Life, Liberty, Property #19: bad deal rising as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy advances a bill to lift the federal debt ceiling.
To subscribe (free) to LLP.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Bad Deal Rising
- Target, Bud Light, and Market Truths
- Copyright, Copy Wronged
Bad Deal Rising
As I write this on the Friday before Memorial Day, negotiations about the federal debt ceiling are proceeding, if at all, without input from President Joe Biden. The Spender-in-Chief staggered off to Delaware for the holiday weekend—much to the dismay of his fellow Democrats. Meanwhile, it appears that the Republicans are about to give way on most of their demands, as is their lamentable habit.
As I noted last week, the Republicans are in the position of power and need only stand their ground. The history of the party for the past century has been to cave to the Democrats whenever victory is close at hand. This time it will be different, the party’s congressional leaders have been telling us.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is holding fast in negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats, pushing for deep spending cuts and other key concessions from the left in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling,” Breitbart reported on Thursday.
McCarthy and his team are demanding what “could be into the tens of or hundreds of billions of dollars of spending cuts, combined with caps on future years of discretionary non-military spending,” plus “cuts to President Joe Biden’s plans to bring in new IRS agents, which was made as part of the Orwellian-named ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ last Congress,” Breitbart reports.
Sources also told Breitbart that work requirements on entitlement and welfare programs “will almost undoubtedly also be part of the deal,” and unspent COVID-19 funds will be halted.
This is a long way away from the “clean” debt ceiling removal the Democrats wanted. It also would end up a long way away from the Limit, Save, Grow Act the GOP majority passed in the House. The GOP negotiators appear to be ready to cave on work requirements for Medicaid and strengthening of requirements for food stamps and other such programs, if we may judge by the fact that Republican representatives have been relatively quiet about those reforms in recent days.
Rep. Chip Roy released a memo on Wednesday calling on McCarthy to hang tough on the proposals to return spending to the 2022 level, incorporate the REINS Act to cut regulatory overreach, repeal the anti-fossil-fuel regulations and subsidies imposed by the Inflation Reduction Act, block Biden’s student loan bailout, and rescind the $80 billion IRS windfall.
McCarthy and his team appear to have ignored Roy’s entreaty. On Friday, CNBC reported the Republicans were about to “achieve at least two of their highest priorities in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling. Firstly, to roll back baseline federal spending in 2024 on most discretionary programs. And second, to rescind some of the $80 billion allocated for the Internal Revenue Service as part of 2022′s Inflation Reduction Act, two sources with knowledge of the talks told CNBC.”
Two is a lot less than the seven reforms embedded in the Limit, Save, Grow Act, per Roy’s count.
McCarthy and his team evidently will forego some votes from his own party in favor of votes from a few Democrats to get the deal over the finish line in the House and pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate.
This is all part of a hysterical effort by Republicans to get a deal done by June 1 so that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will not have to prioritize payments for items the federal government foolishly promised the public over the past two years. “A prolonged default could force the government to delay payments like Social Security benefits and food assistance to low-income households, money that tens of millions of Americans rely upon to survive,” CNBC reports.
Note that word “prolonged.” As I wrote last week, there is no need for the Republicans to rush into a deal. They should let Biden and his team suffer the consequences of their two-year spending spree, and they should use that embarrassment to force Biden and the Senate Democrats to accept all the provisions of the Limit, Save, Grow Act.
Unfortunately, the Republicans have no stomach for politics, which is why they lose the policy fights in both the short and long terms. By sparing Biden and Yellen from having to make hard decisions about what to spend the taxpayers’ money on, the Republicans are throwing away all their leverage and cementing their transition from “tax collectors for the welfare state” to debt accumulators for the nanny state.
The June 1 deadline is bogus, agreeing to a deal that will last into 2025 is politically disastrous, and giving up the REINS Act and work requirements for federal welfare programs are bad for the nation and bad for Republicans. An agreement that gives away so much to the other side is a bad deal.
Target, Bud Light, and Market Truths
Do you have $6 billion you are tired of having around? Here’s a surefire way of getting rid of it: promote transgenderism.
Anheuser Busch InBev, the parent company of Bud Light, lost $6.65 billion in market value in the first two weeks after the public got wind of a marketing campaign featuring a transgender person. Anheuser Bush InBev is now down $15.7 billion since the beer hit the fan on April 1, according to Investor’s Business Daily. Bud Light sales were down 22 percent by May 6. That’s no joke.
Target has lost $6.47 billion in stock value in May as calls to boycott the retailer arose in a public backlash against the company’s Pride collection rollout in the beginning of May, which featured numerous gay-themed items aimed at children and transgender-oriented items for adults. Of course, kids could use the mugs emblazoned “Gender Fluid” too, I suppose.
Target and Anheuser Bush InBev might lose a good deal more money, and these corporate giants will probably recover over time, but it looks like a fast $6 billion whupping is a pretty sure bet if you want to go that route.
Outdoor fashion brand The North Face emitted an Instagram post last Wednesday featuring a drag queen exhorting viewers to “come outside and celebrate the beautiful LGHGTV community,” for the company’s “Summer of Pride” celebration. The company’s ads feature gay-themed items for children.
Calls for a boycott were immediate. “Please boycott Marxist North Face. This is unacceptable,” wrote internet personality Liz Churchill just minutes after the news broke (h/t Breitbart).
It is entirely possible that few North Face customers care about this, so the company may not take as bad a financial hit as the others have. The company’s customer base will decide whether to support its political-cultural agenda. That is their right.
Numerous other big companies are doing the same, The Epoch Times reports. “Most Major Retailers Are Carrying LGBT, Pride Merchandise for Children,” the newspaper headlines a story on the subject. “Similar items that have prompted some to call for the ‘Bud Light treatment’ of Target can also be found at Walmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, The Gap, Apple, and many more,” the story reports.
This upsurge in controversy over sexual advocacy by giant, multinational corporations began well in advance of the now-annual Pride Month, which is June. Things will undoubtedly heat up further this week.
This is important as a matter of public policy because it demonstrates the difference between market choices and the heavy hand of government. President Joe Biden, Democrats in Congress, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, and the governors and legislatures of a few other states are doing their utmost to impose social and cultural agendas that have been thoroughly unable to win public support on their own. If the American people really wanted their children to be exposed to sexual ideas at a young age, for example, that agenda would win the day without government assistance. Instead, government-run and taxpayer-funded schools are doing this by force, over the strenuous objections of parents and taxpayers alike. That is unjust.
Instead of winning in the marketplace, that agenda is a disaster with the public. Yet it prevails because government imposes it.
Letting the people decide these matters is the only fair and honest way to foster positive change while maintaining at least some semblance of social harmony. The most reliable way to do that is to allow those choices to be made through free markets. Those who want to influence how other people live should have some skin in the game. Politics gives people the hope that they can dominate others without any risk to their own wellbeing. That invites reckless behavior and results in bad social policies, as the past century of U.S. history demonstrates.
Reaction to corporations’ choices occurs with great rapidity since the rise of social media. Within days of the actions of Bud Light and Target being publicized, an avalanche of criticism arose and millions of people across the United States responded by boycotting these companies.
Target and the Budweiser people bet their money and lost. They have every right to do that. They are now paying the price.
Perhaps they will learn something from that. Perhaps they will not. In either case, these companies have had to pay for their choices. Let’s have more of that. May the best ideas win. Let the market decide.
Copyright, Copy Wronged
Having applied their censorship regime to the works of Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, and Agatha Christie, the wokesters have now initiated their desecration of the works of the greatest twentieth century English prose stylist: P. G. Wodehouse.
Wodehouse wrote brilliantly funny and beautifully expressed comic fiction—more than 90 books, over 200 short stories, 40-plus plays, and plenty of other works between 1900 and his death in 1975. He is probably best known for his Jeeves and Wooster novels and short stories about a good-natured London man-about-town whose loyal valet continually rescues him from engagements to unsuitable females and prospective beatings by gigantic rivals over those very women he does not want to marry.
Authors as celebrated as George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh considered Wodehouse one of the great prose stylists of century, and quite possibly the best. Douglas Adams, author of the bestselling Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy humorous science fiction series, called Wodehouse “the greatest musician of the English language.”
Wodehouse’s prose combined comically elevated mock-heroic diction with vivid slang and some of the best metaphors and similes ever devised. Readers around the world delighted in the complex, comical, and logical plots Wodehouse invented. Critics of his time, alas, treated Wodehouse as a very talented “performing flea,” which the author drolly made the title of a collection of his letters published in 1953.
The word that comes first to mind when describing Wodehouse’s fiction is delight. There is not a mean impulse to be found anywhere in the man’s writings. The sunny humor found in his comic characters and elaborate story lines have delighted readers since Wodehouse began writing. Admirers such as Orwell, Waugh, and the British journalist and social critic Malcom Muggeridge emphasized the good-natured disposition of the man and his writings. “I never heard him speak bitterly about anyone—not even about old friends who turned against him in distress,” wrote Muggeridge.
I rather wonder if Wodehouse would forgive this, given the care with which he composed his writings, deploying a system of multiple drafts to polish every word and phrase until it was just right. Now, woke editors will mar that beautiful sheen with their clumsy bowdlerization.
The Daily Telegraph initially reported the story, to give credit where you-know-what, and if you haven’t read anything online in that newspaper in the past month you may be able to read their article on this subject without a subscription.
For the rest of us, Breitbart reports:
A trigger warning at the beginning of the 2023 edition of Thank You, Jeeves states: “Please be aware that this book was published in the 1930s and contains language, themes and characterisations which you may find outdated.
“In the present edition, we have sought to edit, minimally, words that we regard as unacceptable to present-day readers.”
“One warning states the writer’s prose has been altered because it was judged to be ‘unacceptable’ by Penguin, a publishing house which enlists the services of sensitivity readers,” Breitbart reports. The changes “do not affect the story” of Thank You, Jeeves, the publisher states in the disclaimer. Presumably that awaits the next edition.
The ignorance of the perpetrators of this effort is impressive:
The censors also targeted the 2022 edition of Right Ho, Jeeves, which is tagged with the same trigger warning. In addition, the comedic novel had a racial phrase to describe a “minstrel of the old school” purged from the book. According to the British broadsheet, racial terms have been removed from multiple Wodehouse novels.
Penguin went on to reportedly remove numerous racial references from Thank You, Jeeves, the first full-length novel in the Jeeves and Wooster series which centres around the performance of a minstrel troupe, which was common feature of England during the era in which the novel was set.
Minstrel troupes in Britain had nothing to do with race. A simple footnote to explain that to readers ignorant of that fact should suffice.
This bowdlerization of twentieth-century literature is possible only because of—you guessed it—government. Wodehouse shuffled off his m.c. nearly a half-century ago, yet our absurdly long copyright grants to authors and their heirs enable publishers to claim exclusive rights to works whose authors are long gone.
The solution is simple: limit the copyright period to a reasonable length of time, as is required by our Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Limited, not continually extended to allow Disney to retain rights to Mickey Mouse. Our current copyright laws are not just stupid but also unconstitutional.
Not only am I far from being gruntled by this, I am positively disgruntled.