Air Date 6/20/2022
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the story of how neoliberalism was born, how corporations were organized to help push it into the mainstream, and how the courts were reshaped to permanently tilt the rules in favor of corporate power.
Sources today include AJ plus UN Fing, the Republic Robert Reich, the Tom Hartmann program, and the Ralph Nader Radio Hour with additional members-only clips from Breaking points and Jack Ben.
Chile, Neoliberalism and the CIA - AJ+ - Air Date 11-29-19
AJ+ NARRATOR: The protests over inequality in Chile are not spontaneous. If we go back in history, we'll find a dictatorship, a group of economists, and even the cia.
Sheila is considered the world's neoliberal laboratory because during the dictatorship of agu, she, it was one of the first [00:01:00] countries in which Milton Friedman's economic policies were applied. He was the guru of neoliberalism, discern Chile, the title of Economic Miracle. But not all Chileans are in agreement.
The keys to this experiment were the Chicago boys. They were a group of Chilean students awarded scholarships by the United States government between 1957 and 1970 to study postgraduate economics at the University of Chicago. The Cradled neoliberalism there, they learn from Friedman himself.
Neoliberalism is a capitalist political model that believes in the free market. This means that the less the government gets involved with the economy, the better. And so without the participation of the state, the market can regulate itself. But let's go back to the Chicago boys before Pinta in 1973.
The Chicago boys wrote El Lario [00:02:00] or The Brick, a document of over 500 pages that detailed a neoliberal economic plan for Chile post Salvador Yen. The CIA was implicated in the preparation of this plan after the coup. The military Junta used El Lario as its economic guide, and the Chicago boys actively participated in Fe.
She's Cabinet. They and their students continued to participate in the political and economic life of Chile in important government positions. During the dictatorship, Binoche applied new liberal policies with an iron fist. He sold state enterprises and drastically reduced public spending. In just one year, and by force it was cut 27%.
This created a lot of discontent. As a result, inflation reached almost 600% in 1974 and more than 1.5 million Chileans were unemployed. While the majority of the population was becoming more impoverished, the country's elite and foreign companies got rich.
After much recession and inflation, [00:03:00] the economy managed to stabilize by 1988. The cost. 45% of the population had fallen below the poverty line. It said that Chile's economy has grown at a macroeconomic level. That means that companies are doing well, but the people are not seeing this economic boom,
Today, the percentage of people who live in extreme poverty in the country decreases year after year, but inequality is still there. For example, the richest 5% of the population accumulate more than 50% of the national income.
But not all Chicago boys think the same. Economists, Ricardo French Davis believes that the macro economy of Chile was only good during the presidency of Patrizio, Eileen, and the years of re, but not during the time of ship.
The Powell Memo. Corporate America's Call to Arms. - Unf*cking The Republic - Air Date 2-9-23
MAX - HOST, UNFTR: Can a memo really change the world? I don't know. Common sense by Thomas Payne was just a pamphlet, but it inspired a revolution. George Kennons Long Telegram influenced generations of foreign policy thinking. It's probably too much to suggest that these pamphlets [00:04:00] or memos change the world, but it's not too much to suggest that sometimes they capture the zeitgeist and become the fulcrum of new thinking.
Following up on our seventies changed everything video. We're talking about the now infamous Powell memo and the influence that it had on corporate America and ultimately the neoliberal movement, as I mentioned in the prior video. Corporate America was keen to remove a thorn from its side consumer advocate, Ralph Nader.
While Louis Powell, the author of the Memo, was just a lawyer at the time. He was offended by the likes of Nader and what he and others viewed as an all out assault on the business community. Louis Powell Jr. Was a high profile attorney who directed his memo to the head of the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971.
He was all hot and bothered by the attack on the private sector, a fierce critic of socialism, and as I said, he hated Ralph Nader. In the memo, he pushed the chamber to gather political power and weaponize it against the Natters of the world. He [00:05:00] begins the memo to the chamber by speaking to the multitude of threats to the United States, saying, quote, what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America.
We're not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists. Or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assaults on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts. He goes on to attack Nader famed civil rights attorney, William Kunzler, the corporate media, universities, socialists, communists, new leftists artists, scientists, and politicians.
Powell criticized the business community as a whole for responding, quote by appeasement ineptitude, and ignoring the problem.
Powell's recipe was to first create a position called Executive vice President and to build a public relations team that reports to him, yes, him. He then calls upon the Chamber of Commerce to coordinate lobbying and PR efforts [00:06:00] so that no one corporation is left out in the cold fighting the Commies.
His true innovation that ignited a flame among the wealthy Libertarian set was to create a stealth attack on college campuses by packing social sciences with business friendly professors, rewriting textbooks, and paying for speakers to present corporate ideas at campus events. He then lays out an all out assault on the public consciousness through advertising demanding equal time on news programs for corporate chills.
And flooding the market with books, pamphlets, and scholarly articles sponsored by the chamber. Powell doesn't end there. He also advocates for grooming business friendly justices, which will hit closer to home for him than he even imagined. Taking over boardrooms through shareholder activism, cultivating power in political, sir.
I e buying off politicians. What makes the Powell memo so powerful in hindsight is the fact that literally everything he prescribed came to fruition. Powell's plan of attack is almost haunting in its efficiency and accuracy over the next few years. [00:07:00] The wealthy libertarian strain of the conservative movement led by Charles and David Koch, among others, would use this outline as a blueprint for hijacking the American political process, and perhaps it would've found its way into obscurity if the author himself didn't go on to embody the vision of his memorandum for the rest of his life.
Okay, so Powell himself was a cranky old corporate lawyer whose clients were likely impacted by government regulations, and maybe the memo wouldn't be such a big deal if Powell wasn't shortly thereafter appointed to the Supreme Court a position that even he thought he was purportedly not qualified to fill, rather quaint considering some of our recent appointments.
But I digress. Louis Powell was never a judge prior to his appointment by Nixon. He'd never argued a case in front of the Supreme Court, but he was a board member of Philip Morris and represented the Tobacco Institute. So for anyone who thinks that unqualified justices with conflicts of interest are a new thing, here you go.
Much like his [00:08:00] successor, justice Anthony Kennedy Powell was often in the middle of some prominent issues. Now, in fairness, he had some liberal decisions and opinions on social issues. And then again, some not so enlightened stances on issues surrounding sexuality, but on business issues. He was resolutely on the side of corporations.
The most significant of cases for which Powell broke the tie and wrote the majority opinion was the first National Bank of Boston versus Bilotti, which applied the logic of the First Amendment to corporate financial contributions. If this sounds familiar, it should. This decision was one of the precedents the court relied upon.
For the Citizens United decision. He also wrote the majority Opinion for a case called San Antonio v Rodriguez, which marked the end of progress in education, reform and integration of the schools. Basically, Powell threw in with the state's rights argument that gave discretion to states to fund schools as they saw fit.
Rather than equitably. Now, as a Justice Powell had the remarkable and rather unique [00:09:00] experience of being able to put his beliefs into action or settled law. He was also part of the crew that helped shift the balance of the court in a more conservative direction for a number of years coming in with the likes of William Rehnquist.
But it's interesting, after all of these years, he's more remembered as the author of the Eponymous Memo and more of a footnote in legal history. If there's anything to glean from this, it's that words have meaning and timing matters. The Chicago school economists were just getting warmed up with their ideas of beating back government intervention in all areas of the economy.
Society seemed to be crumbling as the decade kicked off. With events like the Kent State shootings and the Women's General strike for equality. I mean, counterculture movements were spreading across the country. It was the height of the black power movement, women's liberation, anti-war demonstrations.
The establishment was being threatened from all sides, and Powell was one of the first to suggest that a concerted movement to right the ship was required to rewrite public education [00:10:00] rules. Fund law schools and to develop conservative lawyers and justices and to leverage the financial prowess of the business community.
As I've said before, in hindsight, things seem pretty obvious and even simple, but to conservatives at the time, this was groundbreaking and galvanizing.
How the Corporate Takeover of American Politics Began - Robert Reich - Air Date 12-13-22
ROBERT REICH - HOST, ROBERT REICH: The corporate takeover of American politics started with a man, and a memo you probably never heard of. In 1971, the US Chamber of Commerce asked Louis Powell, a corporate attorney who'd go on to become a Supreme Court Justice, to draft a memo on the state of the country. Powell's memo argued that the American economic system was under broad attack from consumer, labor and environmental groups.
In reality, these groups were doing nothing more than enforcing the implicit social contract that had emerged at the end of the Second World War. They wanted to ensure corporations were responsive to all their stakeholders: workers, consumers, and the [00:11:00] environment, not just their shareholders.
Powell and the Chamber saw it differently. In his memo, Powell urged businesses to mobilize for political combat, and stressed that the critical ingredients for success were joint organizing and funding.
The Chamber distributed the memo to leading CEOs in large businesses and trade associations, hoping to persuade them that big business could dominate American politics in ways not seen since the Gilded Age. And it worked.
The Chamber's call for a business crusade birthed a new corporate political industry, practically overnight. Tens of thousands of corporate lobbyists and political operatives descended on Washington and state capitals across the country. I should know. I saw it happen with my own eyes. I worked at the Federal Trade Commission. Jimmy Carter had appointed consumer advocates to battle big corporations that for years have been diluting or injuring consumers. Yet almost everything we initiated at the FTC was met by [00:12:00] unexpectedly fierce political resistance from Congress. At one point, when we began examining advertising directed at children, congress stopped funding the agency altogether.
I was dumbfounded! What had happened? In three words, the Powell Memo. Lobbyists and their allies in Congress, and eventually the Reagan administration, worked to defang agencies like the FTC, and to staff them with officials who would overlook corporate misbehavior. Their influence led the FTC to stop seriously enforcing antitrust laws, among other things, allowing massive corporations to merge and concentrate their power even further.
Washington was transformed from a sleepy government town into a glittering center of corporate America, replete with elegant office buildings, fancy restaurants, and five star hotels.
Meanwhile, Justice Lewis Powell used the court to chip away at restrictions on corporate power in politics. His opinions in the [00:13:00] 1970s and eighties laid the foundation for corporations to claim free speech rights in the form of financial contributions to political campaigns.
Put another way, without Louis Powell, there'd probably be no Citizens United, the case that threw out limits on corporate campaign spending as a violation of the free speech of corporations.
These actions have transformed our political system. Corporate money supports platoons of lawyers, often outgunning any state or federal attorneys who dare stand in their way.
Lobbying has become a $3.7 billion industry. Corporations regularly outspend labor unions and public interest groups during election years, and too many politicians in Washington represent the interests of corporations, not their constituents. As a result, corporate taxes have been cut, loopholes widened, and regulations gutted.
Corporate consolidation has also given companies unprecedented market power, allowing them to raise prices on everything [00:14:00] from baby formula to gasoline. Their profits have jumped into the stratosphere, the highest in 70 years.
But despite the success of the Powell Memo, big business has not yet won. The people are beginning to fight back.
First, antitrust is making a comeback. Both at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, we're seeing a new willingness to take on corporate power.
Second, working people are standing up. Across the country, workers are unionizing at a faster rate than we've seen in decades, including at some of the biggest corporations in the world. And they're winning.
Third, campaign finance reform is within reach. Millions of Americans are intent on limiting corporate money in politics, and politicians are starting to listen.
All of these tell me that now is our best opportunity in decades to take on corporate power -- at the ballot box, in the workplace, and in Washington.
Greed Is Rotting America From The Inside Out - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 7-29-22
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Congressman Bill Pascrell recently put together a [00:15:00] Republican vote tracker that's become a meme across the internet. 0% of Republicans voted for cheaper gas. 0% of Republicans voted for cheaper insulin. 0% of Republicans voted for child tax credits to help out young families. 0% of Republicans voted to end gerrymanders. 0% of Republicans voted for the Voting Rights Act. 1% of Republicans voted to fight domestic terrorism. 4% voted for background checks to buy assault weapons. 6% voted to bring more baby formula into the United States and manufacture more baby [formula]. 13% voted to stop domestic violence. Only 16% voted for veterans cancer care. 23% voted to keep gay marriage legal, and only 32% voted to uphold the 2020 election.
Well, when you do a deep dive into the guts of the GOP policy operations, what you discover is that the Republican party made a sharp right turn in 1981 when Ronald Reagan became [00:16:00] president. It's referred to as the Reagan Revolution, and it was a genuine revolution.
Revolutions are not just changes in government. They are changes in value systems. When we revolted against the British, we said, we don't like the value system of kings and kingdoms. We want democracy. That was the core of our revolution, not the fact that we won a war.
And the Reagan revolution was a true shift in values. Before the Reagan revolution, for the Republican party before the Reagan revolution, the Republican Party was a pretty reasonably standup party. Dwight Eisenhower, who was the first president of my lifetime -- I was born in '51, he was elected in '52 -- Dwight Eisenhower embraced the antitrust and anti-corruption laws of his Republican predecessor, Teddy Roosevelt, who made it a federal felony for corporations to give money to candidates for political office, who broke up the big trust, you know, the big corporate monopolies. And Dwight Eisenhower also [00:17:00] maintained the top 91% tax bracket on people making over $3 million a year that Franklin Roosevelt put into place.
Eisenhower embraced all those things. He embraced public education. After Sputnik went up in '57, his education department started programs for gifted kids all across the country. I was in like second grade. I was in one of those programs throughout elementary school. It changed my life. And it produced a whole generation of scientists and engineers that brought about the transistor and the integrated circuit and lasers and antibiotics and cancer drugs and imaging technologies. And that research was also funded by the Eisenhower administration.
When Eisenhower's brother Edgar, his right-wing brother, wrote him a letter saying that your support for unions and for all this government spending is socialism, he replied, and I'm quoting from Eisenhower's 1954 letter to his brother Edgar: "To attain any success, it is quite clear that the federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be [00:18:00] undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied to this effort, we will lose everything, even to a possible drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon moderation in government." He continued: "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course, that believes we can do these things. Among them are HL Hunt -- you possibly know his background -- a few other Texas oil multimillionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." End of quote. From President Dwight Eisenhower's letter to his brother Edgar.
In the third year of Eisenhower's first term, 1955, his popularity was 79%, according to Gallup. When he ran for reelection in 1956, which he won overwhelmingly, this was his platform. This is an actual quote from the Eisenhower 1956 [00:19:00] political platform: "Under the Republican administration, as our country has prospered, so have its people. This is as it should be for, as President Eisenhower said, labor is the United States. The men and women who, with their hands, their hearts and their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country. They are America. The record of performance of this Republican administration on behalf of our working men and women goes further. The federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for six and a half million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workman's compensation benefits. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility and have increased their membership by two millions." End of quote, from Eisenhower -- Republican President Eisenhower's reelection platform in 1956.
But you know what happened after Eisenhower left office in 1961 was the right-wing crazies, the oil barons, these oil multimillionaires, HL Hunt and his buddies, [00:20:00] and Fred Koch and his family, they basically took over the Republican party. And they pushed Barry Goldwater in 1964, who was a big fan of Milton Friedman. And Milton Friedman was the guy who invented neoliberalism -- this idea that greed is not one of the seven deadly sins. It is, by the way. But Friedman said it shouldn't be considered a sin because greed is what drives all human behavior. So if we simply turn our economy and our government over to the most greedy people, everything will be wonderful and the nation will prosper. And Ronald Reagan bought that hook, line and sinker.
And thus greed has become the principle animating principle, the main animating principle in the Republican party. It's the only function of government in their minds. Greediest in America make a buck. Public schools don't promote somebody making a buck, so we have to destroy the public schools. Down in Florida, Ron DeSantis has changed the laws with regard to public school teachers. I include a tweet from [00:21:00] Leslie Abravenal -- Leslie, my apologies if I'm mangling your name -- who says, "Welcome to DeSantisstan", and she tells the story of a waitress with no college education, who is going to be teaching third grade. This woman is a teacher who's tweeting about this. And she had to provide the 12 hours of training to this waitress so that she could become a public school third grade teacher. No educational background. [She] was asking, what does phonics mean? 12 hours of training, and you're a public school teacher in Florida.
Similarly, Social Security and Medicare don't make money for anybody. Well, George W. Bush in 2005 figured out a way to turn Medicare into a cash machine. Medicare Advantage, that Medicare Advantage scam. And now Rick Scott says, if Republicans or when Republicans take control of the government again, they're gonna eliminate Social Security on a five-year timeline.
So why would Republicans support an autocrat and racist like Victor [00:22:00] Orban? Well, he's running Hungary the way they want to run America. His oligarch buddies own every major industry, including the media in Hungary. And it's become a single party state. That's what the Republican Party wants for us.
So why do they embrace racism if greed is their primary goal? Well, because they need the vote of the racists. Why do they embrace homophobia? Because they need the vote of the homophobes. The bottom line is, most Americans don't think greed is good. If the Republican party's sole sales pitch was, we're here to make the rich richer because that's the best thing for this country -- which is what they believe -- if that was their only sales pitch, they'd never win an election. So they reach out to the gun nuts, the homophobes, the racists, the anti-abortion freaks, and the result is coalition politics. They pulled together a large enough coalition that they can govern.
Economic False Prophets - Ralph Nader Radio Hour - Air Date 6-10-23
RALPH NADER - HOST, RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR: Well, you know, what we call market fundamentalism in our circle is easily rebutted. That is, the verdict of accountability for [00:23:00] corporations selling things is considered by these conservative market economists like Milton Friedman to be disciplined by something known as "the invisible hand," the words that are distorted of Adam Smith. In other words, if you don't do well, you sink in the marketplace. And if you respond to the consumer needs and wants, you do well and you rise and expand your sales and expand your business.
But what the market fundamentalist economists fail to take into account is greed and power connected to one another are infinite. There is no discernible boundary. And that leads to a regulation by corporations of the competitive free market. So monopolies distort markets, subsidies and bailouts by the government distort market discipline, political influence of big business over small business distorts market discipline. And consumer [00:24:00] fraud -- fraud of consumers, corporate, commercial crimes, obviously, deceptive advertising -- distorts free market discipline.
Is it fair to say, Binya, that people like Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers, who you discuss in your book, economists, all of them, were substantially empirically starved. That is, they were too theoretical, too abstract. They didn't take into account realities on the ground where people work, live and raise their families.
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM: I think it's an excellent point. I think when we think about what went wrong with economics, why did they get so much wrong about the way the world works and the way the government should behave, one big problem was that theory went racing way ahead of data during the 20th century. So economists began to have a little bit of data, a little bit of knowledge about the way that the economy works. They learned, for example, that in the period immediately following the Great Depression, that global inequality had declined. [00:25:00] And I love this example, 'cause I think it really illustrates what went on with economic thinking. So they saw this data showing that inequality was declining in advanced nations in the aftermath of the Great Depression, and they concluded from it that this was a fact, a durable pattern, that as societies evolved economically, inequality would decline, on the basis of that brief period of history.
And of course, that turns out not to be the case. And as we have had more data and more experience, we have learned just how painfully wrong they were.
But in area after area, we saw economists reaching broad conclusions about theories, about long-term truths about how the world works on the basis of very limited data, broad data, data that aggregated everyone and treated them as if they were a single individual, rather than acknowledging the important differences among actors in the economy, data that took very brief periods of history and extrapolated out to the unforeseeable future. And on that basis, economists reached [00:26:00] conclusions that have proven to be empirically wrong as we've learned more about it.
I'll give you one more example because it's one I love to tell cuz it's about my current employer, the New York Times Editorial Board. We editorialized in the mid-1980s that minimum wage laws should be abolished. And what we said at the time was that every economist we could find said that minimum wage laws were counterproductive. They had looked at the issue, they had examined it and they had a theory, and the theory said basically, there's a pot of money, it's gonna go to the workers. And if you require some workers to be paid a certain amount, other workers will inherently get less. That was the theory. Well, it turns out that it was empirical nonsense and that we have since learned that power plays a really important role in determining wages, that many workers are paid less than what the market will bear, and that minimum wage laws can have the effect of raising their pay and ensuring that they have a better quality of life. That's what the data shows. That's what the facts show. And economics, theoretical economics, was wrong in a way that immiserated millions of [00:27:00] Americans for many decades.
RALPH NADER - HOST, RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR: Yeah, it points to the axiomatic theme that if you control the yardsticks for measuring economic progress, you control the agenda. You control what's discussed on the table and what's not discussed on the table.
Now, you talk quite a bit about Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Larry Summers, Milton Friedman, the economist from University of Chicago, and they were wrong again and again over the years. I mean, Friedman was disastrous in his advice to the Chilean dictatorship of Pinochet and to the Icelandic leadership. He would basically say, free everything, deregulate everything. It's all monetary policy. And it was disastrous, as you point out in your book. And yet they still are available and desired for high paid speeches, book advances. They are still given credibility they don't [00:28:00] deserve, even in retirement. Greenspan still has some credibility. He didn't predict the 2008 Wall Street crash and he thought a principle goal of the Federal Reserve, as you point out in your book, is forecasting. Why do they continue to have status, credibility, and economic rewards?
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM: I think it's a wonderful question and I'd say a couple of things about it.
The first is that it's important to understand, and it sometimes gets lost in these discussions, that this rise of free market fundamentalism or neoliberalism or whatever you call it, was in response to real problems in economic policy. To take regulation as an example, one deeply familiar to you, it was the case that regulation in the mid-century was often captured by the people, the corporations who were supposed to be subject to that regulation. The way that the government was regulating these industries was not actually producing good outcomes. And so when people arrived and said, whether it was you critiquing it in one way, or the [00:29:00] neoliberals critiquing another and said, this regulatory system is broken, they were right about the malady; the regulatory system was broken, and that gave them a degree of credibility then to say, okay, and here are our solutions.
So that's number one, is that they were responding to real problems, and I think that gets lost sometimes.
The second, perhaps bigger point is that the central attraction of neoliberalism, of market fundamentalism is that it tells rich and powerful people that they are right and good. It underscores for them. It affirms them. It tells them that their priorities, their interests are the right ones. And if society just does what it can to enrich them and empower them, then everybody will be better off. That's an enormously attractive message. Those are the people who pay the speakers who appear at the events, the kinds of events you're talking about, and I suspect that until the end of time, there will still be an audience for that message, because it's a kind of prosperity gospel for the wealthy. It has an enormous inherent appeal to them. You can think about neoliberalism as, you [00:30:00] know, when the question comes, how do you define it? You can define it as a thirst for power. You can define it as the protection of property. You can define it as the protection of a racist or hierarchical system. I think there's truth to all of those definitions, they overlap substantially. But the one thing they have in common is that there is an entrenched set of interests for whom this language is affirming and protective, and they continue to find it useful, and that's why you continue to hear it.
What has Greed Cost America - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 10-28-14
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: The stark facts of global greed to disease as challenging as climate change is the headline on Paul Buckeye's piece Over on Alternate Today. There there is an extraordinary price that Americans, and frankly people all over the world are paying. For 34 years of Thatchers and Reaganomics that has not been limited to the United States and the uk, but is spread like, has spread like a virus around the world, [00:31:00] and it includes this bizarre notion as.
What was the actor's name who played Michael Douglas? Yeah, as Michael Douglas said in Wall Street, it comes from this notion, check this out. The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word is good. Greed is right. Greed works right. And that, you know, defined the eighties and defined the transformation of America with the Reagan presidency, where we went from Jimmy Carter walking to, to his inaugural balls, walking back from the, from the, uh, capitol building to the White House.
And inviting average people to his inaugural balls and not charging for them to Ronald Reagan charging a thousand to $10,000 a head and people wearing, you know, uh, super spiffy, very elegant, very expensive clothes, and making them basically just for big [00:32:00] donors and, and famous people. So, you know, the question in my mind is, what is greed costing America?
Let's just go through the list here. At least some of the things that are, I think the low hanging fruit, the obvious stuff on my list. Greed has caused us millions of people being incarcerated when they shouldn't have been. Their lives are destroyed, their future earnings are wiped out. Their ability to vote in many states is no long, no longer even exists.
They can't participate. There's this block the box movement to make it, uh, against the law for employers to ask if you've ever been convicted of a felony, have you ever been in jail? It's not gonna succeed, or probably not gonna succeed. But the reality is that they never should have been in jail in the first place.
You know, half, we have more people in prison than any other country in the world, [00:33:00] both on a, on an actual number and per capita basis. Why? Because of greed, because people are making money off people going to prison. We have a for-profit private prison industry. We have a for-profit industry quote, fighting the drug war.
These companies making drug testing kits and every other kind of thing, running, uh, rehab clinics and everything. You know, enforced rehab is the new soft incarceration. Why? But why do they do it? Why is it written into our laws? Why are judges do it? Because you can make a buck off it. Our public schools.
Our public schools are being eviscerated. They're being destroyed. Why? Because you can make a buck off charter schools and so you've got these private for-profit charter schools show opening up and they cherry pick the best students and they dump the, the poorer students on the public schools. And then gee, what kind of predictable result comes out of that?
Our healthcare crisis in the United States, you know, there's. And the [00:34:00] fact that, you know, it costs of fortune and still you can go bankrupt if you get sick. There's an amazing piece. Liz Alderman and Stephen Greenhouse wrote for the, uh, international business section of the New York Times. It, it comes with a couple of different headlines.
One of them is serving up fries for a living wage, and they tell the story. They open this, they opened this piece with the story of Hamus Ellon. It's a fellow who lives in, in Denmark, and he works 40 hours a week at Burger King, and they open the story with his, having paid his rent, paid all his bills, put some money in savings, and now he's, he's preparing to go out with his friends and have a movie and a beer.
How can he afford to pay all his bills and still have a leisure life that that costs a little bit of money? Because in Denmark, nobody makes less than $20 an hour working in fast food.
Nobody, [00:35:00] there is no minimum wage in Denmark, but there are very large, very powerful unions. 20 bucks an hour. Now, here's where it gets really amazing. American fast food workers by the way, earn an average of $8 and 90 cents an hour according to the article, and they quote this guy, Mr. Moore, Anthony Moore, down in Tampa, Florida, who is working at Burger King in the United States and can't pay his rent, can't buy food, can't pay his medical bills.
Well, in Denmark, you don't never have to worry about your medical bills. Everything is paid for, it's free.
Mr. Moore here in Tampa can't even afford Burger King's insurance copays and coverage, by the way, in Denmark, fast food workers get five weeks paid vacation, paid maternity, and paternity. They have a pension plan. They're paid overtime for working after 6:00 PM and working on Sundays. They get their schedules four weeks in advance, and employers [00:36:00] can't send them home early.
The article says without pay, just because business slows. What about turnover? Wells? 70% of their employees are there for more than a year. Turnover of fast food joints in the United States, eh, 20, 30% after a year are still there. The average length of of uh, working at a fast food joint in the United States is eight months.
By the way, you would say, oh, well, you know, if the, if the employees are making more than twice as much, the burgers must cost a lot more. A Big Mac in Denmark costs $5 and 60 cents compared to $4 and 80 cents in the United States. 80 cents more, not so much. And in fact,
h m s host Denmark is a company sort of like, you know, in the United States, you got these companies that operate, uh, restaurant concessions in airports and things. This is the biggest one in Denmark. They run the, they run the one in the Copenhagen Airport, for example, [00:37:00] and the guy who is the general manager.
Now, this is the guy who's running restaurants, the guy who's the general manager of apa, HMS host, he says, and I quote from the New York Times piece, serving up fries for a living wage. He says, quote, Well, the article says he noted proudly that a full-time Burger King employee made enough to live on.
Quote, the company doesn't get as much profit, but the profit is shared a little differently. We don't want there to be a big, big difference between the richest and the poorest, cuz poor people would just get really poor. Mr. Drescher added, we don't want people living in the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.
The guy working at the Burger King in the United States, by the way, he says he even goes to work when he is sick cuz he can't afford to lose his job. In Denmark paid sick time
Economic False Prophets Part 2 - Ralph Nader Radio Hour - Air Date 6-10-23
RALPH NADER - HOST, RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR: Interesting you mentioned Clinton, 'cause Clinton really was a major factor in what you're just saying in blending so-called liberal economists into the [00:38:00] neoliberal or the globalization dogmas that led to these NAFTA and World Trade Organization, corporate managed trade agreements, as we call them.
But let me extend your point here. There was one area that did develop, a progressive economic theory, but it didn't do it with abstractions. It did it with action, with reports, regulation, judicial decisions, and I'm talking about the consumer environmental worker safety movements that I have been identified with over the years. And what happened is that in the sixties and early seventies, the mass media, including your newspaper, Washington Post and AP and others, gave a voice to these consumer, environmental and worker safety groups. And when they were appearing in the press, that caught the attention of members of Congress, who then paid attention to 'em because they [00:39:00] were in the media, they were in the New York Times.
It was a cycle that if you got in the media, you'd get senators, representatives to hold hearings, to put in bills, to get legislation. And the members of Congress were pleased because they got covered for what they did in the mainstream media.
Well, that began to decline during the Carter years, and many of these groups that really changed our country -- people now are eating more nutritious food because of the work of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which got on Phil Donahue, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin was in the New York Times. The same for other groups, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Pension Rights Center and others around the country.
But then they started flipping out of visibility for a variety of reasons, one of 'em being Abe Rosenthal's redirection of the Times toward advertisers and suburban editions and the rest of it. That's another story. [00:40:00] They weren't getting the kind of coverage. What's interesting, and this should interest you, Binya -- we're talking with Binya Appelbaum, who's the author of The Economists' Hour: False Profits, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society. This should interest you. It's that when you look at the academic literature of what might be called liberal economists from Harvard to Berkeley, they hardly ever mention the reports, the studies, and the activities of these groups. It's almost like it's not on the screen. And when you have hundreds of pharmaceuticals removed from the marketplace 'cause of the efforts of Public Citizen's Health Research Group and Dr. Sidney Wolfe over the years, that should be cranked in to what you're trying to point out. That is real information about what progressive consumer theory and practice should be all about. That if these drugs are neither effective nor safe, [00:41:00] they should be removed from the market under the federal drug safety laws in the FDA.
So the point I'm making is that there's a whole range of empirical activities going on in this country at the state, local and national level trying to change things, and in the process making economic arguments. For example, the attack on regulation by the right-wing and the corporatists was that it stunted innovation. Regulation stifled innovation. Well, Nick Ashford at MIT and his colleagues proved time and time again, in testimony before Congress and in their books, that it stimulates innovation. For example, regulations stimulated the refinements of seat belts and airbags and other kinds of more systemic automobile safety features. And the same is true in many other areas. You have fire retardant innovation [00:42:00] because of regulation. You have smokestack control of pollution innovation because of regulation. So without belaboring the point, does it interest you that this whole area of activity is under the radar? And if it was given more visibility, it would invigorate the profession of economists and bring more empirical economists to the forefront of American visibility.
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM: It certainly does. You know, one of the stories I tell in my book is about the founding of the Rand Institute as a think tank for the Air Force. And the first assignment they were given was to figure out how to destroy the Soviet Union. And so they start doing this economic analysis of the best way to do that, and they come back to the Air Force and they say, listen, here's what you need to do: you need to get a lot of cheap planes and put a lot of pilots and bombs in them and fly them into the teeth of the Soviet air defenses. And a lot of them will get shot down, but enough of them will make it through to destroy the Soviet Union. That's the best way to do the job. And the Air Force Generals look at these Rand Institute [00:43:00] scientists, these economists, and they say, what about the pilots? Have you taken into account the lives of the pilots? And the response of the economists was, no, we don't know how to put a price on that. And I think that that story is really important because what it underscores is that economic analysis tends to exclude things that don't fit neatly into its formulas. They can't be easily counted or tabulated that don't count as data in the view of economists. And you've just pointed out the ways in which that really matters, because we can have very good real-world experience of the effects of drug regulation regimes or of corporate behavior in monopolistic contexts. And if it doesn't tally on the data sheet, it gets excluded from the analysis. It doesn't become part of our policymaking conversation. And so, when I talk about what needs to change for us to make better use of economics -- 'cause I don't think we're ever going to get rid of it completely -- what needs to change is that we need a way for policymakers to evaluate other kinds of evidence, other kinds of information in the context of making these decisions. And I agree with you that the media also needs to do a better job [00:44:00] of incorporating that type of evidence and information into our narratives and our presentations of these issues.
But I want to touch on one other aspect of this if I can. Because I think one thing that has happened, one aspect of this that doesn't get talked about enough, is that the movement that you helped to build and that you just spoke about, that consumer movement, relied heavily on the courts as referees, as validators, as interveners, to come in and say, this is wrong. This needs to change. This violates the law. And we had a generation in which the courts were willing, or more than a generation, in which the courts were willing to play that role and did so effectively. And I think people have not yet fully appreciated the consequences of the shift in who is on the federal bench, and in their willingness to entertain these types of claims and suits, they are increasingly hostile to it. The place where the neoliberal movement or the free market movement, wherever you wanna call it, remains the most entrenched, is in the federal judiciary. And it's an area in which, frankly, [00:45:00] Democratic politicians haven't even begun the project of beginning to install judges who would think differently about economic policy issues or regulatory issues. And as a consequence, our ability to engage these arguments productively, to make change in the way that you made change historically, I think is severely attenuated right now. Because the place where you go to make those arguments is no longer as receptive to them.
Wall Street's ESG Scam EXPLAINED - Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar - Air Date 6-16-22
SAAGAR - CO-HOST, BREAKING POINTS: So, the reason we wanted to talk to you is I've been really fascinated in the last several months and even years about ESG. And so we've seen a bit of a turn against ESG when we're talking about oil and gas markets, the Dow Jones, the S&P 500, let's put this up there on the screen, which is actually, the SEC is now even investigating Goldman Sachs over ESG funds. But, please, just start at a most basic level, what is ESG, and then why should we care about it?
RON IVEY: So ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. And it's a way to frame a certain type of investment or a certain [00:46:00] type of investment fund. And it started as a way to understand how investments or how corporate activities affect society, environment, et cetera. And it was an effort to really design products that would improve performance on environmental and social levels and really answer demand that was out there for investments that were addressing some of these causes that, uh, you know, are previously not addressed in previous investment structures. In the basic investment structure, you're thinking about profit growth, uh, you know, these typical metrics. But there was an effort to try to understand what's the impact of a corporation on the society and the environment, and this was an effort to do that. It's grown in these recent years. It's grown from up to now one third of every investment. Our investment fund, it's projected to get to $53 trillion over the next three years. It's exploding. And part of that's because of the demand for investment, but it's also because there is an advantage for fund managers to pitch something like this because it adds to [00:47:00] their revenues in terms of management fees, and it also allows them to market to new investors, to younger investors. So we're seeing a real explosion in the last few years.
KRYSTAL - CO-HOST, BREAKING POINTS: Can you explain that piece? Why do ESG investments lead to these larger management fees?
RON IVEY: Well, because there's more in-depth management in terms of the accounting of impact, supposedly, the accounting of impact. But that's been part of the problem, uh, that there is a question about whether the metrics to used or the measurement approaches used are actually, you know, actually dealing with impact. So that the justification is, Hey, we have, we're not just dealing with typical investments. We have to look at a additional criteria for our investment portfolio, which would require additional investment. But the reality is what we're seeing, it's not necessarily always the case.
KRYSTAL - CO-HOST, BREAKING POINTS: Hmm.
SAAGAR - CO-HOST, BREAKING POINTS: So, you caught my eye when you wrote this piece in American Affairs. Let's put this up there on the screen. I encourage everybody to go read it, which will have a link in there. Society Inc. You know, something that I have been really interested in here, Ron, is the role in [00:48:00] which ESG is actually having counterintuitive impacts on our broader society.
I think the peak example is Chevron increasing its ESG score or reliability by selling off a mine, and actually the mine becomes much more dirty and the environment gets much worse, the same amount of oil is produced and you actually have counterintuitive effects, but they get to get ranked as a green company in the index and get to continue to have some social cache. So tell us about what you're seeing in your research about ESG, Ron.
RON IVEY: Yeah, so we're, basically three things are happening over the last two years. One, is there's basically a revelation in the analysis of the funds themselves. A group of academics and journalists over the last year have been looking at what's actually happening in terms of performance and how performance is measured.
Florian Berg at MIT analyzed the criteria that are being used across these various credit, agencies that are evaluating environmental and social performance and what he found was that in some agencies, their [00:49:00] evaluations are, a company can basically perform at a very high level and then another agency that performed at a low level. So these distinctions or discrepancies between performance don't give you a lot of confidence that the criteria are actually helpful in evaluating investments. That's led to a retreat in terms of investors. We've seen a big drop over the last six months. In the first quarter, there was a 36% drop in investors that are in these ESG funds. And then third it's leading to a reckoning with regulators. So, you see both in United States and Europe, regulators are starting to ask more questions about what these funds are actually doing, critiquing greenwashing and social washing. In the EU, we see the the delivery and development of a new taxonomy of ESG fund nomenclature, basically to explain what the terms mean and give more credibility to those ESG terms.
Second thing we've seen is actually crackdowns on companies like Deutsche Bank and their subsidiary [00:50:00] DFW. Seeing the same thing on the other side, on the United States, uh we have crackdowns capping in on Goldman Sachs potentially, and other entities. And then the SEC just releasing new regulations as it relates to naming funds, but also as it relates to the disclosure requirements on climate change emissions and other types of impacts. So, you see the shift basically where regulators were hands off and now they've moved into a much more hands-on, heavy-handed approach to the evaluations.
KRYSTAL - CO-HOST, BREAKING POINTS: So, tell me if I understand this correctly. So, basically you have people who are sort of well-meaning, they want their money to be invested in things they can feel good about. Wall Street says, No problem. Pay us a little extra money, we can make that happen for you. Companies say, Hey, tell me how I can sort of like navigate the system to trick people into thinking if, you know, total, like, classic greenwashing situation for the companies. And so it's really those ordinary, those investors at the beginning who are kind of getting duped by the system, who think that [00:51:00] they're putting their money into good things and having social impact, but really not.
Is there a better way to run this system? So, you're talking about regulators sort of cracking down. From what I read, effectively the only way that the SEC can go after companies is if they represented something to their investors that ended up being just completely false. Because it's not like there's some overarching sort of like ESG regulatory scheme where regulators can really come in and say, No, you're not meeting the legally set standards that would match up with, you know, what investors would ultimately expect. So, is there a way to do this that doesn't just result in bullshitting and greenwashing ultimately?
RON IVEY: Yeah, I think you fundamentally have to go back and look at, you know, how corporations are structured and how our political economy is structured and just be realistic. I mean, the way that we're set up, as you all well know, the last 40 years, we've moved into this shareholder maximization approach started by Friedman in the late seventies, early eighties, to where, you know, corporations, their sole goal is to maximize [00:52:00] shareholder returns. That's set in the culture of companies. That's set in the structures of organizations. That's set in the law actually. So it's very difficult for corporations to think outside of that box.
And then the second thing, as you all reported, Well, our economy is very concentrated. Because of the lax antitrust law and the growing concentration of corporations, coupled with that mindset of shareholder return, return maximization. If you try to do ESG metrics, then you have some, you know, change in naming and nomenclature, it's really fundamentally not gonna change things. You're going to still have, corporations have that fundamental motivation to maximize shareholder returns and if there's a conflict with social impact or environmental impact, we know what they're going to choose.
So, how do you solve that? Well, one thing we could do is from the United States government perspective, we could begin to measure and evaluate performance separate from the companies, create a separate entity that, [00:53:00] create some kind of corporate accountability organization, that could use all of the various tools that are out there in terms of data and analytics and artificial intelligence to understand the corporate, you know, performance and how they're impacting the core things that impact our life. Air, water, you know, the other things like social trust, et cetera. You know, how do we know that they're performing well unless we measure from our perspective. It's never gonna work if it comes from the corporate perspective because they're just not designed to operate that way.
Anti-Capitalist Investing Is... Absurd — Jen Pan - Jacobin - Air Date 6-11-22
JEN PAN - REPORTER, JACOBIN: So, I recently came across a new article on "anti-capitalist investing". According to the piece, a small but growing number of wealthy people are seeking a more radical approach to investing. Some call it the seemingly contradictory term anti-capitalist investing, others refer to it as transformative investing.
In general, proponents are going beyond merely disincentivizing unethical behavior in companies. They're trying to shift more of the balance of financial power into [00:54:00] the hands of the working class, transforming an economic system that they believe has unjustly given just a few people control over majority of capital.
Some investors wanna spend down their wealth through anti-capitalist investing, while others still wanna get a return on their investment but make sure these investments are into ventures they feel promote social justice. Many of these bold new anti-capitalist investors hail from a group called Resource Generation, which has been the subject of many, many glowing profiles in the media over the past few years.
The group which describes itself as, "young people with wealth and class privilege in the US" appears to be made up of the most enlightened rich people in the world. On their site, you can find enthusiastic support for reparations, pledges to pay rent to Native American tribes for being on their land, and talk of community care and mutual aid. According to their mission statement, they seek to "transform the philanthropic sector towards redistribution rather than charity.
But the problem with these new, supposedly [00:55:00] radical and unconventional philanthropists is that their very model of so-called redistribution, no matter how dressed up in social justice language it is, and no matter how guilty these people feel about their money, entrenches the power of the capitalist class rather than breaking it.
So first, some background. Our current philanthropic system was born - surprise, surprise - during the first Gilded Age, when industrial robber barons started charitable foundations in order to stave off brewing social unrest and deflect attention from how they had amassed their giant fortunes in the first place. These Gilded Age charities directed some money towards solving the social ills of the day, while of course also conveniently serving as tax shelters for their wealthy founders.
Now the new generation of so-called anti-capitalist investors have been eager to insist that they're nothing like these bad old philanthropists. After all, some of them want to give away their entire fortunes. They support Black-led and Native-led organizing. They use phrases like "systemic change" and "racial capitalism" and [00:56:00] say they're "working in solidarity with poor and working class people". However, there are some fundamental ways in which their radical new philanthropy ends up looking quite a lot like the philanthropy of the robber barons.
First and foremost is this. Private philanthropy of any kind runs against and even undermines democracy. That's because the public has no say over how philanthropic funds are used. Instead, elite donors and small boards of trustees decide how foundations and nonprofits alike spend their money, which of course means that wealthy individuals and organizations, from Mackenzie Scott to George Soros to the Ford Foundation to even yes, Resource Generation, are able to exert undue influence on politics and public life by directing vast sums of money toward causes they deem noble, without any input or oversight whatsoever from average voters or the vast majority of working people.
What's more is that philanthropy functions as yet another tax advantage for the wealthy. Every time an anti-capitalist investor [00:57:00] funnels his or her money into a foundation or nonprofit or makes a tax deductible donation, they're effectively reducing their own tax burden and by extension, reducing funding for actual public goods like infrastructure, social services, and public education.
According to one estimate, philanthropic institutions' tax breaks cost the US around $50 billion in lost tax revenue each year. So in other words, these young, anti-capitalist investors might be creating or donating to slightly different charities and nonprofit organizations than their parents, but at the end of the day, the very nature of philanthropic giving keeps the money they're theoretically trying to "redistribute" very far from actual public control.
And finally, the entire project of anti-capitalist investing obscures the foundations of our deeply unequal economy. To put it bluntly, some guilty rich people deciding to give away all the money in their trust funds won't actually do anything to transform the capitalist system that made them or their families rich in the first place, because it won't change the fact that under [00:58:00] capitalism, the vast majority of us create wealth through our labor, while a small number of capitalists capture that wealth as profit. If one capitalist benevolently decides to stop exploiting his or her workers, or gives away all their money, their business will of course, cease to function and another capitalist will simply take their place.
This illustrates the shortcomings of a certain type of enthusiasm for redistribution that has grown over the past few years. For one thing, these days, redistribution seems to mean literally anything Liberals want it to, from mutual aid to interpersonal Venmo reparations to supposed radical philanthropy. But none of these instances of so-called redistribution change our dependence on the market. Actually moving toward a more democratic economy or achieving an "equitable distribution of wealth, land and power", as Resource Generation likes to put it, means decommodizing necessities like housing, expanding public ownership of energy and other utilities, heavily regulating the business and financial sector, and drastically increasing taxes on the wealthy. In any [00:59:00] case, I think it goes without saying that we should be very, very wary of anyone claiming that capitalist class do-gooders are going to lead us to a fairer economic system.
An advisor who works for the self-described anti-capitalist wealth management firm Chordata told Vox, " Sometimes when we use the language of anti-capitalist investing, people say it's a paradox. I think that comes from a place of people believing that there's no real alternative to capitalism". Make no mistake. There is an alternative to capitalism, but it won't be ushered in by the self-flagellating children of the rich or their radical philanthropy schemes.
Final comments on the next revolution in values we need
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with AJ plus explaining the birth of neoliberalism. Going back to the Chicago boys and Chile un effing, the Republic unpacked the Powell memo, Robert Reich dove a little deeper on the legacy of the Powell memo. Tom Hartmann highlighted the revolution of values that pivoted the Republican party primarily and the Democratic party only slightly less so toward [01:00:00] toward honoring greed.
The Ralph Nader radio hour looked at the moral framework neoliberalism creates for greed. Tom Hartmann broke down some of the costs the US has paid for our system built on greed, and the Ralph Nader radio hour finished with an explanation of the role of the courts in upholding the system by favoring the rich and powerful.
That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from breaking points, discussing the new attempt to greenwash dirty corporate actions with E S G investing. And Jackin broke down. Why? The idea of anti-capitalist investing is absurd. To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive.
Sign up to support the show at Best of the Left dot-com slash support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. Now, to wrap up today, I just want to echo a bit of what I said at the end of the ethical [01:01:00] consumerism episode.
That's just the previous. New episode that came out about a week ago. I see these two topics as basically two sides of the same coin, and some of the lies that we tell ourselves to justify unethical consumption on the individual level are simply reflections of the lies that we're told in the service of establishing neoliberal values throughout society and our economics.
The tension between. The human inclination toward selfishness and the desire to not be socially harmful is at play on both the individual, as I discussed before, and the structural level as is described today in that. Legislators and judges who help shape the rules and regulations of our economy generally think that they are keeping both things in mind.
I think it'd be rare to find someone who says that they favor a system built on greed, and also acknowledges that [01:02:00] it's detrimental to society. The trick with. Macroeconomics, just as with personal choices, is that people can be fooled into thinking that greed is good not just for the individual or the business, but for the entire economy and society as well.
And if we can have a revolution in values that led us this far astray, there's no reason we can't have another that reestablishes a demand for real ethics and economics to replace the generation of greed as good. That's going to be it for today. As always, keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else.
You can leave a voicemail or send us a text to 2 0 2 9 9 9 3 9 9 1 or simply email me to Jay at. Best of the Left dot-com. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist, Trio, Ken, Brian, and low Wendy for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together.
Thanks [01:03:00] to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com slash support. Through our Patreon page or from right inside the Apple Podcast app membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes.
In addition to there being extra content, no ads and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player, and you can continue the discussion. You can join our Discord community. There's a link to join in the show notes. So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC.
My name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from Best of the Left dot-com.