Mr. Hawley is up front about wanting to silence publicly traded corporations because he doesn’t like what some have to say. “Corporate America has funneled billions of dollars into elections in favor of politicians who favor their woke, social agendas,” he says in a press release. He wants to “hold mega-corporations’ feet to the fire and stop their dollars from buying our elections.” He exhorts: “To my conservative friends, listen, there is no reason we should want to empower these mega-corporations.”
Its blatant unconstitutionality isn’t the only objection to his Ending Corporate Influence on Elections Act. Even if it could be enforced, it wouldn’t weaken the influence of “woke” corporations.
The senator cites TikTok as the type of corporation that is “buying our elections.” His proposal to ban the site faltered, he says, after the company “spent incredible sums of money to get influence on both sides of the aisle.” But while TikTok spends millions lobbying, the FEC’s public database shows that neither TikTok nor its parent corporation has ever made independent political campaign expenditures or contributions to super PACs, which is what Mr. Hawley’s legislation would ban. If Mr. Hawley’s bill became law and Citizens United were overturned tomorrow, TikTok could keep lobbying.
Mr. Hawley’s concerns about corporate wokeism influencing the culture are unrelated to Citizens United. Publicly traded corporations spend almost nothing on the type of campaign speech that Citizens United allowed. For-profit corporations account for roughly 2% of total political spending.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is another acronym full of landmines and obfuscation. What these terms actually mean depends on whom you ask. Sometimes, advocates say, it simply means good business practices like not discriminating based upon race or sex, taking sexual assault claims seriously, and promoting based on performance rather than nepotism. None of those things, however, requires DEI offices or consultants. They certainly don’t require Chief Diversity Officers.
More often, DEI advocates pressure companies to have employee, manager, or board member quotas based on ideas of intersectionality — layers of identity ranked on how “oppressed” or “privileged” individuals and groups might be. Equity in this sense means equal outcomes, not equal treatment or equal opportunity. And Inclusion means accepting gender and race-based ideology – being an “ally” and making the right public statements, or at least donating to the right causes. This UPS report is a perfect example.
If Mr. Massa wins, Argentines have good reason to fear that the economy won’t improve. Crony capitalism, punishing export taxes, inflationary fiscal policy and capital controls are second nature to him. But the risk to the country’s frail democratic institutions with a Massa presidency may be more worrisome. Asking his political tribe to reject police-state tactics like the surveillance of adversaries is asking a tiger to lose his stripes. The same goes for interference with the courts and a foreign policy aimed at placating the region’s dictators.
Mr. Milei presents the opposite risk. The progressive claim that he’s a threat to democracy is fearmongering, for two reasons. First, because his ideology is all about decreasing state power and increasing the freedom of Argentines to run their own lives and to think independently. Second, because he is almost certain to be a weak president.
Mr. Milei is an advocate for the rights of the individual. His social views are consistent with his libertarianism. He’s antiabortion because the unborn also have civil liberties; families should have choice in education. He opposes identity politics. These ideas stir panic among progressives, as does his skepticism about statist solutions to climate change.
On the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, Sean Spicer began his tenure as press secretary by making the preposterous claim that the new president had been sworn in before “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” In reality, Barack Obama’s inauguration had been attended by a far more massive crowd, but Spicer was ordered to lie to the press, so he did. After leaving his White House job, Spicer expressed “regret” for the lies he had told on Trump’s behalf. But to one extent or another, every White House spokesperson appears to adopt Winston Churchill’s wartime maxim that “truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
Or at least a stonewall.
Mike McCurry, who was President Bill Clinton’s press secretary during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, acknowledged (again after leaving the White House) that his strategy during press briefings was to be relentlessly uninformative. In an interview with ABC News, he described how he would walk into the daily press sessions with “this kind of flimsy little statement that I wasn’t going to budge from and that’s what I waved around as my only line of defense for most of those briefings.” On another occasion, he said his approach to the job was one of “telling the truth slowly.”
As political creatures, presidents may want spokespeople who will defend them and their positions at all costs. But White House press secretary is a government position, and the daily press briefings are government-funded proceedings held on government property. That wouldn’t be a problem if they reliably generated useful news, clarified public policy, or provided meaningful answers to journalists’ questions. But the daily press briefings don’t illuminate the truth, they obscure it. They aren’t even good entertainment. They are vehicles for propaganda and sloganeering, and their proper place is in a campaign headquarters, not the White House.
“As the one person in the Congress, the only one, that voted for the Endangered Species Act,” the late Rep. Don Young (R–Alaska) said at a hearing a few years ago, “please beat me with a whip.” Young took office the year the Endangered Species Act became law and became the longest-serving Republican in congressional history before dying in 2022. When the act passed, he has said, congressional members were told it would save “leopards,” not wildlife like “mussels and snails and turtles.” Virtually everyone envisioned the law protecting bald eagles and manatees, not halting infrastructure builds or slowing economic development in the name of slimy invertebrates or obscure fish.
“Essentially no skepticism was expressed about either the law’s conservation goals or its regulatory strategies,” University of California, Berkeley law professor Holly Doremus has written. “There was no organized interest group opposition. No one voted against the Senate bill.” Lawmakers scarcely contemplated that the act would ever interfere with federal projects or restrict uses of private property. Since environmental citizen lawsuits were a new phenomenon in the early ’70s, the citizen suit provision included in the act drew little attention.
“It’s easy to get everybody to sign on with protecting whales and grizzly bears,” Doremus recently told the Associated Press. “But people didn’t anticipate that things they wouldn’t notice, or wouldn’t think beautiful, would need protection in ways that would block some economic activity.”
Like a market-based economy, baseball functions within rules. Foul lines, for instance, radiate out from the batter to define a playing field on which individual creativity and productivity are encouraged and rewarded. For the batter’s purposes, the diamond extends to the edge of the universe, though in practice even the best major league players rarely hit balls completely out of the stadium.
The rules of baseball create the possibility of failure, and out of this comes the joy of a well-played game. A player who fails with the bat two out of three times becomes a superstar. Likewise, a market economy also creates the possibility of failure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 65 percent of US businesses fail within their first decade. But the result, in aggregate, is a wonder, as the principle of consumer sovereignty elevates resource-use toward its highest, most valued purposes. As if by magic, Smith’s invisible hand turns the chaotic churn of failure and success into the most powerful economic engine the world has ever seen.