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

CONSERVATIVEBLOG.ORG

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

Unions Seek to Become Government

Unions Seek to Become Government
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A right to work without being forced to join a labor union is on the chopping block.

The Biden Administration and liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill are eager to use their dominance in Washington to water down protections against forced union membership in 27 states.

Scott Shepard

But the National Center’s Scott Shepard, deputy director of the Free Enterprise Project, points out that organized labor leaders might not want to become a ubiquity in the workplace lest their governmental nature forces them to become more accountable.

In a Townhall commentary, Scott notes that organized labor crippled the small town where he grew up because strikes drove out two major employers. In hurting the American economy at large, “lax union-driven work rules” lower quality while increasing the cost of doing business. “[U]nions benefit from hobbling performance,” he adds. “It’s the slow and slothful who benefit from union insistence on slower production and protection against dismissal for incompetence.”

This workplace environment keeps members “following the union line,” creating the vicious cycle that has allowed foreign competition to create such a beachhead in the American economy.

In many ways, what organized labor has been doing for decades is akin to what is now being employed by the woke mobs through cancel culture:

Workers may have complaints about their employers, but at least the people who run companies have running the company as their chief focus (or at least, they did in the days before woke). But union bosses’ whole power and “value” comes from their ability to control and corral “their” workers, which is their highest priority. So they demand serious conformity, and pay a lot of attention. Subbing in an attentive and venal master for a distracted and largely disinterested one isn’t an improvement.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the “Protect the Right to Organize [PRO] Act,” which passed in the last session of Congress, is back up for consideration. It creates a means to “override” state right-to-work laws and increase union power. And the nomination of former union boss Marty Walsh to be Biden’s secretary of labor suggests there will be no complaints from organized labor over the next few years about what’s coming out of the nation’s capital.

But could this push for more power come back to actually hurt the unions? Scott explains that “[a]n organization that you can’t opt out of and to which you must pay taxes [dues] lest it take your job away from you is – no question about it – a government.”

And with this new power, Scott writes, comes responsibility:

Mandatory unions are arms of the government, and can and should be regulated as governments. This would mean open accounting, total transparency and aggressive oversight. And it would mean applying to unions all the rules that have been applied to corporations. (How about limiting the pay and benefits of the highest-compensated union leaders to six times those of the least well-paid workers? Or applying freedom-of-information laws to all union documents?)

To read all of Scott’s commentary – “America Can’t Grow Unless We Say Union No” – at the Townhall website, click here.

Biden Needs to Get Ruff With China on Pet Safety

Biden Needs to Get Ruff With China on Pet Safety

“Now China’s coming for our pets.”

That’s the warning that National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper spells out in a Newsmax commentary about the threat posed by an influx of substandard and dangerous Chinese ingredients that have made their way into pet food, dietary supplements and treats sold in grocery stores, big-box retailers and pet shops across the United States.

“As they’ve done in other industries,” Horace explains, “Beijing has manipulated the pet food supply chain by undercutting the competition — in this case by using inferior, even dangerous products — to become the world’s leading pet food ingredient exporter.”

He adds:

China frequently refuses to label the national origins of its ingredients or even accurately label the actual ingredients themselves – meaning that items labeled as meat and vegetables might be neither…

Rather than maintain their vigilance, however, today’s U.S. pet food industry appears to have quietly began using third-party vendors to get ingredients without having to properly label them as having originated from China.

While many retailers are recognizing this threat from China, there are others claiming market domination leaves them no other choice but to use those Chinese ingredients. Horace says: “Don’t believe it.” He points out that “China may be one source for cheap, bulk ingredients but they are not the only option.”

Yet there is a problem with the White House putting China in the dog house:

Trump recognized just how much Beijing took advantage of America while Biden acts as if China’s just misunderstood…

Just as progress was being made, President Biden shows up with his good cop, better cop routine.

Biden, who conspicuously uses his pets as political props in the White House, should recognize the Chinese threat and stop excusing China’s bad behavior – especially when it puts American pets at risk.

“Retailers and consumers shouldn’t have to act alone,” Horace advises. “The feds should challenge the ease of China’s ability to export tainted pet food.”

To read all of Horace’s Newsmax commentary – “China Threat Now Encompasses ‘Man’s Best Friend’” – click here.

Cuban Bans Anthem in Latest Appeal to Woke Mob

Cuban Bans Anthem in Latest Appeal to Woke Mob

Playing the national anthem at professional sports events wasn’t very controversial until Colin Kaepernick took a knee in 2016. While this form of protest has largely died out among football players, it has had a resurgence on the courts of the National Basketball Association this season.

This time, controversy appears to have begun in the management office. Mark Cuban, celebrity businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, ordered his team not to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before home games.

“I think it’s really sad that the national anthem has become controversial,” said Project 21 member Christopher Arps during a panel discussion on the Newsmax television program “Wake Up America.”

Although Cuban said he consulted with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the bad press over Cuban’s move led to the League issuing a restatement of the requirement that teams must play the national anthem at their games.

Cuban had earlier complained about alleged “National Anthem Police” being “out of control,” but he has agreed to just play the song. Last season, he suggested he might join players in kneeling.

Christopher said that politics may have taken a backseat to public relations, citing the sad fact that woke fans and keyboard warriors on social media may have pushed Cuban’s anthem policy:

Mark Cuban is a businessman. He knows who his consumers are, which is African-Americans.

So I think he does believe [the politics] in this case, but mainly it’s just marketing.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project additionally has noted that the leftist political agenda being advanced here has actually been helped a lot by the activism of CEOs such as Cuban.

In the wake of reinstituting the anthem, a self-described lifelong Mavericks fan allegedly broke with the team and tweeted that he hoped they would lose their next game by 50 points. The Dallas Mavericks actually beat the Atlanta Hawks at home by one point – after the national anthem was played.

Celebrate Black History Without Virtue Signaling

Celebrate Black History Without Virtue Signaling
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As February comes to a close, Project 21’s Marie Fischer says she looks forward to “eradicating Black History Month in its current form.”

It’s not that she’s against teaching black history. Quite to the contrary! But current observances have “appropriated this tradition into a vehicle for virtual signaling,” she notes in a commentary for The Federalist.

Marie writes:

We… see the acknowledgement of black history erode into two streams of thought: a progressive perspective and the celebration of black modern culture.

Black History Month tends to focus on a limited field of black history, she explains. This would include the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the Obamas, Oprah and Kamala Harris. “But how many,” Marie wonders, “would recognize the names Walter Williams, James B. Parsons, Benjamin Hooks or Zora Neale Hurston, or would know that America’s first slaveowner – Anthony Johnson – was African-American?”

And when modern black culture is allowed to define black history in its entirety, the end result is more often than not something like the “1619 Project” that promotes “America-hating and historically dubious” claims. Furthermore, Marie notes, “[w]e are trending toward celebrating victimhood instead of championing survival and perseverance.”

What Black History Month needs, Marie concludes, is “thoroughly and objectively integrating the recognition of black contributions into our society.” By doing that, “we will not only be able to say black history is American history, but also make it worth celebrating again.”

To read all of Marie’s commentary – “Left’s Tokenism Destroys Genuine Knowledge of America’s Amazing Black History” – click here to go to the website of The Federalist.

 

 

 

“We Will Not Be Cancelled”

“We Will Not Be Cancelled”
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Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington is among the many conservatives who have found their access to social media restricted due to their beliefs.

During a segment on the Newsmax television program “American Agenda,” Stacy announced:

I was just suspended for the first time in my ten years on Twitter.

Why?

Stacy explained that she had tweeted out information about a peer-reviewed scientific study of the effects of hydroxychloroquine in preventing the advance of the coronavirus. During the Trump Administration, the president’s support for the medication was a source of great controversy among his critics in politics and the media. And social media threw its substantial weight against Trump on this and other issues.

And now Big Tech has gone after Stacy.

“So I figured,” she explained,” President Trump’s no longer in office, so maybe, you know – I could tweet this out. I could post it on Facebook. And I was suspended.”

Rather than simply freezing her account, Twitter actually seemed to relish the way it dished out her punishment. Stacy explained:

They deleted the tweet, but made me go through the exercise of deleting it myself in order to basically bow down and acquiesce that what I tweeted wasn’t true.

Which – it’s true. It’s doctors saying it, not me.

Stacy revealed her social media experience as the panel discussed the similar fate of My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, who was banned permanently from Twitter for posting about election fraud issues. Stacy, who has met Lindell, described him as “very nice” and respectful of everyone. She also called him a “true believer” in the causes that are dear to him.

Stacy says there needs to be a pushback by Americans against the politically abusive social media regime:

We cannot be cancelled. We will not be cancelled.

Minimum Wage Shows Failure of Stakeholder Politics

Minimum Wage Shows Failure of Stakeholder Politics
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In the business world, “stakeholder primacy” is a “dishonest theory.” After all, it puts those without real skin in the game up against those with a financial investment – the “shareholders” owed the company’s best attempts at making a profit.

Nothing demonstrates the stark difference between shareholders and stakeholders more than the current debate over a possible across-the-board minimum wage hike. If the ardent liberal stakeholder class gets its way, the federal minimum wage will be raised to $15 an hour. And the business community, rather than protecting its investors, is often acting as a greater ally of these stakeholders.

In a Townhall commentary, Scott Shepard – deputy director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project – likens the expanding influence of the non-investing stakeholder class to the fabled Trojan Horse. He writes that the situation has “the rhetorical trappings of capitalism encasing and disguising the destructive invader of socialism, poised to spring out and sack the economy.” He adds:

To self-impressed CEOs, it looks like an oligarch’s charter, allowing them to interfere in political issues beyond the legitimate interests of their companies at the “behest” of the stakeholders whose sock-puppet concerns they deign to recognize.

Scott focuses on how the stakeholder conundrum has bedeviled Doug McMillon, the CEO of retailer Walmart and chairman of the Business Roundtable (BRT) special interest group. McMillon’s challenge lies with “the shift from company concerns to general economy- and society-wide concerns (read: politics) that it facilitates”:

In the dark, evil days from which the BRT so grandly delivered us, in which corporations were run for the overriding benefit of their owners (the shareholders), decisions were made in the best long-term interests of the company. This provided both a metric by which options could be judged and a limit to their scope. Under this system, McMillon was able to set wages (barring government interference) at the amount necessary to compensate workers for the work that they had done for the benefit of the company, not paying them so little as to lose them nor so much that they were earning more than the good they did the company.

But stakeholder primacy allows CEOs to throw off these sensible limitations and to shift their attention from questions they’re qualified to answer – wages for their workers – to questions for which they have no special competence – government-set minimum wages (or government-set policy in general). And so McMillon’s task, according to the pronouncement of the organization he chairs, has become far harder – figuring out a position for Walmart on the minimum wage that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders.

In fact, though, McMillon is hoist on his own and the BRT’s petard, as the task hasn’t simply become harder, but impossible.

In the minimum wage situation, employers can never hope to find the perfect balance of worker needs and company obligations. To pay the higher “living” wage demanded by many stakeholders, a business would need to reallocate resources. For customers, this could likely lead to higher prices and/or less services. For the workforce, the newest and least-skilled may find themselves out of work. For those left on the job, previous benefits may be reduced and there may be less opportunity for advancement. State governments could experience less tax revenue and an increased demand for welfare services.

“More befuddlement; more paralysis,” Scott warns.

“A theory as self-evidently useless as stakeholder primacy should never have made it past a brainstorming session,” he continues. “But that’s true of an awful lot of what passes for cutting-edge economic and social theory today.”

To read Scott’s Townhall commentary – “The Minimum Wage is an Impossible Conundrum for Honest “Stakeholder Capitalism” – click here.

Creating an Effective Black History Month

Creating an Effective Black History Month
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It’s the 51st official Black History Month, but – as Project 21 member Christopher Arps notes – it has not always been an effective observance. But that’s okay if one has the right mindset and guidance.

In a commentary for The Federalist, Christopher recalls that, having grown up in the 70s and 80s, he doesn’t “remember an emphasis on black history in the classroom, even in February.” And when there finally was one, “[t]he curriculum was repetitious.” It was a “broken record” of the same group of historic figures like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and “no deep dives” on more complex figures such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass.

Yet Christopher doesn’t see this as a problem – at least not for himself:

Was I somehow shortchanged or diminished because I didn’t learn much about black history from my teachers? Not at all. My parents—especially my mother, an elementary school teacher—understood the times. They realized it was their responsibility to ensure their son knew the history and accomplishments of his people.

All this being said, Christopher suggests that school curriculums could be “greatly enhanced by a better study of black history.” But he also finds it problematic when politics takes precedence over actual teaching:

At the same time, the pedagogy of ethnic pride comes with responsibility currently being abdicated for radicalism. That’s why it’s a shame when contemporary Black History Month curricula simply revises history for political gain. A prime example is the “1619 Project” peddled by The New York Times.

Last year, Christopher represented Project 21 and the Free Enterprise Project at the annual shareholder meeting of the New York Times. He noted that the newspaper’s historically-flawed “1619 Project” – which weaves a theme of systemic racism throughout American history – is being used by many schools these days as their vehicle for teaching black history. He asked Publisher A.G. Sulzberger to “correct the record” to “ensure that schools using 1619 Project materials are not teaching falsehoods.”

In a troubling response, Sulzberger expressed pride in a stated goal to “simply encourage dialogue,” despite the fact that the 1619 Project has been credited with helping fuel last year’s rioting and animosity:

Is it healthy and uplifting to tell black students they are perpetual victims living in a racist country founded on preserving the intuition of slavery? Will this encourage them to strive for excellence and achievement to uplift fellow blacks?

This mindset does a disservice to [Carter G.] Woodson’s aspiration. As they do with almost everything they touch, leftists turned something that’s potentially useful into just another vehicle for left-wing propaganda and proselytizing. My parents handled Black History Month much better.

To read all of Christopher’s commentary – “Americans Deserve True Black History, Not Lies From the 1619 Project” – at The Federalist website, click here.

Congress Considers Canceling Conservative Channels

Congress Considers Canceling Conservative Channels
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On Capitol Hill this week, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to convene a hearing to assess the “frightening reality” that the alleged “spread of disinformation and extremism by traditional news media presents a tangible and destabilizing threat.”

It’s a pretty good bet the hearing will fall along the lines of the left’s efforts to get conservative hosts booted from the broadcast spectrum and to get right-leaning networks such as Newsmax, One America News and Fox News deplatformed altogether by cable providers.

It’s a frightening situation. As National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper writes in a Daily Wire commentary:

Progressives are leading the charge to limit expression when they don’t agree with it.

“Whether a part of ‘cancel culture,’ ‘doxing’ or boycotts,” Horace adds, “progressives now openly seek to censor voices and opinions they oppose.”

Horace notes that Congress has already determined how to address censorship standards:

This suppression runs afoul of laws passed by Congress and enforced by the FCC that were designed to ensure a variety of news sources are available on cable networks. Echoing the First Amendment, Congress determined that it’s the responsibility of consumers to decide whether programming is valuable and useful — not the job of the extreme left.

Moreover, if today’s censors are successful, not only would they have suppressed alternative viewpoints, but they would also provide a monopolist advantage to cable companies like Time Warner and AT&T that own news networks conspicuously not on the left’s target list.

Horace suggests that “a better use of Congress’ time would be to investigate the coordinators of efforts to deplatform Fox and Newsmax as well as the possible role if any news networks themselves are playing in that project.”

Horace uses William Shakespeare, the iconic playwright who is also at risk of being cancelled by the woke mob, to make his point:

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tells Romeo, that a “rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” What she means is that what you call something doesn’t affect what it is. Similarly, the campaign by the Left to force cable networks to drop certain news outlets is suppression regardless of their rationale.

To read all of Horace’s Daily Wire commentary – “The Left’s Push to Cancel Conservative Media Isn’t ‘Fighting Disinformation.’ It’s Censorship.” – click here.

Tanden: Not Fit for OMB

Tanden: Not Fit for OMB
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Noting it is “critical” for the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “lead the agency with sound judgment, as well as bipartisan civility,” the National Center has joined a coalition of other conservative groups and individuals to point out that President Joe Biden’s nominee to fill the position – Neera Tanden – “has shown neither.”

In an open letter to the U.S. Senate distributed by the Conservative Action Project (CAP), the coalition argues that Tanden – who most recently served as the president and CEO of the radical Center for American Progress special interest group – “has not demonstrated the judgment, civility, or disposition to lead one of the most important offices of the executive branch.”

Specifically, the letter notes that Tanden

  • “mishandled the personal details of a sexual harassment allegation at the Center for American Progress, the organization which she led.”
  • “has significant financial ties to Wall Street financiers… [which] raise concerns of who would have access and influence to OMB under her watch.”
  • “has also demonstrated deeply partisan behavior” through abusive and specious social media posts (for which Tanden has acknowledged her “regret”).

Signatories to the letter warn that Tanden’s potential tenure in the Biden Administration risks being “marked by more naked partisanship and influence peddling than fair mindedness and sober diligence toward the well-being of all Americans.”

After the letter was distributed, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced his opposition to Tanden’s nomination. This puts her future at OMB in serious jeopardy.

The CAP letter about Tanden was signed by National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof, Esq. Among the other 65 people who signed are former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Constitutional Congress Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell, Council for National Policy Chairman Kelly J. Shackleford, Esq., Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Eagle Forum Chairman Anne Schlafly Cori and 60 Plus President Saulius “Saul” Anuzis (groups listed for identification only).

Click here to see the full CAP letter and list of signers.

Focus Black History on Black Families

Focus Black History on Black Families
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Black History Month nowadays puts more emphasis on celebrity and politics than it does on the importance of black families.

In an interview on Newsmax TV’s “American Agenda,” Project 21 member Melanie Collette told hosts Bob Sellers and Heather Childers that Black History Month isn’t doing a service for black Americans when it puts inordinate focus on acts such as putting abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

“It feels like lip service to me,” Melanie noted, adding:

The original purpose of Black History Month was so that notable, accomplished black Americans get mentioned in the education and curricula in schools. And it really wasn’t… to parade our people of note…

More importantly, she explained how the purpose of this observance should be to ultimately make it irrelevant altogether:

Black history is American history. And so Black History Month’s purpose is to make sure that black history is really integrated into our educational system and that it is part of American history…

That’s something I’m looking forward to – when black history is just American history. And notable black Americans… will just be mentioned as a matter of fact, as: this is what an American has done who just happens to be black.

In the meantime, there needs to be more emphasis on valuable lessons that actually support the black community rather than just create idols. That’s why, when Sellers asked Melanie what she would like to have “underscored” during black history celebrations, she said:

I feel that the black family – and the strengths of the black family, which was really notable post-slavery – is something that is really important, and is lost in this day and age… [in] our culture.

Melanie pointed out that promotion of strong family structure is facing an uphill battle right now, with left-wing political movements such as Black Lives Matter actively seeking to tear apart black families as part of their Marxist agendas:

Organizations like BLM don’t really co-sign the theory of the nuclear family, which is a darn shame. Because… the cohesiveness of the black family is very important to the strength of the African-American community.

Conversely, she had kind words for how the Trump Administration sought to promote financial literacy in the black community:

One of the things President Trump did a really good job doing… is making sure we got the word out and we were able to educate in… predominantly black neighborhoods.

And I thought it was a very good idea: teaching them how to invest in themselves and invest in their families. It’s very important.

Despite her concerns about celebrating celebrity, Melanie did respond to the Newsmax hosts’ questions about actor Denzel Washington’s recent comments supporting police officers. In Hollywood, open support for the police is controversial. An incredulous Sellers asked Melanie: “Why is it news that a black actor is supporting cops?”

Noting that support for law enforcement officials “makes perfect sense,” Melanie replied:

You would think that… any American would support our police officers that serve and protect us and put their lives on the line each and every day. But the fact that it’s news – that it’s some kind of shock… that someone of Denzel Washington’s caliber would compliment the police officers – it’s a shame that’s news.

It’s Washington’s superstar status, Melanie explained, that protects him from the political recriminations that might befall newer and less powerful entertainers:

Denzel Washington is at a point in his career where he is absolutely free to do that. Not everybody is free to make these kinds of comments in their career without getting serious backlash from the woke left.

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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.