Jack Butler awakens us to Ibram X. Kendi as a “total work of grift.” Here’s Butler’s conclusion:
If Kendi’s were only a niche grift, it might be possible to hold such grudging respect for it. But, alas, it is not, and thus one cannot. Kendi-ism is indeed a dead end, incompatible with American principles, and a surefire way to perpetuate racial acrimony and to empower and reward those, such as Kendi, deemed (or who deem themselves) its arbiters. We must steer ourselves away from Kendi-ism and hope that the troubles at BU are only the beginning of the process that will lead to its ultimate dissolution.
The court’s worst mistake was Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), holding that Black people have no rights that White people are bound to respect. The Civil War made possible, in 1868, the 14th Amendment, which says no state shall abridge any American’s “privileges or immunities.” The legislative history of the “privileges or immunities” clause shows that this phrase, written to protect newly freed Blacks from states’ oppressions, affirmed various fundamental rights of national citizenship.
These included those secured by the Bill of Rights, the 1866 Civil Rights Act and other unenumerated rights derived from the common law and acknowledged by the Ninth Amendment. (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”) In 1873, however, the “privileges or immunities” provision was all but nullified by a Supreme Court decision preserving a Louisiana government-created monopoly.
The court should have remembered James Madison’s admonition in 1792 that it is “not a just government … where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions and monopolies deny to part of its citizens [the] free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations.”
American exceptionalism, the product of economic freedom and source of our prosperity, is being threatened by the Biden administration, which seeks to circumvent Congress, the courts and the Constitution to Europeanize the American economy. The administration, which can’t get Congress to legislate its agenda or the courts to allow it through executive orders, is now using international agreements and coordination in tax, antitrust, environmental and financial policy to empower Europe to impose the administration’s agenda on the U.S.
Europe is more than willing to share its constraints with its more efficient competitor, but the Biden administration is the driving force behind this regulatory race to the bottom. This mounting regulatory burden is dragging down the unique productivity, wages and profits that Americans view as our birthright.
A perfect example is the Biden administration’s agreement to allow foreign governments to tax U.S. companies on their U.S. earnings if Congress refuses to adopt the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s global minimum tax. The administration not only supports the international tax increase but was its principal author. While 137 nations endorsed the OECD tax agreement, a Democratic Congress rejected it last year. Now, with a Republican House, the administration’s only chance to raise corporate taxes is to use the OECD agreement to pressure Congress to impose the tax or let foreign nations collect the equivalent tax on U.S. subsidiaries operating in their countries. The Trump administration blocked France’s proposed digital services tax on U.S. tech companies by threatening tariffs on its wine and cheese exports to the U.S. But the Biden administration has pledged not to retaliate when foreign nations tax American companies on their U.S. earnings.
Another example of this collusion is the Federal Trade Commission’s coordination with the U.K. antitrust watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority. After the FTC wasn’t able to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in federal court, the agency appears to have conspired with the CMA to block the acquisition.
Over the past 30 years, real per capita gross domestic product in France and Germany, the EU’s two largest economies, have grown, respectively, from $28,670 to $38,913 (a 35.7% increase) and from $30,615 to $43,032 (40.5%). Real per capita GDP in the U.S. has grown 56.7%, from $40,108 to $62,866. Making America more like Europe gives the Biden administration the government it wants, but European economic results won’t give American families what they want.
The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 is one of the greatest conservative legislative victories of the past 100 years, and it has been so successful that many have largely forgotten about it. Michael Watson of the Capital Research Center has done valuable public service by writing a series of four articleson the history of Taft-Hartley and why conservatives should stay the course in the fight against organized labor.
The race-to-the-bottom theory became trendy—especially on the left—in the late 1990s during the last big anti-globalization push. Perhaps most famously, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz said in 2002 that “globalization has become a race to the bottom, where corporations are the only winners and the rest of society, in both the developed and developing worlds, is the loser.” The narrative continues today. In fact, our very own United States trade representative, Katherine Tai, has repeatedly asserted that the race to the bottom is not just real, but a core failure of past U.S. trade policy. A few weeks ago, in fact, her office went out of its way to trumpet House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal’s letter to the Wall Street Journal defending the Biden administration’s protectionist approach to trade because it supposedly avoids the “race to the bottom.”
There’s just one problem: Since those famous Stiglitz words 21 years ago, we now have reams of data showing the race-to-the-bottom thesis to be not just false, but actually counterproductive for those who truly care about helping the world’s working classes or improving the environment. In reality, global capitalism—and the economic growth, rising living standards, and technological proliferation it foments—has been pretty darn good for both the developed and developing world.
Most recently, a group of economists examined in a series of National Bureau of Economic Research papers both the theoretical and empirical case for the labor “race to the bottom,” and they again found the theory lacking. In particular, their model of global value chains showed that 1) countries adopt stricter labor standards—privately or via regulation—with globalization than with autarky, “because labor standards are a normal good and the general increase in incomes from globalization increases demand for them”; and 2) when developing countries trade with richer nations (e.g., Mexico and the United States), government-set labor standards in the former are “stricter than optimal” (“optimal” here meaning perfectly efficient) because the country can pass some of the costs of its improved labor standards on to other, wealthier countries—including their consumers. In the second paper, the economists dug through data on FDI and collective bargaining rights (which isn’t necessarily the best proxy for labor conditions, but still …) and “conclude that there is no meaningful race-to-the-bottom effect in the data.” Put another way, “there is no tendency for a country with a larger increase in FDI to see a larger erosion of the labor rights.”
For both labor standards and the environment, the “race to the bottom” is a myth. While bad or scary things of course still happen in the world, the general, long-term trends are overwhelmingly great: Wages and working standards have improved, and have done so more quickly for countries more open to the world. Multinational corporations do sometimes invest in poor countries, and sometimes to access cheap labor, but “sweatshops” are not only better than the actual alternatives—they end up raising living standards and leading to better jobs. While countries’ initial development can create more pollution or other environmental degradation in the short term, their economic growth eventually leads to higher environmental sustainability—and does so usually faster than their rich country predecessors, thanks to free markets and the diffusion of knowledge.
But the reality is even more brutal. Academic studies find that each percentage-point increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio raises the real interest rate. In other words, higher rates lead to more debt, and more debt begets higher rates, and on and on. Further, it’s utterly unrealistic to project that an increase in the debt from 97% to 181% of America’s GDP will not fuel higher inflation.