Zach Weissmueller talks with Jay Bhattacharya and John Vecchione about their lawsuit against the Biden administration for its alleged “open collusion with social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content.”
ProPublica has a record of similar mistakes and omissions. I noted in June that an earlier story had failed to mention that the Judicial Conference cleared Justice Thomas in 2011 on allegations that he had improperly failed to disclose travel with his friend Harlan Crow and issued a letter saying he had not omitted any information from his forms. The site has yet to update its earlier story to acknowledge that point.
ProPublica limits its investigations to conservative justices—ignoring, for instance, that Justice Stephen Breyer took at least 17 trips, eight of them international, funded by the Democratic Pritzker Family organization. Its reporters have every right to investigate whatever they want, but they also have a duty to get their facts straight.
Mitch Daniels praises Calvin Coolidge. Three slices:
One president is among the most deserving but least likely to enjoy a positive reputational upgrade, and that’s unfortunate. As we reached this month’s centennial of Calvin Coolidge’s accession to the presidency, upon the death of Warren G. Harding, a nation drowning in debt and in serious need of a cultural course correction could do much worse than to examine the life of the quiet man from Massachusetts.
We live in a time when the leadership of both parties, in the face of brutal arithmetic of which they cannot pretend to be less than fully aware, continues to drive the federal government and its safety net programs off a cliff of debt, at the bottom of which awaits not only an economic but also a social crisis.
Coolidge, who limited government employees to one pencil at a time, summed up his policy in 1924 as “I am for economy. After that I am for more economy. At this time and under these circumstances that is my conception of serving the people.”
We’re mired in a hot-dog, look-at-me, dance-in-the-end-zone world. Success in public capacities seems reliant not on the quality of officeholders’ ideas or effectiveness, but on their cleverness and audacity in sound bites, tweeting and the other “performative” arts. It’s hard to imagine anyone more countercultural, less in sync with today’s zeitgeist, than Silent Cal.
Perhaps Amity Shlaes’s masterly 2013 biography, “Coolidge,” along with a new documentary film marking the centennial, will trigger a similar reevaluation of our 30th [president]. Improbable as it is, given the dominant prejudices and cultural predilections of our time, America would benefit greatly from the arrival of another “great refrainer” on the national stage.
In July I met Peter Huntsman in his corner office, atop the company’s headquarters in The Woodlands, north of Houston. The only way to bring about the cleaner, greener, low-carbon world our educated elites claim to want, he argues, is to keep pursuing what those same elites’ policies seem designed to frustrate: innovation.
“Think about the year 1970,” Mr. Huntsman says. “That’s the year we hit a trillion-dollar GDP, and the year Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote that great song ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ A great year, right? Well today we’re emitting roughly 6,500 million metric tons of CO2. Same thing we were emitting in 1970. And look how much more electricity we’re using, and look how many more transportation and miles we’re driving. We’ve expanded the economy 30 times over, nearly, and core CO2 has stayed flat. We should be celebrating this achievement, shouldn’t we?”
Before I can answer, he reifies the point. “There’s not a single product I’m aware of in [Huntsman Corp.’s] entire portfolio of products that today consumes more energy, more raw materials to make the same product we made five years ago. Not 50 years—five years ago. Because if there’s such a product, our competition would’ve replaced it by now. That iPhone,” he says, pointing to the device with which I’m recording our conversation, “it’s going to have to be lighter and stronger, it’s going to have to have better memory, in the next five years. We’ve got to come up with the materials, the insulation, the durability, lightness and design, the capabilities.” (Huntsman Corp.’s website has a section on sustainability, too, but its content has almost exclusively to do with innovation and doesn’t flirt with net-zero rhetoric.)
Mr. Huntsman holds up a plastic water bottle: “We can make 10 of these for the amount of plastic we used in one of them a decade ago. . . . I don’t know why we don’t celebrate these accomplishments.”
My hunch is that Mr. Huntsman’s lack of university degree enables him to say things his more-credentialed peers can’t. On the subject of renewable energy, America’s cultural VIPs speak in tones of hushed reverence. He doesn’t. “I keep hearing people say we’re in an energy ‘transition’ and our trucks, airplanes, ships, homes and factories will be powered by renewable energy,” he says. “Wind and solar provide 4% of the world’s energy. Nuclear and hydro another 10%. Fossil fuels the rest. Have you heard of anybody in the green movement clamoring to build more dams or nuclear plants?” He answers for me: “No. In fact, we’re looking at tearing down dams in most states out in the West. If people truly believed climate change was existential, we’d see nuclear power plants popping up everywhere. That’s not happening.”
Whenever I lecture around the world, whatever I talk about, there is almost always someone in the audience who wants to ask me about Sweden. Is it the successful example of socialism that many assume?
I try to explain that we have been socialists and we’ve been successful—but never at the same time.
I’ve written about this in a Cato Policy Report and I’ve done a documentary about it for U.S. public television, but people keep asking me. So I decided that I had to write a book about it for the Fraser Institute to tell the whole story, The Mirage of Swedish Socialism: The Economic History of a Welfare State.
And it’s actually one of the best examples we have of the benefits of free markets and the perils of socialism. Between 1870 and 1970, Sweden had a smaller government and a more open economy than most comparable countries, and that was the era when Sweden grew faster than any other developed country but Japan.
Then, when Sweden had already become one of the richest countries in the world, Sweden began to experiment with socialist ideas. From 1970 through 1990, government was massively expanded, taxes were raised, and the economy was regulated. This was not the golden era of socialist nostalgia, but more like an Atlas Shrugged moment: Swedish companies like IKEA and Tetra Pak and lots of successful entrepreneurs left Sweden and not a single net job was created in the private sector. It was the one moment in Sweden’s modern history that we lagged behind other countries.
After a devastating financial crisis in the early 1990s, politicians from both the left and right agreed to end this experiment. Instead, they reduced public spending, taxes, and regulation to get back to the growth model that made Sweden successful. Sweden started to outperform its neighbors again.