Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National
Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21


Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

Corporate Wokeness Eats Its Own Tail

Corporate Wokeness Eats Its Own Tail
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In his latest commentary for Real Clear MarketsFree Enterprise Project Director Scott Shepard explains how corporate wokeness eats its own tail.

Scott Shepard

“Neither Starbucks not the NCAA appear to have read the fine print in their contracts with the devil,” Scott writes. “If you sign up for woke, you’ll disarm yourselves from fighting any of the woke program.”

To read the full piece, click here.

Biden Hails Jobs Report Despite Bad News for Blacks

Biden Hails Jobs Report Despite Bad News for Blacks

Joe Biden suggested the July jobs report highlighted the “significant progress” his administration is making for “working families.” Sure, the claims of overall numbers for jobs was high, but did he read into the report to find out what happened to black Americans – a key demographic among working families?

While overall unemployment for whites dropped two-tenths of a point, and four-tenths of a point among Hispanics, it went up two-tenths of a point for black Americans. The black unemployment rate is now at six percent – nearly double the 3.1% rate for whites and far from the rate of 3.5% for everyone during July, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Among black teens, the unemployment rate blasted to 20.3%. That was a more than four percent increase in just a month and more than twice the rate of unemployment for white teens!

“Market fundamentals are still weak. It is just taking a while for the job market to notice,” said Project 21 member Michael Austin, an economist. But, for black Americans, the hard times are likely already here.

“It’s time we call things as they are. We are in a recession, by definition,” declared Project 21 member Philip Clay. He added:

The jobs report shows added jobs. However, the BLS does not differentiate between full and part-time jobs in the total numbers. Many Americans are working two and three jobs to afford the same things they did with just one job.

No one is confident in the future of our economy. We continue to see the Biden-Harris Administration push policies and raise taxes on everyday, hard-working Americans. There is no leadership or ownership found anywhere. Joe Biden inherited a recovery, and he has quickly pushed us into a rescission

Derryck Green

Project 21 member Derryck Green remarked that this minor victory is not likely to herald long-term prosperity: “Biden beat the odds, being able to announce the creation of approximately 528,000 jobs when experts expected the number of jobs created in July to be closer to 260,000.” Derryck instead remains highly skeptical of Biden’s performance:

Don’t forget the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to control Bidenflation. As we move into the last two quarters of the year, hiring will most likely diminish thanks to a shrinking economy. Evidence of this happening is seen in the surge in unemployment claims, which increased by 6,000 – to 260,000 – on July 30.

Increased costs of goods and services caused Americans to rely more on their credit cards to meet family needs, according to data from a new Fed report tracking consumer behavior between April and June. The second quarter saw credit card balances increase by $46 billion.

Despite many Americans struggling to stay afloat, the Biden Administration still can’t admit that America’s economy is in recession.

Michael Austin

Michael delivered a similarly grim warning:

Saying the July jobs report means there’s no recession is like saying the lack of speeding tickets means motorists are driving under the limit. There’s a delay between reckless driving and traffic citations, just like there is a delay between announced recessions and job declines.

The fact of the matter is that the share of Americans working or looking for work has fallen again, wages are still not growing fast enough and there’s still a measurable gap in productivity.

Philip noted this is hurting Biden politically: “Liberals are quickly distancing themselves from what is and will continue to be the most failed presidency in our history.”

Illustrating Philip’s statement, Derryck explained how other factors hailed by the Biden Administration are built on flimsy premises:

Biden has tried to take credit for falling gas prices. But that isn’t related to anything he’s done, and despite his refusal to drill domestically. Based on data from the Energy Information Administration, gas prices have fallen because demand has fallen. People are driving much less because gas is more expensive. The demand for gas is close to one million barrels per day lower than the pre-COVID seasonal demand.

“The problem with politicians,” Derryck commented, “is they pay no financial costs for the perpetual mismanagement of the economy. Americans do.”

BlackRock’s Larry Fink Is Growing More Unabashedly Dictatorial

Larry Fink BlackRock
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Free Enterprise Project Director Scott Shepard writes in his latest commentary for Real Clear Markets: “One might think [Larry] Fink would be more careful, given that he carries a raft of fiduciary duties to investors and shareholders… But no. While he occasionally makes transparently false statements about the nonpartisan character of his interference with the governance and planning at the rest of U.S. publicly traded corporations, the truth invariably outs, as when he accidentally admitted that he is acting to “force” corporations, and through them all of us worldwide, to do his bidding.”

Scott Shepard

The column details how the BlackRock CEO’s increasing influence on markets, and by extension, geopolitics, has emboldened his already brazen activism.

“Surely he [Fink] is aware by now that forcing the West into climate-catastrophist decarbonization guarantees is already creating a pointless, but world-historical, disaster,” Scott adds.

“Larry, though, may wish to take a care as he seeks to set a crown upon his head,” Scott continues. “For as he accumulates the real power of dictatorship, he also collects the responsibility, and the dangers.”

To read the full piece, click here.

Morningstar’s ESG Metrics Promulgate BDS

Morningstar's ESG Metrics Promulgate BDS
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Investor-research firm Morningstar “thinks it can get away with expressly treating all non-leftist shareholder proposals as ‘anti-ESG,’ and advising its clients to oppose such initiatives – thereby revealing that it places the political policy preferences of the company’s elite over the financial best interest of people who buy investment advice from the company,” writes Free Enterprise Project (FEP) Director Scott Shepard in his latest commentary for Real Clear Markets.

Scott Shepard

Scott Shepard

The column also uncovers Morningstar’s “covert” and “ugly anti-Israeli bias,” with Scott explaining that “Morningstar is a covert carrier of the BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) virus.”

Scott explains how Morningstar’s “acquisition and use of Sustainalytics” to rank public corporations according to their adherence to ESG is likely the source of Morningstar’s anti-Israel bias because of Sustainalytics’ “exclusive reliance on deeply biased sources: in this case, deeply anti-Israeli organizations such as Who Profits, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.”

This tool “establishes inherently biased metrics that, even when applied neutrally, create profoundly bigoted responses,” Scott continues.

“Investors of all sorts, as well as regulators, would be wise to look further into Morningstar and other partisan ‘ESG’ peddlers,” he writes.

To read the full piece, click here.

Justices Allow “Human Weeds” to Prosper

Supreme Court abortion

When it comes to the toll wrought by abortion, Project 21 member Rasheed Walters solemnly observes that “[w]e will never know” what America missed from those who were lost.

In a Boston Herald commentary, he puts much of the blame for abortion’s carnage at the feet of Margaret Sanger – the founder of Planned Parenthood.

Now even repudiated by her once-fervent supporters, Sanger was a key figure in the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. She once wrote: “We must make this country into a garden of children instead of a disorderly back lot overrun with human weeds.”

“Who exactly were these ‘human weeds’ destroying the seemingly perfect garden of children?” Rasheed pondered. “Given the extensive implementation of segregationist Jim Crow laws at the time, it’s not hard to infer that African Americans were potential candidates.”

As proof, he cited how one of Sanger’s first abortion mills was located in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Sanger’s legacy, Rasheed noted, was later cemented by the U.S. Supreme Court:

Fast-forward to Jan. 22, 1973, when Roe v. Wade wins a landslide 7-2 ruling making abortion legal throughout the United States.

It is estimated that 63 million abortions have been performed since then. Although they only account for 13% of the population, African Americans make up 28% of all U.S. abortion patients, meaning that they account for approximately 17 million abortions, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics. Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population and account for 25% of all abortions, or 15 million.

About 53% of all abortions in the U.S. are performed on members of minority groups, and 75% are on members of low-income groups.

Margaret Sanger sought to eliminate the “human weeds” of society. She’d no doubt be pleased at her legacy: Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortions, comprising so many among Blacks, Hispanics and the impoverished.

“[W]hite liberals assume that I will accept my role as a human weed and keep quiet. This couldn’t be less true,” Rasheed noted. “The United States population is declining while minorities account for a disproportionate share of abortions. As a sane person, how can I possibly agree with this?”

In overturning Roe during this past Court’s term, Rasheed called those justices in the majority “courageous.” He explained:

Allowing states to decide the fate of abortion is the best way to address this issue. We need to write a new chapter that puts an end to the shameful practice of viewing human beings as weeds.

We will never know what those 63 million aborted children could have achieved, what gifts they could have given the world. Had they been born, they might have grown up to end world hunger, find a cure for cancer, or invent something that would have advanced humanity.

To read all of Rasheed’ Boston Herald commentary – “Eliminating ‘Human Weeds’ at the Root of Anti-Birth Measures” – click here.

No Improvement, Just Spin from Biden

No Improvement, Just Spin from Biden

Even though Joe Biden claimed as a candidate that “there would not be another foot of wall” built if he was elected president, the Biden Administration is now closing the gaps in those walls along the Mexico-Yuma, Arizona border.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz reported that funding has been devoted to close four gaps to “deter migrants from crossing in this dangerous area.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, however, spun this as Biden “cleaning up the mess the prior administration left behind.”

“The administration should stop playing the word games,” said Project 21 Chairman Horace Cooper.

In a panel discussion on the Fox News Channel program “Fox News @ Night,” Horace pushed back against liberals who are unwilling to take responsibility for the fault of their policies and embrace real solutions.

This included fellow panelist Kevin Walling, who parroted the latest leftist talking points that finishing the border wall that President Donald Trump started – and was protested throughout his presidency – is now an issue of safety and public welfare for which people must “put politics aside.” Yet a 2018 appearance by Walling on the Fox Business Network featured him similarly saying lawmakers and the White House needed to “remove politics from this situation,” but he then asserted that “the wall is not the solution.”

Horace pointed out that it is the Biden White House – whether it is on immigration, the economy or other important issues – that is unwilling to shed politics for clear and sensible policy:

This administration, instead of just agreeing to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, [won’t say] the wall is a good idea and it saves lives.

But instead, we have to redefine: we’re not rebuilding the wall, we’re saving lives. Inflation is just tentative. It’s gonna pass – it’s transitory, except it’s not at a 40-year high. It’s not a recession, that’s not the technical term for what’s going on. When, in fact, Americans are saying at levels we’ve not heard since the Jimmy Carter Administration it’s a recession, it’s terrible.

And there are also those in the media who are still holding out for Biden. In a Politico commentary, John F. Harris used the new spending package deal with Senator Joe Manchin to make a comparison of Biden to a lackluster student finally showing progress: “Biden is looking a little like the student who is failing his class for most of the semester, then pulls an all-nighter and slips the paper under the professor’s door at 6 a.m. It turns out the paper is actually pretty good… A solid B is within reach.”

Horace, who was a professor, explained how this kind of behavior actually works in the real world to host Shannon Bream and the “Bream Team” panel:

I used to teach constitutional law. I know of this experience, or attempt on the part of students. And they did not get a B. They did not get a C. They might have gotten a D.

Class participation and what you do for the entirety of the term matter.

This president, every time he has touched a policy – whether it’s energy, whether it’s the economy, whether it’s international relations – he has made it worse.

And for him to think that there’s some clever thing he can cram in at the last minute – like this new deal that he’s worked out with Manchin – I tell you that when you look at it and you grade it, you’re gonna give that an F.

Assessing the performance of the White House during the entirety of its term, Horace noted: “Nothing has improved.”

With that, Bream – an attorney herself – commented that she could tell Horace was a “great, very interesting professor.”

Pen’s Outta Ink, Phone’s Disconnected

Pen’s Outta Ink, Phone’s Disconnected

Remember when Barack Obama said he could use his pen and phone to push his agenda outside of congressional authority? Remember when Joe Biden spent his first days in office signing stacks of executive orders?

All that may be a thing of the past, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“For decades, Congress has delegated its constitutionally prescribed lawmaking authority to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats ensconced throughout federal regulatory agencies,” wrote National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. in a Daily Caller commentary. “It has done so by passing vaguely worded laws and then standing idly by while bureaucrats write rules and regulations under those laws.”

Because of the Court, Congress will need to be more involved in actually creating policy again.

In the Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA, the justices addressed the “major questions” doctrine that demands the bureaucracy receive explicit authorization from the legislative branch before embarking on major policies. As Bonner explained:

Each rule and regulation promulgated by a federal agency has the force of law behind it, enabling Washington bureaucrats to become de facto lawmakers. In this game, the executive branch usurps powers constitutionally delegated to the legislative branch.

This creates an irresistible temptation to go beyond what Congress may have originally intended; it is irresistible because it puts real power into the hands of otherwise anonymous federal employees. When these predominantly left-leaning career officials have the opportunity to join forces with a White House intent on government-directed transformation of society, little thought is given to such constitutional niceties as the separation of powers.

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”

The decision sets precedent that could bring about the rollback of many liberal policies that are advanced with pens and phones. And this, Bonner noted elsewhere, is due to the hard work of President Donald Trump.

But, as important as the West Virginia v. EPA decision is, Bonner said there was a missed opportunity:

The Roberts court could, and should, have overturned the Supreme Court’s 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision. That ruling allowed EPA to regulate CO2 as a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act, even though most atmospheric carbon dioxide is natural and highly beneficial to all forms of life, and even though CO2 is mentioned nowhere in the Clean Air Act.

Click here to read Bonner’s entire Daily Caller commentary – “SCOTUS Left a Bitter Pill to Swallow in One of its Key Rulings. Here’s Why.”

Grandstanding Politicos Ignore Violence in Black and Brown Communities


After members of the Patriot Front – a white nationalist group – marched in Boston in early July, they received a “justified backlash” from a wide range of local elected officials.

Yet, as Project 21 member Rasheed Walters noted in a Boston Herald commentary, these same people were largely silent or noticeably muted as the Independence Day weekend saw 10 people shot across the Boston metropolitan area in mostly black and brown communities.

“After a holiday weekend marred by gun violence on our streets, we should anticipate a similar avalanche of condemnation from politicians and community leaders,” Rasheed suggested. “How better to show that Boston’s mayor, city council, community leaders and politicians truly care about the safety of black citizens.”

That wasn’t the case.

But Boston Mayor Michelle Wu only expressed her sympathy for the victims. One local district attorney blamed the U.S. Supreme Court for its recent ruling buttressing concealed care protections as a reason for the violence. Neither was quite a matching level of anger or concern.

Rasheed found this troubling:

The Boston shootings were not the work of the Patriot Front. The same criminals responsible for the constant influx of drugs into the area, the careless discharging of illegal firearms that often injure or kill bystanders and the general degradation of black and Latino neighborhoods across Boston are responsible for this.

Yet these criminals with long sentences and weak rhetoric from politicians campaigning for social service all contribute to deteriorating safety in these neighborhoods. Neighborhoods under criminal siege is a major issue worthy of more than statements of sympathy.

To read all of Rasheed’s comments at the Boston Herald website – “Boston March was Repulsive, Hypocrisy was Worse” – click here.

Despite White House Denial, Recession is Here

Despite White House Denial, Recession is Here

“It’s official,” said Project 21 member Michael Austin, an economist. “Joe Biden has pushed the U.S. economy off the cliff.”

For the second straight quarter, America’s gross domestic product – the measurement of economic output has contracted. That is what’s traditionally defined as a recession. Even though the Biden Administration has tried to deny it, it is here.

“The Biden Administration will not own up to the mess they have created and prolonged,” remarked Project 21 member Philip Clay. “As we enter into our second quarter of negative economic growth, they refuse to admit we are in recession. They refer to job numbers – saying the job growth means we are not in recession. However, many Americans are working more than one job and skewing those numbers. They are spending more and receiving less.”

Noting how the White House is trying to downplay recession fears, Philip added: “Our Treasury Secretary now seems to want to redefine what a recession is. Ten of the past 10 times we’ve seen two quarters of negative growth, it’s been officially declared a recession. Besides protecting a failing administration from further embarrassment, why change now?”

Michael Austin

Philip’s assertion was seconded by Michael: “History repeats itself. The New Deal, the War on Poverty, Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and now Biden’s American Rescue Plan. When you wage war on work, Americans lose their jobs, businesses close and our economic well-being suffers.”

“The Biden Administration’s policies are directly responsible for our underperforming economy,” said Project 21 member Derryck Green. “The first quarter saw a 1.6% annualized decline. Last quarter saw a decline of 0.9%. The Biden Administration anticipated the bad economic news from the Commerce Department. That is why the President, his economic advisor Brian Deese and his dreadful press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre among others – including the legacy media – have tried to redefine recession.”

Derryck Green

“Despite the spin,” Derryck pointed out, “Americans know better – particularly when they are paying $500 more per month for groceries and $250 more per month for gas thanks to inflation being at 9.1%.”

“It’s far past time the Biden Administration focuses on eliminating welfare programs instead of eliminating recession definitions. One doesn’t cure a hangover by drinking more alcohol,” Michael warned. “As such, we cannot cure a recession by spending more taxpayer dollars.”

Biden Redefinition Still Shows Recession

Biden Redefinition Still Shows Recession

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen painfully admitted she misjudged the “path that inflation would take” – prolonging the economic stress of the American people. Now, to keep Joe Biden from having to suffer yet another need for a mea culpa on fiscal mismanagement later this week when the U.S. Department of Commerce is scheduled to release the latest quarterly gross domestic product report, the White House is seeking to redefine recession.

Two quarters of economic shrinkage traditionally means the U.S. has been in a recession… but now the White House Council of Economic Advisors – through a blog post – is trying to challenge this standard in an obvious effort to avoid blame.

Michael Austin

But Biden’s spin doctors weren’t swift enough for Project 21 member Michael Austin. An economist – the president of Knowledge & Decisions Economic Consulting – he has served as the chief economist to two Kansas governors and advised many state lawmakers. He also served as the director of fiscal policy at the Kansas Policy Institute.

Michael took a look at the facts and a look at the White House’s preemptive excuse. Creating his own custom graph (see below) using Federal Reserve-supplied data, he sees plenty of proof, even using the Biden qualifications, to prove that – like it or not – Biden’s recession is definitely upon us:

The Biden Administration’s attempts to cover their policy failures is as convincing as putting lipstick on a pig and calling it pretty.

To distract from the fact the American economy is collapsing, the White House’s best idea is to change the very definition of an economic collapse. But a pig is still a pig. In their incompetence to hastily put out a new definition of recession, they unknowingly proved the nation has been in a recession for months.

A week before the official release of the second-quarter economic report, the Biden Administration scrambled to spin their way out of another self-inflicted mess. They produced a blog questioning the measuring stick of a recession that’s commonly used by economists, the media analysts and even past presidential administrations. It sought to redefine a recession by a “holistic look at the data.” This is pretty political speech for “these indicators make us look good.”

I decided to put the Biden Administration’s trick to the test. They’re not gonna be happy!

The Biden cronies cited “industrial production,” “various forms of real consumer spending,” “real personal income minus government transfers” and “employment” as signals of “steadier and more stable growth.” I pulled the same indicators, adjusted most of them by inflation and then compared their performance to last year.

Industrial production? It dropped to the red. Retail trade? It dropped to the red. Real income and employment? Their growth is decelerating.

In other words, it’s not evidence of stability. It’s evidence of a recession since March 2022.

And the American people know this already.

Wall Street has ended its worst first-half performance since the 1970s. We’ve received a year’s worth of inflation in just two months. Consumer confidence is at a nine-year low. And yet, despite the many signs of American families and businesses hurting, Biden’s priority is to make sure what he has wrought doesn’t reflect poorly upon his leadership.

To do that, he seems willing to rewrite history and make the American people question their very sanity.

True leadership doesn’t pretend the obvious doesn’t exist. It calls it exactly as it is. Then true leadership acts in the best interests of the people instead of its ego.



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