Inclusive Capitalism: Economic Savior or Socialism in Disguise?

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama called economic inequality the “defining issue of our time.” Indeed, America's middle class is stagnating by many measures, but even the President acknowledges that some of the driving forces – such as globalization – are beyond the government’s control. Furthermore, many of these same trends are leading to a decline in global inequality. Nonetheless, Obama is pushing an aggressive agenda for reducing domestic inequality under the banner of so-called “inclusive capitalism.” Part of his proposal is to increase federal spending by more than one trillion dollars over the next ten years, financed by new taxes on the wealthy. Some will see this as the return of “soak the rich,” but others see too much money in the hands of the few as a problem in and of itself. Among the latter group is Sean McElwee, a prolific young journalist and research assistant for Demos, a leading progressive media outlet. In articles for The AtlanticThe New RepublicThe Washington Post and Rolling Stone, McElwee has boldly made the case for the progressives' tax-and-spend agenda. He argues that such policies can be effective not only for reducing inequality, but also in boosting U.S. job growth and productivity, and making our democracy more functional. Sean joins Bob to kick off a multiple-part series on a critical question: does inclusive capitalism represent a fix for a broken system or is it merely the same old socialist agenda dressed up in new language?

John Allison on the Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure

As a class, “capitalists” tend to get stereotyped in the starkest of terms. They are heroes to some and villains to others; the captains of industry or the robber barons of old. Rarely do we actually get to hear a successful capitalist explain what his work is about. As former Chairman and CEO of BB&T and current CEO and President of the Cato Institute, John Allison is both a capitalist and defender of capitalism par excellence. In his last book, Allison shed light on the financial crisis, and how phony “crony capitalism” broke the system in 2007-2008. His latest message may be even more important. In his newest book, The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure, Allison combines equal parts moral philosophy, personal confession, and business advice. It is his goal to help others achieve their own version of Aristotle’s “Eudaimonia,” or the Good Life, through hard work. He will join Bob to explain how his 10 core values translate into business and personal success, and to lay out his continued vision for the Cato Institute’s success, measured as political impact rather than dollar profits. 

Consumers Beware: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Here to Help

Following the Great Recession of 2007-2008, regulators jumped at the opportunity to "remedy" (i.e., regulate) perceived market failures in credit markets. Although government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae were responsible for many of the bad loans that created the crisis, politicians alleged it was the free market and payday lending that needed to be reined in. The 2011 Dodd-Frank Act increased regulators' responsibilities, and even gave rise to a new agency – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As the first appointee of the agency's "Consumer Advisory Board," Elizabeth Warren became known as a savior of sorts for victims of so-called "predatory lending." But do these laws, bureaus, and advisory boards protect or harm consumers? In this episode, Bob's guest is George Mason University Law School professor Todd Zywicki, one of Warren's most knowledgeable and outspoken critics. Zywicki and his co-authors recently finished a detailed study on this topic, "Consumer Credit and the American Economy." Listen to learn how the public has been misled about the costs, benefits, uses, and abuses of consumer debt.

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Update [10/19/14]: Todd Zywicki writes a post at the Volokh Conspiracy blog about the NYT Editorial on capping interest rates on consumer credit brought up by Bob and his caller during the show.

Click here to read Todd's commentary.

Click here to read the NYT Editorial, "A Rate Cap for All Consumer Loans", published 10/18/14.

Thriving in a Low-Growth, High-Tax Future

Conventional wisdom extols the virtues of investing in mutual funds and maximizing 401(k) contributions. Based on the size of the industry that exists to guide these decisions, one would assume there is value in the myriad options given to workers for deferred compensation. But not all savings plans are created equal, says Terry Allen, the serial entrepreneur behind 20 business ventures and the author of Coffee Can Investing: A Better Idea than Mutual Funds in an IRA or 401(k). Terry will join Bob live this Sunday to talk about his provocatively titled new book. They also discuss how special interests on Wall Street have created an unlevel playing field in investing, and how new possibilities for entrepreneurship may represent a silver lining on some unsettling trends.

*The Reckoning*: Jacob Soll on Accounting and Accountability

Double-entry bookkeeping doesn't exactly have a reputation for excitement. Indeed, who among us spends weekends and evenings painstakingly tallying our assets against our liabilities when there are so many delightful distractions around? Jacob Soll, a historian and accounting professor at the University of Southern California, thinks accounting needs a makeover, if not a renaissance. Soll has demolished the boring accountant stereotype with his new book, "The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations." Soll's research takes us behind the scenes to reveal the ways that bookkeeping practices have shaped and been shaped by different cultures during critical historical periods. Find out whether modern governments and financial institutions can survive in a society that neglects the task of "keeping the books balanced." Or, are we prone to yet more financial crises—or worse, a moral reckoning with our debts?

Yeonmi Park – North Korean Defector: "Juche" Die, Markets Rise

For decades, the North Korean regime has kept its oppressive rule hidden from the rest of the world. But slowly, the truth has been emerging. Defectors like Yeonmi Park—who left the country in 2007 at the age of 15—have lived to tell the stories about their escape, and of the changing political landscape they left behind. Yet in spite of the continuing famines and desperate poverty, there are rays of hope, as markets slowly work their way into the North Korean social fabric. Bob speaks with Yeonmi Park about her previous way of life as one of the rising "black market generation" that is finally experiencing the power of spontaneous voluntary cooperation. Can the trend toward freer markets and trade be stopped now that it has a foothold? Or will North Korea's isolationist "juche" ideology hold fast against the rest of the world? You won’t want to miss this inside look into a country that appears to be slowly coming out of the shadows.

You Must Join

It is hard to imagine words that are less American. Our Bill of Rights assures us freedom of association and the right to join or not join any group. Of course, if you are a group which many are not especially fond of or a group which many oppose, the only way to insure membership growth is to have membership required. That is how unions seek to preserve their strength, or what is left of it. In 26 states (and declining) states permit “closed shops,” where union contracts require an employer to fire any employee who refuses to join a union. How else does government tilt the playing field so as to insure that workers are forced to support unions, even when their conscience and wallets dictate otherwise? In this episode, Stan Greer, Senior Research Associate for the National Institute for Labor Relations Research shows the insidious ways that unions survive only by undermining the protections guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. You’ll get angry, but you’ll understand why Libertarians and unions cannot co-exist.

The Morality of Capitalism

Though Capitalism has elevated the standard of living of most humans on earth, it is misunderstood and under attack. It is perverted by the unholy alliance of big business and big government (think “crony capitalism”), thwarted by statists whose hubris allows them to believe that they know what’s best for each and every citizen, and vilified by those whose survival requires appropriation of someone else’s person and property. In this episode, Bob is joined by author and lecturer Dr. Tom G. Palmer of the Atlas Network and the Cato Institute to discuss the morality and necessity of capitalism. Capitalism cannot be adequately defended if it is not understood, and understand it you shall after hearing this podcast.

Businessmen Favor A Minimum Wage Increase?

Is there anything more rare than an entrepreneur who favors higher wages and higher taxes?  Believe it or not, a group of them have formed an organization called Business for Shared Prosperity (http://businessforsharedprosperity.org/). Tomorrow at noon Pacific Time, you’ll have a chance to meet Lew Prince, learn his progressive position on these anti-free market issues and challenge (or support) his position.  Lew is the successful founder and Managing Partner of Vintage Vinyl in St Louis.  They sell vintage vinyl records (remember records?). Minimum wage laws and the Buffett Rule will be debated and discussed (amongst other things).  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll discuss Alan Fried or Cousin Brucie?  In any event, Capitalism and rock n’roll.. What a great way to enrich your weekend.  Radio at its laissez faire best.  901 AM in the SF Bay Area. www.newstalk910.com on line.  Call in 800-345-5639 to support Bob or Lew.

Please, Mr. Fed. Let Me Earn a Living

As Ayn Rand has observed, “Capitalism is the system of the future – if man is to have a future.” The lifeblood of capitalism is economic freedom which includes property rights, the freedom of adults to contract with one another, minimal government regulation and freedom to fail. The ranking of the U.S. among the nations of the world on its level of economic freedom continues to drop. How does this affect Joe Sixpack, or even Charlie Chardonnay? In this encore episode, Bob speaks to Dr. Michael Stroup, economics professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. He has spent his life studying economic freedom. His conclusions will surprise and frighten you. Are we all driving a government-financed Chevy Volts down Hayek’s the Road to Serfdom? Maybe. You won’t want to miss this show.