VIDEO: Ocasio-Cortez’s Gardening Advice Echoes the Hubris of Mao’s Great Leap Forward

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to extend identity politics to vegetables.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) wants to extend identity politics to vegetables. For Ocasio-Cortez, some vegetables are too “colonial” to grow.

Community gardens are a component of the Green New Deal, and having projects “make sense in a cultural context” is important, says Ocasio-Cortez.

If “communities of color” are “resistant to certain environmentalist movements,” perhaps it’s because they are concerned about taxes and jobs? The reason Ocasio-Cortez gives is far different:

When someone says that it’s too hard to do a green space that grows yuca instead of…cauliflower or something, what you’re doing is that you’re taking a colonial approach to environmentalism.

Yuca grows best in hot, dry regions. In many areas of the United States, including her home district of New York City, it would be an enormous challenge to grow yuca. I may like grapefruits, but I wouldn’t plant a grapefruit tree in the cold climate where I live.

Cauliflower is used in many Caribbean cuisines. Only Ocasio-Cortez knows why some vegetables are “colonial.”

Yuca is a starchy root vegetable with over double the amount of carbohydrates in a potato. If Ocasio-Cortez cares about the obesity and diabetes problems in her district, she may want to think again about her gardening advice.

Ocasio-Cortez is not the first member of Congress to offer inane advice. Yet she is fair game because she wants to use coercive force of government to remake the country in the image of her Democratic Socialist and Green New Deal programs.

We may laugh at Ocasio-Cortez’s boundless hubris, but let’s learn from history. Mao is perhaps history’s most famous despot who was eager to dispense agricultural (along with much other) advice. The result? During his Great Leap Forward (1958-1962), at least 45 million lost their lives through starvation, neglect, and violence.

Mao was a despot who had the power of the Chinese military power behind him to enforce his edicts; Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t.

Today, some see Ocasio-Cortez as a brilliant new voice in politics. With enough support, she and her fellow Democratic Socialists might have the power they crave to command people’s individual decisions. Ocasio-Cortez will never have absolute power, but she may gain enough power to do real harm.

In his book The Fatal Conceit, F.A. Hayek warned of the “naïve mind that can conceive of order only as the product of deliberate arrangement.” To such a mind, Hayek wrote,

it may seem absurd that in complex conditions order, and adaptation to the unknown, can be achieved more effectively by decentralizing decisions.

We are all naïve about many things; a dose of humility and respect for the rights of others keeps us out of trouble.

In his book, Mao’s Great Famine, historian Frank Dikötter explains the horrors of the Great Leap Forward. Mao was intent on dramatically increasing both industrial and agricultural production, and the Great Helmsman was sure he knew the way forward. Here are some of the agriculture “reforms” commanded by Mao.

Mao commanded the planting of more than one rice crop a year even though the weather didn’t support it:

Mao asked, on a visit to the provincial capital Changsha. “Why do the Hunan peasants still plant only one crop of rice a year?” After Zhou explained that the weather permitted only a single crop a year, Mao pointed out that Zhejiang was on the same latitude as Hunan and planted two crops of rice. “You are not even studying other experiences. That’s the trouble,” Mao continued.

Mao ordered deeper plowing of the soil and destroyed the topsoil in the process:

Deep ploughing was another revolutionary recipe meant to free the farmers from the capricious soil. The deeper the planting, the stronger the roots and the taller the stalk, or so ran the logic behind this experiment. “Use human waves, and turn every field over,” commanded Mao.

Goaded by cadres… villagers now and then burrowed through the earth to bedrock, destroying the topsoil.

Then Mao ordered a heavier concentration of seeds:

Explained Chairman Mao: “With company they grow easily, when they grow together they will be more comfortable”… Villagers, of course, knew better: they had tilled the land for generations, and knew how to care for a precious resource on which their livelihoods depended. Many were incredulous, some trying to reason with the cadres: “You plant the seedlings too closely, there is not enough breathing space between them, and then you add ten tonnes of fertiliser per field. It will suffocate them to death.” But advice was ignored: “It’s a new technique, you don’t understand!”

Mao believed he could conquer nature, but nature had the last word. The killing of sparrows led to insect infestations, worsening the famine:

Sparrows were targeted because they ate grain seeds, depriving the people of the fruits of their labour. In what is one of the most bizarre and ecologically damaging episodes of the Great Leap Forward, the country was mobilised in an all-out war against the birds. Banging on drums, clashing pots or beating gongs, a giant din was raised to keep the sparrows flying till they were so exhausted that they simply dropped from the sky. Eggs were broken and nestlings destroyed; the birds were also shot out of the air. Timing was of the essence, as the entire country was made to march in lockstep in the battle against the enemy, making sure that the sparrows had nowhere to escape.

Farmers were organized into large communes with ignorant political cadres issuing capricious orders based on “little knowledge of agriculture.”

In 1959 in Luokang commune a local leader decided to replace the existing crop with sweet potatoes on half of the available acreage, only to change his mind later and substitute the potatoes with peanuts. These were then torn out to make room for rice instead. The previous year the commune had tried deep ploughing, using vast concentrations of manpower on small strips of land to dig deep furrows, much of it by hand. Huge amounts of fertiliser were applied, in some cases up to 30 tonnes a hectare. It all came to nothing. In Kaiping county, Guangdong, thousands of villagers were repeatedly forced to plant a crop in the early spring of 1959 despite bitterly cold weather: the seeds froze on three occasions.

Agriculture was militarized:

The militia movement and a small corps of trained fighters brought military organisation to every commune. All over China farmers were roused from sleep at dawn at the sound of the bugle and filed into the canteen for a quick bowl of watery rice gruel. Whistles were blown to gather the workforce, which moved in military step to the fields, carrying banners and flags to the sound of marching songs. Loudspeakers sometimes blasted exhortations to work harder, or occasionally played revolutionary music. Party activists, local cadres and the militia enforced discipline, sometimes punishing underachievers with beatings.

“Every conceivable kind of nutrient” was used as fertilizer:

Animal and human waste was carried to the fields by endless rows of people, sometimes until deep into the night…. Human waste extended to hair, and in some Guangdong villages women were forced to shave their heads to contribute fertiliser or face a ban from the canteen.

The demand for higher yields meant houses were razed for their value as fertilizer:

But most of the time buildings made of mud and straw were torn down to provide nutrients for the soil. Walls of buildings where animals had lived and especially where they had urinated, such as stables, could provide useful fertiliser. At first old walls and abandoned huts were destroyed, but as the campaign gained momentum entire rows of houses were systematically razed to the ground, the mud bricks shattered and strewn across the fields.

Later, houses were wantonly destroyed to make room for new buildings that were never built:

Most quietly stood by, sometimes in tears, as the local leader walked past without uttering a word, simply lifting his finger to mark out a house for destruction. In Dianjiang county, Sichuan, a team of eleven people went around torching hundreds of straw huts. “Destroy Straw Huts in an Evening, Erect Residential Areas in Three Days, Build Communism in a Hundred Days” was the leading slogan. Some villages were emptied altogether, although somehow nobody quite managed to get beyond the destruction phase of the plan.

Pots and pans and farm implements were confiscated and melted down to be used in industrial production:

Many of the farming tools had been destroyed in the iron and steel campaign, labour was still diverted to building dams, and communal granaries in the people’s communes were poorly managed. In Liantan, the model commune where a slogan praising the Great Leap Forward had been chiselled in the mountains to welcome an inspection team, several thousand farmers were conscripted to deep-plough seven hectares during the autumn harvest; as nobody was available to collect the crop, some 500 tonnes of grain were abandoned in the fields.

As starvation spread, ersatz foods such as chlorella and wood pulp were promoted:

In China [chlorella, a form of algae] the watery slime was elevated to the status of miracle food during the famine. It could be cultivated and skimmed from swampy ponds, but more often than not it was grown in vats of human urine, the green stuff being scooped out, washed and cooked with rice.

Prisoners were used as guinea pigs. Besides the green plankton, which sickened the inmates, they were also fed sawdust and wood pulp. Bao Ruowang – also known as Jean Pasqualini, the author of a memoir about life in a Chinese labour camp – remembered how brown sheets of the stuff were ground into paper pulp and mixed with flour. Mass constipation followed, killing the weaker prisoners. But even in the cities the spread of substitute foods caused obstruction of the bowels or rupture of the sphincter.

Villagers “scavenged for carrion, rummaged through rubbish, scraped the bark off trees and in the end turned to mud to fill their stomachs”:

It was a vision of hell, as serried ranks of ghostly villagers queued up in front of deep pits, their shrivelled bodies pouring with sweat under the glare of the sun, waiting for their turn to scramble down the hole and carve out a few handfuls of the porcelain-white mud… Once eaten the soil acted like cement, drying out the stomach and absorbing all the moisture inside the intestinal tract.

As the country starved, Mao opened a party meeting in the summer of 1959. The party leaders were not hungry. They “referred to the gathering as a ‘meeting of immortals’. Immortals lived far above mere humans, seated on the clouds of heaven, playfully gliding through the mist, unencumbered by earthly restraints.”

Propaganda insisted

the country had witnessed an unprecedentedly rich harvest in 1960, there was absolutely no famine and rumours to the contrary were slanderous.

Humanitarian offers of food aid were rebuffed. The contempt the leaders had for their own countrymen was as boundless as their hubris.

COLUMN BY

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. To receive Barry’s essays subscribe at Mindset Shifts.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission.

THE BIG LIE: The future is in Battery Electric Vehicles

I have a subscription to California based Motor Trend magazine. Motor Trend editors and writers are pushing the idea that the future is in Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). This is a big lie.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)

Let’s take a look at who is driving the BEVs market. According to a Wikipedia chart:

  • China has 2.243.8 million BEVs.
  • Europe is second with 1.346 million BEVs.
  • The United States is third with 1.126 million BEVs, half of them in California with 523,000 BEVs.

According to Wikipedia:

The popularity of electric vehicles has been expanding rapidly due to government subsidies, their increased range and lower battery costs, and environmental sensitivity. (Emphasis added)

According to the Drive Clean California website the Tesla Model 3 Electric BEV can garner a $2,500 subsidy (the federal subsidy of $7,500 has expired). Let’s look at what it costs to own a Tesla Model 3 Electric BEV.

According to the Tesla Model 3 website you can order a base price Model 3 at a cost of $39,900. “After potential savings” (i.e. government subsidies) are taken into account the Model 3 will cost $31,850. This is for the base level Model 3 with a range of 240 miles. If you order the “long range” Model 3 BEV (310 miles) the cost is $49,900 with an “after potential savings” price of $41,850.

According to Kelley Blue Book the estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $37,577 in December 2018.

EVAdoption.com reports:

The mean Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 17 BEVs is $58,719 and the median price is $37,510. These average prices drop pretty significantly when excluding the Tesla models to a mean of $46,092 and median of $31,838. This compares to the the average sales price of $31,790 in 2016 and the $35,000 average selling prices of vehicles in the US as of January 2017 (latest and data I could find). [Emphasis added]

BEVs are expensive.

The Environmental Sensitivity Lie

A December 2nd, 2012 CBS News column titled “Carbon dioxide emissions rise to 2.4 million pounds per second” noted:

The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it’s now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.

The overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Of the planet’s top 10 polluters, the United States and Germany were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.

Frightening right? Not so fast.

According to the CO2.MyClimate.org calculator if you drive a car fueled by petrol 100 KM (62 miles) you will emit a CO2 amount of 0.007 t. According to a NC State University study:

A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.

The world is home to over three trillion trees—with almost half of them living in tropical or subtropical forests. There are roughly 400 trees for every human being. Therefore, the earth’s trees alone will, via osmosis, absorb 144 trillion pounds of CO2 annually.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2annually, while our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide.

Therefore, if we subtract 24.2 billion tons from 144 trillion we get 143.758 trillion tons that humans, animals and plants must produce just to keep the trees green. Think about that.

The CBS News LiveScience article “Nature still sucking up considerable carbon dioxide – CBS News reported:

While humans are emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, the planet sucks some of it back up.

A new study indicates that natural, carbon-removing processes, have not yet reached capacity, in spite of humans’ increasing emissions over recent decades.

The oceans can absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, as can trees and other vegetation.

Read more.

QUESTION: Is buying a BEV worth the price in order to be environmentally sensitive? 

ANSWER: NO!

If you want to keep the planet green we all must increase our CO2 emissions, not decrease them. Why? Because with the increase in agriculture globally we are losing trees.

Also:

  • The earth will not end in 12 years.
  • The Green New Deal is a joke according to it’s creator U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

Enjoy your fossil fuel powered car or SUV. The planet is doing just fine.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Electric cars: Owned by few, subsidized by all

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RELATED VIDEO: The Green New Deal and Agenda 21.

Newest Diversity Twaddle…There’s No Young CEOs!

The “old, white men” problem has been rolling down crooked rails for a long time now, driven by progressive feminist radicals. In newsrooms in the 1990s, I regularly heard how a City Council or County Commission or group of Legislators were just a bunch of “old, white men” invariably from female reporters.

“White males” have long been the target of the left and their media allies in the now fully formed and mainstreamed identity politics of diversity. And now the last element has been demonstrated clearly in no less a publication than the Wall Street Journal.

WSJ Headline: “CEOs Under 50 Are a Rare Find in the S&P 500”

(Common sense: Right, because it takes a long time and experience and proof over decades to show you can run a major company.)

Drophead: “The number of S&P 500 CEOs in their 40s has declined in the past decade, leaving Gen X relatively underrepresented among corporate leaders”

(Common sense: Gen X always will be “underrepresented” because they are a particularly small generation. Duh. To the bigger point, the Greatest Generation and Gen Z are also “underrepresented.” So what? Who gives a flip?) 

It’s hard to get past the vacuous headline and drophead, but doing so reveals even more of the head-shaking, worship of PC diversity, as though it is some sort of magical wand and inalienable right rolled into one. Why the Journal is doing this story is a mystery.

From the story:

At America’s largest companies, chief executives under 50 are still a relative rarity. A Wall Street Journal analysis of S&P 500 companies that filed corporate proxy statements by May 1 shows 28 of 493 CEOs, or 6%, are under 50.

While corporate-governance experts have pushed companies to appoint more diverse — and, at times, younger — directors to boards, the leaders of big companies largely remain baby boomers. The median age of a chief executive in the S&P 500 is 58, the Journal analysis of proxy data from MyLogIQ shows.

Perhaps “corporate-governance experts” — which sounds a lot like the grievance police — didn’t take math in school. The baby boomer generation is the largest generation in the nation’s history and, and, it is in its peak earning and leadership years. Of course it will be “overrepresented” (a clever little term used to determine future diversity grievance remonstrances.) Baby boomers will also be overrepresented on Social Security and Medicare. They have also been overrepresented among people paying taxes.

Do these reporters actually understand the job that a CEO does? Perhaps they picture them sitting in big corner offices, drinking cognac and smoking stogies, going for three-hour lunches and just making a few decisions with a wave of big, fat, white male fingers while everyone else actually does the work.

They sure don’t seem to understand that to be a good CEO at a mammoth firm, you need years of experience climbing the ladder so that you will understand all the rungs of the ladder and understand how to operate a giant organization. And, with few exceptions, that only happens with time. Lots of time. And lots and lots of hours and sacrifice.

Oddly enough, nearly everyone quoted in the story understands this.

For instance, here:

Many corporations pick older CEOs because those executives are seen as battle-tested, while younger executives are still considered a bit of a risk, said Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.

“There is something to be said for managerial experience, and you gain that through a long time of putting in the hours,” Mr. Elson said.

And again here:

Executives in fast-changing fields like real estate say there can be value in having seen multiple economic cycles. Joseph Margolis, the 58-year-old chief executive of Extra Space Storage Inc., compares running a company with the 10,000 hours of mastery popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “Outliers,” who suggests that those who excel in their fields typically put in that amount of practice.

“It’s a big bet to choose a CEO, and there’s a lot at stake,” Mr. Margolis said. “It’s frequently an easier choice to pick someone who’s had a little more experience.”

So where is this coming from? Why is it a big deal that most CEOs are over 50, which makes all the sense in the world? The Journal spells it out:

Any change in the ranks of CEOs would be prompted by corporate boards, because directors select who sits in the corner office. Organizations like the California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems (which invests billions and acts as activist investors) are pushing companies to bring directors with fresh perspective to boards. Still, the job requirements of a CEO are different than those of a director, and it “takes time to get to the C-level,” said Aeisha Mastagni, a portfolio manager at Calstrs.

And there it is.

Of course there are always the leftist activists to stir things up and used diversity as a cudgel. One, among many in this case, is the California teachers’ retirement system, which is an arm of the state of California. California, you may recall, passed a law requiring publicly held companies based in California to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. By the end of July 2021, companies must have at least two women on boards of five members and at least three women on boards with six or more.

Surely they will require minorities next. And eventually, there will be age requirements, too.

So it all connects. Diversity is king. Merit is meh. Old white males…well, they’re problematic.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission.

‘We’re the Ones Yelling Stop’: How These Conservatives Are Fighting Corporations’ Liberal Tilt

By supporting a nonprofit that favors rationing health care, biotech giant Johnson & Johnson appears to violate its founding principles, a conservative shareholder activist says.

The activist brought this contradiction to the attention of the corporation’s CEO at a shareholder meeting last month, in what he hopes will become a model practice for other conservatives.

Conservatives can be effective in challenging liberals’ efforts to move major corporations to the left if they simply acquire some stock and speak up with facts, David Almasi, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal.

In recent weeks, Almasi and fellow activists also politely confronted executives of four other major U.S. corporations—AT&T, Bank of America, Amazon, and Twitter—at shareholder meetings.

“Often these days, corporate America has become a muscle and piggy bank for the left,” Almasi told The Daily Signal. “Sometimes executives do this for reasons of public relations, but in most cases, they are not helping consumers or their investors.”

“We’re the ones yelling stop during these meetings and asking them to think about what they are doing and to ask themselves if they are giving a fiduciary benefit to their investors and customers.”

In the past four years, the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank based in Washington, has made its voice heard in more than 100 shareholder meetings.

Amazon and Twitter, in separate shareholder meetings, this week rejected the Free Enterprise Project’s formal proposal that their boards reflect “true diversity.”

The full text of the proposal, on page 33 of Amazon’s proxy statement, specifies “ideological diversity” on the board as well as diversity based on race and gender.

Twitter rejected the idea Monday and Amazon did so Wednesday. The same diversity proposal is up for consideration at Facebook’s May 30 shareholder meeting and at Salesforce’s June 6 meeting.

“We believe that boards that incorporate diverse perspectives can think more critically and oversee corporate managers more effectively,” the Free Enterprise Project said in a statement supporting the proposal.

Prepared remarks at the Twitter and Amazon meetings by Justin Danhof, director of the Free Enterprise Project, are available here.

Amazon defended current policy in a statement recommending that shareholders vote down the proposal:

Diversity is a cornerstone of our continued success, and we are proud of the diversity of experience and perspectives represented by our directors and our employees. … Our Board composition reflects the robust nominating processes that we already have in place, which address much of what this proposal requests.

A Twitter spokesman, responding to Danhof’s remarks, said during the meeting:

For the reasons detailed in … our proxy statement, our board of directors believes that this proposal is not in the best interests of Twitter or our stockholders and recommends a vote against this proposal.

Questioning Johnson & Johnson’s CEO

Initiated in 2007, the Free Enterprise Project aims to advance free market ideals in corporate America on subjects including health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, and workers’ rights

Almasi showed up for Johnson & Johnson’s shareholder meeting April 25 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where the multinational medical device, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods company is headquartered.

During a question-and-answer session, Almasi asked CEO Alex Gorsky whether the company’s support for a Boston-based nonprofit, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, aligned with values expressed in the Johnson & Johnson credo.

Because the institute is “working to replicate” Great Britain’s health care rationing plan in the U.S., it puts Americans at risk of being placed on waiting lists to receive vital services or being denied access to certain drugs, Almasi warned Gorsky and other company officials.

“Johnson & Johnson has a fairly large meeting, and they really put on a show and run commercials and talk about profits and losses, and they are very open to investors,” Almasi told The Daily Signal. “I raised the fact that they started a relationship with a group that supports health care rationing.”

Robert Wood Johnson, the company’s former chairman and part of its founding family, drew up the Johnson & Johnson credo in 1943 to set the tone for its values and business practices.

The credo states, in part, that Johnson & Johnson’s “first responsibility is to the patients, doctors and nurses, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services … We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well. We must help people be healthier by supporting better access and care in more places around the world.”

The credo also says the company’s “final responsibility” is to shareholders, and that the business must turn a profit.

“What I said [to Johnson & Johnson’s Gorsky] is that you are part of a group and are giving money to a group that doesn’t want the patient to come first and instead wants a policy of health care rationing,” Almasi recalled in the interview.

“So, I brought this up and the CEO said he wasn’t aware of it, and I’ll take him at his word. But after the meeting, I had a discussion with [Johnson & Johnson’s] government affairs head, and we’re supposed to have another meeting in the next few weeks.”

Rationing Care, Denying Drugs

Almasi’s statement during the shareholder meeting, available here, ends with his asking Gorsky whether he could explain “how funding ICER benefits Johnson & Johnson, and whether this funding fits within the company’s credo.”

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review describes itself as an organization “that objectively evaluates the clinical and economic value of prescription drugs, medical tests, and other health care and health care delivery innovations.”

Steven Pearson, the institute’s founder and president, previously was a senior visiting fellow with Great Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, a government agency.

Almasi told Johnson & Johnson’s Gorsky that guidelines set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence were responsible for putting British citizens on waiting lists to receive health care.

“A lot of companies join groups because they want a seat at the table,” Almasi told The Daily Signal, and in the case of Johnson & Johnson he’d like to see the company “advance their credo” and oppose “the rationing of American health care.”

In the interview, Almasi also expressed concern that the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review’s partnership with the CVS retail pharmacy chain could result in denying prescription drugs to needy Americans based on highly subjective “quality of life” calculations.

Drug industry reporter Ed Silverman wrote in August that CVS set a “threshold of $100,000 per QALY, or quality-of-life years, a benchmark that measures both the quantity and quality of life generated by providing a treatment or some other health care intervention.”

In practice, this means the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review can call the shots on whether a CVS customer receives certain prescription drugs, Almasi warns.

“So, essentially this is like setting up an Obamacare death panel in the private sector,” he said. “We pointed this out to Johnson & Johnson, and we were able to do this by just by owning a couple of shares of stock and going into the room and asking questions. Now Gorsky may reevaluate the company’s relationship with ICER.”

How Those Questioned Respond

Johnson & Johnson did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment as of publication time.

However, David Whitrap, vice president of communications and outreach for the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, provided a statement countering the criticism.

“ICER’s mission is to help all Americans gain affordable access to high-value health care. Period. And we believe the best way to achieve this mission is to strive toward a system that achieves fair pricing of prescription drugs, fair access for patients, and financial incentives for future pharmaceutical innovation,” Whitrap said, adding:

We don’t determine a drug’s price, nor do we determine whether or not it should be covered by an insurance company, but we do provide a detailed, public and transparent assessment of new therapies so that all stakeholders—pharmaceutical companies, payers, patients, and physicians—can be better informed when they’re making critical decisions around the time of FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval.

Michael DeAngelis, a senior director in corporate communications for CVS Health, told The Daily Signal in an email that the corporation is committed to “develop innovative tools” for clients of its pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark, who he said include large employers, health plans, and unions.

Those tools, DeAngelis said, include plan designs “that will connect price, value, and coverage” and “help to influence manufacturer pricing on new drug launches.” He added of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review’s role:

ICER is a well-respected, independent organization which utilizes a rigorous process to assess the value of drugs, including convening regional independent appraisal committees for public hearings on each report and publishing a final evidence report. These benefit design options for our PBM [primary benefits manager] clients are not discriminatory and, in fact, improve the chances that patients with disabilities and serious illness will be able to get the treatments they need at a price they and the health system can afford.

‘Muscle and Piggy Bank for the Left’

The Free Enterprise Project’s presence at shareholder meetings doesn’t mean that conservatives have leveled the playing field with liberal counterparts who have a longer history of shareholder activism, Almasi cautions.

He would like to see many more shareholders with stakes in the free market system become organized and aware of the influence they can exert.

“Often these days, corporate America has become a muscle and piggy bank for the left,” Almasi said, adding:

Sometimes executives do this for reasons of public relations, but in most cases, they are not helping consumers or their investors. We’re the ones yelling ‘Stop’ during these meetings and asking them to think about what they are doing and to ask themselves if they are giving a fiduciary benefit to their investors and customers.

The more active we can be, the more effective we can be. We need more conservatives to be on board.

What the Free Enterprise Project has been able to achieve in recent weeks on limited resources suggests that the field is wide open for conservatives to become shareholder activists, Almasi told The Daily Signal.

In some instances, corporate leaders may not be aware of practices that are offensive to some shareholders and potentially counterproductive to their financial goals, he said.

Bank of America and Planned Parenthood

In another example, the Free Enterprise Project’s Danhof spoke up about Bank of America’s support for Planned Parenthood during a April 24 shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Danhof made use of research by 2ndVote, a conservative watchdog for corporate activism. Users of its online app, available on Google Play and Apple’s iTunes, have access to hundreds of corporate profiles.

During the meeting, Danhof provided Bank of America executives with documentation from 2ndVote showing the bank had been a consistent sponsor of Planned Parenthood’s annual gala in New York City.

This matters because Bank of America long had said it supports Planned Parenthood only through an employee matching-grant program. But 2ndVote’s research, available here, shows otherwise.

Danhof questioned Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan about the bank’s relationship with Planned Parenthood, and the audio of the back and forth is available in an online press release.

Danhof called on the bank to “correct the record” and publicly acknowledge it donates directly to Planned Parenthood.

Neither Bank of America nor the Planned Parenthood Federation of America responded by publication time to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment.

“We’ve had a great partnership with 2ndVote because they’re interested in the same corporate activism we are,” Almasi said. “They’re doing some great research, and they are going to the grassroots and getting information out there through scores and tweets.”

“When we went to Bank of America, we went with the information they found,” he said of 2ndVote. “This is a great example of how groups on the right are working together to get information out there.”

Connecting With AT&T

During AT&T’s shareholder meeting April 26 in Dallas, Texas, CEO Randall Stephenson told Danhof that he didn’t know employees in AT&T’s digital advertising department were blocking conservatives from accessing certain online platforms.

Their discussion centered on AT&T’s 2018 acquisition of AppNexus, a major online advertising platform with a history of excluding conservatives, according to a press release from the National Center for Public Policy Research.

AppNexus had not discontinued that practice, Danhof told AT&T’s Stephenson. In the press release, he said he expects Stephenson to “move decisively” to end any efforts at AT&T to muzzle conservatives.

The Daily Signal sought comment from AT&T, which responded through its advertising company, Xandr.

“Xandr regularly reviews the policies that govern our platform to ensure we are creating a safe advertising ecosystem for publishers, advertisers, and consumers,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Political ideology is not a category we consider in the course of content elimination decisions.”

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

COLUMN BY

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.

RELATED ARTICLE: Is Your Bank Supporting Common Core? There’s Now an App That’ll Tell You.


A Note for our Readers:

America’s trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so, given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C. and across the country.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it’s been painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

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Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely only upon the support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

UPDATE: Trump Signs Memo To Curb Welfare Use By Non-Citizens

UPDATE: President Signs Memo Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Immigrant Sponsors

President Donald Trump is expected to sign a memorandum Thursday enforcing restrictions on welfare benefits for non-citizens, The Daily Caller has learned.

The memo directs government agencies to enforce legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 that requires sponsors of immigrants to the U.S. to reimburse the government for any welfare benefits received by the person they are sponsoring.

Immigrant sponsors will be informed by agencies that they are required to pay back the money, and that they will be sent to collections if they fail to do so. Agencies will have 90 days to update their guidance and will report back to the president on their progress in 180 days.

Sponsor repayment of welfare benefits was enacted under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, but has remained largely unenforced. The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Patty Murray.

“This executive action will dramatically curb ‘welfare tourism’ and protect U.S. benefits for U.S. families,” a senior administration official told The Daily Caller. “It will also ensure that immigrant sponsors cannot continue the practice of bringing in large numbers of welfare-dependent immigrants: because they will be financially liable.”

The memo also requires enforcement of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which asks government agencies to consider the sponsor’s income when determining whether or not a non-citizen is eligible for welfare benefits. Because the agency would be bundling the sponsor’s and immigrant’s income, some immigrants may no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

That act was cosponsored by then-Sen. Joe  Biden and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.

The administration says enforcing these two laws will help protect welfare benefits for American citizens. According to a poll conducted by America First Policies, 73 percent of Americans support the idea that immigrants to the U.S. should be able to support themselves financially.

“This is shifting the burden away from the taxpayer and asking people to be self-sufficient,” a senior administration official told the Caller. “We have our own citizens who are struggling.”

The White House says, citing a 2015 study from the Center for Immigration Studies, that 58 percent of households headed by a non-citizen use at least one welfare program.

President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration plan, presented to the American people last week, follows a similar theme. The plan, which revamps the legal immigration system, would give priority to immigrants who earn higher wages and are financially independent.

While the new immigration plan is unlikely to succeed in the Democrat-controlled Congress, the administration has been taking other executive actions to claim smaller victories on immigration reform.

“This is part of a larger effort to do what it can on it’s own,” the official said of the administration’s actions.

Attorney General Bill Barr decided in April that asylum seekers who reach the “credible fear” threshold are no longer eligible to be released on bond, meaning they could be held indefinitely while awaiting court proceedings. The move sought to curb a method that some illegal immigrants use to gain entry to the U.S. despite not having legitimate asylum claims.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is also supporting measures to make sure that illegal immigrants are not able to take advantage of public housing benefits. Current law prevents illegal immigrants from using public housing benefits, but they have been able to skirt the rules by living with American citizens who receive housing subsidies.

HUD will begin evicting families who allow illegal immigrants to live with them in government-subsidized housing.

Shortly after those two actions were revealed, the president signed a memorandum recommending sanctions on countries that have a high rate of visa overstays. The administration will place travel restrictions on countries whose residents overstay their visas in the U.S. by a rate of 10 percent or higher.

“This is part of the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating illegal immigration,” a senior administration official said at the time.

COLUMN BY

Amber Athey

Follow Amber on Twitter

RELATED ARTICLE: Attorney General Bill Barr Cracks Down On Catch-And-Release For Asylum Seekers

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission.

Heritage Foundation Blueprint Would Balance Budget While Cutting Taxes, Stressing Defense

Balancing the budget while reducing taxes and prioritizing national defense are the main goals in a blueprint for smarter government spending released Monday by The Heritage Foundation.

The think tank’s new “Blueprint for Balance” “lays out an agenda both for our long-term governing vision [and] what our conservative policy priorities [are] that we want lawmakers to champion,” Romina Boccia, director of Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said during a roundtable with reporters to introduce the plan.

“Overall,” Boccia said, the blueprint specifies “what Republicans especially should be pushing for in the spending bills in order to realize conservative policy priorities and reduce spending in accordance with our values.”

The Budget Control Act, passed in 2011, sought to curb government spending and control the growth of government programs, capping discretionary spending at $1.07 trillion for fiscal year 2018.

Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at Heritage, wrote in a recent commentary that congressional Democrats are looking to raise the Budget Control Act’s caps on discretionary spending by at least $357 billion over 2020 and 2021.

Heritage’s “Blueprint for Balance,” if implemented, would reduce spending by $10.8 trillion over 10 years and eliminate budget deficits by 2029, as well as permanently extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and reduce taxes by $800 billion.

During a second event in which Heritage presented its blueprint to congressional staff, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., drew comparisons between the document and a budget released May 1 by the Republican Study Committee.

“We get a large task force and members with unique perspectives in a room and hash out differences and avoid some of the land mines that might cause some members not to vote for it,” Banks said of arriving at the Republican Study Committee budget.

“And that’s why I think our budget proposal this year is as strong as ever and very important for all of you to pay attention to because it has that broad support and it still balances [in] six years.”

However, neither the RSC budget nor the Heritage proposal has much of a hope of making it onto the House floor for a vote, given the Democrat majority led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“While we wanted to avoid our budget proposal being aspirational per se, we aren’t naive enough to [think] that Nancy Pelosi [is] going to put the RSC budget on the floor,” Banks said.

Government funding runs out Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2019.

The Hill reported earlier this month that lawmakers suggested another government shutdown could occur if Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on funding, including a $19 billion disaster aid bill passed May 10 by House Democrats that is opposed by the Trump administration.

The Heritage plan, which would balance the budget within 10 years, would expand the Republican tax reform plan signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017.

Specifically, it would end 29 tax subsidies and make permanent both the individual tax cuts and the ability of businesses to fully expense investments in equipment.

“This is something that wasn’t included in the president’s budget but is a really important piece of extending the entire Tax Cuts and Jobs Act going forward,” Adam Michel, senior policy analyst at Heritage’s Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said during the roundtable.

“And if we can pay down our debt and start balancing the budget, there are real economic dividends beyond all of the other benefits of getting the government out of our lives in various different ways,” Michel said.

Bogie said similarities between the RSC and Heritage budgets include permanently extending the 2017 tax cuts; providing another $850 billion in tax relief; prioritizing defense spending; and significantly reducing nondefense discretionary programs that fall outside the government’s constitutional responsibilities.

“Both budgets undertake comprehensive entitlement reform,” Bogie said in an email to The Daily Signal. “One of the most important aspects is that both budgets balance in 10 years and significantly reduce debt as a share of GDP.”

COLUMN BY

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE “BLUEPRINT FOR BALANCE.”

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Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Steve Bannon on the US-China Trade War

This is a GREAT interview and shows what Trump is really trying to do.

Steve Bannon on CNBC.

RELATED VIDEO: Steve Bannon: China was not prepared to have Trump in office

THE CHINA TRADE WAR: National Security On The Line

Add the trade war with China to a long list of crises driven by greed and globalism that President Trump inherited from a series of prior administrations, from both political parties

Since President Trump declared that, unlike previous U.S. Presidents, he would no longer permit China to ride roughshod over the United States, Wall Street whined about how a trade war with China would be costly to America and Americans by causing products from China to cost more; and likely diminish American exports to China as China retaliated by increasing tariffs on those U.S.  goods.

For Wall Street, the bottom line is the bottom line.  This is a very short-sighted and dangerous example of myopia, focusing on profits while ignoring threats to U.S. national security.

First and foremost, China is ruled by a totalitarian communist regime that is guilty of reprehensible human rights violations against its own citizens and is clearly working rapidly to expand its reach around the world by building its military capabilities.

Earlier this year I wrote about Chinese Aggression Against The U.S.A.  As President Trump has noted, China has not only taken economic advantage against the United States but has engaged in widespread intellectual property theft (also known as industrial espionage).  Indeed, China has also engaged in committing widespread espionage where our military technology is concerned and, incomprehensibly, the United States has admitted hundreds of thousands of Chinese STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students and provided them with world-class education at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.  Such students then become eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training that enables them to be gainfully employed by U.S. companies, including companies that develop technology of our military.

This provides access to U.S. companies that then become the targets of Chinese espionage.

China is also notorious for hacking computers in the United States that belong to our government, our military, corporations and even U.S. citizens.

On May 9, 2019 the U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release that announced, Member of Sophisticated China-Based Hacking Group Indicted for Series of Computer Intrusions, Including 2015 Data Breach of Health Insurer Anthem Inc. Affecting Over 78 Million People.

Here are several excerpts from the press release:

A federal grand jury returned an indictment unsealed today in Indianapolis, Indiana, charging a Chinese national as part of an extremely sophisticated hacking group operating in China and targeting large businesses in the United States, including a computer intrusion and data breach of Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. (Anthem).

The four-count indictment alleges that Fujie Wang (王 福 杰 in Chinese Hanzi), 32, and other members of the hacking group, including another individual charged as John Doe, conducted a campaign of intrusions into U.S.-based computer systems.  The indictment alleges that the defendants gained entry to the computer systems of Anthem and three other U.S. businesses.

“The allegations in the indictment unsealed today outline the activities of a brazen China-based computer hacking group that committed one of the worst data breaches in history,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “These defendants allegedly attacked U.S. businesses operating in four distinct industry sectors, and violated the privacy of over 78 million people by stealing their PII.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants then collected files and other information from the compromised computers and then stole this data.  As part of the computer intrusion and data breach of Anthem, the defendants identified and ultimately stole data concerning approximately 78.8 million persons from Anthem’s computer network, including names, health identification numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, employment information and income data, according to the indictment.

On April 9, 2019 CNN reported, Woman accused of illegal entry to Mar-a-Lago had numerous electronic devices, thousands in cash.

What was all but ignored by a series of reports about this woman, a citizen of China, Yujing Zhang, is how she was able to enter the United States with a visa but may have lied on her application for the visa in order to enter the United States; and then seek to gain entry to President Trump’s resort in Florida by deception to potentially carry out espionage.

And then, there is the huge issue of China flooding the United States with fentanyl.

On April 28, 2019 CBS News’ 60 minutes reported, Deadly fentanyl bought online from China being shipped through the mail. 

In addition to Chinese fentanyl being smuggled into the United States across the borders of the United States Chinese companies now ship fentanyl to the United States, relying in the U.S. Postal Service to deliver this deadly illegal drug and others, such as Carfentanyl to addresses in the United States.  In reality, it has become a chemical weapon of mass destruction.

For this report, one of the people interviewed by CBS Correspondent Scott Pelley was the United States Attorney for Cleveland, Ohio, Justin Herdman.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Justin Herdman: Carfentanyl is another 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Here you’ve got 300 grams of powder that could deliver a fatal dose to 150,000 people. Here you’ve got only five grams of powder which could deliver a fatal dose to over 250,000 people.

Scott Pelley: So if you touch this stuff, it could kill you?

Justin Herdman:  Yeah.

Scott Pelley: Just touch it–

Justin Herdman: There’s a reason we have a medic standing by, Scott, and that’s because– an overdose is– unfortunately it’s something that we have to be prepared for, even–even dealing with it in an evidence bag.

Herdman showed us pills that look like prescription opioids but are dangerous counterfeits.

Pelley then asked the obvious question:

Scott Pelley: Where did all this stuff come from?

Justin Herdman: It’s from China. It’s manufactured in China. These are all related to cases that involve the mail or the use of the postal system. So this, somebody  put this into a box, sealed it up and sent it through the postal system.

The United States Postal System has been, for many years, the most reliable way to smuggle drugs from China to the U.S.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Cronin, the prosecutor whose case against a Chinese smuggler served as the predication for the 60 Minutes report was also interviewed.

Here is the segment of his interview that underscores China’s complicity in the poisoning of America:

Matt Cronin: It is a fact that the People’s Republic of China is the source for the vast majority of synthetic opioids that are flooding the streets of the United States and western democracies.  It is a fact that these synthetic opioids are responsible for the overwhelming increase in overdose deaths in the United States. And it is a fact that if the People’s Republic of China wanted to shut down the synthetic opioid industry they could do so in a day.

Last year my article Google vs. Border Security was predicated on a CNN report about how  Google opposes President Trump’s efforts to secure our borders and has refused to help the U.S. military but is happy to work with the Chinese government to launch a search app in China that would block sensitive websites and search terms to comply with Chinese government censorship.

Decisions by corporate and government leaders must be based on two fundamental concerns: survival and morality!

EDITORS NOTE: This FrontPage Magazine column is republished with permission.

PODCAST: The Democrats Take Another Swipe At Right-To-Work

Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) recently raised eye-brows by calling for a federal ban on “Right-To-Work” (RTW) laws in the United States. By doing so, she was pandering to American unions to support her candidacy. Other Democrat candidates will likely follow suit, as they do every four years, and by doing so RTW laws are once again becoming a campaign issue. Unfortunately, many people still do not understand what is at stake here.

Right-To-Work simply means a union cannot get a worker fired for not paying union dues. It also means joining a union is voluntary, not compulsory as you will find in a “closed shop.” Such laws started in the south and west, but are now moving north with Kentucky becoming the 26th (2017), Wisconsin the 25th (2015), Michigan (24th; 2012) and Indiana (23rd; 2012).

RTW laws weaken the strength of unions. To illustrate, Boeing’s North Charleston plant employs about 7,500 workers to build fuselages for 747s and 787s. In 2015, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers tried to build support to unionize 3,175 production and maintenance workers. The effort was called off as workers wouldn’t embrace the union. Boeing constructed the plant in South Carolina after several battles with unions at its Washington plant.

According to a February 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute, the drawbacks to RTW include:

  • Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states.
  • The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance is 2.6 percentage points lower in RTW states.
  • The rate of employer-sponsored pensions is 4.8 percentage points lower in RTW states.

However, it should be remembered that the cost of living in RTW states is less than non-RTW states.

Further, an article in the “Wall Street Journal” (“An Inspiration and a Warning From Michigan”; Dec 14, 2012) claims that “between 1980 and 2011, total employment in right-to-work states grew by 71%, while employment in non-right-to-work states grew 32%. Sadly, employment in Michigan increased just 14% during that time. Since 2001, RTW states added 3.5% more jobs, while other states decreased by 2.6%. Similarly, inflation-adjusted compensation grew 12% in RTW states, but just 3% in the others.”

Beyond this, RTW is an important indicator of a state’s prosperity. To illustrate, according to a report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, it appears financial success in state governments is not by accident. The Mercatus report, examined the financial stability of the fifty states, plus Puerto Rico and Guam. The report considered debt and financial obligations, as well as state pension programs and health care benefits. Of the top 10 states, all had adopted RTW legislation:

#1 – Nebraska
#2 – South Dakota
#3 – Tennessee
#4 – Florida
#5 – Oklahoma
#6 – Wyoming
#7 – Idaho
#8 – Utah
#9 – North Carolina
#10 – Nevada

Of the bottom 10 states in the study, with the exception of Kentucky (which just adopted RTW legislation in 2017), none supported RTW:

#41 – New York
#42 – California
#43 – West Virginia
#44 – Delaware
#45 – New Mexico
#46 – Kentucky
#47 – Massachusetts
#48 – New Jersey
#49 – Connecticut
#50 – Illinois

In another article, I discovered the states reporting the highest levels of worker “engagement,” meaning the employees are motivated and self-starting, were primarily in the South, and the lowest were in the Northeast and Midwest. Again, in this instance, the South includes RTW states, and the Northeast and Midwest are under union control.

Time and again, RTW is somehow related to prosperity. Coincidence? I do not believe so. Bottom-line, it comes down to whether or not you believe trade unions serve the best interests of their constituents. With the passing of Kentucky’s RTW legislation, there are now more states interested in providing work for their people as opposed to trusting the unions.

As an aside, the territory of Guam has RTW laws, as does the Federal Government. Participation in unions is strictly voluntary.

In the upcoming presidential election, you will not hear a Democrat candidate openly support RTW legislation as they need union votes to get elected. However, the day is not far away when living in a non-RTW state will be considered a political liability as opposed to an asset. Therefore, Sen. Harris’ attack on RTW was to be expected, after all she is not a Republican.

Keep the Faith!

RELATED ARTICLE: Socialists Don’t Aim To End Poverty, They Aim To Use It

EDITORS NOTE: This Bryce is Right column is republished with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

A Higher Minimum Wage Fails in California

Issues such as job losses and automation have become concerns for the American people as technology transforms our economy.

Some have proposed universal basic income and other policies  to salve these problems, but they risk sapping the dignity of work and creating a kind of bifurcated warehouse society with huge numbers of people barely skating by on welfare.

The false notion that America must inevitably become a nation of welfare dependents and the super rich is toxic to the idea of the American dream.

Instead, we should look to avoid policies that harm Americans’ potential to enter the job market.

Minimum wage increases are supposed to be great for low-income workers and a boon to working-class Americans. However, mounting evidence suggests that’s not the case.

A recently released study by the University of California, Riverside demonstrates how California’s perhaps well-meaning minimum wage policies produce underwhelming results at best—but more typically create corrosive side effects for business owners and workers alike.

In 2016, California passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the law is being phased in with incremental increases.

At the start of this year, The Sacramento Bee reported, “employers with 25 or fewer employees will be required to pay a minimum of $11 an hour, while employers who have 26 or more employees must pay $12 an hour.”

The minimum wage in California will rise to the full $15 in 2022.

But warning signs already indicate that the policy isn’t working.

Despite huge growth in California’s restaurant industry, some businesses—largely in the full-service category of restaurants—have been hit hard.

Restaurant Business Online reported: “Nearly 1 out of 10 in areas with a recently increased minimum wage have closed an operation since the cost hike, and 71 percent have attempted to pass along the rise to customers by raising menu prices, according to new research.”

It’s not just businesses that have been harmed. The rapidly increased minimum wage has a negative impact on the job market, leading to employment for fewer people, according to the findings of the University of California, Riverside study:

The model suggests that there would be 30,000 fewer jobs in the industry from 2017 to 2022 as a result of the higher minimum wage. Over the period 2013-2022, therefore, the number of new jobs in the full-service industry will grow by 120,000, but would have grown by 160,000.

The study’s authors concluded that this depressing effect on job growth will accelerate as the minimum wage is increased to $15.

For those currently employed—those who presumably benefit most from the law—earnings increases are underwhelming.

“One explanation for a relatively small increase in wages is that lower-paid workers end up working fewer hours as a result of the higher minimum wage, thus offsetting the increase in their hourly rate,” the study says.

The conclusions of this study mirror others that have found that increased minimum wages actually harm lower-income workers.

A notable 2017 study in Seattle, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, found that a “wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent.”

“Consequently,” that study added, “total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016.”

What’s clear from the findings of the Riverside study and others is that the movement to dramatically increase the minimum wage is a false panacea. The massive boon promised to workers hasn’t materialized, and for many the mandatory wage hike has been a barrier to employment.

Boom times in the Trump economy have “masked” the issues with the minimum wage, according to researchers, and job growth could have been much better without it.

The Riverside study concludes:

The data analysis suggests that while the restaurant industry in California has grown significantly as the minimum wage has increased, employment in the industry has grown more slowly than it would have without minimum wage hikes. When the next recession arrives, the higher real minimum wage could increase overall job losses within the economy and lead to a higher unemployment rate than would have been the case without the minimum wage increases.

What’s clear is that minimum wage laws don’t come without their negative side effects, even in good times.

These effects may become more pronounced as automation technology puts pressure on workers in various industries.

And that pressure certainly exists, for example, in the restaurant industry, which is particularly affected by minimum wage laws.

Innovations like kiosk ordering are allowing businesses to avoid labor costs. Pressure to replace jobs with machines will only increase as the minimum wage is driven to an artificially high number.

The truth is that the real minimum wage is nothing. This is what people get if they can’t find work.

The result ends up being a turn to welfare, a drain on society and the individual, which can never replace the benefit of a job.

A government policy meant to help lower income workers may in fact be the bar that makes their employment, and advancement, unlikely or impossible.

Certainly, there are many vexing economic issues to tackle in our future, but it does no good to pursue seemingly idealistic policies that act as an impediment to economic advancement.

As usual, California is ahead of the curve in finding ways to tarnish what is golden. Perhaps that’s why so many middle-class Americans are leaving the wealthiest state in the union for greener pastures.

COMMENTARY BY

Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman is an editor and commentary writer for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast.Send an email to Jarrett. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Socialists Don’t Aim To End Poverty, They Aim To Use It


With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

Poorest Americans Are Benefiting Most From Strong Economy

It’s hard to escape the good economic news these days.

New reports show that in the first quarter of 2019, the U.S. economy grew by 3.2%, outpacing expectations by almost a full percentage point. In the month of April, unemployment fell to a 50-year low of 3.6%. Businesses continue to add hundreds of thousands of jobs month after month.

The sustained good economic news is in no small part thanks to last year’s tax cuts, and President Donald Trump’s work to cut unnecessary regulations that made it too costly to hire new workers or grow businesses.

The old cliché is that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s correct, but it misses the full scope of what a strong and growing economy does for the poorest among us. It is actually the poor, those who have been historically disenfranchised, people with disabilities, and lower-skilled workers who benefit the most from rising economic tides.

Let’s look at the details.

In April, the unemployment rate for Americans with a high school degree fell to the lowest rates since before the Great Recession. Unemployment for workers with disabilities fell from 8% to 6.3% over the last 12 months, the lowest level since the measure began in 2008.

Hispanic unemployment is the lowest it has been since 1973 (also when the measure began). Black unemployment remains close to historic lows, climbing slightly since the end of 2018.

One could hardly wish for a better trend. This economy is working for every class of American.

When the economy is strong and unemployment rates are consistently low, two things happen. First, job openings pull workers off the sidelines and into the workforce. People who had been so discouraged that they stopped looking for work start getting jobs again. That’s what we’re seeing. New York Times reporter Ben Casselman noted that more than 70% of new hires last month “weren’t actively looking for work, but got jobs anyway.”

Second, employers raise wages in order to keep good talent and attract new workers to fill job openings. And that’s happening, too. Until recently, wage growth had lagged behind expectations. Not anymore.

Following the 2017 tax cuts, the growth rate for average hourly earnings began to tick up, and over the past year, average hourly earnings rose by 3.2%. That’s a raise of roughly $1,400 in a year’s take-home pay. Before 2018, wage growth hadn’t reached 3% since 2009.

The recent wage gains have been largest for those who need it most. For the last six months, wage growth for production and non-supervisory workers outpaced the average for the entire economy.

In the past year, wage growth was 6.6% for the 10th percentile of workers with the lowest incomes, according to the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers. That’s double the 3.3% growth rate for workers at the top of the income distribution.

As poorer workers continue to benefit the most from the strong economy, we will see trends in wage inequality go down. By one measure, we have already “seen some narrowing of inequality, measured as wages at the top relative to the bottom,” as reported by Obama administration economist Jason Furman.

The American people seem to be internalizing all the good news. Job satisfaction and consumer confidence are high. Workers have the highest job satisfaction since 2005, and satisfaction improved faster for lower-income households in the most recent data.

Thanks to the strong economy, Americans who aren’t happy at their current work are voluntarily leaving their jobs for better opportunities at the highest rate since 2000, when the measure started.

In addition, consumer confidence remains high after surging to an 18-year peak last fall, signaling that Americans are confident in the economy. Retirees are also more confident about their retirement security and ability to live comfortably on their savings, reporting the highest retirement confidence numbers since the early 1990s.

For now, American workers are enjoying the benefits of pro-growth policies. But there is still more that Washington can do to ensure this economic expansion continues. The most pressing example is Congress’ unwillingness to cut federal spending, which has driven our debt to dangerous levels that are already dragging down our economy below where we should be.

If spending isn’t brought under control, our ballooning deficits could lead to higher taxes on current and future generations.

Right now, the powers of good policy are buoying the U.S. economy and workers. If our representatives in Washington can manage to keep taxes low and rein in federal spending, the future can be even brighter.

COMMENTARY BY

Adam Michel

Adam Michel focuses on tax policy and the federal budget as a policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Chuck Schumer urges Trump to ‘hang tough on China’ after latest tariff threat while other top Democrats are quiet


Dear Readers:

Just two short years after the end of the Obama administration’s disastrous policies, America is once again thriving due to conservative solutions that have produced a historic surge in economic growth.

The Trump administration has embraced over 60 percent of The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations since his inauguration. But with the House now firmly within the grips of the progressive left, the victories may come to a screeching halt.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

President Donald Trump needs all of the allies he can find to push through the stone wall he now faces within this divided government. And the best way you can partner with him is by becoming a member of his greatest ally in Washington: The Heritage Foundation.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

Mixing Business with Pressure

Inside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, workers are already ripping up the ancient teal carpet. By summer, the outside columns will be covered in scaffolding — part of an expensive renovation project meant to give the 100-year-old headquarters a new look. But as far as most conservatives are concerned, the Chamber’s real transformation was already well underway: a radical makeover that’s gone beyond what the building looks like — to what it stands for.

According to the Washington Post, the Chamber is tired of aligning with Republicans and wants to “rebuild” as a more inclusive brand. “We cannot just single-source our politics through one party,” says Tom Wilson, chairman of the organization’s board. It’s time, he insists, to “fundamentally act differently.” That mission has certainly been accomplished in the last handful of years, as the Chamber wades into radical social policies that are increasingly dividing the business community.

In its latest charm offensive to Democrats, the Chamber seemed to make the break with conservatives official — stunning everyone with its endorsement of the most extreme piece of LGBT activism ever introduced: the Equality Act. For an organization whose sole purpose is to protect American enterprise, the move came as a shock to anyone familiar with the oppressive realities of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) H.R. 5. The whole point of the Chamber, FRC’s Peter Sprigg points out, is to “advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and grow our economy.” Their website even lists “regulatory relief” as a priority issue. So why, Peter asks, would they send a letter to Congress asking, in effect, “Please regulate us more!”

Instead of giving businesses the freedom to set their own policies on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” the Chamber of Congress thinks the government should force them to adopt restroom policies as unsafe as Target’s. And under this bill, U.S. businesses wouldn’t just be punished for having gender-specific restrooms or showers, they’d also be hauled into court over hiring practices, dress codes, insurance coverage — anything that doesn’t give a unique advantage to people who identify as gay or transgender.

If a day care wants its staff to dress like their biological sex, too bad! If a small family store doesn’t have the money to cover an $89,050 gender reassignment surgery, their loss. Worried about the legal fees for workplace disputes or the cost of a gender-free facility overhaul? Get in line. If the Equality Act passes, the government will be able to dictate what people believe — and torment those who don’t submit. How’s that for the “free” market?

That’s the irony of this debate. The corporate elites who’ve been blinded by this rainbow are actually lobbying for less freedom for themselves. The Chamber of Commerce, like the big wigs at Apple, Google, and others, are demanding conformity on an issue that people should be deciding with their own dollars. If consumers don’t like what a company stands for, they can shop elsewhere! If these politically-correct policies are benefiting LGBT-friendly businesses as much as the Chamber says they are, then why “invite the heavy hand of government to intervene?”

If organizations like the Chamber won’t count the moral costs of H.R. 5, then maybe they’ll count the financial ones. Some LGBT activists, Peter writes, “argue that gender-identity laws benefit the economy as a whole. We can test that proposition empirically. Twenty of the 50 states already have sexual orientation-gender identity laws for employment, public accommodations, and housing [very similar what the Equality Act would impose nationally]. Do those 20 states have an economic advantage over the 30 states that have declined to adopt such laws? The answer, in brief, is no.”

“CNBC published a ‘scorecard on state economic climate’ in July 2018, ranking ‘America’s Top States for Business.’ Six of the 20 highest-ranked states had such laws — but so did nine of the twenty lowest-ranked ones. Forbes published its own list of ‘Best States for Business‘ in November 2018. Of the top seven states, not one had full protections, and only four of the top 13 had them. So did eight of the bottom 13.”

Employment numbers tell a similar story — so do population migrations and the American GDP. There is absolutely no evidence that the Equality Act will help the economy. There is, on the other hand, piles of it proving what most conservatives already know: true freedom is what leads to economic growth. When the Chamber of Commerce needed allies in the fights against taxes and government reform, do you think they called liberal politicians? Of course not. They leaned on the same conservatives they’re betraying in this debate. If Big Business wants to be a willing hostage of LGBT activists and abandon the principles that make companies successful, be our guest. But these same CEOs had better not come knocking when their profits are on the line — not if they’re just going to spend them attacking the conservatives’ values.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column is republished with permission.

Texas: Five People Sentenced for Multi-million Healthcare Fraud; Nigerians Among Them

As I have said on many previous occasions, I hope the Trump Administration is gathering their successful fraud-busting cases together to use as examples of what the Trump team is doing for us—finding and punishing those ripping off the US taxpayer!

At every rally he should be giving an update on how much fraud he is uncovering and busting!

The Medicaid fraud, Medicare fraud, Food stamp fraud have been doing great damage to the US Treasury and often there is a ‘new American’ component that makes it even more egregious.

We welcome immigrants and then they rip us off!

Normally we are never told if a convicted criminal is a new American, but this story has a mention at the end.

More news about how we lost $4.5 million (this time!) to Medicaid/Medicare fraud.

From KRGV TV Rio Grand Valley,

5 People Sentenced in Health Care Fraud Case

MISSION – Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit assisted the feds to convict five people in two health care fraud cases.

Five people cheated Medicaid and Medicare out of nearly $4.5 million.

“By billing Medicare and Medicaid for services never provided, these individuals and their companies diverted healthcare dollars from the most vulnerable among us and defrauded taxpayers,” Attorney General Paxton said.

The owner of A&C Medical Supply LLC in Mission pleaded guilty to health care fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing over $900,000 from Medicaid.

Andres Aly Alvarez was sentenced Thursday to two and a half years in prison.

The unit worked together with the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General on the case, which was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in McAllen.

Four people with Garland-based Elder Care Home Health Services were convicted for defrauding Medicaid and Medicare of more than $3.5 million.

This includes owner Loveth Isidaehomen, the director of nursing Tutu Kudiratu Etti, co-owner Celestine Tony Okwilagwe.

All were given a prison sentence of at least five years – Okwilagwe was sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison followed by an immediate deportation to Nigeria.

The four co-conspirators were ordered to pay more than $3.5 million in restitution. [What are the odds that the money is long gone—to Africa!—ed]

Celestine Tony Okwilagwe will spend 16 years in the slammer before being deported to Nigeria.

No time for more details, but you can learn more here and here about these crooks.

By the way, some involved in the fraud were Nigerian Olympic athletes.  And, if you check out those two links you will see that some of the Nigerians were barred from participating in the Medicare/Medicaid programs and figured a way around it (until they were caught by the Trump healthcare fraud busters.)

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission.

Bernie Is a Capitalist, Whether He Likes It or Not

Sen. Bernie Sanders belatedly released his tax returns this week. The New York Times reported:

The returns show that Mr. Sanders’s earnings shot up after his first presidential bid, when he built up a vast national following. He and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, reported income that topped $1 million in 2016 and 2017, lifted by proceeds from his books.

The couple had an adjusted gross income of $561,293 in 2018, according to their most recent tax return. Mr. Sanders had about $393,000 in book income last year, and he and his wife reported giving nearly $19,000 to charity.

His income now puts him within the top 1 percent of taxpayers, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Apparently, nothing succeeds like penalizing success.

Sen. Sanders said, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.” But his incarnation as John Galt didn’t last. In a Fox News town-hall, Bret Baier asked him“When you wrote the book and you made the money, isn’t that the definition of capitalism and the American dream?”

After an uncomfortable pause, the senator answered, “No.”

But he is wrong. Having an idea, acting on it, and making a pile of money is the very definition of successful entrepreneurship.

Sen. Sanders took a laptop costing a few hundred dollars and produced, in Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, a document for which he was paid $795,000. Taking an input valued at a few hundred dollars and turning it into an output worth $795,000 is the essence of entrepreneurial capitalism.

And Senator Sanders is right—he deserves that money. In January 2018, an estimated 73 percent of US adults owned either a desktop or a laptop. That’s 187.4 million people. How many of them produced a word document worth $795,000? Very few. No doubt Jersey Shore’s Snooki used a laptop like Sen. Sanders’ to produce Gorilla Beach, her debut novel, but there were more people willing to pay—and pay more money—for Sen. Sanders’ book. Value is subjective, after all. By providing greater satisfaction, Sen. Sanders reaped greater rewards.

Sen. Sanders and his wife paid an effective tax rate of 26 percent, well below the levels of 70 percent or so he claims “the 1 percent”—which includes him—ought to pay. They topped this up with $19,000 in charitable donations, another 3.4 percent of their income.

But if Sen. Sanders really thinks he isn’t having enough of his income taken from him, he can solve this situation unilaterally, and he can do it today—without waiting for Congress. He can donate his money to the federal government.

On Wednesday night, Tucker Carlson asked a Sanders supporter, Nomiki Konst, why he didn’t do just that. “Because that’s not how our government functions,” she replied, “Where do you send that form? The IRS? ‘Hi IRS, here’s a cheque for 70 percent?’”

No, you send it to the Treasury, as their website clearly instructs.

“Who does that?” she went on, “I would love to see one guest on your show that has actually written an entire paycheck.” In fact, so far in 2019, the Treasury has received $3.7 million in “Gift Contributions to Reduce Debt Held by the Public.” Carlson could get one of these donors on his show.

There’s an old line that “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” Konst’s argument shows how hollow that phrase really is.

Sen. Sanders has a choice, as do the members of the so-called Patriotic Millionaires. If they truly feel that politicians are not getting enough money to spend, they can give them some more. They can choose to “Be the change.” But they don’t. They will only act on their professed desire if other people are forced to act along with them. For all their talk about wanting to give the government more money, they make such payment contingent on other people who may not want to do so being forced to by law.

This is a curious form of generosity. It is an even more curious form of choice. Where is the choice for the people who think they already pay enough in tax? Government is not simply the name we give to the things we “choose to do together,” it is the name we give to things where 51 percent of people choose something, and the other 49 percent have to go along. As economist Milton Friedman once wrote, “You may get to vote once a year—on what? On a long, long list of propositions, with very little relationship between your vote and what ultimately happens.”

Sen. Sanders claims to be a socialist, and socialism is often described as “sharing.” But there is nothing inherently socialist about sharing. You can just as easily share under capitalism. Indeed, the latest World Giving Index produced by the Charities Aid Foundation listed the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands—all seven of them capitalist countries—in the top 10 most charitable countries over the last five years. By contrast, Venezuela, formerly Sen. Sanders’s poster child for “democratic” socialism, ranked a miserly 115th in 2017.

In 2011, the year when Sen. Sanders was boosting Venezuela, it ranked 118th compared to first place for the capitalist USA. But then, according to the World Bank, in 2011, GDP per capita in the US was $49,000 compared to just $14,000 in Venezuela*. Under capitalism, you actually have something to share. As Margaret Thatcher once put it,

No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money, as well.

Giving your money voluntarily—what most people would think of as sharing—is not what socialists actually mean by the word. That is why Sen. Sanders and the Patriotic Millionaires refuse to give the federal government their money voluntarily while a mechanism exists to do so and others are already using it. Their idea of sharing is that the government takes money from somebody else to hand it out as it sees fit. We already have a degree of this in capitalist societies. Today’s socialists want to increase the amount of people’s wealth that passes through the hands of the government.

The socialist notion of “sharing” is nothing of the kind. Sharing is voluntary, this is coerced. It is not sharing but coercion that is the essence of socialism. As the British author Kingsley Amis—a youthful socialist who came to support Thatcher—put it, “if socialism is not about compulsion, it is about nothing.”

* In constant 2010 dollars

COLUMN BY

John Phelan

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment and fellow of The Cobden Centre.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission.

DEBANKING: Chase Bank “moral character” a Reason They Don’t Do Business w/ “those types of people”

Can your bank ban you for your political views?

It sounds like something from a George Orwell novel or an authoritarian regime.  But in America, can someone restrict the flow of money of their political enemies?

In our Twitter investigation, Veritas has showed you “Deplatforming.” It’s the way big tech removes political commentators from their platforms to thwart political speech.

In our latest investigation, Project Veritas journalists uncover “Debanking.”

Could major U.S. banks like Chase be barring conservative and rightwing organizations from making business transactions because of their political views?

In our newest video, Veritas introduces you to Enrique Tarrio.  Tarrio is the chairman of the controversial Proud Boys and is an entrepreneur who sells provocative tee shirts and merchandise on his website 1776.shop.

Chase Bank refused to tell Tarrio why they suspended his account.  Shocked and frustrated, Tarrio reached out to Project Veritas.

See what our journalists uncovered and view the latest video:

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EDITORS NOTE: This Project Veritas column with video is republished with permission.