• Tag Archives freedom
  • Tucker Carlson Says Corporations Are Now the Biggest Threat to Your Freedom. He’s Wrong


    tucker

    Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey, and Mark Zuckerberg have no prisons. They’ve never run an internment camp or seized anyone’s home for failure to mow their lawn. Their body counts are a combined zero. Yet in a recent keynote address at the National Conservatism conference, Tucker Carlson suggested that big corporations—like Google, Twitter, and Facebook—are a greater threat to your freedom than the government.

    “The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government anymore, but it comes from the private sector,” the Fox News host said.

    Echoing recent praise for Senator Elizabeth Warren and her brand of economic nationalism, Carlson declared that her book on the two-income trap is “one of the best books on economics he’s ever read.” (Might we recommend a bit of Sowell, Hayek, or Smith?)

    Is Carlson’s claim defensible? Not by a long shot.

    The genius of the Constitution is a result of the American Founders’ understanding that our freedoms and rights precede government and that an unrestrained government is the biggest threat to those freedoms. The Founders limited the power of the government through an intricate system of enumerated powers, separation of powers, explicit rights, and rights retained by the people to impede the abuse of governmental power.

    Limiting the potential for governmental abuse was fundamental to the design of our constitutional order and remains an abiding concern. No such concern existed for “big corporations” because businesses do not wield the power to promulgate civil and criminal laws and exact punishment for violations of them. The state, not business, has a monopoly on compelled coercion.

    While laws and law enforcement are essential in a free and orderly society, government abuse at all levels has riddled our history (from FDR’s internment camps to Jim Crow laws in the South) and is the stuff of daily headlines.

    Government has the legal authority to incarcerate you, allocate your tax dollars how it sees fit, and foreclose on your home if you fail to mow the lawn.

    You may recall the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission involving Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Phillips was asked by a same-sex couple to create a wedding cake for their upcoming ceremony. Jack politely refused. A complaint was filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which led to a years-long struggle for Jack as he sought to protect his business, his brand, and his reputation. Even though the Supreme Court ultimately sided with Jack, the state of Colorado sought to punish him for exercising his freedom of speech and association.

    Much of the nationalist right’s recent lambasting of big business seems focused on social media. A few media personalities like Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan, Laura Loomer, and Milo Yiannopoulos have been de-platformed for violating terms of service or community standards, but where is the widescale conservative or nationalist purge? Even when users from the right have been suspended “permanently,” social media has reversed course and reinstated their accounts, sometimes within 48 hours. (Ask your attorney if you can appeal a conviction or civil judgment brought by the government within 48 hours.)

    The reality is that no person has a constitutional or natural right to a social media account. A user must agree to the terms of service and comply with community standards to enjoy the services offered by these platforms. No user can compel Facebook or Twitter to tolerate what it deems hateful or offensive language any more than they can compel Fox News to give airtime to pro-Antifa screeds.

    Where else is big business threatening conservatives’ freedom? Are banks refusing mortgages to conservatives? Are hospitals refusing to treat them? Are auto dealers refusing to sell F150s to boomers because of MAGA memes? Certainly, there are unfortunate stories of well-known conservatives being refused service at local restaurants, but the multi-year investigation into the IRS’s unfair treatment of conservative groups reveals where the greater threat lies.

    Carlson’s speech at the conference was titled “Big Business Hates Your Family.” While Carlson has railed against American companies for any number of reasons in recent years, his latest bête noire is Oreo. Nabisco, a parent company of Oreo, was in Carlson’s crosshairs for advertising that suggests kids “choose their pronoun” with their Pride Month “pronoun pack” cookies.

    Tucker dismissed the idea that people can start their own competing business if they don’t like a company’s practices. This dismissal of entrepreneurship is puzzling coming from an entrepreneur; Carlson is the co-founder of an online publisher. But there is an even simpler course of action than starting your own cookie company. If you are not happy with Nabisco’s business practices, buy different cookies… or bake your own at home with your family.

    It’s not clear what policy Carlson would suggest in response to Oreo, but Carlson’s characterization of big companies as monopolies may give a clue.

    Carlson has blasted social media giants as “digital monopolies.”

     

    Despite the national media celebrity’s histrionics, there are dozens of social media platforms and search engines. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram might be the most popular for now, but if a conservative doesn’t like these companies’ policies, they can unplug, deactivate their account, or try other emerging platforms like Codias, MeWe, Ricochet, or an alternative search engine like DuckDuckGo.

    Decrying social media companies as monopolies suggests that the companies should be broken up under antitrust laws. However, the Federal Trade Commission enforces antitrust laws where there’s a showing of anti-competitive practices. It isn’t enough to say that a company is too large or the company’s practices are not pleasing to pundits like Carlson.

    If companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook engage in anti-competitive practices, such as price-fixing or exclusionary contracts, they should be forced to comply with applicable law like any other company. But rather than fearmongering that these companies are a greater threat to freedom than the government, we should narrowly tailor a remedy.

    For instance, these tech companies’ greatest competitive advantage is that they have collected extensive data over the years. Rather than trying to break up these companies, users could be given the statutory right of data portability, where a person can delete their account and take all of their personal data with them. Giving users greater control over their own information would be one way to give consumers more power without breaking up the companies they enjoy using on a regular basis.

    Ultimately, it’s an odd time to rail against American capitalism. Unemployment has dropped to its lowest level since 1969, and worker wages are on the rise. Capitalism, including big business, is a source of economic prosperity for American workers and families.

    Rather than weaponizing antitrust prosecutions for political or social purposes, policymakers should eliminate the anti-competitive privileges of crony capitalism. Concerns about data privacy are real but can be addressed with focused remedies rather than the blunt tool of “breaking up big tech.”

    Americans are not at the mercy of businesses that don’t share their values. Like Tucker Carlson, we are free to start a competing business, or we can simply choose another supplier. By contrast, we can’t “log out” of laws and regulations—even ones we disagree with. Violating federal law or disobeying the instructions of a law enforcement officer can come with severe and sometimes deadly consequences.

    Our Founders wisely recognized that our greatest threat isn’t Nabisco or Facebook. With the memory of an overreaching British monarch fresh in their minds, they sought to establish a republic that ensured government—not private business—was properly constrained. We ignore their wisdom at our own peril.

    Doug McCullough

    Doug McCullough is a corporate attorney at the Texas law firm, McCullough Sudan, and is a director of the Lone Star Policy Institute. Doug is a co-host of The Urbane Cowboys, a podcast on policy, society, and innovation. He is a National Review Institute Regional Fellow and Better Cities Project Fellow. He is a regular contributor to Foundation for Economic Education, and has been published in Entrepreneur, The Hill, Washington Examiner, Arc Digital, Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio Express.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


  • Why a Free Society Cannot Transform Wishes into Rights


    medicare-for-all-protest

    Any careful observer of American politics must be struck by the ever-expanding roster of things people have asserted rights to. But when such arguments are seriously considered, there is little to them beyond shared desires or wishes for certain things, which supposedly implies that there ought to be rights to them.

    From there, it is but one further step to legislative, executive, or judicial attempts to create such rights, promoted as social improvements guaranteed by government.

    This “ought implies is” argument about rights reverses the claim that “is implies ought,” which David Hume famously shot down. It ignores that in a world where scarcity is inescapable, our desires always outpace what is producible, which means that newly asserted rights may well be impossible delusions. Further, it ignores that making good on any particular newly created right must violate other’s existing rights to themselves and their efforts. And it, too, deserves rejection.

    Few have thought as carefully about this confusion between wishes and rights as Leonard Read. His insights are particularly well developed in his “Doctor, Whoever You Are,” section in his 1969 Let Freedom Reign. In a world where turning one wish into a political right leads to still more attempts to use the same magic on another wish, and every such step further erodes liberty, Read’s views are worth serious consideration on their 50th anniversary.

    “Now in vogue is a fearful combination of wishes and methods, as fanciful as Aladdin’s lamp…the transmutation of wishes into rights! Do you wish for better housing? Then better housing is a right. Do you wish for…higher returns for goods and services, shorter hours of labor, protection from competition? Then these are rights. Do you wish for free medical care? Then free medical care is a right!”

    “And what is the nature of the jinni called upon to transmute wishes into rights?… government. It extorts from all, allocating the legalized loot to those who effectively make their wishes heard.”

    “How do we go about healing this sickness? We must acquire an understanding that wishes, regardless of how numerous, do not constitute a right. I have no more right to your professional attention than you have a claim on me to wash your dishes. We are dealing with an absurdity.”

    “We live and prosper by specialization and exchange…others tend to encourage me to specialize at what is of value to them, and I tend to encourage them to specialize at what is of value to me. This is how people in a free society exert their wishes. But note that these wishes do not carry with them any right on my part to command what others shall produce or any right to force on them the terms of exchange.”

    “When the notion that a wish is a right is put into effect by police force—the only way it can be done—then specialization is no longer guided by consumer wishes nor are the terms of exchange…Other citizens are then forced to perform labor for which they receive absolutely nothing in return. Exchange is by coercion rather than by free choice.”

    “The fact that many of us wish more medical attention than we can afford does not give us a right to your [physician] services or a right to force others to [finance them]…wishes to the contrary notwithstanding!”

    Benjamin Franklin is said to have written, “If man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.” He was referring to the problems our wishes would cause ourselves. But we go far beyond causing ourselves problems whenever we try to transform our wishes into rights.

    We cause all our fellow citizens problems because our efforts to create rights for ourselves must pick their pockets—assert our ownership of their resources rather than acknowledging their self-ownership—despite lacking moral or ethical justification. Leonard Read rightly recognized this as no different than looting enforced by a “might makes right” mentality.

    If not for the corrupting lure of something for nothing, people would long ago have rejected the idea that wishes imply rights. But as ever-more goodies have been added to bait the lure, most Americans seem to have decided to stop thinking about the burdens borne as a result of these invented rights.

    Our reasoning has been warped by a too-narrow view of our self-interest, which ignores what we can achieve jointly only by defending voluntary arrangements, which respect one another’s self-ownership. That makes it particularly important to revisit Leonard Read’s wisdom about wishes and rights, for otherwise our coveting will corrupt and punish us further and further.

    Gary M. Galles

    Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. His recent books include Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014) and Apostle of Peace (2013). He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


  • Gun Control Advocates Are Finally Admitting What They Really Want

     

    I don’t own an AR-15. I’m not a “gun person,” whatever that means. I hardly ever shoot. And I never hunt.

    But I’m nonetheless a big supporter of private gun ownership. In part, this is because I have a libertarian belief in civil liberties. In other words, my default assumption is that people should have freedom (the notion of “negative liberty“), whereas many folks on the left have a default assumption that the state should determine what’s allowed.

    I also support private gun ownership because I want a safer society. Criminals and other bad people are less likely to engage in mayhem if they know potential victims can defend themselves. And I also think that there’s a greater-than-zero chance that bad government policy eventually will lead to periodic breakdowns of civil society, in which case gun owners will be the last line of defense for law and order.

    I’m sometimes asked, though, whether supporters of the 2nd Amendment are too rigid. Shouldn’t the NRA and other groups support proposals for “common-sense gun safety”?

    Some of these gun-control ideas may even sound reasonable, but they all suffer from a common flaw. None of them would disarm criminals or reduce gun crime. And I’ve detected a very troubling pattern, namely that when you explain why these schemes won’t work, the knee-jerk response from the anti-gun crowd is that we then need greater levels of control. Indeed, if you press them on the issue, they’ll often admit that their real goal is gun confiscation.

    Though most folks in leadership positions on the left are crafty enough that they try to hide this extreme view.

    So that’s why—in a perverse way—I want to applaud John Paul Stevens, the former Supreme Court Justice, for his column in the New York Times that openly and explicitly argues for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment.

    …demonstrators should…demand a repeal of the Second Amendment. …that amendment…is a relic of the 18th century. …to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option. …That simple but dramatic action would…eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States.

    The reason I’m semi-applauding Stevens is that he’s an honest leftist. He’s bluntly urging that we jettison part of the Bill of Rights.

    Many—if not most—people on the left want that outcome. And a growing number of them are coming out of the pro-confiscation closet. In an article for Commentary, Noah Rothman links to several articles urging repeal of the 2nd Amendment.

    They’re talking about repealing the Second Amendment. It started with former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley. …Turley and Stevens were joined this week by op-ed writers in the pages of Esquire and the Seattle Times. Democratic candidates for federal office have even enlisted in the ranks of those calling for an amendment to curtail the freedoms in the Bill of Rights. …anti-Second Amendment themes…have been expressed unashamedly for years, from liberal activists like Michael Moore to conservative opinion writers at the New York Times. Those calling for the repeal of the right to bear arms today are only echoing similar calls made years ago in venues ranging from Rolling Stone, MSNBC, and Vanity Fair to the Jesuit publication America Magazine.

    But others on the left prefer to hide their views on the issue.

    Indeed, they even want to hide the views of their fellow travelers. Chris Cuomo, who has a show on MSNBC, preposterously asserted that nobody supports repeal of the 2nd Amendment.

    It’s also worth noting that Justice Stevens got scolded by a gun-control advocate at the Washington Post.

    One of the biggest threats to the recov