Gee, the Chinese seem to want a trade war.
That should raise the blood pressure of the Chicago School of Economics students.
Why should you care?
The truth is that the Democrats want you to care only because they sense a vulnerability they might be able to exploit in the 2020 election. Of course, what they know about business you could stuff in a thimble and still have room for the 20 mental midgets who want a chance to get the losing party’s nomination. Elizabeth Warren indeed.
If you were to add the IQ of the 20 candidates for the Democrat nomination together, it would not equal one American steelworker—and it is not my intention to insult steelworkers.
The other reason one might care is that your really cheap flat screen TVs will have to be made in Korea or Viet Nam in the future.
Here’s the fact.
China has been ripping us off since President Nixon went to China. We’re the bank they have been robbing. If we catch a cold, they get pneumonia.
They tax the hell out of our manufacturers one way or another, they keep their markets essentially closed to us and they steal our intellectual property. And we’re supposed to allow them to continue? Their next step is to try and replace the dollar as a primary currency.
The truth is that a little pain—slightly more expensive cheap Chinese crap, as an example—probably won’t hurt us.
In case you haven’t seen past the Shepard Smiths and Rachel Maddows of the world, things are pretty good right now for the middle class. However, economic hucksters on cable tv would like you to think we’re headed to 2008 all over again. Remember, when the market drops 700 points in one day, they get more viewers.
Of course, in 2008, crooks on Wall Street and crooks on Main Street had been deliberately making crappy home loans, packaging them up as securities, selling those securities to each other and betting against them.
When it all blew up, they turned to us, the taxpayers, for a bailout and got it. That solved Wall Street’s problem.
But on Main Street, the credit markets seized and millions of people found themselves with mortgages worth more than their houses because the market values of those houses crashed. Those with incomes could power through. Those who got loans which nobody in their right minds would have made, got evicted. And it represented a great buying opportunity for those who got bailed out.
Fast forward to today.
We have a real businessman in the White House—not a community organizer.
If Goldman Sachs and their buddies came to Donald Trump for a bail-out, they might get it but the terms would be much more onerous than the days when Barack Obama was there. Think of our President as negotiating for US in such a situation. We’ve never been in such good hands.
Now is not a good time for Wall Street to come begging.
So, they won’t. They will keep things under control.
There will be no securitization of NINJA (no income, no job or assets) loans like lenders were encouraged to make before 2008.
When you see the amateur economists—like the people responsible for the last crash—predicting another economic crash, remember two things.
One is that we can develop new markets for our exports.
Second, Chinas’ biggest market is us.
As far as China goes, how can they replace us? Especially if we stick with the President in keeping the pressure on.
The pencil neck geek who is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiffhead (read into that what you will), more than adequately illustrates what’s wrong with American government these days.
In short, the deep state and worse, the dumb state.
Schiff represents both.
And, worse, he’s NOT from Somalia. He’s from the People’s Republic of California.
Years ago, when I was in college, we ran a very small college radio station which broadcast local city council meetings, gavel to gavel.
I did color commentary.
Then, I would go home and wake up the next morning and read the daily paper’s report on the meeting.
I often wondered whether we were broadcasting the same meeting I was reading about.
Watching the Democrats spin it, I have the same problem with the testimony I saw from Robert Mueller before Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee (yeah, believe it or not, they still call it that). Also before that clown Jerrold Nadler’s Judiciary Committee.
What these idiots did was try to get Mueller to whittle a gun into a bar of soap.
The report from the special prosecutor was pretty clear that the President did not “collude” with the Russians nor did he attempt to obstruct the investigation. Period, full stop. And, by the way, “colluding” is not a crime.
Prosecutors DO NOT “exonerate” people. They indict them. Even the morons in the House have probably watched the real Adam Schiff (well, he’s more real than Congressman Schiffhead) on Law and Order for 10 years (actually Steven Hill) and probably know how it works.
Mueller refused to talk about how the investigation got its start. The FACT that the FBI used a completely discredited “dossier” compiled by a company which, it turns out, had been hired by the Democrat National Committee to ask for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) secret court. That document had been made up by a foreign spy which should tell you a lot.
The fact that 14 of the 18 investigators Mueller hired were registered Democrats should tell you even more.
And even after two years and $30-MILLION of our dollars that Mueller could not bring any action against President Trump should tell you all you need to know.
Did the President use some foul language? No more foul than I would have.
Did some people involved in the campaign get indicted for crimes totally unrelated to the campaign?
Did Trump do anything illegal? Not according to Mueller.
Mueller bumbled and stumbled through hours of testimony and looked like he is beginning to suffer from dementia. I felt bad for him. It was painful to watch.
Now, more importantly, did the Russians do anything illegal to manipulate the 2016 election?
Well, they bought a lot of facebook ads.
Facebook says that roughly 126 million Americans may have been exposed to content generated on its platform by the Russian government-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017. Keep in mind that the election was in November of 2016.
“This equals about four-thousandths of one percent (0.004%) of content in News Feed, or approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content. Put another way, if each of these posts were a commercial on television, you’d have to watch more than 600 hours of television to see something from the IRA,” Facebook told CNN.
And then, consider the source. Who in the hell takes Facebook seriously? In many ways, it is just as stupid as the Democrats in the House.
That’s meddling in the election? Then what about NBC, CBS and ABC?
All of the queen’s men couldn’t kill off the Trump campaign.
That’s largely because Queen Hillary called half of America “deplorable”.
Mueller didn’t “investigate” that.
People are dying all over the country from opioid overdoses. There’s a movement to have the antidote naloxone available in all ambulances and even over the counter. This temporarily reverses the fatal effect of opioids, which stop the patient’s breathing. First responders themselves may need a dose because of contact with a tiny amount of fentanyl, an extremely potent narcotic, while attending a patient.
No, the fentanyl does not come from the patient’s bottle of legal prescription drugs.
Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) introduced a proposal that he claims would “go a long way to fight the practice of doctor shopping for more prescription pain pills amid a deadly opioid crisis.” Doctor shopping “involves visiting multiple doctors.” Hardly new, this proposal, now passed by the House of Representatives as an amendment to a $99.4 billion Health and Human Services appropriations bill, lifts the ban on funding a Unique Patient Identifier (UPI).
The UPI is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. You don’t have one yet because former congressman Ron Paul, M.D., (R-Tex,) sponsored a prohibition on funding it as part of a 1999 appropriations bill. Rep. Foster’s amendment repeals Dr. Paul’s prohibition.
So how is this 1996 idea supposed to work? And why would it be better than the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) now in effect in nearly every state? Every prescription for a controlled substance must be reported to the PDMP, and the doctor must check it before writing a prescription, to be sure the patient is not lying about having prescriptions from other doctors. This costly program that creates time-consuming hassles for doctors has not prevented opioid deaths.
PDMPs are ineffective because doctor shopping is not the cause of the problem. Only 2.5 percent of misused prescription pain medicine was obtained by doctor shopping. And this small percentage apparently increased after PDMPs. More than 97% of misused medications are obtained from a single physician—or from an illicit source. The spike in opioid deaths after 2013 was caused by illicit fentanyl, as Dr. John Lilly concludes from painstaking analysis of official data.
If Rep. Foster’s amendment is not removed, you might have to have a UPI to get legitimate medical care—“no card, no care”—but the drug cartel won’t mind. You can shop drug dealers as much as you like. There is a flood of fentanyl, mostly from Mexico or China, coming across our borders. Rep. Foster is apparently unaware of the armed lookouts protecting the smuggling routes in the Tucson sector. And once here, the drugs go to distributors—such as illegal aliens protected in sanctuary cities.
So, what about the other touted benefits of the UPI? “Specifically, assigning a unique number to a patient would give doctors a way to immediately identify a patient’s medical history,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.). He says it “would lower the cost of medical mix-ups due to misidentification.” His elderly father was nearly given the wrong medication.
To prevent medical errors, you need alert nurses and doctors—and the UPI is not going to fix the hazards of the electronic health record. The EHR, touted as the solution that will bring efficient, quality care, has created its own type of errors.
There is no guarantee that a UPI will improve access to the record, and critical information will still be buried in voluminous, repetitious data of dubious reliability, some of which may have been cut-and-pasted from another patient’s record. There may be critical gaps as patients withhold information they don’t want in a federal database. The new problem that brings the patient to the hospital won’t be in the old record—but may be the result of an old misdiagnosis that should be corrected instead of copied.
Patients need to be able to shop for doctors, especially if the one they have has not solved their problems. Some of them desperately need opioids, which are increasingly difficult to obtain. They do not need a UPI, and neither does their doctor.
The UPI is ideally suited for government tracking and control of all citizens. People like J. Edgar Hoover or Lois Lerner might find it very useful. But it would be the end of privacy, and the foundation for a national health data system.
A few years ago, where I live (in rural Nevada), we thought there was going to be a neighborhood tragedy.
The 7-11 store which served my rural area started falling on hard times.
First, they got out of the gas business. The powers that be, told the owner that he needed to replace the underground tanks. He couldn’t justify the expense. And then, it became public knowledge that Dollar General had purchased the land across the street.
The 7-11 franchisee fled. He was replaced by a remarkably similar independent operator who got a Valero gas franchise and called his store 24-7.
And Dollar General built a pretty nice store across the street.
The reason for that story is a headline on the CNN Business site:
“Dollar stores are everywhere. That’s a problem for poor Americans”
That’s right. The Chicken Noodle News network a/k/a the Trash Trump Net is all of a sudden worried about “poor” Americans.
The thrust of the story is that members of a number of city councils are restricting new dollar stores—which can be roughly defined the same way they define “assault weapons”—because many of them only sell fast frozen food thus creating a “food desert”, allegedly because big grocers do not wish to compete.
CNN says, “Advocates of tighter controls on dollar stores say the big chains intentionally cluster multiple stores in low-income areas. That strategy discourages supermarkets from opening and it threatens existing mom-and-pop grocers, critics say.”
Of course, that’s also the strategy of McDonalds.
““The business model for these stores is built on saturation,” said Julia McCarthy, senior policy associate at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and a critic of dollar stores. “When you have so many dollar stores in one neighborhood, there’s no incentive for a full-service grocery store to come in.”
“Opponents also express concerns that dollar stores don’t offer fresh produce. Dollar General and its dollar store rivals mostly sell snacks, drinks, canned foods and vegetables, household supplies and personal care products at rock-bottom prices.”
Imagine that… snacks, drinks, canned foods and vegetables, household supplies and personal care products at rock-bottom prices.
How terrible is that?
Hey MORONS! (that’s you CNN). If you don’t have a lot of money, snacks, drinks, canned foods and vegetables, household supplies and personal care products at rock-bottom prices is a GOOD thing.
I’m sorry to tell you that Oklahoma City, where I once owned KOKC and Tulsa where I used to own KTRT passed legislation limiting new dollar store openings. But only in the “poor” neighborhoods.
Ahh, the Nanny State.
If you can’t afford to buy a lot, we’ll make you drive to a rich neighborhood to buy it cheap. Only the oil producers in Oklahoma would like that.
The thought in the heads of the libs who lobby for this crap is that if you kill off the dollar stores in the neighborhoods who need them the most, Kroger or Albertsons will take the risks and move right in.
Sure they will. When their shareholders don pink pig suits and fly. That’s what happens when the Jihad Squad followers get themselves elected to city councils. Maybe Congress, if we let it continue without opposition.
We’ll check into what happened in my former stomping grounds in a few years and see if the libs were right. Here’s a hint. Find a bookie who will book a long term future bet. Bet they won’t. Make sure that bookie can pay off.
Oh…to finish the story about my neighborhood, both stores are doing well, several years later. Which goes to show the truth of the old saying that the best place to locate a shoe store is across the street from another one.
“Job growth was about 227,000 in June but 46 percent of the people surveyed say they are not better off. Democrats claim the 50 percent growth of the stock market does not help the common people because most do not invest in stocks, except those with 401(k) plans. But the stock market indicates companies are willing to invest, which leads to job growth. Please explain.”
Good points from a thoughtful reader.
June job growth of 227,000 was good, and recent upward revisions of prior-month figures likewise. However, longer-term job growth hasn’t been very robust, even though unemployment is at record lows.
Some people who were dropped from the job market during the Great Recession and tepid recovery that followed it simply haven’t returned. But some are beginning to. Some are seniors who entered retirement early and aren’t being welcomed back by hiring managers. And some are millennials who retired to their parents’ basements or similar quarters.
Dems err when they claim securities market price gains don’t help common folk. Beyond 401(k) plans and personal portfolios, the much larger impact is that the vast majority of those people depend on retirement plans that are invested in the markets. Given the poor management of most plans, members need markets to soar, for otherwise their golden years may not be so rosy.
And stock market rises don’t necessarily indicate strong investment by firms, so long-term job growth has been weak, as noted above; however, in the last decade, things have changed significantly from the pre-recession decades: thus, the “new normal.” And I think those long-term changes explain our national ennui and sourness.
The key fact is that, even after a decade of recovery and stock market growth, our economy is growing significantly slower than in previous decades. So, people’s incomes and wellbeing are rising much slower than they did during most adults’ lives, when annual per-person real growth of 2.0-2.5 percent meant that standards of living doubled every generation. Now, the generational growth is only about 40 percent, instead of doubling.
Although people don’t much consciously think or talk about that, it greatly conditions their sense of wellbeing and their outlook. For example, living space in the average home has doubled over about 40 years, and home amenities have also greatly improved. So, people are less burdened by preparing and cleaning up after meals with microwave ovens and dish washers. And they enjoy more TV options on much bigger and higher quality screens. Life seems better, and it is.
Although they don’t think about per-capita real growth having been cut in half, they do get a sense the last decade that things aren’t getting better the way they had come to expect from life-long experience. The fact they don’t know the exact reason for that is itself discomforting.
In my controller’s annual reports the last four years, I explained some key reasons for the new-normal slow growth. Government excess – spending, taxes, and debt rising continuously relative to the economy, plus continuously proliferating regulations of all kinds – all slowed growth ever more. Labor force participation grew before the turn of the century, helping growth, but has slowed since.
Debt of all kinds grew unsustainably before the recession, accelerating growth, but has stalled since then. And increasing trade and international investment, plus strong world economic growth, all helped us before the recession, but those trends too have reversed since then.
These are the important drivers people don’t see, but they definitely feel their effects of slow growth of productivity, jobs and incomes.
As noted above, people generally don’t think consciously about then versus now, although such considerations may play a subconscious role in their outlooks. Instead, regardless of how much their lives have improved, they always focus on us versus them: They are acutely aware of how well off they are compared to other folks.
And when they feel things aren’t going well for them, they look for scape goats and others to blame. When they don’t understand the economic complexities and long-term issues, they look for single-factor causes and immediate trends.
Humor me for a minute.
Let’s say that someone sues me in Federal Court over something I said or wrote and the Federal Judge in his or her infinite wisdom puts a gag order on the defense.
So, I hold a press conference and the judge threatens to hold me in contempt.
I tell the judge, “It’s too late your honor, I already am in contempt of YOUR court.”
How do you think I would be spending the next week?
OK, let’s look at the million or so illegal aliens roaming around the United States who are already under the orders of a Federal Judge to leave the United States and simply ignore the order.
Are they being rounded up and deported?
Are they being arrested and held in “contempt” of a Federal Court?
Unless President Trump goes through with his plan to round them up, the answer is no.
So, let’s review.
If I mouth off to a Federal Judge, I get to see the inside of a cell. But if someone who has already been through the system, is here illegally and is ordered out just ignores the order, nothing happens. And that’s the way Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat clown show want it?
Now the truth be told, over the last 40 years, I’ve had a few lawyers who would have gladly stuffed a sock in my mouth when I was standing in front of a Federal Judge, but I’ve never quite gone as far as my hypothetical example above, largely because not waking up in a cell is usually among my priorities. (Or a sitting Federal Judge hasn’t made me mad enough.)
But it seems to me that we have two systems of justice. One for citizens of the United States. And a wholly different one for a class of people the establishment wants coddled. Like illegal aliens. Hell, the Democrat clown show doesn’t even want me to call them illegal aliens. As if undocumented immigrants makes it OK.
What part of illegal do we not understand?
Perhaps, when President Trump of overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020, they’ll get the message.
Henry Ross Perot was an American’s American.
He died this week at age 89.
His 1992 and 1996 independent runs for President were a pre-curser for Donald Trump’s win in 2016.
His legacy, however, is embodied in every American who ever took a risk and either succeeded or failed.
Perot was largely successful. He started Electronic Data Systems with $1000 and experience at IBM as a salesman fresh out of the Navy. In 1984, he sold it to General Motors—the least entrepreneurial company in the United States—for $2.5-billion dollars. He got a seat on GM’s board and became its biggest shareholder.
That’s when the fireworks started.
Perot wanted GM to make better cars. He soon found out that GM Chairman Roger Smith regarded EDS as a shiny new thing. “At EDS when we see a snake we kill it. At GM they appoint a committee to study snakes,” was Perot’s comment.
Smith soon had enough and the company coughed up another $750-million to get rid of the Texas provocateur once and for all.
What GM didn’t get was a non-compete agreement. Perot soon started Perot Systems which was bought by Dell in 2009.
One other thing about Perot was important.
Being from Texas, he never lost touch with Middle America. No matter how rich he became, he never stopped being the guy from Texarkana whose Daddy was a cotton trader. He always understood that between the east coast and the west coast was a majority of Americans who worked hard, played by the rules and he had immense respect for us.
I remember meeting with him one day when I owned radio stations in Tulsa and he spent quite a bit of time quizzing me about the radio business. He was interested in just about everything.
What he never appeared to be much interested in was his legacy.
His legacy will be huge because he lived a huge life well.
His last, most Perot-like quote was this:
“Texas born, Texas bred and when I die I’ll be Texas dead.”
If God, ever needs a Texas poet-laureate, He won’t have to look far.
George W. Bush may well go down as one of the most decent human beings ever to serve as President, so it is not surprising that he hasn’t said anything negative about Chief Justice John Roberts.
But, after Roberts twisted himself into a legal pretzel first to uphold Obamacare and most recently to try and deny the Trump administration its absolute right to ask a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, you have to wonder what W might be quietly thinking.
Dwight Eisenhower had this to say about his appointment of former Chief Justice Earl Warren, “The biggest damn fool mistake I ever made.”
Harry Truman appointed Tom C. Clark to the Court. “It isn’t so much that he’s a bad man, it’s just that he’s such a dumb son of a bitch.”
Roberts needs to stop worrying about his legacy and just pay attention to the damn law.
From a purely practical standpoint, you do not need a JD from Harvard to know that any administration can add a question about citizenship to the decennial census without the Court’s blessing. The constitution mandates the count, it is used to apportion congressional districts and only citizens can vote.
Even though the left has its collective panties in a twist over the current President and his attitude towards illegal aliens the constitution has not changed.
To suggest that the Secretary of Commerce’s “rationale” for adding a question which has appeared on every census until 1950 is just silly. A more pertinent issue for the Court is why the question has NOT included since then.
On what planet is a government not allowed to count residents by citizenship?
The problem Roberts has is that he seems to think his role as Chief Justice comes with a commission to be loved by both sides of any issue.
That is clearly at odds with what he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005 at his confirmation hearing.
"Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire."
Apparently Roberts has evolved in his role as an umpire.
His vote on the census question wasn’t a ball or a strike. If anything, it was a foul ball with two strikes. That is, nothing. Another pitch. But baseball doesn’t have a clock to run out and Roberts knew damn well that the census has a clock.
Roberts’ call was more like the referee in that game seven of the 2019 Vegas Golden Knights vs. the San Jose Sharks series which changed the direction of that game and caused the National Hockey League Board of Governors to actually change the rule in the off season.
And it may well be that George W. Bush’s “biggest damn fool mistake” will turn out to be John Roberts.
Fortunately, this President appears up to the challenge and he is looking for a way around the ridicules ruling the court made.
Which might mean Roberts will get this issue jammed up where his moon doesn’t shine very shortly.
Watching him twist and turn will be like watching a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.
Robert Francis O’Rourke is a classless moron.
He actually blamed the drowning deaths on the Rio Grande river of a father and his two-year-old daughter on the President.
There is a Yiddish word to describe Bobby O’Rourke. Schmuck.
Bobby. This young man, the girl’s father, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, made a decision to enter the United States illegally and hoped he could claim asylum. When they got to the international bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, the family was told the bridge was closed and they should come back the next day. There were, according to the Washington Post, hundreds in line. Ramirez and his two-year old daughter waded in to cross the river and, in essence, cut the line.
What could have possibly gone wrong?
And little Bobby O’Rourke blames the President for that?
Listen to yourself, son. The United States—above all else—is the land where you are responsible for your own safety. And your own actions. If Oscar Ramirez was too dumb to understand rivers have currents and his daughter was only two years old, he could look in the mirror and figure out who was at fault. If he wasn’t dead, that is—along with his little girl.
Here’s a hint you dumbass: It’s NOT the President's fault.
You, sir, are an idiot.
Do I feel sorry for young Valeria and her father? Of course. It is a heartbreaking scenario when a child dies for no reason at all. But who is to blame for this boneheaded stunt? One person. Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez. He alone is the cause of his own and his daughter’s death.
But Bobby’s moronic blathering doesn’t stop there.
He thinks that we caused a change in the Earth’s climate that must be cured by changing the way we generate and use energy.
Just think. All of that high dollar education and he never learned that we had an ice age on this planet. That our climate is ALWAYS changing.
If you think that there is anything we can do—short term or long term—to change what God has decided the Earth will do, you are truly smoking crack.
As the late George Carlin put it, “And the greatest arrogance of all: “Save the planet!” What?! Are these f**ing people kidding me?! Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet! We haven’t learned how to care for one another and we’re gonna save the f**ing planet?! I’m getting tired of that sh**!”
What Democrats like Bobby are really arguing about is a way to raise more money through a tax on carbon emissions.
If the American public is really dumb enough to elect this moron and his friends, here’s a very good question. What do you think might happen after eight years of his nonsense?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that momentum is building for the U.S. government to subject Google and other Big Tech firms to antitrust scrutiny for fears that they have become too big and too powerful.
In today’s digital ecosystem, politicians, political parties, organizations and media all rely on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Youtube to get the message out because that’s where consumers by and large go to in order to consume information.
A Pew report found 68 percent of adult Americans use Facebook, or over 170 million. 24 percent use Twitter, or about 61 million. A separate Pew report found 73 percent, or 185 million, use broadband internet. Statista reports that Google’s family of sites are the most popular in America, with 255 million unique U.S. visitors in March 2019 alone.
So, the internet is indisputably a huge part of the way people are getting information nowadays.
Now, conservatives and Republicans have become alarmed as many of these platforms are censoring and restricting speech that does not coincide with Big Tech’s social justice agenda. Deplatforming is real. Actor James Woods has been censored on Twitter, Stephen Crowder has been demonetized on Youtube (owned by Google) and Candace Owens was temporarily suspended on Facebook before the company did a reversal and declared it “an error.”
Political discrimination is destructive as it creates an incentive to silence your political opponents. Suddenly you have countrymen reporting on one another to get them deplatformed. Is this healthy for a society?
But it is not merely the reporting features that are being abused on these platforms.
Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe released a video on June 24 that showed how the algorithms that produce Google search results (and other machine learning) are programmed with algorithmic “fairness” in mind to prevent, per an internal 2017 Google document, “unjust or prejudicial treatment of people that is related to sensitive characteristics such as race, income, sexual orientation or gender, through algorithmic systems or algorithmically aided decision-making.”
Just throw in political affiliation, philosophy or religion, and one can immediately recognize how Republicans, conservatives or Christians might feel marginalized on social media platforms, but Google did not end up looking into that. A study by Google in 2018 on algorithmic fairness stated, “due to our focus on traditionally marginalized populations, we did not gather data about how more privileged populations think about or experience algorithmic fairness.”
As a Google executive in the video who was quoted in an undercover camera noted, “Communities who are in power and have traditionally been in power are not who I’m solving fairness for.”
But if Google had looked at other groups, they would have likely found that supposedly “privileged” populations can feel marginalized, too. The 2018 study unsurprisingly found that participants expressed, “In addition to their concerns about potential harms to themselves and society, participants also indicated that algorithmic fairness (or lack thereof) could substantially affect their trust in a company or product” and that “when participants perceived companies were protecting them from unfairness or discrimination, it greatly enhanced user trust and strengthened their relationships with those companies.”
The thing is, nobody wants to be discriminated against, and if they are it will affect their perception of the company or companies that are doing it. Deplatforming, censorship and manipulating search and news results undermines trust in these Big Tech firms, and suddenly makes them a problem that many want to solve. No need for another focus group.
So, what responsibility does Big Tech have to foster our way of life and our competitive system of representative government, if any?
I would argue just as much responsibility as they feel to tackle the issue of fairness for historically marginalized groups, if for no other reason than it is good, sound business to cater to all comers, particularly in the political and governmental sphere. Why make enemies? It’s provocative.
Many solutions have been proposed to help there to be a level playing field on the Internet. Some are heavy-handed and appear to miss the target, while others are more narrow.
There is the Federal Communications Commission route, which might seek to make public utilities out of Big Tech companies, and all the regulation that comes with that. Net neutrality springs to mind, although that appeared more focused on throttling broadband speeds due to how much data was being used, whereas the issues today appear to focus on content-based censorship.
There is antitrust approach, whether via the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, that might envision breaking up these large companies. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has come out for this approach. In a recent statement, she said, “As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies.”
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exempts “interactive computer services” from liability of what their users post, and grants them the power to remove items at their discretion they find objectionable. Some have proposed simply removing the liability protections, which would render sites that allow users to write whatever they want suddenly subject to liability of hundreds of millions of users. It would also effectively destroy the Internet, since nobody would be willing to assume the risk of hosting somebody else’s material that might be defamatory.
Some have called for conservatives to boycott these platforms and to take their business elsewhere or to make their own platforms, but what sort of echo chamber would we wind up with? More to the point, to win elections, Republicans have to appeal to independents and unaffiliated voters. You buy ads where there’s ad space to reach undecideds. Insular practices of exclusively only talking to partisans on your side is a recipe for being in the minority for a very long time. It does not grow a political movement to do that.
This author has posited that perhaps Congress could narrowly expand the franchise of protected groups under civil rights to include politics, philosophy and the like (although excluding employment hiring for exclusive organizations like political parties and organizations) and defining interactive computer services as public accommodations so that services cannot be denied on the basis of partisan differences. Throw in banking, DNS resolution, web hosting and email services as public accommodations while we’re at it for good measure.
From the perspectives of the Big Tech companies, surely they have noticed a marked uptick in calls to regulate their firms? Conservatives complain about censorship. Elizabeth Warren is worried about smaller businesses. The calls for regulation are directly proportionate to how powerful these firms have become. Do any of the above options sound profitable or more like a regulatory headache that will cost millions or billions of dollars to manage?
And these are not even things we would normally consider, but throw in the prospect of censorship and suddenly it’s an existential matter of survival. Republicans who might normally defend these companies from regulation might look the other way when it comes up now. See how that works?
The truth is, I’m taking time out of my column to focus on this issue and so are many other organizations that are worried they too could be censored. The platforms we’re talking about have such market saturation that is so pervasive it could be utilized to discriminate on the basis of politics in order foster conditions conducive to one-party rule, which I believe to be dangerous.
More broadly, groups like Americans for Limited Government and political parties depend on a competitive political system to function. If we and others like us were suddenly barred from posting on social media or hosting a website or sending emails, suffice to say we would not function for much longer.
In a representative form of government, political parties’ access to media and their followers are critical to building and growing constituencies, and in the digital age these represent a digital sort of civil rights, and they must be protected in order for that system to continue to exist. One party systems do not respect civil rights. They squelch dissent to consolidate power and they target political opponents and critics of the system.
The great Renaissance philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli supposed that there were but two forms of government, republics and principalities, perhaps for that reason. One is ruled by the consent of the governed and the separation of powers, and the other by the will and domination of the state and over time needs to instill fear in order to govern.
There are liberal democracies that foster debate, and then there are one party systems that demand loyalty to the state. There’s not much in between.
The alarming trends we’re seeing with Big Tech companies engaging in censorship in the pursuit of “fairness” look a lot like a bid for one party rule. And the thing about one party systems is, once you have one, it’s really, really hard to get rid of it and there’s no guarantee that your favored class will be represented in its leadership. Sometimes those who support the rise of such a system wind up being marginalized by it. Look no further than Elizabeth Warren to see what lies at the end of that tunnel. Is it worth the risk? Be careful what you wish for.