going to make the world so much better for everyone and lead to amazing jobs. But I'm living my book.
I used to think I was lazy. Now it just turns out I was doing the wrong work.
I can't get enough of my work. I never turn off. I'm always thinking about it. And so I don't understand people who would work in our field and not publish columns all the time.
As I see it, I think a lot of them should be put out of work or something or go do something else, do something that you actually want to do, because maybe they should.
[00:41:28] Speaker A: Go advise sorority sisters or something.
[00:41:30] Speaker B: Yeah, no, really, maybe they'd be better at it. Because I go to certain think tank websites and I look at the scholars output, and one of them is the second highest paid person at the think tank in which he's in his employee. He's written two blog posts the whole year. Why are you here unless you're trying to change minds? And so for me, I can't get enough of what I do. But if brilliant people are going to direct some of their wealth toward me so that I can do what I'm doing, I now head up. This is a new thing. I head up the Parkview Institute. This is my new organization. If people are going to make it possible for me to do what I can't get enough of, I will be relentless in the work I do, because I will never make them feel like I'm sloughing off. They've got to know that I'm working constantly because I can't live with myself if I'm not. But again, the great thing is I enjoy it. I can't get enough of it. And so it makes it easy to do.
[00:42:29] Speaker A: Well, I think we also learned a lot about ourselves, about our relationships, about the government.
But we also did learn something about the think tank world and the libertarian think tank world or conservative think tank world in terms of how people responded to this. And there was a lot of disappointing takes from people that should have been standing up and being the leaders and pushing back against what the government was doing. All right, we're going to grab some questions here because they're really good.
My Modern Galt on Instagram, our friend says, john, have you heard about the anti work movement that's gone around social media, things like Lazy Girl Mondays or people just basically promoting how they're slacking off, they're doing less?
[00:43:26] Speaker B: Yeah, no, I've heard of it.
I think people, maybe at different times in their lives, have been in jobs where they feel like they haven't been treated properly, and so they, quote, go on strike.
I think it's sad, but my response would be, happiness is hard, and I don't think you're happy unless you're working. I don't think you're happy unless you're passionate about something. And a lot of us, we're Americans, we find it and work.
We descend from the crazies across oceans to get here, to get a taste of what it's like to have control over our lives and freedom. And so if you're not doing something you love, sometimes you go on strike. And my answer is, don't feel sorry for them because they're missing out. They're clearly in the wrong job, because if they were in the right job, they would be working because they can't not work.
[00:44:18] Speaker A: Yeah, that's true. That's true.
All right, Mark Schoop says he just bought the hardcover of Why Politicians Panicked. It's on the way and recommend the rest of you do as well.
All right, Candice Morena on Facebook says you see a number of businesses wanting to return everyone back to the office instead of remote work, but they're finding a lot of people who don't want to go back. What do you think the future holds for the workplace?
[00:44:52] Speaker B: I think the future of the workplace is in headquarters, in offices, people working together.
To say otherwise is to imply that for all these decades, businesses spent fortunes on headquarters that they didn't really need, that they could have become what they became if people were working from home, except they couldn't have. At Goldman Sachs, everything is culture. They literally knew associates and analysts there. They hand them credit cards and they say, take out different people at different levels at the firm for dinner and spend a lot of money. You need to meet the people who make Goldman what it is because we want you to be future culture carriers.
Steve Jobs, when he designed the latest Apple headquarters, he designed it with random running into each other as the biggest factor in it. It's people colliding with ideas that leads to creativity. And so there's no doubt there are aspects of work that can be done anywhere. You and I are so passionate about our work that I work on airplanes, and I would never have done that back when I did work that I didn't really like. But the simple truth is that it's healthy for people to be around each other because that's how they get to know that's how the culture is built. That's how they learn other things from other people that can't change. The human contact, the human aspect of work, is not going to change. And so my guess, and this is a beautiful thing, I think we'll see in time that cities full of sky, the density of skyscrapers will grow and grow and grow, and it's a beautiful thing.
[00:46:30] Speaker A: All right, this is a good question from Georgie Alexopoulos on Facebook. How do you maintain optimism with so much that works to crush our liberties?
[00:46:41] Speaker B: How do I maintain optimism? Because, yes, we can point to the negatives, and there are lots of negatives, but boy, look around the world.
Most anyone would give anything to be where we are.
We are so lucky to live in the United States where the range of ways in which we can showcase our genius in the workplace is just so vast.
Yes. Does government try to crush us? They do. But never forget, we're always a bit in the Dark Ages because government is full of ding dongs who work in government, but they're never as fast as capitalists. Capitalism is so fast, and it gets faster all the time. While government is still stuck in the proverbial typewriter era, capitalists continue to figure out ways to outrun them. And because they do, never worry about this. When people talk about how the US is in decline or it's a banana republic, or if Trump gets elected, or if Hillary Clinton gets elected, we're going to be Venezuela. I'm so insulted. How dare you talk about the United States that way? It implies that someone as empty as a Biden, a Clinton, a Trump whatever this isn't a knock on any of them could break the greatest country on Earth. It implies that the greatest country on Earth is not worth saving. I reject that notion. Go anywhere in the world and watch what people would do to be sitting in your seat. And so, yes, we have errors in 2020 was a tragedy, but we are way too smart for people in government, and we will continue to work around them and we will live better and happier as a result.
[00:48:25] Speaker A: Zach Carter on Instagram. And Zach, I think you got the author on this one incorrectly. You're saying that John wrote an article are Lockdowns and election year ransom note, and I think that was Jeff Tucker.
I think so, yeah.
But regardless, the question is still valid. He's asking, do you think there is a ransom note coming or here for the 2024 elections?
Do you think there was an interplay? And I know this really isn't your focus between politics, and I have found some compelling arguments that people were so that the expert class, the technocratic elite, was so appalled by people ignoring their advice on climate change or on Trump or on this, and that the Lockdowns were a way of kind of reasserting their control. It was the return of the experts with a vengeance. Any credence to that?
[00:49:36] Speaker B: I don't think so. I'd heard that that this was them getting back at Trump. Let's never forget the whole world followed us, and let's never forget that Donald Trump didn't have to go. This mean what I always argued to Trump fans, and to be clear, look me up. I've been very hard on Trump. I've been very positive about Trump. I think you can make good arguments for him either way.
But what I've said all along is Donald Trump, for once, didn't act like Donald Trump in the spring of 2020, and that's why he's not in the White House today. If Donald Trump had acted like Donald Trump, he would have said, some states, they have states rights. They can pursue this kind of police power. But if they do, if you lock your citizens down as a solution to the virus, you will have me campaigning in your state every single day. He would say, I've got a big, beautiful jet, and I will be camping out in your state, and I will put you out of office quicker than you'll ever imagine. If Trump does that, the states can't lock down. Because remember, if Trump doesn't sign the $2.7 trillion Cares Act, there's no way to subsidize the lockdowns across the country. There's no way that California can lock down. There's no way that any of these states could. And so I reject outright that this was the technocratic elite. This was politicians panicking. Stop blaming technology.
The only blame you could place on technology would, in theory, be a positive one. And it would be that if the virus had started spreading in 2020, there's no way there could have been lockdowns, and there couldn't have been, because too many rich people would have lost their jobs.
You couldn't order from grubhub at home, from the subhumans that would drop the food outside your door. You couldn't watch Netflix and Tiger King all day. You couldn't do your zoom meetings while the poor people who actually had jobs that gasp involved serving people, saw that they were put out of jobs altogether. If it happens in 2020, none of us there's no lockdowns because people couldn't no one would have taken losing their jobs in the process. And so I don't think this was technocratic elite. I think this was politicians panicked. And history books will properly point out that they'll just marvel at the abject stupidity of the political class that they fell for this.
[00:52:00] Speaker A: Well, we are coming to the top of the hour. I see there are dozens more questions that I'm not going to be able to get to. So apologies to those of you who typed in your beautiful questions.
And I'm going to tell you, we've got actually a lot more conversations coming up, including Twitter spaces, in 30 minutes, and then a discussion with one of our supporters on the ground in Israel on Thursday. But perhaps we'll have you back to talk about this, but at least tee this up for us a little bit. John, your book, The Money Confusion, the main argument, my takeaway was that the crypto collapse of 2022 was paragically the signal that crypto bitcoin will replace traditional forms of money sooner than most think. How is that?
[00:52:56] Speaker B: Well, because if you look at history, quote bubbles that lazy people refer to as bubbles are really just growth spasms. They're knowledge creation spasms. And so that there was a collapse in the crypto space was a sign of economies getting rational markets, getting rational markets, pushing out the bad in favor of the good. We saw this with the Internet 20 years ago. We need more of this, not less. And my point is that, first of all, money in circulation. It's very much, I think, A Randian thought that to presume that governments can just push money into circulation, really presumes that the producers are stupid. Now, producers only accept money that they can trust. And what we see, though, is that money is not trusted. How we know this is that there's seven to 10 trillion in daily currency trading. That is a sign that the producer class doesn't trust the money that they're using to exchange the wealth that they produce.
Well, what has capitalism shown us throughout time is that capitalism erases margins. And in this case, there's too much money being made in currency trading, which means that private money, money that people in the economy trust, is going to replace government money simply because government money hasn't lived up to what it's supposed to live up to. Devaluation by governments is as old as money is.
Capitalism requires a stable unit of account, which means capitalism is going to create for us the money that we truly desire, money that we can go to work and save and know that it will not be devalued away from us, that the fruits of our labor will not be taken from us throughout time. This is what capitalism does. It leads us it leads us to a better place. Imagine where stable money could lead us, because money is just a language. It's what allows us to work together. It allows us to specialize. And that's what I talk about in the book. Capitalism needs us to specialize more. And in doing, we will get ourselves to a level that will make the present look Bangladesh by comparison. And again, that's why I wish I could be as young as all of you, hopefully watching. But I wish I could be being born there. I wish I could be being born in 2100, because imagine the world when we have trusted money in addition to growing economic freedom.
[00:55:19] Speaker A: Well, you'll be watching that world through your children.
[00:55:23] Speaker B: That's right there's.
[00:55:24] Speaker A: That all right. One last question on crypto. Last week, the Atlas Society, at our annual gala in Miami, we had Michael Sailor, who was our 2022 honoree, presenting this year's lifetime achievement award to Ricardo salinas. Sailor's MicroStrategy is the world's largest institutional holder of bitcoin, with holdings worth 4.4 billion. And salinas himself holds 60% of his liquid assets in bitcoin. Both of them have been highly critical of some in the crypto space, things like NFTs, and they actually welcomed the crypto winter as a way of freezing out what they saw as some of the scams and the fly by night products, which have given many consumers a bad taste about all things crypto. Do you have any views of bitcoin as an asset, a long term store of value versus some of the other currencies that really are less about long term investments and more about short term purchasing?
[00:56:33] Speaker B: Well, I certainly agree with them that the beauty of this winter was that it pushed out the idiots. We need that to happen. That's markets at work, it may disappoint and surprise some watching that. I think bitcoin is a junk currency that will never live up to what it's supposed to live up to. Let me be clear why.
Precisely because it aims to limit the, quote, supply of the currency. It can never be real money.
Good money is unlimited. The only limit to good money is production. Think about it. Why is there so much money in Chicago and so little in taro, Illinois? Well, money finds production.
Money avoids where there isn't production. And so in a growing society, trusted money is what allows us to exchange real wealth. It's just a ticket. And so trusted money is everywhere and grows in, quote, supply all the time. It's not supplied by governments. If you got rid of government money today, the US. Would be full of money tomorrow because we are full of productive people. And so my challenge with bitcoin is that it thinks that there's value in limiting the supply of something. No, what makes something useful is money is that it's trusted. I mean, I say to you, jen, come fix my bathroom. I'll pay you a bitcoin now, bitcoin in six months and bitcoin in a year. You logically say, okay, well, which one? The one that was 60,002 years ago, the one that's what, 29,000 now?
The value of it changes all the time. Money works as an exchange of wealth because it's like a foot or a foot or a minute. And that's what we don't have. That's what bitcoin can't be based on the limits to its supply.
[00:58:29] Speaker A: I think in fairness to the sailors and the Salinases of the world, the distinction is less that it is a unit of exchange and more that it is a way to store long term value. And sailor in particular started becoming interested in this because of an experience that he had in Argentina, where know, he had holdings that were being just completely devalued. And he was trying to think of ways he could get that money that he had, that capital that he had in Argentina out and thinking, well, let's buy a yacht and just sail the yacht over to the United States, then sell it once it gets to our shores. So I think it's really more about a hedge against inflation.
Not sure if we'll ever get to a place where it's something that you'll be using to pay a plumber, for example.
[00:59:34] Speaker B: Well, that's the thing. I mean, look, to be clear, I think the creation of Bitcoin is a massive human achievement, and its broad circulation is a massive human achievement. But it's not a hedge against inflation. It's just price goes up and down. It's a speculation. Gold, you can say a lot of things about it, but gold goes up when the dollar declines. It goes down when the dollar rises. It's a natural hedge that markets happened on over millennia, many millennia. It's what they happened upon as a form of money. And so my problem with bitcoin is I question that it's even a good way to I think it's beautiful how people can move their wealth with them. It's amazing.
But if it's not stable, it has some of the worst aspects of an unstable currency. It mirrors the currencies in terms of instability, but in much grander ways. And that's what worries me. A store of value is something that you could trust all the time. The reality is bitcoin, its value changes all the time. And that's what I think renders it not a good store of value, but certainly not a currency. I know lots of people disagree, and that's what's important. I think from this pushback from markets speaking in different ways, we're going to get something that people really want.
[01:00:49] Speaker A: Well, we're going to try to get you to our Gults gulch 2.0 that is going to be in DC. Next summer. I'm sure Sailor will be there, and I would love to be a fly on the wall or a student in the audience for that discussion. Okay, before I let you go, I want you to tell us about this new institute that you just mentioned. Also, of course, you're the director of Freedom Works center for Economic Freedom. I've been thrilled to participate in one of the freedom Works forums. Of course, my personal hero, Joan Carter, is their chairman of the board. Many in our audience are familiar with FreedomWorks, but some may not be. So please share a bit about what the organization does and the role of your center for Economic Freedom in particular and why people should get involved, and then also about your new venture as well.
[01:01:43] Speaker B: Well, Freedom Works is just wonderful. And it's wonderful because of the people we have there, including Joan Carter and John Aglioloro. And what we do is we recognize that you don't get change from within Washington. You get change from outside by educating people, by engaging with people who want to change how things are done in Washington, but who live around the country. And so we educate them about policy and we help them. We teach them how to best engage with voters and change their minds. So the feeling is, if we do that, if we change how voters feel about things, that will force what we want out of Washington, quite literally. The Parkview Institute is me. I'm still officeing out of FreedomWorks, but what I wanted was the ability to focus full time on the writing, the speaking, the book writing part. Full time, educated, trying to change people's minds, trying to enhance the terms of debate. Haslett said long ago in economics in one lesson, that economics is stocked by fallacy. I think he's still right. Our side has won the debate, and we've kicked the other side's ass. And if anyone who disagrees with me, look back the 1970s, back when the federal government controlled, literally centrally planned airline routes, back when if you wanted to own a phone, it was a landline that you had to rent from the government's preferred monopoly. Back when there are price controls on gasoline in California, where you are as OD even days to pump gasoline. We won the debate. Liberty won and won big, but we're still not there. Economics is still stocked by fallacy, as we've shown from our discussion tonight. Look at all the things that our side has gotten wrong in modern times. And so my goal is to continue to educate people on how much better things can be. It's an optimistic assessment that, no, America's best days aren't behind it. America is not a banana republic. We're not going to become Venezuela. What a laugh. But that we could turn what's spectacular into something exponentially greater than it is today. And so it's all about improving on what's great. And I think we can do that by improving understanding of economics and what powers human progress.
[01:04:00] Speaker A: So where is the best place for us to keep track of you? John signing up for Real Clear Markets or on.
[01:04:11] Speaker B: You can find I could use more followers on Twitter, certainly.
WW Parkviewinstitute.org, that's my new organization.
You can find my real clear markets as Jag alludes I produce at least six columns a week. Not blog posts, but real columns. But last week I did eight. I'm sure I'll do seven or eight this week, so I write a ton, but I keep them short, about 600 words. And there's just so much misunderstanding out there that I'm trying to fix, and I'm just incredibly privileged to do it.
I'm incredibly privileged to be doing this right now. So thank you, Jennifer, and thanks, everyone, for taking the time to listen to me. I couldn't be more flattered.
[01:04:57] Speaker A: Well, for all of our objectivists out there, I don't know if John actually considers himself an objectivist or student of objectivist, but you couldn't tell that from his writings because there's definitely a contrarian objectivist and a willingness to point out the things that everyone know. Refuses to see, the obvious that everyone refuses to see. So. Thank you, John. Thanks for all you do. Hope you'll come out and visit me in Malibu soon. Otherwise, I'll catch you in DC. Next time.
[01:05:32] Speaker B: Count on it. Count on it. Thank you so much.
[01:05:35] Speaker A: All right. And thanks to all of you who joined us today. Thanks for your great questions. If you enjoyed this video, any of our other materials and programming, please consider making a tax deductible [email protected]
. I was going to say at 30 minutes, but actually at the bottom of the hour, please head over to twitter x, where our senior scholar, Professor Stephen Hicks, will be hosting an X Spaces on postmodernist thinkers foucault and derrida, and how they won the transgender and insanity debates of the day. And then, of course, don't forget to join us back on Zoom. Tomorrow, I'm going to have a special interview with Dr. Michael Kaufman, who is on the ground live in Tel Aviv to share his in person perspective about what is going on there. And then come back and join us next week when author Alexandra Hudson discusses her book The Soul of Civility Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves on the next episode. That's definitely one I'm looking forward to and I think one that all of us can appreciate. So see you soon. Bye.