Whither Corruption and Conservatism? (American Compass)

Oren Cass invited me to contribute to this site not as a conservative but as a lefty and Democrat who is fascinated by the project of intellectual revival in which this network of thinkers is engaged. The contributors share an important goal, which is to rebuild an economic and political consensus in favor of the national interest, and to discard the hollow promises of neoliberalism/libertarianism. I’m going to try to provoke and prod, to force this community to strengthen their thinking.

My own reason for participating is to both learn, and to encourage both parties to compete for votes based on a view of a moral society that situates power in the hands of local communities, families, and producers, and removes power from the middlemen on Wall Street and at McKinsey, who today organize our corporate state. My view is that it is monopolists, in industries as varied as candy to coffins to missiles, who control the commerce and politics of our nation, so building community sovereignty and a vibrant self-governing republic means taking on the central challenge of monopoly.

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The Relief Package Ushers In Trump’s Planned Economy (Wired)

Our success in combating the pandemic and restarting the economy will depend on this administration’s choices—and political pressure from citizens.

LAST WEEK THE Senate voted 96 to 0 on a bill that fundamentally reorients American politics. The relief package includes direct cash payouts to families that run into the hundreds of billions, and corporate bailouts for casinos, aerospace companies, airlines, hotel chains, and Wall Street firms that White House adviser Larry Kudlow argues will total $6 trillion. There are loans and grants to small businesses, as well as money for hospitals, states and cities, real estate interests, and obscure guarantees of risky bank debt.

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Remote Control

A civil rights lawsuit highlights how Comcast’s monopoly crushes media divers (The American Prospect)

In October, hip-hop artist Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, went after a rival mogul on Instagram. His target wasn’t a fellow artist, but Brian Roberts, the billionaire CEO of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company. Comcast had just announced it was kicking 50 Cent’s show Power off the cable giant’s system. “This is the guy fu**ing up (Power) over at @Comcast,” 50 Cent wrote, showing a picture of a grinning Roberts wearing a wrinkled golf shirt.

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The Crisis in Financial Markets Began Before COVID-19 (The American Prospect)

The Federal Reserve has been committing hundreds of billions to short-term lending markets for months. It’s time to make that power work for more than just Wall Street. Written by Graham Steele and Matt Stoller.

Last week, the Federal Reserve staged a large-scale intervention in short-term money markets, announcing that it would make $1.5 trillion in loans available in the coming days. It followed with a big rate cut. And this week, the Federal Reserve is going to start lending to any big corporation that needs it, an emergency measure it last took during the 2008 financial crisis. It will be lending essentially unlimited sums to hedge funds, banks, and brokerages.

How Jack Welch’s Success Wrecked the Idea of the American Company

The recently deceased business icon pioneered mergers and acquisitions, stock buybacks, and offshoring (The Marker)

In early February of 1981, President Ronald Reagan picked his antitrust chief, William Baxter, whose arrival signified the reconstitution of monopoly power in America. Baxter restructured antitrust and merger law to prioritize economic efficiency and supercharged a merger trend already underway.

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Covid-19 Will Mark the End of Affluence Politics (Wired)

The possibility of a global pandemic will reveal our inability to make and distribute the things people need—just in time for a presidential election.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dismissed concerns about Covid-19. As he put it, the virus is “under control” in the US and the “whole situation will start working out.” But according to Politico, Trump is privately voicing worries that the impact of the virus will undermine his chances of reelection. His panicked actions of late—including preventing an American from being treated in Alabama, at the request of a fearful Senator Richard Shelby—confirm that this virus is a political event of the first magnitude. While few in Washington have internalized it, the coronavirus is the biggest story in the world and is soon going to smash into our electoral politics in unpredictable ways.

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The Market Won’t Fix our China Problem (The American Mind)

Replying to Marco Rubio’s “American Industrial Policy and the Rise of China” in The American Mind

Libertarianism is a bizarre and crumbling ideology that assumes power is absent from economic relationships. Two symbols of its fall are the rise of telecom maker Huawei, as well as the election of Donald Trump. Huawei reveals that being able to build real things matters more than financial markets, and Trump’s election revealed Americans didn’t like libertarianism and its technocratic and progressive analogues.