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Posts Tagged ‘oligarchs’

Why America’s Oligarchs Are Moving Left | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 15, 2021

Instead of competing with other companies on the basis of fulfilling consumer wants, companies try to one-up each other by trying to display their woke credentials. Those with skeletons in their closets would likely find use in this type of signaling as a way to avoid any unwanted attention. Going woke acts as a release from all social obligations. By viewing their nation’s history as fundamentally bigoted, individuals and institutions no longer feel compelled to abide by basic rules of decency and serve their clients and community.

https://mises.org/wire/why-americas-oligarchs-are-moving-left

José Niño

These days it’s not your typical latte-sipping millennials who are going woke. Taking a stroll around America’s largest metro areas will have one believe social justice is the latest fad that’s sweeping across corporate boardrooms. Much has been written about woke capital—businesses’ recent pivot to signal their affinity for leftist movements—and what it means for society at large. Suffice it to say that since last year, this trend has accelerated at breakneck speeds.

Scratching one’s head in utter confusion should be a natural response to corporate America’s virtue signaling. One has to wonder why big business, which has traditionally been perceived as a reactionary institution aligned with the political right, would make common cause with radicals on the cultural left. Counterintuitive as it may seem, corporations and prominent business moguls have many incentives to jump on the virtue-signaling bandwagon.

For megacorporations, woke signaling is a matter of self-preservation in order to protect themselves from ravenous mobs in both the virtual and physical realms. What’s more, in a time when hall monitors—state and nonstate—are lurking around every corner waiting for individuals to commit some kind of impropriety, many institutions will go out of their way to signal their compliance with the regime’s standards. Not abiding by the regime’s accepted behavior comes with major social and financial costs that the bulk of businesses are not willing to bear.

For wealthy members of society who have leftist inclinations, there’s a diminishing marginal utility of money, as Mises Institute president Jeff Deist spelled out in an interview with Jay Taylor two years back. Put simply, spending hundreds of millions on civilization-destroying campaigns is a casual expense for America’s premier tycoons, who have plenty of money to spare after covering their expenses on basic necessities. 

When someone is rich, say an individual who has $10 billion, they have the luxury of throwing money at uneconomic ventures without losing any sleep about meeting their basic economic needs. The multibillionaire spearheading a woke project that is rejected by the public will not land in the poorhouse from the financial fallout. They can go back to their private affairs or pivot to another political cause that is not as divisive. By contrast, for a small business owner, such virtue signaling could mean bankruptcy if their customer base tends to be right wing or is at least hostile toward culturally radical virtue signaling.

Indeed, one of the more perverse developments in Western societies is the rich’s penchant to squander away the wealth they’ve accumulated by funding all sorts of bizarre social projects. Only in such a developed economy, characterized by hyperabundance and unprecedented luxuries, can people engage in bizarre activities that in previous eras would have been viewed as masochistic and self-destructive.

The likes of George Soros and Michael Bloomberg offer stark counterexamples to the business elites of the past. The two financial titans have built a reputation of bankrolling a wide network of gun control groups which strive to pass legislation designed to infringe on millions of people’s ability to defend themselves. By contrast, Bloomberg and his left-leaning oligarchical counterparts have the luxury of living in gated communities and relying on private security to defend themselves. In fairness, business magnates in previous eras were likely not fervent champions of wedge political issues like gun rights, but you would not see them enthusiastically throwing their weight behind the latest political fads the Left gravitates toward these days.

Bolsheviks and Billionaires

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José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook or Twitter. Get his premium newsletter here.

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3 Ways the Tech Oligarchs’ New Subsidy Is Ripping You Off | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 12, 2021

These companies want “robust funding”—provided by taxpayers, of course—for the Act’s programs which, the Coalition says, “would help America build … additional capacity” for semiconductor production.

In other words, America’s tech oligarchs want to buy subsidized semiconductors, and they think regular people should pay for it all while also subsidizing research.

https://mises.org/wire/3-ways-tech-oligarchs-new-subsidy-ripping-you

Ryan McMaken

Billionaire plutocrats at Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and other tech companies don’t spend all their time deciding whether or not to boycott your state or lecture you on the “correct” voting laws.  No, sometimes they have time to plot ways to rip off the taxpayers to the tune of more than 50 billion dollars.

At least, that’s what a new coalition of tech companies wants in a new effort to lobby Congress for subsidies and other “incentives” for the production of semiconductors. According to Fox Business:

The Semiconductor in America Coalition, made up of chip buyers including Amazon Web Services, Apple, Google and Microsoft, and manufacturers like American Micro Devices, Intel, Nvidia and Texas Instruments, has asked Congress to provide funding for the CHIPS for America Act, which authorized domestic chip manufacturing incentives and research initiatives.

These companies want “robust funding”—provided by taxpayers, of course—for the Act’s programs which, the Coalition says, “would help America build … additional capacity” for semiconductor production.

This new demand for cash follows last year’s passage of the CHIPS for America act which included an initial payout of $10 billion for “a new federal grant program” and new tax credits, which, unless accompanied by reductions in spending, only amount to tax increases for everyone who doesn’t receive the credit.1 The coalition also expresses its dismay over the fact that Federal “investment”—i.e., government spending—on semiconductor research has “fallen flat” as a share of GDP.

In other words, America’s tech oligarchs want to buy subsidized semiconductors, and they think regular people should pay for it all while also subsidizing research.

And, of course, no attempt at ripping off the taxpayers would be complete without an appeal to patriotism and economic nationalism.

The coalition was careful to mention that the global share of semiconductors produced in the United States has fallen over the past thirty years. The implication is that sinister foreigners are catching up to the United States in terms of semiconductor production. In other words, the subsidies are “essential for …national security.”

This is just textbook special-interest politics: large, powerful business groups are lobbying the regime to subsidize their products or inputs. This lowers the cost to these businesses while raising the cost to taxpayers and competitors.

But it raises the cost to ordinary Americans in a variety of ways that aren’t just measured in dollars. Here are some of them:

One: Malinvestment

Every time a government extracts resources from private owners via taxation, it is redistributing wealth. But this redistribution doesn’t occur according to the wishes of consumers—i.e., market allocation. Rather, these resources are now doled out according to the wishes of government planners and pressure groups.

This redirection of resources away from market allocation inflates prices in some areas, while depressing prices in others. It creates bubbles in “demand” for certain products and services as generated by the arbitrary purchasing decisions of government bureaucrats.

In the case of the semiconductor subsidy scheme, labor and capital are redistributed by government planners to the semiconductor industry, even if a functioning marketplace would have put those resources elsewhere. The “seen” effect is that more semiconductors are built. The “unseen” is the countless important and in-demand products and services that won’t be provided in the marketplace. 

Two: Reduction in Consumer Choice

Politically, the entire scheme rests on the assumption that the consumers aren’t to be trusted with their own money, and their money must be spent in the “correct” places by government agents. That is, every subsidy, tariff, tax, or money-printing scheme requires that regular people hand over a portion of their own wealth to bureaucrats to put it in the “right” places.

In the case of the semi-conductor subsidy, the tech plutocrats worry that a “shortage” of semiconductors will cause the prices of various tech products and services to increase. As a result, it stands to reason that consumers may spend less money on those products and services. This could impact the tech sector’s revenue and profits. 

Consumers ought to be free to change their spending habits, of course, and they ought to be able to re-arrange their spending so as to fit their own personal budgets and desires.

But the oligarchs and bureaucrats don’t like that sort of thing, and they don’t like the consumer having the freedom to simply spend less in the tech sector. They found a way to protect their revenue and profits: simply force consumers to spend in the tech sector whether they want to or not. 

So, the regime forcibly redistributes’ the consumers resources. This represents a loss of consumer “welfare,” which we can define as the consumer engaging in voluntary market action to increase his own welfare according to his own individual valuations. The oligarchs want to reduce this welfare in order to increase the oligarchs’ welfare. It’s as simple as that.

Three: Reduced Competitiveness for Other Sectors and Businesses

The situation is more complex than just a transfer of cash from taxpayers to certain subsidized industries.

When the regime subsidizes a particular industry, business, or sector, this results in an increase in prices for competing businesses and industries. For example, if the regime decides to subsidize semiconductor makers, these firms will then have more resources to bid up the wages they pay, and the prices they pay for various resources necessary for production. This means that firms in other sectors now must compete more heavily for labor and raw materials or any other factor that the semiconductor industry is now buying up in larger amounts. 

This is especially repugnant in the case of the semiconductor scheme because most of the large tech firms in question have already been indirectly subsidized for years through the Fed’s financialization efforts, and especially in the form of the Greenspan put. This has served to inflate stock prices in the tech sector and has benefited large publicly-traded firms over smaller firms that have not been able to count on the Fed to have their back.

In other words, the semiconductor subsidy is just the latest part of a scheme to stack the deck against small business owners, employees, and customers. 

We Learn Economics to Learn How They’re Ripping Us Off

One can easily guess what the defenders of this latest subsidy will say. They’re likely to claim that it just amounts to a small amount per household: “What’s 50 billion dollars spread across so many households?” Of course, this is what advocates for tax increases, tariffs, and subsidies always say: “Just give us this one new, teeny-tiny tax/subsidy. It’s not a big deal!” But if we add up all the government schemes this claim has been used to justify, we get a pretty “big deal,” indeed. Moreover, as we’ve seen above, the real cost in terms of economic distortions, lost welfare, and harm to competitors, is quite real and beyond the dollar amounts we see in the subsidy itself. 

  • 1. Although tax credits are not “subsidies” per se, they are anti-competitive and amount to the regime picking winners and losers. In an environment of deficit spending and monetization of debt—an environment we now live in—a tax credit for one firm or group of firms amounts to putting a larger tax burden on all other firms as monetary inflation and deficit spending are employed to keep spending high in the face of lost revenue via tax credits. Thus, tax credits for the semiconductor industry are a way to shift the tax burden to competitors. 

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Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power&Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Parler No More – Taki’s Magazine – Taki’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on March 16, 2021

So what will the future bring under such circumstances? I see America becoming less democratic and increasingly feudal, with a middle class sort of becoming extinct. Small businesses such as mom-and-pop stores are already extinct because of Amazon; manufacturing and agricultural businesses are on their way down. What is to be done? With Congress in the pocket of the oligarchs, not much, I’m afraid. Soon there will be bans on ideological language, as it is now called by woke students and oligarch followers; words such as “woman” and “breastfeeding” will be banned.

https://www.takimag.com/article/parler-no-more/print

Taki

It is the sine qua non of a successful coup to first and foremost ensure the takeover of the means of information: radio, television, and newspapers. That is what the Greek colonels did in the last successful European coup back on April 21, 1967. Some years later, a colonel tried to overthrow the elected post-Franco Spanish government but failed, having taken over the Parliament rather than the TV and radio station.

This, of course, is old hat to Central American banana republics, and an everyday occurrence in the Middle East and in every developing African country. And now for the first time, a rather developed country that has been a democracy since its creation almost 250 years ago has abolished (canceled) free speech—unless, of course, it passes muster with the three great American oligarchs who decide what we can say.

Before I describe these three great American men who have the ultimate veto over our free speech, a word about the new online network platforms that represent a new kind of power that poses a challenge to the power of the state. These network platforms began as decentralized entities, but turned into oligarchical weapons for stifling speech their masters did not agree with. Simply put, a very few are excluding a hell of a lot from a domain the courts have recognized as a public forum. In other words, to hell with the First Amendment unless we like what you say. Which today means sex offenders have a right to access online social networks, but an ex-president of the U.S. does not. “Corporate monopolies and the left have now teamed up to shut down free speech in the latest form of cancel culture.”

And it gets better. An independent social media site, Parler, was closed down thanks to Amazon (and Apple), which is like GM shutting down Ford because the latter represents competition. Throughout this, a few Republican senators have raised their voices, but no one really took notice. What is being shut down, actually, is news and opinions the three oligarchs do not wish you to know. It’s as simple as that. Corporate monopolies and the left have now teamed up to shut down free speech in the latest form of cancel culture. The alliance of leftists and woke capitalists is the most lethal since the Stalin-Nazi pact of 1939, and it aims to regulate all thought from school to retirement. Control, censor, and cancel are the order of the day in social media, as Big Tech now regulates speech—and eventually our thoughts.

So who are these great men who have replaced, say, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Abe Lincoln as our heroes? I find what they have in common are their good looks. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s face gives the impression of being covered by a silk stocking like those worn by bank robbers; Jack Dorsey, the Twitter man, looks like a 1960s drugged hippy bum fished out from the San Francisco Bay; while the richest, the Amazon man Jeff Bezos, is a poster boy for a sex-pervert satyr threatening young virgins in a French blue film of the ’30s. Great looks go hand in hand with great powers—just remember how handsome Hitler and Stalin were. These last two would have been envious of Zuckie, Jeff, and Jack’s thought-control abilities, as it would have saved them lots of manpower wasted in the camps.

The above and other tech giants now dominate the Democratic Party, own much of the media, and can manipulate the social media platforms, where a growing proportion of Americans get their news. Congress is not about to do anything about this because the Democrats are in charge, and even if they were not, powerful lobbies by the techies would go into overdrive to stop any legislation against their monopolies.

So what will the future bring under such circumstances? I see America becoming less democratic and increasingly feudal, with a middle class sort of becoming extinct. Small businesses such as mom-and-pop stores are already extinct because of Amazon; manufacturing and agricultural businesses are on their way down. What is to be done? With Congress in the pocket of the oligarchs, not much, I’m afraid. Soon there will be bans on ideological language, as it is now called by woke students and oligarch followers; words such as “woman” and “breastfeeding” will be banned.

Over in Britain, where wokeness is as virulent as it is over here, Boris’ government has decided to do something about it. The education minister has decreed that universities that stifle free speech and torpedo Britain’s history will be denied funds. Ditto for charities and other such bodies that depend on government subsidies. This is a good first step, as the Brits want to defend their culture and history from a noisy minority of activists who are attempting to rewrite Britain’s past.

And yet, never in a million years would I have suspected that I would write such a column as this one. A civil right of every American to speak freely was the first thing I learned about this country when I arrived here from Europe at age 12. Yet Google, Apple, and the three controlled by the beauties I’ve mentioned above are denying that right to millions of Americans, and Congress is doing nothing about it. Time to call in the Marines—our freedom of speech is disappearing faster than the three beauties’ billions are multiplying.

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