capitalism

Financial Freedom For Millennials with Daniel Ameduri

TWS 18 | Financial Freedom For Millennials

 

The road to financial freedom has always been dictated by financial norms, a lot of which don’t really seem like freedom at all. Editor and the Founder of Future Money Trends, Daniel Ameduri, talks about financial freedom and what it looks like for the Millennials. Walking us through the concepts of his book, Don’t Save for Retirement: A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Freedom, Daniel notes that the Baby Boomer generation has inculcated in most Millennials the idea of saving for their retirement and putting their money on retirement funds which has given the younger generation more pressure. Breaking the shackles that are forcing us to commit to that tradition, Dan teaches Millennials how to deviate efficiently from investment and embrace the gifts brought by their time.

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Financial Freedom For Millennials with Daniel Ameduri

On this episode, I have my good friend. He’s become a great friend, but he’s also the Editor and Founder of Future Money Trends, which is a publication business. He has come out with a book, Don’t Save for Retirement: A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Freedom. I know he has been working on this for a while. I had him on the show many years ago. Daniel has been front-running the cryptocurrency, the cannabis, the precious metals and other alternative investment world for quite some time on his YouTube channel and very popular website, FutureMoneyTrends.com. You are going to get to love his perspective on life and I think you’re going to get a lot out of reading his book and hearing the story firsthand. Daniel is an amazing writer and entrepreneur. If you’re reading about him for the first time, then it is going to be a treat. Without further ado, welcome, Daniel Ameduri.

Daniel, thank you for spending the time, it’s awesome having you back on. You were on several months ago. It’s a pleasure and I’m super excited about your book.

Thank you for having me on. I should let the audience know that I have seventeen policies, dividend-paying, cashflowing, gushing, safe. I’m dual compounding them too, but I’m sure we don’t want to go down that rabbit hole but they need to learn from Paradigm Life for that.

There are many things you can do as a Millennial if you embrace all the gifts and the things that the world has given us. Click To Tweet

Daniel, I’ve gotten to know you over the years and you’ve done some incredible work. It was awesome to hear more about your story. I never got into that with you even though we’ve had some discussions over the years. Your book is well-written and I like how it opens up your life. How people come to this opinion or perspective of life, there’s a backstory to it. Without that backstory, sometimes it’s hard to buy into a person’s perspective, especially if it’s different than the status quo. Looking at the title of your book, it’s totally against what most people believe. Telling your story and opening yourself up that way awesome. Would you mind maybe talking through what was the book about? What was the purpose of it? What message do you want to send? Who is it intended for? Maybe start there.

The book is called Don’t Save for Retirement. For your audience, we’ve set up a special page at FutureMoneyTrends.com/save. They can read the intro in the first chapter. If they like it, they can buy it. There’s a link. This book started when I was in an attorney’s office setting up my trust, my will and I turned to my wife like, “We know where the kids are going to go. We know where the money’s going to go. What about teaching the kids? What if they get this bad conventional wisdom conditioned into them without mom and dad there who is a fairly strong presence and force against that stuff.” We started brainstorming what we could do. I was like, “How about we write a book? It will be great for the business. It will be great for other people who can read it.” It started with no initial audience in the sense that it was teaching my children, but also keeping in mind Millennials and other people who might be saving the conventional means of retirement and what they could do with their money.

I wanted to bring in what my wife and I did because I didn’t want people to think that, “This guy has got an economic sense on his shoulders and all this stuff.” The intro starts in a bankruptcy attorney’s office. We were messed up after 2008. I got a job making $10 an hour. My wife was a school teacher. We were about to have a baby. Things were wrecked. That’s where the book starts. It starts off how I dug myself out, what it took not just financially, but a change in my mindset and my change in what is even acceptable. The book, Don’t Save for Retirement, I would say almost is a cross between my personal story and personal finance. That’s an alternative way.

It’s not Robert Kiyosaki where it’s all getting leverage. It’s definitely not Dave Ramsey where it’s like, “No debt.” It’s like, “This was my story. This is how I did it. This is all the things I learned along the way.” One thing that rings true with what I’ve learned from Robert Kiyosaki is the poor and middle-class speculate, they just do, no matter what they’re in. Their retirement vehicles, they’re always speculating. The rich preserve and focus on income, which is one of the reasons why I’m so attracted to your company, Paradigm Life, that preservation and income mindset. The advantage of the rich is they’re already rich. However, I learned that if the middle class apply those same principles, they can also be very wealthy.

TWS 18 | Financial Freedom For Millennials

Don’t Save for Retirement: A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Freedom

You use some very strategic words in the book. The one that comes to mind is the idea of control and I thought a lot lately about group psychology, a group narrative. I look at our school system. I look at the workplace. I think it’s programmed into our mind the being told what to do mentality, “You’ve got to do this. I am superior, therefore do what I say.” These days, people are speculating, but they’re not even thinking. They’re doing what everybody else is doing and they’re assuming that whoever’s telling them to do it is going to give them the results that they want, which of course there are many different examples of that not being the case. It was cool as taking control and using your mind to figure out what you want financially is where it starts. Unfortunately, there are these traumatic events, difficult events that cause us to have those paradigm shifts. When you’re writing the book specifically for your kids, if they read the book, what did you want them to get? What was that message? They close the 196-page and it’s like, “What is that next thought?”

That they choose their destiny, that there is no right way or wrong way. Whether they have a job and become great passive income investors or they have a business and they’re investors as well or they’re a stay-at-home-mom or a stay-at-home-dad. I don’t care what they do. I want them to know that they can do whatever they want to do. It is their life and many of us, exactly in line with your question, do what everyone else does and follow the crowd. Everyone else is going to college. Everyone else is saving for retirement. Everyone else is financing their house for a few decades. Everyone else is financing their cars for a few years. Everyone else is buying term because your whole life’s a scheme.

It’s nonstop no critical thinking and I want them to let them know like, “You can do whatever you want and if you want freedom, you have to buy your freedom. It’s not going to be free. It will require sacrifice and it will require good decision-making that will compound. You’re not going to be eighteen and financially-free, but you could be 25 to 40 years old and be financially free as opposed to the alternative plan which is, ‘Give all your money to Wall Street and we promise you in 30 to 40 years, even though you have no idea what your tax withdrawal rate will be or what the funds will even be at, you’ll be able to retire at this magic number that some German politician wanted to win an election.’ He upped the other guy by instead of running on 70, he said 65.” I want people to know that ultimately you choose your destiny and a lot of us have to be woken up and slapped in the face like, “What are you doing? You’re on autopilot.”

I’d love to hear your opinion on what are the events that would cause a person to read this information and not necessarily have it discarded but actually implemented and used. We’re in this period of time where debt is an all-time high, student loan debt, consumer debt. If you look at household income, it’s been stagnant for many decades. You look at people who are not getting ahead and I know that there’s frustration. There are polls. There are headlines that come out all the time about the frustration that exists in America with people not growing, not getting ahead, which essentially is the anti-life because people are naturally compelled to grow. Where do you think the pain threshold is until people snap out of it?

I hope their pain threshold is not bankruptcy or like me, where I was in a bankruptcy attorney’s office with my wife crying. I certainly hope their pain threshold doesn’t go to a point where they get so angry at their job that maybe they do something that gets them fired or damages their resume for the future. Ultimately, that frustration Americans are feeling is because they have subscribed to a middle-class lifestyle that is not sustainable. Much like the national story of what our government is doing, our citizens are doing. I can’t fix the government, but we can all fix ourselves by making some changes in our own lives. In the book, I talk about what my wife and I did. We drastically cut spending.

Did we do it forever? No, but we did it for a year-and-a-half, two years. Even when we weren’t drastically in cutting spending mode, we still live very frugally. I always tell people it took many years. When I achieved that financial independence, net worth millionaire status, not even liquid, but net worth. I was driving a 2003 Nissan Altima. It was a ten-year-old car. I was living in a house, at the time when I purchased it, it was about one time our annual income. By the time I was financially independent, the thing was one-third of our annual income, but I was still doing that and not permanent. Now, I live in a very nice house and I get to enjoy all the luxuries of those sacrifices that I made.

If you want freedom, you have to buy your freedom. It's not going to be free. It will require sacrifice and good decision-making. Click To Tweet

You have to, at some point in time, say stop. For most of us, unfortunately, we’ve subscribed to the unsustainable lifestyle. You might have a car that’s equal to your annual income spread out over a few years. You might have a house that’s ten times your annual income. You might have done a lot of things that have messed you up. That’s where I love the Dave Ramsey personal finance part like, “Start the cutting spending.” Stop doing all this stupid stuff that’s excessive. What I like to do is after I cut the spending is shift the savings of the spending into buying income and training that brain that everything I buy, I want to see a check either quarterly, annually, monthly. I want money coming in from everything I do. One of the things I have in my house in the children’s schoolroom is only to buy assets that cashflow.

We’re all going to get involved with speculation. I’m the worst. I love microcap investing and venture capitalism, especially here in California. Ultimately, 90% of my efforts and my focus is focused on buying income. Anyone who’s frustrated and who is in that lifestyle of trying to keep up with the Joneses realizes that financing everything in your life and spending every last bit of your paycheck, it is not normal. It may be perceived as normal because that’s what everybody else was doing, but it’s not. You have to say no. If you’re reading and that resonates with you, it can be done. It’s going to take a few years to mop this thing up, but you can be financially independent and either quit your job or work part-time or full-time because you love what you do.

These are all amazing points. In the book, what direction are you giving to people? What are the steps that they can take? Starting with whomever that person you were writing to when you were typing out the words of the book and getting them to take that first step then the next step. What are some steps that people can take to go from where they’re at and start to circumvent better or build a bridge over the gap to where they want to be?

The first chapter starts with, “What is wealth?” A lot of people don’t even know what they want. They’re just going through the motions of life. They’re killing time while they’re here on earth, which is very sad. For me, wealth is the ability to be able to do what I want with my time, to wake up when I’m done sleeping, to be free. I think that’s the first step is defining what you want. I always tell people, I learned this from James Altucher. He talked about the three things you want people to say at your funeral. What do you want people to say who you are and then embrace those things? Remind yourself, write it down on a piece of paper and see it every day when you get up. I have daily statements for every single of my kids and my wife and I. I like to remind myself that. Steve Jobs talked about that, ask yourself every day, “Am I happy with what I’m about to do right now?”

The next step is if you decide to become financially free, you need to see what the gap is? What do I need? How much income do I need to pay for my expenses, my monthly lifestyle? Ultimately, becoming financially independent, in my opinion and in the book, is to be able to have multiple sources of income. Instead of having a one or two-household income, think about having how do you get to a 21-household income? Maybe it doesn’t pay all the bills, maybe it just pays the utilities. How good will that feel? It pays all your utilities, maybe it pays the mortgage. However, you want to look at it, how would you like it if every month you went to work and you realize that all your utilities and your mortgage were being paid by passive income?

TWS 18 | Financial Freedom For Millennials

Financial Freedom For Millennials: The Millennials may have been conditioned to believe that they want socialism, but they love the efficiency of capitalism.

It starts small. The book talks about the biggest first step is work where you can cut. For a lot of people, that’s moving, that’s one of the biggest expenses. Whether you’re moving to a further area in your county or you’re moving to another state. My wife and I moved to a desert community in California. The next area is retraining their brain. Instead of dumping all this money into a 401(k), start using these whole life policies to dual compound. Start using different investments that pay an actual dividend that bring a check into your life. That’s the biggest thing I can tell people to have that mindset of start buying things that make you money.

It’s interesting and I’ll be somewhat open here because the first thing you said resonated. Most people don’t know what they want. I think it goes back to the mindset that we’ve been programmed or highly influenced to understand, which is being told what we want or being told what to do instead of us recognize. It sounds trivial but us recognizing that we have a choice of what we want. I had one of my business coaches, I had this meltdown. I didn’t even anticipate it, but it was the rocking chair test. They essentially get you into this state where you’re 95 years old, you’re sitting in a rocking chair and you’re describing what life was about. It was powerful for me and I connected with what was important to me. I connected with what I wanted.

It wasn’t necessarily a dollar amount. It was more about my relationships. It was about the people that I loved as opposed to anything material. At the same time, those material things allow a magnification of the experiences with the people that you love. The second piece is interesting too that you talked about, which is the idea of understanding where you are financially and where you want to be. I look at what most people obsessed with, which is weight and money because it’s measurable. At the same time, how people measure money is fascinating because it usually has to do with either their income or their bank account and that’s it. The true measurement of money, which Robert Kiyosaki heavily emphasizes in all of his books, is a financial statement.

He has a whole book at how to create a financial statement, which is ultimately the scorecard for where you’re currently at but can also help you objectively measure what you need to do in order to get to where you want. Ultimately, the wealth side of things is fascinating, Daniel, because in the end, why are financially successful people so miserable end up committing suicide or getting multiple divorces or alienating children? It’s interesting where people have connected wealth with money but yet, in the end, people would trade all of their money for what is truly valuable to them if they opened up and were vulnerable. That’s where I look at where we’re at in our day and age with society and what’s available to us with technology.

Wealth is the ability to be able to do what you want with your time, to wake up when you are done sleeping, and to be free. Click To Tweet

It’s more possible than ever to live that type of life, but yet the comfort that people have with what society has told them is a success is still bought into. Even though people are starting to see that there’s a different way of doing things and there’s a different lifestyle. “Look at this guy, look at this friend,” but yet they’re still programmed to do what’s safe and comfortable. How did you break out of that? Where have you may be talked about in the book how you have written whether it’s your newsletter or your YouTube channel, like getting people to snap out of it and believe in what is possible.

I would say that what you just touched on, the first thing I thought of was the Millennials. The Millennials are trying to apply the Baby Boomer life plan to a totally different economy. They are suffering and complaining about it. I got rid of my car because I Uber everywhere and I go for nice long walks or I jump on a Lime scooter and I go as far as I want. I don’t have to go back to a parking lot. I flip out my phone and five minutes later, I’m back at the house. You can start a website for $10 if you’re a Millennial, a business for $10. You can freelance anything, sell your skills, you’re going to work from home and you can monetize your own job. There are many things you can do as a Millennial if you embrace all these gifts and these things that the world has given us.

I ordered lunch and I wanted to order some Thai food, so I went onto Grubhub. A lot of people are trying to do the same thing with their investments and their investment mind setting. The Baby Boomers had the best bond market, best real estate market and the best stock market. According to Vanguard, the median account for 65 and older is only $58,000. If that experiment didn’t work for them, and by the way for most people, 401(k)s have only been around since the ‘80s. They passed them in the ‘70s but ‘80s for all intents, purposes and implementation. A lot of people think the 401(k) was with Adam and Eve, and they came out and they had their employer match.

TWS 18 | Financial Freedom For Millennials

Financial Freedom For Millennials: Trying to keep up with the Joneses financing everything in your life and spending every last bit of your paycheck is not normal.

A lot of this stuff is new. It didn’t work and that’s okay. Some of the intentions were probably good. What does work? What’s been around for hundreds of years, thousands of years when it comes to passive income and the way the rich invest? I look at the frustrations of people that it’s a lot of times it’s because they’re adopting and applying these rituals. I was in Africa and I was with the Maasai. I was asking the guy, “What’s your goal in life?” He was like, “I need more cows.” I was like, “You guys cleaned our rooms and you see the bathrooms and the match them. You don’t want a mattress in your house? The houses are made of cow crap. You don’t want a toilet?” He’s like, “No, the elders say that’s not the Maasai way.” I’m like, “Tradition can kill,” like it’s doing to the Maasai, it’s doing to the Millennials here in America and all around the world because they are in the tradition of something that hasn’t even been around that long, especially when you apply the way conventional finance has been applied to for people.

Here’s what’s fascinating. What you said is that the root of the word capital, like capitalism, comes from cattle. The nature of capitalism isn’t the cattle itself. That’s not capital. The capital comes from the derivative use of cattle, how people figured out to use a cow for not just milk, not just meat, but leather for instance. I look at the world of immense resources and people look at the value in a piece of land or the property. That’s not where the value is. The value is our ability to take our mind and make use of that in a variety of different ways. Look at what we live amongst every single day, whether it’s Grubhub, uh, whether it’s the Lime scooters. These are essentially resources that people figured out how to look at some friction or some frustration and to get a solution to it. That’s all around us, but yet not understanding the fundamentals and subscribing to the status quo doesn’t open your mind up to what those possibilities are. That’s why the Millennials don’t like capitalism. It’s because everybody else is coming up with ideas and they’re not.

They may have been conditioned to believe that they want socialism, but look at every aspect of their life, they love the efficiency of capitalism.

It’s an amazing world we live in and it’s evolving so quickly. It’s awesome that there are more books like this coming out. They are reinforcing not just talking points, but they’re reinforcing principles that have been around for a long time, but also ways in which you can capitalize on the current environment to achieve the outcome that I would assume most people want.

In the book, I provided the links of the different companies I invest with. Obviously, your company is mentioned in there when it comes to my whole life policies. I didn’t hold anything back. I put it out there and the same thing goes with my letter at FutureMoneyTrends.com. If I’m investing in it or writing a check, it’s in there. If not, it’s not in there at all.

Daniel, what are some other ways in which they can follow you, learn about what you’re up to, learn about Future Money Trends, some of the video stuff that you’re doing online. Why don’t you throw those out there?

I would love for them to go to FutureMoneyTrends.com/save. They get the Weekly Wall Digest free. It shares a lot of the different stories and things that my wife and I went through and did to become financially independent as well as some stuff that I teach my children, as well as any investment, passive income or speculative that I’m actively involved in. They get to also read the first chapter of the book.

Daniel, it’s a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for taking the time. Hopefully, we get to do a follow-up soon.

I hope to see you soon.

Thank you.

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About Daniel Ameduri

TWS 18 | Financial Freedom For MillennialsDaniel Ameduri is a self-made multi-millionaire, a full-time skeptic of conventional thought, and a proud father of three. He is the co-founder of FutureMoney-trends.com, which, with nearly 150,000 subscribers, it’s the most widely recognized online authority in investment ideas and economic advice. He’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, on ABC World News Tonight, and on Russia Today TV. Daniel correctly predicted the collapse of Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Washington Mutual on “Vision Victory,” the YouTube channel he launched in 2007 and which now has had more than thirteen million views.

 

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The Driving Principles Of Human Progress with Dr. Walter E. Williams

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

 

Human progress and societal growth almost always influence each other. The increased pressure and the ability of man to rise to challenges paves the way for more learning and growth. In this episode, Patrick Donohoe interviews Dr. Walter E. Williams, an economist, commentator, and academic, to talk about societal or human progress. Dr. Williams explains that the core driving principles and structure of society is paramount to the idea of capitalism and discusses the environment in which capitalism most thrives.

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The Driving Principles Of Human Progress with Dr. Walter E. Williams

Thank you so much for reading into this episode of The Wealth Standard. We are still talking entrepreneurship. A couple of episodes left before we move on to our next season. This is an episode I had been looking forward to for quite some time and it’s with an individual named Walter Williams. He is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the George Mason University. He is also the former chairman of the audit committee, also a best-selling author of Up from the Projects: An Autobiography on race economics. How much can be blamed on discrimination? It’s a question in the subtitle. He also wrote American Contempt for Liberty as well as Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism: Controversial Essays. Walter also told me that there was a video done based on his biography, which is called Suffer No Fools. All of those links can be found at WalterEWilliams.com.

I’m going to do some commentary on my interview with Walter Williams. I’m going to do a pre-interview commentary and then some post-interview commentary and give you an idea in the pre of why I am asking the questions I’m asking. In the post, I’ll expand on some of those ideas if you’re interested. The first thing that’s influencing me to think and to make even more sense out of entrepreneurship and what is essentially some of the resources I can provide you as budding, existing or experienced entrepreneurs is first a book that is intrigued me called The Mystery of Capital. The reason why it’s intrigued me is that it’s an individual who definitely leans toward free-market economics, laissez-faire, capitalism. He’s a pro personal liberty. At the same time, he’s talking about some fundamental structure of society that is paramount to the idea of capitalism. It’s caused me to think differently. I’m still in the process of thinking about what he is saying, what it means and how it could improve my understanding of capitalism, of human nature and help me to be more fulfilled and satisfied with what I’m doing in life. This is some of the points that he makes. Pick up that book. He’s a great writer. If you haven’t read it before or if you’re intrigued by some of the themes we’ve had, this is definitely a guy to follow.

The idea of The Mystery of Capital, we’ve used that word so much, but we haven’t gone to the root of that word and where it came from, which the first thing that was intriguing to me. It comes from the root of the same word of cattle. There’s a difference between cow and cattle. Where capitalism came from was the idea that human beings figured out a way to take a piece of property and turn it into so many different things. That’s what de Soto defined as capital. Not necessarily the cow itself, but the human being able to figure out how to create forms of value. Whether it’s the hide turning it into leather, whether it’s meat, whether it’s milk, whether it’s the other parts of the cow, which I think human beings have figured out a way to use every single part of it. That’s the capital, not necessarily the cow itself.

The second is essentially the environment in which capitalism most thrives, which is essentially the physical world full of resources and what goes from simply a resource into what he considers as capital, which is I would say the multiple derivatives of resources. That’s where it’s fascinating to me. Because capital is created there, but there are a structure and an environment in which it thrives better. He goes through and he talks about, I’ll use two examples. The first example is property in general. A property can be defined through intellectual property, an idea. Real estate is obviously physical space. He talks about in the United States, we have a very interesting property system, a legal system, a title system, which he goes to the history in it. The history is pretty fascinating.

It talks about how it’s not a perfect system, but it’s one of the more objective systems that are out there, which shows ownership and that ownership can be legally defended. That is a degree that creates a degree of certainty that allows that human mind to start exercising its tendency to provide those derivatives like a cow. Figure out a way to turn what was essentially a very monotonous routine, just playing into the derivative of it. Turning a property into a golf course. The golf course is the capital, not necessarily the property. Turning a blank lawn at your home into a beautiful landscape. I think that derivative is capital.

The human mind engages once that degree of certainty is there. He goes through a lot of the legal systems of property, real estate specifically in other parts of the world. He talks about the poorest third world countries. There are literally tens of trillions of dollars of capital that’s possible if the legal structure was in place to provide that degree of certainty. Because the human mind is not going to start acting in that way until there is a degree of certainty in which the outcome is more definite than if the property wasn’t able to be verified as that specific person. Therefore, their work to create capital would be for naught. Business is the same way. He talks about the ability to form a business in the US. Of course, there are clunky systems here, but relative to other parts of the world. He uses examples of having his research team go into some South American countries and try to form a business and set up shop. In some instances, it took several months. In some instances, it took over a year and it was extremely expensive to do it. It was full of red tape, full of clunkiness. Therefore, the ability to provide that foundation of certainty prevents and inhibits the human mind from being able to create a legitimate business and improve, innovate and make it even better to provide even more value for people for that. It’s Adam Smith’s invisible hand to be exercised.

It was fascinating and it’s caused me to think about, what is the proper role of government? Is government the best institution to create that system? Maybe, maybe not. It’s created the US property system, but is there a better system? How can governments go from a more loose and subjective system to an even better objective system than what the US has, whether that’s blockchain or otherwise. I think we’re always looking for a more solid foundation, a higher degree of certainty. It’s not conscious, we seek that. It’s caused me to reflect and I asked Dr. Williams a few questions in that regard about the environment and the importance of the environment.

The second thing was I joined the Tony Robbins Platinum Partner Group, which is this membership that you have a couple of separate events that you go to, but you can go to all of his conferences and events. There are typically eight to ten. He does most of them and you get to go to all of those as part of the membership. It’s a huge time commitment, huge financial commitment as well. I pulled the trigger there because I had some experiences that caused me to understand more about myself, what I wanted in life, my relationships and what was holding me back. I decided that I didn’t want it to be an event or an experience that was fleeting. I wanted it to be lasting. That’s why I chose to inundate myself or to immerse myself in that environment for a year.

I’ve been in Amsterdam, Dallas and Las Vegas. I’m going to San Diego and then there are a couple of other events. That immersion is working and it’s allowing me not to drink the Tony Robbins Kool-Aid, but it’s causing me to understand more about myself, more about the importance of psychology and also to value others. Whether it’s those that fit the confirmation bias or those that are a completely different opinion. I think there are so many things that are amazing about Tony Robbins, but it’s not like I believe and in an agreement with 100%. Maybe because of ignorance, it might be because of my experience. Nonetheless, there’s so much value in what he has been able to create as an environment in which people learn and experience that has allowed me to see things.

What’s fascinating about this episode is I did not think he was going to go in the direction that it went. He answered questions from a very interesting standpoint because he’s at a point where he’s not trying to build his career. He’s at a point where I would say people focus more on legacy than they focus on growing and expanding. He’s in his early 80s. He’s isn’t necessarily concerned with an image. I don’t know if he’s ever been concerned with his image. He has taken a stand that is very admirable because it goes against the grain of what the racial norms are as well as with the social norms, the political norms. I think you are going to like this episode. There definitely is so much more that could have asked and expanded upon, but for the sake of time and respect for him, I cut it short and stayed at a very high level. Without further delay, please welcome my guest, Walter Williams.

Dr. Williams, it is an honor to have you on. Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you for inviting me.

I have to say I am somewhat intimidated because I have a great deal of respect for you and what you’ve done throughout your career. It took me a long time to come up with some of these questions. The first thing I wanted to ask you is, if you were to boil down your philosophy about society or human progress, what would you say are the core primary driving principles that you would arrive at?

My stepfather told me when I was a teenager that if you ever want to get somewhere in this life, you’ve got to learn to come early and stay late, which means that you have to work hard to get what you want. If you come early and stay late, you’ll eventually succeed at most things that you’re trying. In a sentence or two, that’s my philosophy.

If you are in a society where there is discrimination, you have to be better than others. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting that it seems we’re innovating to work less. That’s the drive. Do you see that and what would you say to that?

I’m in my 84th year of life, I’ve seen a lot of changes. I see that people are forgiven for doing things and saying things that would not have been forgiven many years ago. Forms of behavior are accepted now that would not have been accepted before. I think that we’re the worst for it. There are all these modern ideas that you shouldn’t scold people, you shouldn’t hold them accountable. You should not punish them for doing the wrong things. You don’t do very much for the individual, that’s not very compassionate at all.

What would you say are the unintended consequences of that?

You have a society of people that are less accountable. I remember when I was about twelve years old, I was shining shoes and I’m making a little money for myself. One of my responsibilities with the money that I was making was to save money, pay for my school lunches, which is $0.15 or $0.25. I adopted the habit of spending my money and then going to my mother Wednesday or Thursday and asked her for a loan. I would always pay her back. One time I asked her for a loan and she said, “No, I’m not going to give you any money.” I thought she was the meanest person on the face of the Earth. It must have been very hard for her to see me come home from school and virtually inhale the refrigerator. I was starving. However, it’s the last time that happened. To bring it up to more modern times, I was telling that to my wife. I have a daughter who’s now 44 years old, but when she was young, I was telling her the same thing. My wife thought I was awful and she could never do that to my daughter.

I definitely see that. I have two teenagers and a five-year-old and it seems that the society we’re in, things are so easy to come by. Answers are at our fingertips. Food is plentiful and it’s conditioned people to want the here and now without doing much work. I think failure comes a lot, not necessarily because something was done wrong but because they didn’t have the persistence to carry it through.

What you’re talking about is the downside of affluence. We have so much wealth. We as parents, we try to give our children what our parents could not ever give us, but we wind up not giving our kids what our parents did give us that is discipline, responsibility and respect for authorities.

My wife grew up in Mexico and it was not a very nice neighborhood at all. It’s one of those stereotypical neighborhoods. That is to the tee what I would say she started out as a parent wanting to provide kids everything that she had dreamed about. There are unintended consequences to that because it forms habits that don’t necessarily serve a human being later in life.

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

Principles Of Human Progress: If you ever want to get somewhere in this life, you got to learn to come early and stay late.

 

We see this with our youngsters expecting things to be given to them on a silver spoon. Kid’s graduating from college not knowing very much, but expect to be a vice president first month at doing the job.

It’s the reality that we live in. I look at how you have championed free markets, personal liberty and limited government. I would say that is definitely not the guiding principle that society is using. Where do you see what we’ve been discussing with the mindset and perspective of the rising generation as it relates to the principles that you have championed for so long?

I’m not very optimistic. I hope I’m wrong about not being very optimistic, but if you ask the question, some people have asked me, “What can we do? Where’s our country headed?” I asked people, “Americans as human beings, are we any way different from the Romans, the Spanish, the French and the British?” These are great empires of the past that went down the tubes. They went down the tubes for generally the same thing that we’re doing now, that is bread and circuses. People are expecting the government to take care of them. As a matter of fact, in 1887 at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, that if someone had said that Great Britain would become a third-rate nation challenged on the high seats by a six-rate nation, Argentina, and almost lose, you would have been put into the insane asylum. It was inconceivable that anything would happen to Great Britain, but however it did. What’s happening in the United States, we’re headed the same way, maybe at a different rate but we’re going down the tubes.

Our basic, big problem that most Americans do not appreciate is that we have a moral problem. The big moral problem that we have as American people is that the average American believes that it’s okay for the United States Congress to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. That means to take your money and my money to give to farmers, to bail out banks, to get the poor people, to give foreign aid. All the thousands of federal programs, the average American thinks that is okay. That’s not a part of our history. It’s nowhere authorizing the United States Constitution for Congress to be in the business of taking the money of one person and giving to another. As a matter of fact, if I did the same thing privately, I would be condemned as a thief and in prison because that is nothing more than legalized theft.

I’m not making the argument about taxes. We all should pay our share of the constitutionally-mandated functions of the federal government, but there’s nothing in the constitution that authorizes Congress taking the earnings of one person and giving it to another. I’m not saying that I’m not for helping our fellow men in need. I think helping one’s fellow men in need by reaching into one’s own pockets to do so is praiseworthy and laudable. Helping one’s fellow men in need by reaching into somebody else’s pockets to do so I think is worthy of condemnation. For the Christians among us, when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment saying, “Thou shall not steal,” he probably did not mean thou shall not steal unless you’re going a majority vote in the United States Congress.

I read a quote and I was thinking about it, “Beliefs are a poor substitute for experience.” I look at what you said on the surface, it seems like it is a moral good where people are being taken care of. At the same time, you don’t provide and don’t allow for the actual experience of people to take care of others and be charitable.

The emerging people are the most charitable people on the face of the Earth. That is all these welfare programs did not start until the 1950s or 1960s and maybe a few in the 1930s. We went from a poor nation in 1792 until about 1930s and became the richest nation and the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth without all these programs that people say are necessary. For example, Social Security, people say that is necessary. Social Security system started in 1936. What in the world did we do between 1792 and 1936 to take care of old people? Old people died in the homes of their children. There is something to be said in the Biblical admonition to honor thy mother and father. With
Social Security and all these programs for elderly people, they don’t have to honor their mother and father. They can get somebody else to honor their mother and father through tax code. We have some basic moral problems in our society and I don’t see any cure for them.

If anybody wants to promote wealth and liberty, they should also promote free market economic systems. Click To Tweet

On top of what we’ve been talking about, robbing of experiencing charity, taking, giving and contributing to somebody else’s life for their wellbeing. It also comes down to I would say it’s a drive that we have to overcome adversity. Every movie that is popular out there seems to have a similar theme where somebody overcomes adversity, they overcome a challenge. When you essentially are robbing people from saving for their retirement or robbing people from getting a job and experiencing how to navigate those waters and improve their resume. You’re essentially replacing those experiences with a supplement or a Band-Aid to it. It goes to that saying, “Beliefs are a poor excuse for the actual experience.”

The tragedy cannot be avoided. People tend to think that what we see has always been, and that’s not true. For example, you’re talking about people working. The last time I asked my mother for money, other than in loans for lunches, was when I was twelve years old. I had all kinds of jobs after school and that we live in a Richard Allen housing project, which is part of the slums in North Philadelphia. I did afterschool jobs, shining shoes, shoveling snow with my cousin on the Redding railroad platform and caddying golf courses.

All these work opportunities do not exist now for young people. You’ll never see a thirteen, fourteen-year-old caddying on a golf course. You’ll never see a thirteen, fourteen-year-old kid shoveling snow off train platforms. The railroad workers union does not want to see a kid doing that for $20 when their member can get $200 for doing the same thing. They’re able to use the law to block that opportunity. There are many work opportunities that are gone. The tragedy is that the average person thinks that is always this way. That is the regulations and the behaviors that we see now, the average person thinks, “It’s always been that way.”

I look at my great conversation with my thirteen-year-old and she’s one of the more entrepreneurial, loves always to be active and has wanted to work for so long. She didn’t fathom this idea of a paper route. That’s what I had when I was her age. She has this bug inside of her to work. It’s a process and the experience of doing something and getting remunerated for it. There are lots of tendency for leisure, but it seems that the more we’re progressing as a society, the less fulfilled and happy we are. Do you think it’s because of that dynamic, not being able to have these types of experiences?

I think it’s that and many other things that we just accept. For example, if you look at some of my columns, I give references to it, the behavior of students towards teachers. Students curse out teachers, teachers are assaulted. For example, in the City of Baltimore in 2015, on average, four teachers were assaulted each school day of the year. When I was coming up as a kid, one would not dream of even cursing at a teacher, much less assaulting a teacher. I remember holding my hand out in elementary school for the ruler. I did something wrong and the teacher whacked my hand with a ruler. A teacher doing the same thing now would be fired if not carried off to prison or corporal punishment. People now replace what worked with what sounds good. I remember I got my butt spanked a whole lot. The worst time to get a spanking is in the summertime when the windows are open and when your friends outside can hear you copping a plea. You go outside and they start teasing you. My mother, if she was doing the same thing now, somebody would send Child Protective Services to arrest her.

We could probably spend an hour talking about just accountability and the nature of accountability and how that is essential for growth. Something intrigued me and I know who Hernando de Soto is. I’ve been going through one of his books, The Mystery of Capital. It talks about the infrastructure as an essential piece of establishing capital and having the human mind engage and create the capital, and then exchange with it. I think it’s a byproduct oftentimes of a free market society or laissez-faire capitalistic society. It caused me to think about how the US, the flaws we often give it that there’s such an incredible infrastructure here. It’s made me think through what is the proper role of a government? What is the proper role of establishing these types of fundamental foundational systems of law? Why is it that some countries like the US established that and others don’t?

I think that one of the things that go unappreciated about capitalism is that throughout mankind’s history, the way that people accumulated a vast amount of wealth was through plundering, looting and enslaving their fellow man. With the rise of capitalism, it became possible for people to accumulate great wealth by pleasing or serving their fellow man. Finding out what their fellow man wants or needs, and getting the resources to produce it in the most efficient manner. If you look at wealthy men through history, how did Henry Ford become so wealthy? He produced things that satisfied his fellow men. Bill Gates, how did he become so wealthy? He didn’t rob anybody. He just produced Windows programs that satisfied his fellow men.

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

If you look around at the world, and if you were to rank societies according to whether they’re at the free market and of the economic spectrum or the communism of the political-economic spectrum, rank countries according to personal liberties. You rank countries in terms of capital income, you’d find something that’s not strange at all that the countries that are closest to the free market end of the economic spectrum not only have higher income, but they have greater protection of their liberty. The countries that are towards the communists end of the economic spectrum, those are the people who are the poorest in the world and tend to have the fewest freedoms. If anybody wants to promote wealth and liberty, they should also at the same time promote free-market economic systems.

As we end some of your concluding thoughts, where were you most influenced to believe the way that you believe, think the way that you think? What are some of those pivotal experiences that you had, whether it’s reading a book or meeting somebody or a person of influence that caused you to think in a different way?

Being 84 years old, I’m very happy that I got most of my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people. What I mean by that is that when I got an A grade in a class, it was an honest to God A. When I got a C, it was honest to God C. Nobody is feeling sorry for me. They held me to high standards. They weren’t giving me any breaks because they say, “This is legacy of slavery or discrimination, etc.” They held me up to very high standards. I received my Doctorate in Economics from UCLA and I had some very tenacious professors that didn’t cut me any slack.

When I took the PhD exam, there were sixteen students who took the exam and thirteen flunked. The professors came to me and they say, “Williams, your exam was among the worst, but we think that you can do better.” They gave me reading lists. They gave me this and gave me that. The next time I took the PhD micro exam, I passed it. If I had gone to Harvard or Berkeley, they might have taken into account slavery, discrimination, etc. and given me a break and just pass me anyway. As a result of having gone to UCLA, Harvard or somewhere of these liberal departments, I’m a better economist as a result.

Would you say that there is a correlation between the extremity of the experience and the actual growth? Let’s say as it pertains to an individual. Because of the increased pressure and your ability to rise to that challenge enabled you to learn more, think more, be challenged more and subsequently grow more.

If you look at any sport, football, boxing, basketball. What the coaches talk to these young people playing, they don’t give them any break. They’re not treating them with kid gloves. They’re trying to get the best out of them and that works when people say, “We’re not going to accept any less than the best that you can do.” Fortunately, I had that experience.

Were you born or identify with a level of confidence at an early age, or was it instilled by your parents? Where did that confidence come from, because most people would cave to that and quit, but what allowed you to rise up?

A hard environment allows an individual to dig deep and understand what is possible for themselves. Click To Tweet

My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. My mother raised us. She would always tell us, “If you’re number two, you’ve got to do better. You’re in a society where there’s discrimination, you have to be better.” She wasn’t telling us the message that somebody should feel sorry, somebody should give you a break. It was very high expectations. One time when my mother was told how I was misbehaving in school, she took away all of my privileges until the next report card came out and I had improved my grades. That’s tough. She is very important in my life and she’s responsible for setting me up for success.

As a final question, how have you used that, whether it’s with your daughter or your students over the years? How have you created the environment in order for them to grow the most in your presence?

I owe my students up to high expectations. They have to cut the mustard and nothing less is exempted. My daughter is a little bit different because fathers are a little bit weaker with their daughters as opposed to their sons. I was not as pressing with my daughter. Nonetheless, she turned out to be a very good and very successful person.

Dr. Williams, it’s been incredible. Thank you so much for what you’ve written about, what you stood for so many years. What are the ways in which readers can learn more about you and also purchase some of the books that you’ve written or read some of the articles that you’ve published?

There’s a lot of material that I’ve done and it’s on my website, it’s WalterEWilliams.com. Also, there’s a video made based on my autobiography that I wrote and it’s called Suffer No Fools. That’s a one-hour video and that’s available at my website as well.

Dr. Williams, thank you so much and I appreciate the time. This has been a great conversation.

Thank you for inviting me.

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

Principles Of Human Progress: Having an environment in which you’re able to be persistent should be an opportunity to celebrate as opposed to be afraid of.

 

Take care.

I’m going to get into expanding on a few of the things I talked about pre-interview. I hope you liked Walter Williams. If you haven’t heard him speak, he’s one of those guys where you listened to him, you experience him and you immediately know there is a lot of wisdom and experiences over the years that have caused him to reflect and solidify his view of the world. It’s because of the environment he was in, in which he was able to be nurtured and grow. I found it interesting the first response to the question I proposed, which is, “How would you describe your primary driving principles?” If you boiled everything down to all of the things that he’s experienced, read, teaching students, human progress. It was hard work.

I’m not sure if it’s hard work, meaning the time. I think it’s more of the intensity around the work and the persistence, that dynamic as it relates to work. The reason why I say that I’ve talked about the notion of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is the idea of entropy. Where when something dies without an environment, it stays the same. With the environment, it determines what it becomes. That goes to the First Law of Thermodynamics, which in large part is that energy can’t be created or destroyed, it essentially transforms. I found it interesting where the environment, the example I used that I heard from Blair Singer was if a tree falls in the forest, it dies. If it stays in the forest, it essentially becomes part of the forest. It decomposes and it becomes food for the other trees and plants.

If a tree falls in a different environment, like when it falls in the swamp, there’s way more pressure than if it fell in the forest. That pressure turns it into something different. The higher degree of pressure in that environment allows for it to become coal and then eventually a diamond. You have one outcome based on an input. Here’s the input of a dead tree. This is the outcome. The environment is what determines that. I think it was interesting because when there’s an environment of pressure, I believe human beings will often rise to the challenge or quit, but if they do rise to the challenge, what they become in the process is incredible.

Having an environment in which you’re able to be persistent, especially as it pertains to an entrepreneur, looking at how difficult something is should be an opportunity to celebrate as opposed to being afraid of. That goes to what I’ve been learning a lot about psychology. Not from a formalized standpoint, but psychology in Tony Robbins’ definition. That psychology is defined as the way in which we create meaning of something. I think psychology as it relates to who we are, in large part, has to do with the environment that we’re either in or have been in.

I think in those environments are often not chosen. That’s where I’m going to speak to. How can you choose your environments and that dynamic versus not choosing an environment and ultimately have it chosen for you? You look at one of the episodes with Andy Tanner talking about this idea of free speech in a difficult environment, which students want to be protected from emotional harm. I think that protection about emotional harm is the greatest harm itself because it enables this crowd effect. Essentially the psychology and perspective are determined by the group and the crowd, not necessarily by the individual. A hard environment allows an individual to dig deep and understand what is possible for themselves.

I believe that as you choose your environments and the higher the pressure is, the more you’re going to grow and the more you’re going to become. This is where it comes down to, why won’t a person choose those difficult environments? I think it boils down to the principle of fear. I look at fear and it’s interesting because what people are afraid of all boils down to the very same thing, which is a feeling of being discarded, a feeling of being worthless, insignificant, not smart, not loved. That fear is often a defense mechanism. It initiates by being judged. I heard a cool definition of judgment that has caused me to reflect on that. The quote is that, “Judgment is a mask that comes from the fear of being vulnerable.” The fear of being vulnerable is that people will see your weaknesses and then not value you, discard, discount you and ultimately not like you, love you or appreciate you. People have this fear of that, which is incredible.

People today replace what works with what sounds good. Click To Tweet

In the end, if you understand those fundamentals, you’re going to realize that it isn’t your problem that someone’s judging you. It’s the person who’s judging’s problem. It’s their fears that are causing them to act that way. The more you understand about yourself and who you are and the meaning that comes from the circumstances of your life, the better you’re going to be able to put yourself in challenging environments in order to grow the most. That’s what I’ve been thinking a lot of and it helped me because I look at how much noise that’s out there in our world. It’s difficult to concentrate and to focus. I believe that within that noise, our chords, there’s this harmonious formula in which we have a better experience of life, but also become successful, which is a part of that fulfilling experience of life.

I’m not sure what each note is of those chords because we all know what noise sounds like. My kids play instruments but going to elementary school orchestra concerts, that’s noise. You’d probably rather listen to something else. I look at then going to a symphony or an orchestra that’s very well-trained professionals. It’s one of the most gratifying experiences. The same instruments, same music but completely different experience because of all of that noise come together in a harmonious way. I think there’s a formula in essence for success, a formula for growth, a formula for fulfillment. I don’t 100% understand it, but that’s what I’m thinking about and seeking. Not just for me, but also for you because I believe human beings are after very similar things. They are after the way something feels. They’re after whatever environment, dynamic or thing gives that sense, emotion and that feeling. I believe that we make it hard to do, which is also funny.

I enjoyed Walter Williams. It caused me to reflect because here’s a guy that has nothing to lose. He’s already made his legacy. He’s written some incredible books. He’s also taught thousands of students and made a difference. He’s at the latter part of his life, and for him to answer the way that he answered the first question was interesting and fascinating. I can see how it led to the success that he had in his industry. I think facing the environment that he was in. He’s an African-American and he is basically cutting against the grain of the liberal agenda, which is often the stereotype of that racial segment of society.

I also look at his views on economics and politics, which is also extremely against the grain. It’s free markets for capitalism. That puts him in a very interesting environment in which he’s probably thought deeply about the important things of life. This is the way in which he decided to answer those questions, which I think should tell us something. I hope you guys learned something from this episode. I’ve got a couple of cool episodes coming down the pipe before we wrap up the season. I hope you’re getting a lot from the show and it’s helping you to be even more successful than you already are. I’ll talk to you next time.

Important Links:

About Dr. Walter E. Williams

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human ProgressBorn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Walter E. Williams holds a B.A. in economics from California State University, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from UCLA. He also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Union University and Grove City College, Doctor of Laws from Washington and Jefferson College and Doctor Honoris Causa en Ciencias Sociales from Universidad Francisco Marroquin, in Guatemala, where he is also Professor Honorario.

Dr. Williams has served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, since 1980; from 1995 to 2001, he served as department chairman. He has also served on the faculties of Los Angeles City College, California State University Los Angeles, and Temple University in Philadelphia, and Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.

Dr. Williams is the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader’s Digest, Cato Journal, and Policy Review. He has authored ten books: America: A Minority Viewpoint, The State Against Blacks, which was later made into the PBS documentary “Good Intentions,” All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa’s War Against Capitalism, which was later revised for South African publication, Do the Right Thing: The People’s Economist Speaks, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty vs. the Tyranny of Socialism, Up From The Projects: An Autobiography, Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed On Discrimination? and American Contempt for Liberty.

He has made scores of radio and television appearances which include “Nightline,” “Firing Line,” “Face the Nation,” Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose,” “Crossfire,” “MacNeil/Lehrer,” “Wall Street Week” and was a regular commentator for “Nightly Business Report.” He is also occasional substitute host for the “Rush Limbaugh” show. In addition Dr. Williams writes a nationally syndicated weekly column that is carried by approximately 140 newspapers and several web sites. His most recent documentary is “Suffer No Fools,” shown on PBS stations Fall/Spring 2014/2015, based on Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.

Dr. Williams serves as Emeritus Trustee at Grove City College and the Reason Foundation. He serves as Director for the Chase Foundation and Americans for Prosperity. He also serves on numerous advisory boards including Cato Institute, Landmark Legal Foundation, Institute of Economic Affairs, and Heritage Foundation. Dr. Williams serves as Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Dr. Williams has received numerous fellowships and awards including: the 2017 Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foudation, the Fund for American Studies David Jones Lifetime Achievement Award, Foundation for Economic Education Adam Smith Award, Hoover Institution National Fellow, Ford Foundation Fellow, Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor, Veterans of Foreign Wars U.S. News Media Award, Adam Smith Award, California State University Distinguished Alumnus Award, George Mason University Faculty Member of the Year, and Alpha Kappa Psi Award.

Dr. Williams has participated in numerous debates, conferences and lectures in the United States and abroad. He has frequently given expert testimony before Congressional committees on public policy issues ranging from labor policy to taxation and spending. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, and the American Economic Association.

 

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A Conversation Around Politics, Entrepreneurship, And The Dynamics Of Capitalism with Peter Wehner

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

 

Capitalism is the greatest economic system in human history because it’s lifted more people out of poverty than any system in human history and allowed for the conditions for great human flourishing and great technological advancements. This is according to Peter Wehner, a New York Times contributing Op-Ed writer covering American politics and conservative thought and a popular media commentator on politics. Wehner is also a veteran of three White House administrations and author of the books Wealth and Justice, The Morality of Democratic Capitalism, and The Death of Politics. In this episode, he dives into the aspects and dynamics of capitalism.

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A Conversation Around Politics, Entrepreneurship, And The Dynamics Of Capitalism with Peter Wehner

My guest is incredible. Probably the best top three interviews I’ve had. We are talking about entrepreneurship, but we also weave in capitalism. We talk about a lot of what the theme was in 2018, life, liberty and property. It was awesome to talk to this individual. He is super intelligent and very distinguished. Peter Wehner is my guest and he is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He also is a contributing editor at the Atlantic Magazine. He is also a contributing columnist for the New York Times. He is the former Director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush. He has authored a few books, Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism and The Death of Politics. Welcome, Peter. It is amazing to have you on. I’m excited about this conversation and to talk to you about your book as well as some of the things that you’ve been preaching.

Thanks for having me on. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

I talked to you a little bit about what we’ve been doing, which is focusing on the topics that include life, liberty, property from some of John Locke’s writings. As well as what capitalism is, entrepreneurship, and the framework where most people want to be a part of. Not necessarily just in the US but around the world. I look at what you’ve written about and understood it for quite some time studying and looking at where our society is and what has made us successful versus other nations perhaps. How have you come to understand capitalism in general and the aspects and dynamics of capitalism?

My belief is that capitalism is the greatest economic system in human history because it has lifted more people out of poverty than any system in human history and allowed for the conditions for great human flourishing and great technological advancements. Capitalism unmitigated and unrestrained has some problems. Part of what democracies and free societies have to do is to soften some of the rougher edges of that. That’s a prudential judgment. What does that mean? What programs have to be done to do that? You have to weigh the costs and benefits in terms of the effects on economic growth and all the rest.

It’s my belief that capitalism works because it’s most consistent with human nature. I’m a big believer in the idea that you have to confirm your economic and political systems to certain realities about human nature. I think capitalism accords to that and aligns with that. It understands as Adam Smith talked about what selfishness rightly understood is. You have to take into account what drives and motivates people that you can’t believe simply altruism, even though altruism is a part of human life and human experience. People act in ways that advance their self-interest rightly understood. You have to create certain incentives that will lead human beings to act in the ways that are both expected of them but also advances the common good.

I think the American understanding of capitalism, by and large, is the right one. Limited government entrepreneurship, free markets, skepticism about the ability of the centralized government to dictate decisions and believe that it has the capacity to anticipate and direct all aspects of human life. It has improved and right. There’s an epistemological modesty that capitalism understands, which is that you can’t get a small group of very bright people who can run economies. The way that economies work best is letting people by and large to be free to act in ways that want to act.

Let me go into two things that you had said because I find this interesting. It sounds like there’s this altruistic pull of human beings to be charitable to help others, to contribute, give back. There’s also this invisible hand, maybe more self-interested. It seems like those two things are pulling against each other. Are they mutually exclusive or is it may be a mischaracterization of those two concepts?

I don’t think of them as mutually exclusive. I think that they can be complementary. They’re distinct and they’re part of human nature. Think about your own life, the lives of your friends and your family, you probably see both of those elements in them. There are times in which you see altruism, self-sacrifice, selflessness, acts of charity, sympathy and compassion. Those things are real and they exist. They should be encouraged where they can. On the other hand, all of us act in our self-interest as well. That’s the way we’re designed. That’s the way that we operate. Most of life is acting in our self-interest provided that it doesn’t run over the rights of other people, and none of us are completely selfless, self-giving, completely compassionate and completely sympathetic. You have to take that into account.

The way that economies work best is by letting people be free to act in ways that they want to act. Click To Tweet

That’s not a bad thing as long as it’s channeled in the right way. The trick here is to try and take those human realities and direct them in a way that advances the common good. The founders understood this. Their view of human nature was correct, which is that people are capable of virtue and nobility but also acts of recklessness, irresponsibility and evil. You have to take both of those things into account. My own sense, I’m a person of the Christian faith. The Christian understanding of human nature is essentially correct. It’s that too, which is the advice and virtue are intermingled in people’s lives and in people’s hearts. It’s a complicated mix. People in different seasons in life lean in more of one direction than another. The challenge in individual lives, as well as a society, is to try and emphasize, give force and power to the higher things and to mitigate the lower things.

I do want to hit on a few of the things you said. Go to this idea of central powers dictating what people should do or taking care of them is the banner sometimes in which central governances is looked to as a virtue. What is it about that structure that people don’t end up liking? The ideal side of things that they push through or talk about sometimes is intriguing. I see why they would appeal to people, but when it comes down to it, why do people kick against that? Why does that impede human progress or does it?

Let’s take facts and circumstances. Sometimes when the centralized government, the national government who’s acted is advanced, great good, and sometimes, often it’s done the opposite. I’m somebody who believes in limited government and is wary of centralized government. I’m a lifelong conservative. That’s what’s shaped my beliefs in part because the way I understand conservatism is that it’s based very much on the human experience. It’s a negation of ideology, Russell Kirk and others have said. You have to take into account what works for the human condition. I’d say that there are several reasons for it in terms of why one is skeptical with centralized power. One is simply on the efficacy standpoint. Peter Schuck wrote a book about why government fails. He refers to himself in the book as a militant moderate.

He’s not an ideological person, but he’s an empirical look at what it is about a large government that doesn’t work very often, that fails where the efficiency is not what it ought to be. Anybody who’s worked there, if they’re honest, would concede that fact. How often these grand promises and hopes that are sincere and don’t translate into reality. I think you could look at much of the great society and see that. Even programs which have done some good but have also are themselves extremely inefficient like Medicare and Medicaid. I wouldn’t argue that no good comes out of them. I don’t think that’s sustainable, but those programs are not nearly as efficient as they could be.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

Dynamics Of Capitalism: Most of life is acting in our self-interest provided that it doesn’t run over the rights of other people.

 

I’d say the inefficiency and lack of efficacy for centralized government is something that we need to be alert to. There’s the concern that the founders themselves had and many others who had, which is when you centralize power, there’s the danger of authoritarianism and even totalitarianism. That as the old maximum goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts. We’ve seen time after time that when people get a tremendous amount of power, when it’s unchecked and it’s on challenged, that can lead to some very bad conditions and situations. That was the worry of the founders. That’s the reason that they set up our system of government of checks, balances, and separation of powers because what they wanted was not an efficient government. They wanted a government that protected against tyranny.

I think that’s a second reason that people need to be wary about centralized government. The third reason is that if you go back and you read Adam Smith in a certain way and probably more specifically this idea about which is that there’s this mythology among Progressives, which is that if you get a group of wise men, wise women, they can oversee, conduct, and determine how human society can act and all realms that simply isn’t possible. They can’t do it. There are so many imponderables in lives, so many contingencies in life that the idea that a centralized state or a group of individuals would be able to make those judgments. I just don’t think works.

The fourth thing I’d say is George Will, a marvelous book that he wrote called The Conservative Sensibility writes about the American founding. He says, “That’s essentially what conservative’s need to conserve.” which is the idea of inalienable rights. Natural rights, rights that precede government. His argument and I think it’s a valid point that government, if it gets too large, too centralized, can undermine those natural rights. He makes the case in a pretty persuasive way that the belief in natural rights would tend to lead one toward a more limited government.

Let’s go to your book because you look at the idea of capitalism and just the word itself formulates a specific reaction in people as far as my experience is concerned. It’s not necessarily based on logic and thought through education debate where a person comes to an understanding. It’s more based on what has been heard. What society believes about that word? Talk about your best-selling book, Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism and weave that into the conversation. Talking about how that can essentially be a message that will hit on the principles that make capitalism good for society as opposed to what most people react to, which is that it exploits people and takes advantage of people. It’s all about the wealthy and them getting their own.

People are capable of virtue and nobility, but also acts of recklessness, irresponsibility, and evil. Click To Tweet

I coauthor it. It’s a monograph of the American Enterprise Institute with Arthur Brooks, who was for many years President of an American Enterprise Institute. He left to take a professorship at Harvard. Arthur is very good in a very sober and thoughtful voice on this thing. We wrote this book and the situation is more acute than it was when we wrote it. One of our concerns was Americans in general and particularly young Americans were losing faith in capitalism as a system. We see that in polls, and you’re probably more familiar with them than I am. The support for socialism is higher than at any time in my lifetime, probably higher than at any point since the early part of the twentieth century.

You see this in contemporary politics with the Democratic Party who are two of the hottest political figures in democratic politics, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They’re both self-proclaimed democratic socialists. If you watch the democratic debates, you see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren essentially taking an anti-private enterprise stance. There’s almost a reflexive hostility to anything having to do with capitalism or corporations. It doesn’t mean that those certain corporations don’t deserve criticism, but it’s a reflex. You’ve seen this rise in respect and to some of the enthusiasm for socialism and the decline in competence and capitalism. That’s a problem. Some of that is undoubtedly a result of the great in 2008. I think that the income gap between the most wealthy and the rest of the society probably had more of an effect on the general public than a lot of people on the right thought that it would.

It seems to have permeated society and the belief that the very rich are making out like bandits, the rest of us are not and so much of the gains in wealth, money from the market, that has happened. We’ve had wage stagnation from pretty much the entire part of the 21st century. Wages had been much flatter and it’s a complicated set of reasons for why that’s happened. I wouldn’t blame that on any single president. Certain deep trends are in play here, which I’m guessing you’ve covered. There seems to be a lack of faith in capitalism. That’s given rise to populism, which I’m wary about as a conservative. I think populism can often be antithetical to capitalism and it can be antithetical to reason itself.

I think it first goes to reason because I would say there’s less reason. It may be the delusion of information that’s all around us and individuals who can’t fit anything else into their head. Therefore they take the efficient approach and leverage the belief system of someone they feel is like them. It’s interesting to see how society has been wired to think a certain way and it’s not necessarily the beliefs associated with reason, debate and personal individual understanding. Its group thinking dictated by very persuasive people like your AOC and Bernie Sanders.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

Dynamics Of Capitalism: It’s important for the defenders of capitalism and free-market to make those arguments and not to be dismissive toward the critics.

 

I think that’s right. There’s a rage at the system, the establishment of healing. It’s almost a quasi-nihilism. You see this toward capitalism and the politics in general, which is this idea that we have to burn down the village to save it. Things couldn’t be worse. Let’s just toss the whole thing aside. That’s what explains in part of the rise of Donald Trump. I’ve been a very strong and persistent critic of Donald Trump in large part on conservative grounds. What he tapped into is a sense that people wanted a wrecking ball to come in and shatter things. That’s deeply anti-conservative impulse, but he tapped into it effectively.

I’ve told friends of mine who were pro-capitalism and pro-free-market as I am. It is important to do a study or set of studies to understand what happened. What explains the loss of faith in capitalism, the rise in affinity for socialism. Both attitudes and specific episodes and incidents that explain it to understand in a thoughtful way what is driving it. What are the attitudes? What is associated with free-market and capitalism and to think through how do we tell the story? What’s the narrative? What’s the tale we have to tell to remind people why capitalism is a system that has brought so much human flourishing and then so much to encourage human dignity?

I think it was Orwell who said that the first duty of a responsible man is a restatement of the obvious. Sometimes you have to restate what’s obvious or what you thought was obvious. I’ve noticed this in life, in politics, and in economics and all sorts of realms, which is sometimes people forget to make the arguments in some fundamental way. Why is it that we believe what we believe? That’s understandable. You think that certain victories are one, that arguments are settled and you just act on that assumption. Sometimes without quite realizing it, the floor breaks and all of a sudden, that confidence that people had or that understanding those shared assumptions are gone.

I think when it comes to capitalism, it’s quite important for people who are defenders of capitalism and free-market to make those arguments. Not to be dismissive toward the critics, not to laugh at them, not to say these ideas are stupid. Therefore, it shouldn’t be repudiated. Don’t even engage in name-calling, just say socialist and hope that is enough. We have to do more fundamental work to make the case again, and in a sense to win the hearts of ordinary Americans. To explain to them why capitalism is an economic system worthy of their loyalty.

No matter how strong your argument is, it's never as strong as you think it is. Click To Tweet

Let me use some way to abstract of an example as you may use to. There is a documentary that I saw called Behind The Curve. It was essentially about this millions of people that came together stating that the world is flat. That documentary was done by a non-flat-earther. It was interesting because he took this approach and it’s a very irrational thought, but yet millions of people were gravitating toward this. It was all driven by this emotional desire that they have to fit in within a group. Usually, a group of people that don’t believe what everybody else believes. What’s fascinating to the point you just made is the individual who was doing the documentary, they interviewed astrophysicists. They were saying, “Do you know that there’s this group out there, millions of people that believe the earth is flat?”

It’s fascinating because it takes you through this psychological urge of what I think you’re speaking to because the astrophysicists in the end said that, “These people don’t know what we know, so we can’t assume that they do and make an argument from that standpoint.” You have to meet them where they’re at and why they’ve come to that conclusion. If you start to make them wrong or make them feel stupid, it’s just going to strengthen their argument. That fits within the confines of what you’ve been talking about.

That’s a very interesting observation. I’m intrigued. I like to see that documentary. That whole area does fascinate me, I must say. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the work of Jonathan Haidt, who is a marvelous moral psychologist. He used to be at the University of Virginia. He’s now at NYU. He wrote a book called The Righteous Mind. He spends a lot of time with a group called Heterodoxy, which is an effort to defend free speech on campuses against speech codes and so forth. Jonathan himself has been on an interesting journey and interesting pilgrimage. He started out as a traditional person who laughed at Progressive and is much more of a centrist. In part because of what his research has taught him. I’ve learned a lot. He’s a very intelligent, thoughtful guy and a very good guy as well.

His work on confirmation bias and motivated reasoning is outstanding. I’ve learned a lot from it and it goes to the point that you’re making. I think a lot of us believe that the positions others hold and that we hold are derived through some disinterested analysis of the facts, reasoning, and that reasoning has brought us to what we believe, free of emotion and all the rest. What we know about brain science and human nature, the more we’re looking into these things. It is so much of what we believe is a product of transrational or subrational forces. We have dispositions, tropisms, and predilections were products of our families of origin, our life experience, the people we’re around, and the communities we’re a part of.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

Dynamics Of Capitalism: There is a chance to get some deeper understanding when people feel safe and when they feel heard.

 

That sense of fitting in with communities is extremely strong. We know from brain science that when you get information that confirms what you already believe, it’s a dopamine effect or rush. On the flip side, when there’s information that challenges certain basic assumptions, your brain puts up often a shield to block those things out. It’s genuinely uncomfortable for people to hear information that challenges them. I’d say in my own life, politics and just human relationships, that’s one area where I’ve changed. In the past when I would have differences with people, I would often write long emails, fact base, point-by-point. People who know me would think I was built to respond to some of these issues in terms of debating. Empirical evidence, premise facts to support it, conclusion.

What I’ve discovered is no matter how strong your argument is and it’s never as strong as you think it is. Let’s just assume for the sake of argument. You and I were having a debate. The case I presented against you was overwhelming by any objective standard. The odds are not only that, you wouldn’t change your position if I overwhelmed your case. You would probably, as you were indicating, dig your heels and more. It’s quite rare to shift people. I’ve seen this in theology, in the world of Christianity, in the world of politics and all sorts of world. Where there is a chance to get some deeper understanding is when people feel safe, when they feel heard. When they believe that you know their arguments and at least can state them and understand them even if you disagree with them. If there are a human connection and a human relationship, if you have in a sense standing in somebody else’s life and that will allow them to let you in and to make their case, and vice versa.

Alan Jacobs, who is a professor at Baylor used to be at Wheaton, wrote a book called How to Think. He refers to a foundation that when they conduct debates, the first thing that they require is that the people are debating. Person A states the position of person B in such a fair-minded way that person B believes that it is a fair restatement of their views and vice versa. That is the precondition before the debate goes on. If that thing happened more often, we’d get a lot further along. We know this from the social science evidence. We are as polarized as we have been since reconstruction. It’s a deeply polarized society and when that happens, people tend to go into their own camps and they shut off people who have alternative views. I think that’s happening in all realms, including in the realm that we’re talking about free-market and capitalism. That goes to the larger discussions we’re having, which is how do you make the case in a way that the people who could conceivably be open to an alternative case are.

You’re hitting on everything that has been going through my mind. What you said was brilliant. That’s where I look at just my experience and what I was trying to get to with the whole idea of central governance. People don’t like to be told what to do. There’s this fighting response to it that I think goes into what you were referring to as our unconscious or what’s built into our wiring. That right there includes a lot of when we had to survive where we don’t necessarily have to survive anymore, but yet those instincts are still there. When a person feels attacked, I would assume that it’s very similar to being attacked by the sabertooth tiger or some animal.

Human life and experience is about learning things and recalibrating new facts and conditions that arise and trying to adjust accordingly. Click To Tweet

That’s where I look at AOC and I look at Donald Trump in a way, especially where in a sense they understand psychology. They’re using what people will respond to as talking points and statements. People fall prey to it all the time. I look at the psychology side of things and going to where economics is and usually, the argument for capitalism tends to be rational thinking. I look at how human beings are wired. The majority of it’s emotional. That’s where I look at the values and principles approach has something that intrigues me as opposed to labels like capitalism, Democrats, Progressives or Liberals. It’s looking at principle as opposed to labels because the labels immediately there put you in that camp or excludes you. If you’re in the camp, you’re going to believe what the camp believes and if you’re excluded, you’re not going to believe it.

Labels exist for a reason because they label something. They identify world views, but I think that the labels by and large are probably counterproductive. Once the labels are cast out, then you’re putting people in categories, they’re putting you in categories. It becomes awfully neat, tidy and untrue. It doesn’t allow for flexibility and nuance, which is what human life and experience are about. You learn things, you refine your thinking, you recalibrate, new facts, new conditions arise and you try and adjust accordingly. If you’re in these ideological boxes, it’s very hard.

I’ve had these conversations with Trump supporters because I’m a lifelong conservative and I worked in three Republican administrations and in a Republican White House. I have a lot of friends who are Republicans. I’ve been so critical of Trump. They’re puzzled or upset by it. I’ve had a lot of conversations, many of them good. Sometimes it takes an effort to make sure that the relations don’t fray. It’s been helpful for me because I’ve been able to hear their perspective and understand where they’re coming from. I must say that there are times in which one makes an empirical claim as it relates to Donald Trump that is a criticism of him. Let’s say something about that he has lied and there’s demonstrable evidence that it’s a lie. It’s been fascinating to me how it just doesn’t breakthrough.

It is as if they think that that’s the thread and the whole thing can come apart. If they can see one thing that the whole project comes apart. I’ve experienced this throughout my life in politics, particularly when you’re in the White House. Many of the issues that you confront are complicated issues. They’re very intelligent people arguing different policies and different points of view. Often the decisions are 60/40 or 65/35. It’s not 100% arguments on one side and 0% on the other. That’s part of what discretion, judgment, prudence and wisdom is in governing. It’s the ability to hear these arguments which sound potentially equally persuasive thinking through we choose the one that is most appropriate given the circumstances we’re in. What are the contingencies that we have to anticipate but are unknowable? If you’re deciding a set of policies that you want to roll out, what’s achievable politically and not? What’s the composition of Congress? You might want to push some elements of privatization of Social Security, which you could believe is the right thing to do, but maybe it’s not achievable.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump

Maybe you have to do something ahead of that. These are all very complicated issues to take into account. Often they are choosing one set of policies over and against another one or 60/40, but then when you get into the actual discussion, those differences disappear and that weighing of pros and cons disappears. It’s as if all the arguments are on one side and not on the other. Once you settled on a position, there seems to be some reflex that we have that says, “I can’t concede a single point to the other side because if I do it, I weaken my case and I can’t possibly weaken my case.” You have people shouting, talking points at each other, talking past each other, and refusing to engage each other and saying, “That’s a valid point. I think you’re right. I just think that the other arguments on my side outweigh the good point that you’re making.” It’s all very complicated and very challenging stuff, but I think in part explains why our politics is as broken as it is.

For the readers, I love having these conversations. Hopefully, this is valuable to you. Some of the things you’re saying, it comes down to this relation to human connection. I think all people want to connect. They want to have a relationship. At the same time, there’s this instinctive protection that they have where they want to look bad. They don’t want to be wrong because what that does is it invalidates their identity to an extent, but when you break down those walls, it’s amazing what can happen. People, either value is a value or a principle is a principle or it’s not. Most people would concede to capitalistic principles if it wasn’t labeled capitalistic principles. These are principles of life in a sense. I’ll end with this and I’ll let you have the final word. There’s something I’ve thought about, which was interesting to me.

I have little kids, two teenagers and a five-year-old. We went to the Disney Aulani Resort on Oahu. When I was there, there’s this central pool section. There were these two guys that had these big earrings, big guys with these tattoos on their arms, hardcore guys. I was able to have a conversation with them. They were there with their kids. We were in this environment in which the walls were broken down and you can have that connection, yet if I went to their neighborhood and was walking down the street at night, the environment changes, walls are up and the outcome is not going to be the same. Human beings are wired in a certain way and we want certain things. They’re very similar yet because of these walls that come up and are reinforced, it’s difficult to have the connection that’s needed in order to make even more progress.

That’s a very interesting story and I think it touches on these deeper truths that we’re talking about. An awful lot of this is what you described, which is a sense of identity. That’s basic to human beings, feeling of belonging, and feeling of community. It’s pretty rare to find people who will take stands that will put them at odds with the community that’s most important to them. That explains a lot of the political tribalism, but we’ve got to find a way to try and break down these walls you’re describing. There’s some lovely verse in the New Testament about breaking down the dividing walls that exist between people. When those walls are up, it usually means that life is going to be harsher, less sympathy, more anger, more antipathy. People begin to view other folks not as individuals that you disagree with, but as enemies at the state, enemies of your cause.

We need other people with other experiences to help us see and to understand. Click To Tweet

What can quickly kick in is the dehumanization, which is if you see things differently than I am. It’s not because you’ve analyzed things wrongly and you made an intellectual error, but you’re morally defective. There must be something wrong with you. If you don’t see things the same way I do, then you don’t value the same things that I do. In fact, you’re a threat to them. We see that in contemporary politics. We know from the data that the attitudes that Republicans, Democrats, Progressives and Conservatives have toward each other. It’s much more personal than ever before. There’s a feeling that these are not just differences of policy, but they are character flaws and faults. If you feel like you’re being attacked on that fundamental level, you’re an alien, a malicious force, a malignant force, that you want to hurt me and you want to hurt everything that I know and love. When that happens, a lot of bad stuff kicks in and we’ve got to break through that. We have to deepen the understanding and sympathy that we have for one another.

In the book that I wrote, The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump. I tell a story in one of the chapters about CS Lewis and Owen Barfield. CS Lewis was a great medievalist and scholar in England. He was probably the most important Christian apologist of the twentieth century. He started a literary group in England in the 1930s. He and JRR Tolkien were the mainstays of that, but there was a person named Owen Barfield who was a British philosopher and poet and somebody that Lewis knew for many years. Lewis in his book Surprised by Joy describes what he refers to as first friends and second friends. For him, it was a person named Arthur Greeves, somebody who knew since his childhood. He said, “First friends are the individuals that when you start the sentence, they’re able to complete it. They’re your alter ego. They see the world largely the same way that you do process it the same way.” We all need that. That’s part of what human community, human attachment, human relationships bring to us. Lewis described what he referred to as a second friend and that was on Barfield. He said, “The second friend is the person who’s not your alter ego, but your anti-self.”

That’s the person who describes who reads all the same books you do and draws all the wrong conclusions from those books. He has a section where he talks about these debates that he had with Barfield and they were pretty intense. They were esoteric debates, but they were about the role of imagination and reason. Lewis says that he and Barfield would go at it hammer and tong late into the night learning the power of each other’s punches almost unconsciously beginning to absorb what the other person was saying. Out of this dog fight, a community of affection grew. The punch line was that Lewis and Barfield both treasured their relationship precisely because they took all the world somewhat differently than the other. They felt that their aperture of understanding was grayer because they had each other in their life.

Barfield later said that, “When Lewis and I debated, we didn’t debate for victory, we debated for truth.” That’s just an entirely different way of approaching dialogue and conversation, which is, “Do you have something to say where I can learn?” “Can I come out of this conversation knowing something that I didn’t before? Knowing something about you, something about the nature of the world, something about the experience that helps me see things better than I would have?” That goes back to what we were talking about, which is epistemological modesty. Even if in some abstract sense you or I were 100% correct in our understanding of a particular issue, there’s still no way that we could know the full truth and reality of things on any number of issues. That’s not within our capacity. That’s why we need other people with other experiences to help us see and to understand. If we were able to take that to heart and to incorporate it in our lives and embrace it, a lot of things in life would be better than they are.

I’ll say something to that. There’s a concept and idea that I love to use, which is three sides of a coin. Most people look at coins with two sides. There’s the edge, which is the third side. The concept is heads is one opinion, tales is another opinion, but then your opinion should sit on the edge where you should evaluate. Where are the arguments? Where the perspectives are coming from and then rationally come up with your own. I tried to look at that because you’re hitting the nail on the head with a lot of stuff we’ve talked about when it comes to perspective, what truth is, how people come to truths, and then how people change and essentially go from one side of the spectrum to another. Everything you’re hitting on is fascinating. I’d love for our audience to learn about you. Would you mind talking about your book and where they can pick that up? Also, how they can follow you. I know you are contributing to The Atlantic as well as The New York Times. Maybe talk about those outlets so that the audience can follow you.

The book that I just wrote, which was published by Harper Collins is called The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump. It’s an account of my life in politics. What I’ve learned, why I believe politics is important. I think it’s a low moment and a dangerous moment, but I make the case that we need to do something about it because justice matters, and politics, it’s about a lot of things. It’s got its dark undersides as all professions do. It’s finally and fundamentally about justice. The book I wrote in less than a year, but it’s the product of a lifetime in politics. People can get that on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any of the other outlets. I’m a contributing editor for The Atlantic Magazine. I’m a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. I’m a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. People can follow my work there. I’m on Twitter @Peter_Wehner. I write about all sorts of issues. I’ve written about capitalism, politics, faith and friendship, and then from time-to-time, I interview people for The Atlantic. I did a couple of interviews with David Brooks on his book, The Second Mountain, and then with George Will and his book, The Conservative Sensibility. For me, it’s a lovely way to earn a living, which is for me to write, think, talk to intelligent people, and try and learn along the way.

Peter, it’s been such a joy to speak with you. This has been an awesome conversation for me and I’m hoping readers got as much out of it. Thank you again for your time. Thank you for the good that you’re doing. We’ll have to connect in the future sometime.

I’d like to do it. I enjoyed the conversation a lot. Thanks. Take care.

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About Peter Wehner

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of CapitalismPeter Wehner is the author of The Death of Politics. He is a New York Times contributing Op-Ed writer covering American politics and conservative thought and a popular media commentator on politics.

Wehner is also a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and veteran of three White House administrations.

 

 

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Entrepreneurship: The Season 2 Kickoff

TWS 1 | Individuals In Nature

 

Pulling metaphors from The Matrix to the life we have now, we can see the parallels of how we have been built into systems that ultimately stop us from seeing the opportunities beyond. As the second season kicks off, Patrick introduces us to a new topic we’ll sink our teeth into. We depart from capitalism towards entrepreneurship – specifically the entrepreneur and intrapreneur and the difference between the two. Prepare yourself for a new season that will question your assumptions on life, career, finances, and investments.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Entrepreneurship: The Season 2 Kickoff

“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. When you’re inside, you look around. What do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters, the very minds of the people we are trying to save. Until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand most of these people are not ready to be unplugged, and many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. The Matrix is the world that had been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.”

I’ve always loved the parallel of our experience of life to the movie, The Matrix. As you and I begin a new season together, our focus is on a topic that is individual in nature. You’re going to question your assumptions about your life, your career, your finances and your investments. If you’ve read the previous four seasons, I believe you’re ready. It’s funny I used a Matrix quote in the book that I released. One of the editors actually made a note in their copy not understanding the reference associated with the red pill and the blue pill. That brings me to my next point. If you haven’t seen The Matrix, go see it because it’s a pretty cool movie. It’s definitely applicable to what we’re going to cover this season.

Our system of education from elementary school to middle school to college specifically, and how that creates this system of expectations when it comes to what we’re supposed to do after that, which is go to grad school or get a job and pursue a career. That career with its benefits, the desire to stop working and contributing one day, hoping that the financial markets and the 401(k) retirement plans will make us millions and be our retirement savior is this system that we are experiencing daily. Is that what you really want? Is that system giving you the fulfillment, joy and excitement that is possible? The Wall Street Journal had a piece about those who retire before the age of 62. I think it’s as applicable to those that retire after 62 or 65, but it made reference to the decline in longevity. Dying sooner than expected, having to do with the symptoms associated with unplugging from the opportunity to contribute and to provide value to others. Hopefully, you have gathered over the last few years and for those of you who have read the book, that I truly believe that whatever suppresses the human spirit to continually grow and expand through experience is one of the greatest thefts in history.

Uncertainty is one of those human needs that we all crave. Click To Tweet

On the other side of this system, that wall that prevents us from seeing what’s possible is literally infinite possibilities to give our life a constantly renewing sense of purpose from what we discover about ourselves and what we individually can bring in value to others, how that makes us feel, the financial remuneration that it gives us. That from what I’ve experienced, that red, is what makes us feel alive. This season we are shifting from the ideal environment of growth, which is capitalism. It’s the ideal environment of growth and expansion to what the individual can do in that environment. The theme specifically is the entrepreneur and intrapreneur. Let me talk about the difference between the two. The history of the entrepreneur is pretty fascinating. This is the definition that I like most. It’s the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage of venture with taking risks in order to be successful and turn a profit.

There was another term that when the idea of an entrepreneur or the word entrepreneur was used, it also referred to an adventure. I did an episode about the principle of uncertainty. Uncertainty is one of those human needs that we all crave. It’s the feeling of being alive, whether that’s riding a roller coaster or going to a movie or traveling to a foreign land. It’s something we all crave. That adventure spirit is within all human beings. I believe understanding, for yourself that is, because there are different degrees of it and it applies differently to different individuals. Understanding that sense of adventure and experience is part of what gives life its meaning. There is an economist, his name is Jean-Baptiste Say. He’s famous for Say’s Law when it comes to understanding the demand side economics or demand-driven economics. He identifies entrepreneurs as the driver for economic development, emphasizing the role as one of the collecting factors of production where they’re able to allocate resources from less to fields that are more productive.

I find entrepreneurship fascinating because if you think about it, what we experience in life on a daily basis, I think we often take for granted. Hundreds of years ago, what exists was merely a possibility. It was dirt. It was natural resources. Look at what we’ve taken as humanity and made into whether it’s television, video, lighting or the internet. Step back and put yourself in the position of a time traveler and travel from 500 years ago to now, it’s unbelievable to think about. It all started with a human being and another human being then another human being, being able to take our potential and apply that to the resources of life that we all have access to.

TWS 1 | Individuals In Nature

Individuals In Nature: There are opportunities to be entrepreneurial, to take risks and buck the status quo, to question authority, to question assumptions, and to question the system.

 

What does that have to do with you? The TV has been invented, the camera has been invented and the internet’s been invented. How does that apply to you? It’s not so much the actual application of entrepreneurial principles or the idea of entrepreneurship, but it’s adopting the mindset of solving problems, of making things better, of making things more efficient by looking at something and figuring out a way to make it better, to create more value. I believe this comes differently based on the individual. This is where I dive into entrepreneurship. Looking at entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, this is where you fit in. You fit in because you have individual strengths, you have individual talents and abilities that you’ve been gifted with. It’s different for all individuals. You’ve had experiences up to this point that has given you an idea of what life is about. I think most of you are driven and you’ve discovered things that you’re good at based on how you feel, based on receiving some reward or achievement, or based on what others have said about you.

I believe that right there is one of those seeds of opportunity to be nurtured. With that nurturing, come incredible opportunities for your life but also for the level of satisfaction and the level of wealth that you achieved. This season, we’re going to get into a lot of topics that have to do with the changing environment, not from capitalism standpoint but the change in that system that Morpheus in The Matrix refers to. The system of education is changing rapidly. The system of business is changing rapidly. One of the guests I’m going to have on is going to talk to you about the majority of companies in ten years will have a majority of their workforce, 70% or more, as either working remote, as contractors or freelancers, pretty bold claims. In my experience, what I’m seeing out there is incredible.

I’m actually going to release an eBook that I’ve been working on for a while that is speaking to this future of work, the gig economy and all of the jobs that exist. The employment opportunities that exist that are either a contract, freelance or remote and what that allows is unprecedented. What that allows is for you to discover what are the details and job requirements of those specific opportunities and what can I do? What can you do to invest in yourself to obtain the certifications, obtain the experience and obtain the attributes in order to have one of those positions? What that allows you to do is work 15, 25 hours a week maybe less, do it on your own terms and mix in the lifestyle that you enjoy.

Understanding the sense of adventure and experience is part of what gives life its meaning. Click To Tweet

It’s not the typical way in which people think about their future. It’s the sacrifice of now for a better future. It’s putting money away into a 401(k), an IRA or the markets in hopes that one day they’ll be enough where you don’t have to work. I’m going to break it to you that working is a part of life but working in something that you don’t like doing and that you want to escape from through retirement, that’s your choice. Your choice is to do something you don’t like and you’re doing it by sacrificing enjoyment, achievement, pleasure and happiness for money. Because of where we’re going as a society, I believe that you can take very little money over the course of the next four months and you can learn more about yourself, learn more about what you’re good at.

We’re going to have some guests on here that represent some of the personality tests that are out there, Myers-Briggs, Kolbe, DISC, StrengthsFinder, so that you can start to discover where do you feel the most alive? Where do you receive the most fulfillment? What are the strengths that you have that you may not be aware of? How do you apply that to specific job opportunities, employment opportunities, whether it’s within the company you currently work for or outside of it or on your own? I’m not saying that entrepreneurship is for everyone. It has been an incredible journey from a positive standpoint, but I’ve equally experienced the other side of the spectrum where I had self-doubt, where I had relationship issues, where I had financial failures. Believe me, it is something that I know is not possible for everyone. It almost wasn’t possible for me and I’m still experiencing it.

Sometimes people can’t work for someone else. That’s where I categorize myself, I look at what’s right for you and that’s a question you have to ask yourself. You may have to ask it more than once. The idea of an entrepreneur is thrown out. There are entrepreneurship classes in school, there’s entrepreneur thrown through social media. I think the definition of entrepreneur definitely needs to be questioned, but that there are opportunities to be entrepreneurial, to take risks and to buck the status quo, to question authority, to question assumptions and to question the system. I believe that’s your responsibility. It’s my responsibility. That’s why the world exists the way that it does is because someone questioned why. Why does it have to be that way? Why do we have to communicate through just phone? Why can’t we communicate better?

Henry Ford said that if he was to ask people what they want, it would be a faster horse. An entrepreneur or a Henry Ford or whomever, the Wright brothers, they looked at what would make life easier, and they came up with ideas to make life easier. That’s where Say’s Law comes from. I believe that there’s an entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. I believe that there are ways in which we can grow, expand and achieve a better future for ourselves first and our family then our community, those we serve those who we provide value to.

The season is around this topic. We have those that are very reputable economists. We have authors, representatives from these different personality tests. We have a family of some of the most famed economists that are out there and the impact that their father specifically had made on them and have allowed them to see the world from a different standpoint. We are facing a lot of turmoil in society right now. There’s so much communication out there, sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe. I look at issues, whether it’s in Venezuela, issues that are in China or in Russia. I also look at issues that are in the United States where you have these political influences that are very compelling. They speak well, they’re good marketers. Their narrative is compelling. At the same time, I believe that politicians will always be politicians. There’s always an agenda behind the scenes. Understanding principles, understanding what life is about is going to allow you to ask better questions. It’s going to allow you to support those people that align with your values.

In the end, what I’ve discovered in meeting with thousands of people and doing business with thousands of people interacting with authors, reading hundreds of books, is that most humans, if not all, have something very similar in common. They want a feeling of achievement, happiness and satisfaction that does not come from a job with benefits. It does not come from a 401(k) or putting money in the stock market. It does not come from retiring. I believe that it comes from you discovering what you’re about, what your strengths are, your abilities are and taking that and applying it in a way that allows you to live a lifestyle that you love.

An understanding of what life is about is going to allow you to ask better questions. Click To Tweet

I’m excited to have some of these interviews. I’ve already had a few and I think you are going to love them. I’m also going to try to be more interactive. Check out the YouTube channel and also on social media. Make sure you’re sharing this stuff. If you like what you hear or see, we want to get the word out. If you haven’t already, read the book that I released, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose. You can get a free couple of chapters. I can’t wait for you to experience that book. A lot of the principles I’m going to be talking about and I talked about last season, the theme of capitalism. The seasons in 2018 were Life, Liberty and Property. These are things I’m passionate about and I want to hear from you. I want to make sure that you understand the material and you’re getting something from it. Make sure you start interacting, make sure you’re giving me feedback through the different channels. I can’t wait to experience your journey just as much as I can’t wait to experience mine. Thank you and we will be back soon.

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Applying Capitalism In Today’s Market with Ryan Moran

TWS 17 | Applying Capitalism

 

We all aim for personal and universal freedom. In today’s economy, this freedom is protected by capitalism where the people own and run businesses as opposed to the government. Founder of Capitalism.com, Ryan Moran goes in-depth with the idea of capitalism and Even Stevens’ bankruptcy, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political phenomenon, and Andrew Yang’s philosophy. The host of The One Percent podcast, Ryan gives his take on opening up to the ideas of freedom in entrepreneurship and the opportunities that exist in the current era and more.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Applying Capitalism In Today’s Market with Ryan Moran

My guest is Ryan Daniel Moran. He is the Founder of Capitalism.com and host of The One Percent podcast. He’s a father, a Browns fan and a future owner of the Cleveland Indians. This is going to be an awesome show. I’m stoked because you’re the owner of Capitalism.com. I’m sure there’s a cool story to that in addition to having that site. There’s a big responsibility if you’re branding that domain and how you’ve come to understand capitalism. I’d like to start with how you are defining capitalism.

My favorite definition of the word capitalism was from Hayek. He says, “It’s an increasing system of strangers serving one another.” It’s a system through which we are incentivized to serve one another. I had an economics professor in college. His name was Dr. Ivan Pongracic and he had escaped Soviet Russia. He was almost caught smuggling Elvis records and Fender guitars across the borders. They made it punishable by death if you did that. He said, “You know what I did? I raised the price.” He used to talk about capitalism was the system through which we practiced freedom.

In order for us to get ahead, we have to serve one another. It’s where we are incentivized to do so. That’s also why we see such a pushback on the left against capitalism is because we’ve forgotten that it’s simply the way we exercise freedom. When we go in and try to fix freedom or force freedom or try to allocate freedom to be more “responsible,” we distort it. We all agree that personal freedom and freedom is a high aim. When we can put capitalism as the protector of freedom, the system through which we have freedom, it’s a universal principle that no one can disagree with.

It seems everyone would agree with you on this notion of freedom, so why is there such disdain for capitalism?

It’s because of short-term desires. If your reference point was several years ago, then you are naturally going to look ahead only for the next few years. If your reference point is 100, 200, 500 or 1,000 years, the path forward is obvious. It’s like trading stocks versus being an investor. It’s like flipping houses versus being an income investor. It’s like trying to make money on the internet versus building an internet business. Capitalism is the same. If a twenty-year-old is looking at the state of the world compared to when he or she was eight, there’s not a good reference point for how the world acts.

All that person is going to see is problems. They’re going to see who doesn’t have healthcare. They have no reference point for who had healthcare 100 years ago. They’re going to look at the way they think the world should be through the lens of problems rather than looking at the trend of the world over the last hundred years. If you have never traveled, if you haven’t lived a few decades, if you haven’t studied history, you would have a short-term view of the world in which you only saw problems. Our job is to paint a different picture and to be relentless defenders of that freedom so that the loud voices don’t get a foothold in what we know the world needs to do.

If you were in a debate contest and stood on the other side, how would you defend that, “We’re not 1750, Ryan. We don’t trade wine and bread and potatoes. We’re in a civilized modern society where healthcare should be a right.” How do you take that stance and defend it against capitalism?

The way we defend that stance is by coming back to the fundamental agreement that we want the same things. I have a high percentage of liberals converted because most of them have the perspective that a conservative or a libertarian doesn’t want poor people to have healthcare. We have to dispel that myth. We have to say, “I have the same goal as you of ensuring that the least of those around us have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Let me tell you why my plan is a better way to get that than somebody else.

I heard Naval Ravikant talk about Universal Basic Income. He was talking with Scott Adams. When Scott Adams asked him what he thought of Universal Basic Income and Naval said, “We’re going to have it. It’s going to come from the private sector. We’re going to have phones be so cheap that Google will give them out so that you use their apps and their platform.” You’ll basically have a universal standard of living. We don’t need it to come from the government. That type of argument is how I persuade the other side to come to our side of the argument. You say, “We’re after the same goal.” Your way of getting there is to trust Trump and all of his friends to come up with a plan. How confident are you in that happening? My plan is this and I have a high percentage rate of getting people to convert after that.

Challenges will always occur, but there are always people looking to solve challenges. It’s like an instinct in us. We see the challenge where we will look for opportunities. I always look at The Jungle Book where Mowgli is this character that’s different from the rest of the forest because they’re to survive and he has this instinct to come up with solutions for this and solutions for that. That’s human nature. Even though we have challenges, when you do create that environment of freedom, people are able to exercise and are able to try things. Ultimately, there are solutions that create the betterment of everyone. At the same time, there’s a little time involved there. Whereas writing a check to somebody is the easiest thing to do and typically people want that short term solution. That’s where they tend to go and to gripe about.

Our brains are wired to produce happiness as a byproduct to increases in survival chances. Happiness is an illusion. Happiness is chemicals that fire when our brains think we have a higher chance of surviving. The only way we do that is by solving problems. We solve the threats that we have to our own survival. We unlock happiness by solving problems. Biologically, we are wired to solve problems. Unfortunately, we tend to fire short-term versus long-term if we’re in a threat situation and most people have the perception of threat, even though our livelihoods and our survival is as good as it has ever been.

Ray Dalio was talking about this whole idea of Universal Basic Income and the threat of artificial intelligence and people are going to be displaced by jobs. There are many solutions that the government can come up with, but there’s something about humans where there has to be a fulfillment side of their life. If there’s not, then life becomes the opposite. It’s unhappy. When you’re not able to solve those problems, it robs people of the opportunity to find fulfillment or find happiness.

TWS 17 | Applying Capitalism

Applying Capitalism: Happiness is a chemical that fires up when our brains think we have a higher chance of surviving, and the only way that we do that is by solving problems.

 

I think those of us who identify as Capitalists or Libertarian should be disappointed in Ray Dalio. I don’t know where his tune changed of seeing the pie that he created and started to feel guilty about it. His entire thesis on this speaking tour that he’s been going on is that we need a better way to allocate pieces of the pie. What Dalio mistakes and seems to overlook is there is no pie. There is no limited amount of value. He should know, he created a big one. He helped a lot of people along the way.

He aggregated a lot of capital.

That’s a good distinction. Based on his background when he’s raising capital from a lot of places, there’s a fixed amount versus it being a creation. Overall as a community, I think we should be disappointed in the message that he’s starting to spread.

I want to dive into your story around Capitalism.com because it’s one of those things that you buy and you can monetize. At the same time, if you have a philosophy around what it means and what you want the world to understand what it means, that’s a big responsibility. What’s the story behind your intrigue and interest in the idea of capitalism? Maybe your parents were these staunch-like Libertarian F.A. Hayek followers and you went to Mises University when you were little.

I went to college to be a pastor and I did not go that route. I had an economics professor who basically gave a talk that changed my life where he was talking about how the greatest way we can find nods or find our greatest purpose or find our maximum dollar amount. However you divide that up, our highest calling is by using the marketplace. Seeing price as an indication of where there was a need or where there was a value or where there were opportunities to create something. That completely changed my brain and altered the course of my life and my career. Add that in with some doubts that I had about my faith, it was a perfect time for me to make a switch. I ended up going to school and studying economics while building my first business, while the 2008 crash and the election were all going on at the same time.

Those were my formative years and the opportunity to acquire the name that represented all of my biggest interests was presented to me and it was to acquire Capitalism.com. Since then we’ve been building out events and a platform for entrepreneurs because I believe ultimately we only change minds and we change direction by changing individuals. I don’t think that debate on a grand scale is how we ultimately change people’s mind, we lead by example. At Capitalism.com, we help entrepreneurs build businesses and invest the profits and I’m playing the long game. The more millionaires you create, the more kids you have with those financially-educated individuals as parents. That’s ultimately how we change perspectives.

In order for us to get ahead, we have to serve one another. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about applied capitalism. There are a lot of ways to approach this, but business has changed significantly as far as how capital is raised. In some cases, profitability doesn’t even matter. A right to raise capital is an idea matter. How are you applying what you’ve learned about capitalism in that philosophy to what you teach others about businesses and maybe how you treat your own businesses?

Your basic capitalist theory, things get easier over time. Resources get freed up. You have more access to opportunity. That is your point about things changing so much in the few years. Capital is abundant. The opportunities for advertising are cheaper than ever, at a higher scale than ever. Any message can go viral at any time. Things continue to get easier. I don’t buy into this narrative that it’s somehow getting harder. It’s getting easier and there are more opportunities. However, it’s changing faster. You have more creative destruction than ever before. We all love it until it happens to us, but if we’re going to be consistent with our argument then we have to either adapt or go find a business. We see capitalism in action. We see lots of new opportunities be liberated. We see a lot of resources become available. These are things that didn’t exist for us as a society.

Joseph Schumpeter and the whole creative destruction principle is powerful, but it goes to more of the long game than the short game where a lot of the lessons are learned after a lot of the chaos ensues. Hence 2008, 2009 where there are some incredible lessons learned by people. We’ve become stronger because of that not weaker. You are looking at what you discovered as more of a philosophical approach to capitalism based on the economics people of the past, which are not all obviously pro-capitalism. You started to apply that to business, but it sounds like you experienced some of that creative destruction like a business going under, a business becoming obsolete or you hired the wrong team. Did you go through some challenges to learn that principle?

Haven’t we all? If you’re not failing more often than you are succeeding, you probably aren’t a real entrepreneur. I was journaling about the fact that it only takes one big breakthrough in order to pay for all of your failures. Thankfully, we live in this world in which basically all of our needs are met for almost no money. We’re close to having a universal basic living standard. Unfortunately, we’re all comparing ourselves in terms of status, which is why there’s this myth of wealth and equality, which we all know is a myth. Since we have our basic needs met, you can pretty much fail at scale until you win. We all love it until it happens to us, but if you can develop that muscle of being comfortable swinging and missing, then one at-bat is all it’s going to take in order for you to have the impact that you want to have.

I have stopped measuring progress in dollars because dollars are a commodity. Wealth is a way to make things happen faster. The more dialed in you are to the type of life you want and the things you want to do, money becomes a byproduct of doing that well. It becomes gasoline for you to make it happen faster. I have changed my tune a little bit where I became an entrepreneur because I wanted money, then you realize all money is a tool to make change happen. If you identify the change you want to have, you can swing and miss all you want, eventually pay dirt happens and that justifies your failures and allows your successes to happen that much faster. It’s the purpose of money and capital in the first place to fuel the distribution of goods and services, to fuel the distribution of good work. That’s what it’s there to do.

What do you use as your primary measurements of whether or not your business is successful?

TWS 17 | Applying Capitalism

Applying Capitalism: If you’re not failing more often than are succeeding, you probably aren’t a real entrepreneur.

 

Part of it is am I happy? Part of it is, do I like doing what I’m doing? Another is client happiness and scale. Are people voluntarily sharing what it is we’re doing? I had a professor in college who was supposedly an expert in this idea of the diffusion curve of distribution. If you get those loud early adopters, they bring them to the rest of the world. If you have a core group of raving fans, they bring your message or your market, they bring your product and service to the rest of the world. Part of how I’m evaluating on it is, “Are people talking about it? Are people diffusing it for me?” If that’s the case, I know I’ve done something well in the world.

Let me break into that a little bit. There was a restaurant chain called Even Stevens. Have you ever heard that before?

I’ve heard of them.

They’re in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but they had this culture of doing well and impacting people. Their business model was set up where if someone bought a sandwich, one sandwich was donated to the poor. From a profitability standpoint, how do you reconcile wanting to do good and wanting to impact people, yet at the same time bringing in more than there’s going out.

When I was in high school, my first real job is I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts. At the end of the night, we had hundreds of extra donuts. A lot of them went to waste. We threw them away. A lot of them we donated to food shelters. There was so much waste we could give some to shelters. I could take some to school the next day and I did. We could throw away a bunch. There are a lot of wasted donuts. The only way that you can have that type of good waste is if you’re running a profitable enterprise. The people who talk about the TOMS Shoes model and they have their own financial problems with the idea of we’re going to give first. It’s a great idea, but you can give a lot more when you’re running a profitable enterprise. Profit is excess. Profit is extra.

It is a reflection of a gap in the marketplace. That’s a good thing. You are doing well by making a profit. Profit is a reflection of doing well. It’s not like the bad thing you get. Profit is the reflection of you doing well. With that, you can do whatever you want. You already paid your debt to society by doing the good thing in the first place and you have profit as a byproduct. If you want to take that and have a more additional impact, go for it. You’re under no requirement to do so, but you will do more good in putting all of those sandwich profits into more sandwiches and you’ll probably have excess that you can then sustainably giveaway. The idea of doing something that matters and getting paid for it is self-perpetuating and self-rewarding on its own and then you can do what you’d like with the profits.

It only takes one big breakthrough in order to pay for all of your failures. Click To Tweet

The reconciliation then what I’m assuming is obviously you want to be benefiting customers. You want to have a good time, be happy and feel fulfilled in what you’re doing, but at the same time dollars are important from a measurement standpoint to ensure there’s more coming in than going out.

The reconciliation is Even Stevens would have done a lot more good in the world if they were running a profitable enterprise.

As much as we would think there are more supporters of the free market and laissez-faire capitalism and allow people in the markets to solve problems. There is a growing philosophy that has existed for a while using the narrative of social good and that the capitalists and money hoarders are these fat guys that live in big mansions. Let’s talk about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is an interesting political phenomenon and Andrew Yang. Maybe we’ll start with AOC. What’s your pulse on her? How do you view the attraction to what she is saying and why she’s gained much ground from building a big audience in the inner circles of the Democratic Party but also in society as well?

My pulse on her is that she is extremely smart. She is one of the smartest politicians ever. The idea that she is a stupid 29-year-old Millennial is a false narrative. If you think that, you’ve played right into her hand. If she was not 29-years-old, she would be the Democratic front-runner for President. A waitress turned social media celebrity is already leading the direction of the Democratic Party. You do not do that being an idiot. The only person in politics smarter than AOC is Donald J. Trump.

How do you see the parallel between her and Donald Trump? It was the same way with him, it still is.

They are the two smartest people in Washington, DC.

TWS 17 | Applying Capitalism

Applying Capitalism: Universal Basic Income is socialism with lipstick. It’s not an enhanced form of capitalism. It’s just a different way to redistribute from the government.

 

Do you think she got to that point overnight? She came onto the scenes in a short period of time. Is that a natural ability to be that persuasive? Maybe she was a waitress at an incredible restaurant in New York City, but where did it come from?

It came from a combination of talent. She’s incredibly intuitive in terms of what she needs to say in order to get attention. It’s a talent with what she looks like. If she was a white ugly dude, she wouldn’t have the following that she did. We have to be real about it. We can’t ignore that. We all have natural privileges and what she looks like is one of hers and the other was timing. She’s perfectly well-timed. Her message for her talent stack in this state that the Democratic Party is in where it’s essentially a leaderless party. She walks in and has the benefit of applying that talent stack to this timing. It’s been a combination of all of those things like Donald Trump was a combination of all those things, although he had a much longer game than she did. She’s the benefit of social media and she’s got a good social media strategy. She entered into the conversation when it needed a polarizing figure to counter the President.

You’re taking the stance and this is a deep stake in the ground and a flash in the pan.

I am curious to see what she does. If you look at her overall strategy, she’s already effective in the way that she wants to be effective. The Green New Deal is her wall. I know there are people who disagree with me, but I’m confident, the wall is not a real thing. The wall was a marketing tool. Donald Trump knew there was never going to be a wall across the border. He knew this and because he knew this, he knew he would always have a rallying cry to point at the enemy. If his supporters didn’t get their wall, they could always say, “It’s going to happen. The Democrats are standing in the way.” There’s never going to be a wall. It’s a marketing ploy.

It’s the same thing with the Green New Deal. AOC comes out with this ridiculous plan that we’re all talking about and she has changed the narrative to be about which pieces of the Green New Deal are feasible and which ones aren’t. Based on that, we’re going to calculate it, discuss it and argue about it. That’s exactly what she wants. She’ll get pieces of it over time and she’ll always be able to look across the aisle and say, “They said no.” It was a brilliant move to make the Democrats vote on it. That was painting them to a quarter. It was smart to the Republicans to do.

I would say that whole Mike Lee velociraptor thing totally played into her hands. I understood where he was coming from, but I’m like, “How do you think that’s going to make you look any better?”

Profit is the reflection of you doing good. Click To Tweet

I do think that she is here at least for the next few election cycles. I’m curious to see how her message changes. Once Donald Trump is reelected and many years go by and you will basically have two leaderless parties because Mike Pence isn’t the incumbent. He will never be president. The Democrats will have no leader. Pete Buttigieg could have been that, but he blew his shot. As a result, I’m curious to see where AOC is. She’ll miss the cutoff to run again. She could play kingmaker. If that’s the case then she’s around to stay.

Some of this stuff she says is like, “Nobody says that.” There’s an agenda behind it. What does your crystal ball say her agenda is? What is she trying to accomplish? Political career or do you think there’s something more nefarious behind the scenes like socialism and communism?

I think back to the Occupy Wall Street movement. I don’t know if you ever visited any of the Occupy. I had much fun going and debating those. Eventually what happened, the movement died. It went away and then became Bernie Sanders supporters. They gave way to another failed movement. Socialism is such a tired idea. I don’t fear the noise that it has in the world because no one wants it. The movement of capitalism, the movement of freedom is too powerful. That will prevent a socialist uprising from taking old. My crystal ball says that AOC will continue to point her finger at enemies. She’ll continue to have a wave of followers. She’ll continue to be impactful on the left, but her message will change unless we have another economic meltdown and then all bets are off. At that point, I have no opinion. I have no idea what would happen.

Let’s go to your next hot button, which is Andrew Yang.

He was on your show before he was running for president.

He was officially running for president when he was on. It’s interesting to see what he’s done. He’s not taking abrasive a stance as AOC, but still he’s between the whole hologram. He’s going to show up to debates in a hologram. He’s doing a good job marketing it. How do you look at Andrew Yang’s philosophy, which I would say is definitely part socialism, part progressive, part accommodating the rising Y Generation?

TWS 17 | Applying Capitalism

Applying Capitalism: You become libertarian real quick when you’re an entrepreneur because you realize you want to keep what you earn and you only get to earn what is made on your own merit.

 

First of all, Andrew Yang says that Universal Basic Income is capitalism starting from not zero. I say no, Universal Basic Income is socialism with lipstick. It’s not an enhanced form of capitalism. It’s a different way to redistribute from the government. I don’t care for Andrew’s policies one bit, but he’s running a flawless campaign. I have to give him credit for doing an amazing job at running for president, but I don’t care for him one bit. He knows he’s misleading people. He knows that he’s making up problems that don’t exist. If you watched his Joe Rogan interview, he sat there and talked about problems that are not real like truckers being replaced. Their wages are going up. There’s a shortage of truckers because there are many other unskilled opportunities. There are many low-skilled jobs and many opportunities for low-skilled people that there’s a shortage of truck drivers because nobody wants to work those long hours driving a truck. What has happened? Truck driver’s salaries have gone up. There’s recruiting happening to get people to become truck drivers. No, we don’t have a problem in all the truck drivers going away. We have an increased demand, prices going up. He makes up problems where there are no problems to address, but he’s getting a lot of attention for it.

He’s the only one that’s on that bandwagon. There are a lot of the Silicon Valley elites that tend to feel the same way. When you do have that insight into technology and the speed at which things are becoming automated. The argument I would say has some merit to it when you think as far as the automation of certain unskilled things. Are you saying the transition to that is going to take longer than people think? Where are you coming from?

The Universal Basic Income, if it replaced all other government programs, would be a step in the right direction, but that’s not what Yang argues for. Yang is arguing for doling out checks to everyone. Not only is it not appropriate, but it’s also not needed. We talked about how the standard of living continues to rise and real prices continue to decline. The trend is going only to continue as we talked about in the example of Google giving out free phones. That is going to continue to happen and it’s happening at a faster rate. Look how the idea of a grocery store is in our society. We take it for granted, but a grocery store has only existed for this much of our history and we talk about food prices. Food prices are at an all-time low. I can go to the grocery store and get goji berries from China for $8. It’s the whole idea of “I, Pencil,” that famous piece that go into the pencil. I’m not of the opinion that Universal Basic Income is even necessary because we continue to have fallen-prices and increasing set of living.

It’s one of those things where it’s hard sometimes to distinguish, unless you’re a professional marketer like yourself, what’s really being said. It makes total sense to me and from Donald Trump’s standpoint. A lot of his tactics whether it was the debate tactics or his tweets or his punch lines, the amazing nature in which he marketed himself and won. I look at AOC and some of the same things. I would say that you have some insight than most don’t because you can read between the lines and I can see that with Andrew Yang. I don’t think he’s as conspicuous. He’s using somebody where there is a stronghold behind his theory because of Silicon elites. They have all of this concern with artificial intelligence, Moore’s Law and how this is all happening and it’s getting out of control. We’re going to have to provide for people’s well-being. You’re basically saying he doesn’t necessarily believe in it. It’s a narrative for him to run on.

If you look at how our brains are wired, we are influenced by momentum and direction more than anything else. The projection of where things are going in the future. You and I and everyone reading know that the trend of the world on a macro level is impressive. The things we’re about to invent and create are that much more impressive. In order to get attention, Andrew has to stand there and say, “There’s this thing going on that is going to replace all of the jobs.” He has to set the trend for how things are going. He talks about suicide rates going up. He doesn’t mention that they are higher in the fluent than they are among those at the bottom. He talks about the correlation between suicide rates and economic hardship. Economic hardship is at an all-time low. He is going to talk about the paint a picture of a trend that is happening because you are likely to pay attention if the future is a coming trend that is dangerous. He has a terrible solution of giving out free money to people, which is why he’s capturing attention. He’s doing a wonderful job at it, but he is doing it intentionally misleading.

The society, in general, has been highly influenced by movies and TV and what we’ve been told to future is. We’re always looking to the future. I’ve never made the connection that there are these short-term spikes and interest and intrigue on purpose to gain attention and popularity based on how we’ve been programmed in the sense of society.

No one grows when times are good; you grow from pain. Click To Tweet

It’s the first time that a message can be delivered at scale like in a click of a button. It’s because of that, we are incentivized to do whatever gets attention on a mass scale, especially when you’re doing something like running for President. This is new in our evolution for that to even be possible. That’s why it’s a battle with the truth and a battle with reality.

Let’s do this because this has been an awesome conversation. Thank you for sharing your insight. Hopefully, this was valuable to the audience. Why don’t you talk about maybe some something that’s more a little more positive? You obviously are getting negative feedback on ideas of capitalism, which is understandable, but what do you see as the positive things? How are you seeing people open up to the ideas of freedom, entrepreneurship and the opportunities that exist and are open to while we live in such an amazing time? Talk about your pulse there and if you see that growing in popularity to that perspective.

If we remove the labels, if we remove the way we define it, freedom and capitalism are more popular than ever. If you look at your average college graduate who is faced with the decision of, “Do I get a job or do I start my own thing?” Look at young people where the most popular desired job is to be a YouTuber. I look at some of my peers who were saying, “Do you know what I want to do for a living is playing video games on Twitch.” These were absurd ideas, but because we have many new opportunities, the opportunities for entrepreneurship are greater than they had ever been. Entrepreneurship requires personal responsibility. You become libertarian quick when you’re an entrepreneur because you realize you want to keep what you earn and you only get to earn what is made on your own merit.

Based on that, I’m bullish and optimistic about the trend of young people, yes, a loud core is following AOC. All of their peers are making $1,000 a month from YouTube and they don’t need Andrew Yang to dole out cash to them. “Do any of them want to give up those opportunities?” “No.” It’s why I don’t fear when Elizabeth Warren says she wants to break up Google. It’s not going to happen. They’re creating too many opportunities for people. I’m incredibly optimistic. I see the political theater going on is entertaining but not a threat at all. The trend of capitalism, the trend of freedom is way too strong. I can see that trend accelerate if we look at a macro view, if we look at 100, 50 years ago. Technology is only going to accelerate that because only half the world has internet access. There is still an entire half of the world just coming online and having access to information and having access to opportunities. The global marketplace is about to double.

One of SpaceX’s big projects is the satellite internet and bringing that to Africa, India and parts where they don’t have the infrastructure.

When that happens, you’re going to see a boom that we have never seen before. That requires markets, freedom and capital. We are still on the up and up and that is only going to continue.

TWS 17 | Applying Capitalism

Applying Capitalism: Capitalism is the only system in which bad ideas fail.

 

That’s where the optimism part and part of me is excited about the future, my future, my kids’ future. At the same time, I look at things that have happened that have put the world in a tough spot. Whether it’s the unfunded obligations we have with the amount of debt that’s out there with Social Security and pensions having major issues. I also look at where you have a big percentage of the Nasdaq who is on the brink of junk status, looking at how capital is being raised to fund companies that aren’t necessarily making a profit. The only way they can be payroll is to continue to get rounds of funding. How do you reconcile your optimism with some of the real things we’re facing?

It’s for those reasons that sometimes I do look at certain companies. I do think we are right for that to adjust, but I think we can look squarely in the face of government policy specifically interest rates as dictated by the Federal Reserve. I know they’re independent, but they’re the fourth branch of government. They’re manipulating interest rates. We all agree that has been a problem and it’s the reason why we have the asset prices that we have. Those things have to adjust. I am bullish on the fact that when we get punched in the mouth and if we have an economic collapse, all of those opportunities get funded into the new things that have already been opened up.

The number one job among children under twelve, they want to be YouTubers. I’m not suggesting that all the coders are going to become YouTube stars. That would be a boring channel. The reality is we’re on the cusp of new waves of opportunities starting to hit mass. When we have a reset or if we have a transition, it’s simply going to be one era to the next era. It’s what happens after every meltdown is you open up industries that didn’t exist before. Contrary to what Andrew Yang would like you to believe, that will happen.

I have a theory that the greater the hardship, the more you expand the possibility on the other side of the spectrum. That’s in personal life and that’s in business too. The wounds hurt in the short-term, but the process in which you heal builds a stronger muscle to do more and be more. We have some pain. There’s a lot of pain, but the lessons that are going to be learned from society are going to be incredible. It may not feel like that when you’re the one that’s not getting your pension check, your social security check or the cost of things have gone up or however, the economy responds to it. At the same time, you look at what good is going to come from it because people are hardwired to solve problems and to help others overcome challenges. They didn’t necessarily have the word Capitalism back then. People observe the marketplace and they intuitively figure out, “I’m going to go do this because that’ll benefit that, but it’ll also benefit me.” It’s weird how we operate, but it’s going to be as you put it at scale.

No one grows when times are good, you grow from pain. It’s why the bailouts were damaging. Not because of the misallocation of resources, not because of taxpayer cost. It was dangerous because we deprived ourselves of the beauty of pain. Pain makes us grow. It makes us better and it makes us solve bigger problems and as a result, we’ve gotten soft. We are afraid of getting punched that we don’t even enter the ring. We don’t even have a chance of victory anymore. By the time we get punched in the mouth, you’re going to have a lot of scared people running around who will have to learn how life works, which is exactly what should happen. I get the benefit of working with a lot of entrepreneurs and I did a little bit of a podcast interview tour where I interviewed in person Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Lee who has $3 billion companies at 47 and Bedros Keuilian the Founder of Fit Body Boot Camp.

All three of them are the children of immigrants. I saw this as a trend come up. I asked them about it. The universal feedback among those three was, “I came here with nothing. I had to learn how to create and solve problems and work hard. People who were born here, people have had it good since they were born, they don’t have that hustle. They don’t have that ability. If I go to Ukraine and speak to entrepreneurs who are first generation capitalists, they’re hungry. Any sniff of freedom they cherish, hung onto, cling to and fight for. Any advancement they have from where they grew up, where their parents were oppressed by the government, where they had to escape tyranny, they are ready for opportunities. Here we want to go back to government control. We accomplished what everybody else wants and we’re getting soft. We could use a good punch in the mouth and it will be welcome refreshment when it happens.”

It’s long overdue, but everything you’re saying I would echo that. I see it in my kids. My wife grew up in the hood of Mexico. Her brothers have moved here and sometimes when there’s a safety net, it’s amazing what people will do not to learn the lesson. That’s the other part of human nature, even though we’re compelled to create value and to solve problems, we’re also compelled to be lazy sometimes or find shortcuts. It’s one of those other attributes of humankind that you need been to be leery up because kids these days are soft at the same time they’re meant to understand how efficiency plays into solutions. When those times get difficult, I have a good feeling they’ll have the wherewithal to learn technology, understand the technology and how that applies to whatever the challenge is at hand.

They will have to. There’s no choice in the matter of capitalism. One final piece on this is I’ve made the argument that the way we can convert people who disagree with us, who ask about converting people to our side of the argument is if you remind them that capitalism is the only system in which bad ideas fail. When things collapse, a lot of bad ideas will go with it. A lot of companies that raised money and can only make payrolls by raising another round, they will fail because they didn’t have value in the marketplace. You can’t say capitalism is the only system in which good ideas succeed. Theoretically, you could have a government create a great solution. The chance of that happening is low, but it’s possible. Capitalism is the only system where bad ideas go away and we will see that in the next crash unless the government gets involved, which is antithetical to capitalism.

This has become a calling for you. At least that’s what it sounds like. I know it’s a big responsibility, but thanks for all you’re doing to advocate these ideas. How can people learn more about you and follow you? I know you’re active on social media. What are the best ways?

My handle is @RyanDanielMoran on Instagram. My podcast is Capitalism.com. There’s a generation of young people out there who need an outlet for entrepreneurship and this the only way we’re going to convert them to our side of the aisle. If Robert Kiyosaki had a rich son, it might be me taking the torch to this generation that is polarized on capitalism versus socialism.

Ryan Daniel Moran, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you much for taking the time. You are putting up some amazing content. What I also love about you is you’re bold, you speak your mind and you’re a seeker of truth. It’s inspiring. Thank you.

I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

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About Ryan Moran

TWS 17 | Applying CapitalismRyan Daniel Moran is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, and investor. He is driven by the belief that entrepreneurs solve problems, and that the world needs more empowered entrepreneurs.

As the founder of Capitalism.com, his mission is to champion and serve entrepreneurs, because entrepreneurs drive change, create jobs, influence the economy, and uplift their families and communities to create a better world.

Through his training and podcast at Capitalism.com, Ryan is responsible for creating more than 100 millionaires, many in 12 months or less! He is passionate about sharing the knowledge he has gained from founding, running, and investing in a number of e-commerce, and physical products businesses.

 

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