« The Weeds

Elizabeth Warren’s plan to save/destroy capitalism

2018-08-21

Dara, Ezra, and Matt discuss a big idea to make the economy great again. References and further reading: Matt's piece on Elizabeth Warren's corporate accountability bill Matt's piece on Kevin Williamson's attack on Warren's accountability bill The Varieties of Capitalism, book mentioned by Matt David Ciepley's writing on corporations, mentioned by Dara Dylan Matthews' piece on co-determination , mentioned by Ezra Sam Hammond's piece on Warren's bill, mentioned by Ezra and Dara Aaron Klein's analysis of Warren's accountability plan, mentioned by Ezra 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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about the varieties of capitalism pumped and our inspiration is Elizabeth. Wine last week did a new that she introduced because at the accountable Capitalism ACT, this has a few different kind of moving points, to it, but the main ideas she wants to say company that have over a billion dollars in revenue. She wants to say that they should get a special federal charter of incorporation and that this charter should do a few things one is ended should specifically in struck directors that they should consider all stakeholders in a business enterprise customers employ these communities in which they operate and not just the shareholders, then this is going to be made real by the fact that workers at the company will be able to elect forty percent of the members of the board. Then she has some other provisions related to stock by backs that, I think, are a little less interesting.
for our purposes, but also that she wants to say that the federal government can apply a kind of like corporate death sentence and, unlike yank, the charter of a company that breaks the worlds in sort of egregious ways said and there's a corporate political activity provision where seventy five percent of the shareholders and and board members would have to authorize corporation spending much money on politics. Why? You know in that case, because forty percent of the board members would be elected by errors. You would need a kind of consensus inside the firm this is actually the area where I think you can draw like the sharpest conclusion as to what the result of this would be. And it's dead, for I think businesses could still engage in fairly extensive political activity under that rule, but
have to be pretty narrowly related to the industry that they are operating at ride so like at a coal company. Probably both the owners of the coal company and the people who work at the call company want regulations that allow power plants to consume a lot of coal, but a lot of the things that businesses do in the political world alleys. They strike me as kind of like generic, like what do rich business executives, like you, know, sort of as a class lobbying for corporate tax cuts. Things like that which would be heartened you here. So I think that that is probably but I think the reason that its true isn't quite what you're saying we have seen cases in the past of you know legal or borderline legal coercion as we approach election days from Lake franchise owners of lake fast food restaurants telling their workers, the Republican is going to be better for you essentially with the argument that, because the under
republic in the owner of the business will like not have to worry, much in taxes that, like that will You know essentially trickled down to the workers or that will result in more business investment. What that is to say is that business owners are telling their workers the same story about why the currency to exist that economists tell, which is that it's important to have firm autonomy, because results in more business investment and more innovation and one of the interesting things I've seen about the debate around Warren proposal. Is that We ve kind of seen some holes in that merit right. The idea it to be a nice story, the dozen act Lee result in the kind of rising tide lift. All boats that the supporters better capitalism, would lead you to believe so thick zoom out here because if you read the commentary on this map, you at a great piece of believers, Tab Elizabeth Bourns plan to save american capitalism than their budget
pieces at the next review and reason, and and and right wing publications that tended to be something along. The lines of Elizabeth warrants planted straw American Capitalism, Elizabeth warns corporate catastrophe plan all seem to be revolving first and foremost around two questions. One is: is there a problem in american capitalism to begin with rain, and the second is if there is then this charter? What does this charter actually do? how would it change way? Corporations are governed, but not. I know that you ve done a lot of work on this. How would you describe in theory of what the problem in capitalism is right now. What does she trying to fix? I would see her critique, which I think has been gathering steam over a number of years. Now is that sort of shareholder driven cap
the lesson was to an extent brought to us in the late night can seventies and an early nineteen eighties, and in the time of stagflation and the promise of this revolution was, you might think right. You know naive, podcast listener that empowering shareholders over other stakeholders is going to lead to just an explosion of inequality with a rich richer and everybody else suffers, but that's bra right that by incentivize ing shareholders to make as much money as possible, you were going to see a surge in investment, a surge in productivity and the rising tide is going to lift all boats weight and its now clear forty years later, that the promise of the Reagan Revolution did not come true right now I mean
people still can and do argue that it's better than the alternative, but the overall rate of economic growth went down not up after that period of time inequality went up, But the rising tide did not short of come to pass right and so wines view of which this proposal is just like one theory of how you get there, but is that we need to go back to the sort of midcentury american social model in which shareholders were understood to be like one of several stakeholders and corporate executives. We're supposed to be, I don't know what these slightly cuddly or figures who did things for the benefit of a broad range of people who are involved, I mean I remember when President Obama, when view were interviewing hem in the White House. He went off musing on an attendant like this, where he was saying that you know
Can the day used to be? You are the ceo of accompany your company might be in Toledo? You of course wanted to make money. You wonder. Company do well, but you show yourself is rooted in that community and that having the community were located in. Do well was a priority of yours, whereas in the modern day, as Obama said it, you know under the pressures of globalization whatever, if like the cheapest place, to make your windows. Someplace in China. Then it's like you, don't care about two led out you're you're completely uprooted. So you know the Warren View is that a more rooted, more sort of ethics, drink in business environment would be desirable and that this is a way to create that, or even maybe just a way to create an excuse to talk of which I sometimes don't know exactly what politicians are up to when they introduce bills, yeah. I know the whole of AIDS.
the latter. Then at least we are talking about it, and I think you're you're correct that this is now a way to kind of focus. This narrative that's been gathering steam about what's wrong, but I think it's worth aligning that the shareholder theory of capitalism is an immoral fear. Rightly it's not a social Darwin S like what for the distribution of income is when shareholders are calling the shots. That is good. That is the way it should be That's often the way people kind of talk about it in focus. Next, and I think that a lot of republican officeholders kind of default to this view kind of makers and takers idea, but that's not what the actual theory in question it's not necessarily empirical argument, but it's an arguing about here is what is good to lead to the best outcome for everybody, so that's what makes it subject to like well if we see that that is not true should lead us to reject this theory, a kind of prevents
shift to well. It doesn't really matter what the empirical outcomes of it are, because shareholders ought to be the people calling the shots, but I think that the kind of work rain argument of here we need to have these root aid communities pops up in a lot of other things that we dont think of his like shareholder theory of capitalism. Things if you hear critiques about companies, don't train their workers anymore. If you hear critiques about you know, even that kind of right wing, populist, partakes of companies are more interested in hiring foreign workers because they can get or wages, arguments about parental leave, for example. Really all of these end up coming back to a theory of if you have companies that are invested in their workers over the course of their careers, you are going to have companies that are going to be developing human capital rather than
skimming get off the top, so either couple things that are coming out here that I will I want a puddle bit. One just justice is very clearly. This is a bill meant to change corporate cultures. It is a bill that is trying to come up with a way to change a culture of how capitalism works more than it includes within it very specific mechanisms that mechanically change how capitalism and works how corporations work? I mean this idea that a board of directors would have more presentation from workers and would have instructions to consider a broader range of stakeholders. Everything can turn out exactly the same as it does now now. Maybe it wouldn't probably even what it, but it is worth noting that this is an effort to change who is in the and any doing suited to change culture. I want to use this as an opportunity about warrant little bit because I think we're getting a lot of inside here, inter coming presidential campaign, but also into her. I have
hovered Elisabeth Warren Fer a long time now. I think you have as well since way before she was in government, and I think that something people don't really understand about her. There is a tendency to flatten, like the ideological dimensions in politics. Quite a bit so it is a view that you know Warren and Bernie Sanders come from the same wing of the party and in a way they do. But one thing that is different about Warren from a lot of people who gets grouped in with politically and all you sent us here is a foil, but but many others are like this. Is it out? If you look at Bernie Sanders, his career or Jeff murkily are allowed. People like this. You see people the law, The views on government Bernie Sanders has a lot of views about how government should work. I he thinks we should have Medicare for all, and he thinks that taxes should work in a very different way than they currently do and that we should have a carbon tax. He's got a lot of use em on safety net and on how the state should be constructed. Warren before she was in government was a theorist, and a critic of
capitalism itself. If you go back in her work, what you see she was a law professor Harvard she did a huge amount of work on corporate culture and and and accountability. She was on her first rolling government, to my knowledge was on the top Oversight board, but around the time and for the time she was proposing things like the consumer protection agency, but also come up with a lot of ideas about how to fight which she saw as complexity in capitalism that was being used to rig markets. score for people to shoot a lot of ideas about plain vanilla products and trying to make things that people could understand well enough that they could then operate and exercise market power in search of something, I think, is interesting about Warren. Is it, Here too alive. Other people, we think of as liberals from relatively same wing of a party Warren. Has I think, actually more and more interesting ideas about how to reform capitalism and how corporation to operate and work,
then she does about how to reform the state and kind of big social safety NET programmes, and here I think, you're, seeing a way in which her political campaigns can be interesting and and somewhat different, her presidential campaign, I'm sorry which is it. I think it's gonna be based on a view that capitalist, needs to be saved at this moment from the capitalists and what we need are ideas and laws and approaches, but also the politicians, in her case probably that depression will be a president who are creating a rhetorical culture who are creating a political culture who creating a sense that things are supposed to work differently, that what will be viewed favourably? What will be viewed ethically will be looked upon it as plausible and and positive by regulators. You just going to be different and that's actually quite a different way of thinking about what the pass our forward. If we,
talking about two to deal with this period and in american capitalism is straight redistribution, which is a theory. That's one thing if we are talking about is reforming how corporations and other stakeholders within system work. You know how big corporations can get right. Worn is a big fan of breaking up banks, a bit critic of monopolies, that's quite different and speak to a much more hands on approach from an elected official in getting into the guts of the market itself and trying to reconstruct the rules of the game so that it ends up producing different outcomes. That's true, but I think that understanding that nuance requires understanding that there isn't a being cold capitalism that exists separate from any rules or regulations, and- and I think this is kind of the really interesting question about how this debate continues to develop, because if we continue to have a republican party that
treats any government rules about how the economy works as identical, it's going to be much harder to have a good conversation about Is it more important to use government as a counterbalance or to use government to shape the rules by which corporations operate? So you know describing what could be a very interesting debate within the Democratic Party or could a very interesting debate within the american public debate. Largely our public and politicians to this is where I think dumb trumps role is the interest, yes because you know we will talk about Overton Window, shifting and various things, but it's actually tromp, who has kicked out at least like two of the three legs of the the conceptual stool of like arms length, Anglo American.
And capital is like one way which were polygons Democrats are different is like. If Elizabeth worn wants to talk about big ideas, she feels compelled to like release this bill text, whereas Donald Trump will just say things, but like he on a campaign trail, he was just saying that he did not think companies should be allowed to shut down american factories and then replaced them with foreign imports. He never produced a plan to stop that from happening as president the trade policy implementing is kind of different from what he said. The modalities are different. He obviously was not restrain his rhetoric by like the four letters of what but the law said, but also in office. He has used the President's trade policy authority and very aggressive way is that sort of align with the vision that
Line there, but either way he is like clearly not saying that the optimal society is one in which the investor class allocates capital for its own profit, seeking resources, and then that leads to a socially optimal distribution of things he really put on the table, and I think it has not come off the table since it matters a lot. What we're Publican say about these things? He is put on the table. The idea that corporate executives should be subjected to moral criticism by leading figures, civil society and that's actually incredibly. radical kind of idea right and if the right pole of the political discourse is gonna, go there right that there should be moral criticism of business leaders, decisions for its impact on workers and middle class lemmings
hundreds that really opens up the playing field for so much harder, hammering right into the legal system into the regulatory system. Of course, Trump. When he's appointed judges when he's appointed regulators has not necessarily filled those jobs with people who agree with him about this, which makes it relatively weak in practice. But even if you like, you didn't pass this all right, but if it was with working as a more disciplined person who has a stronger rolodex of policymakers simply old, all of the economic policy and legal jobs with people who agree with her about this subject and then continue to speak vocally on it, while even Republicans have abandoned the sort of directive of NEO Liberalism like that itself is a potentially large change in these things, because I do think it. It matters right, leg,
This leaves this fastenings dialogue happening inside Google right now, where the company wants to make a censored search engine to get in on the China market. The reason we want to do that is obvious. Ride like this LE people live in China. You can make me there are a lot of people who work for. Google seem very uncomfortable with this idea, for the very reason that its morally appalling, but like the current prevailing doctrine in America, Is that employees are allowed to be appalled by this and executive, These are allowed to maybe say that employees are gonna, be so appalled that, like net net, it will be bad for business to go. Do the appalling thing, but they are like not supposed to say. You know I just like I agree with these employees. That's appalling! We're not gonna. Do it right worse.
That. That is what that had been Google's line up until now. Yet is one reason: this is a super. We should get to further re right, but in that I have been a big moment in the company I there there thing for a long time was don't be evil and the big example of don't be evil. Was it there founder who come from re authoritarian country decided not to make gotta do any meat when it is worth really getting into this, because this is the model of like without a different structure of governance. Easy path well for a small idealistic company to become a large economy, driving value, creating company with out getting rid of any mission. It has other than maximizing shareholder value away and one I just sing for every one right I mean this has been a sort of latent kind. went to say like this idea of shareholder value, has like achieved a lot of dominance in the business space in the legal sphere. Without ever having been like a law that was passed right, there was no formal change. That said, this is how it's going to be
but there's a lot of accumulated doctrine around it and and changing it just informally, because I mean, I think of Phrase Ezra, I guess taught me as people want to be the heroes of their own story right. So, if you can tell, self that like would you are obligated to do that? Thing for shareholders, and it would be like selfish and wrong to not do that, then that's what Bang words? If you told no, it's like the choices on you that changes the disks. I want to pick up on what you're saying about dollar jumpy is, I think it's very important about the political context in which this is happening, and I do think it goes before Trump. I think I can be a tendency to overstate. Discontinuity is between Donald Trump in their public and party, but go back into the Obama era. Cylindrical the Obama care people like Paul Ryan were gone. All the time and the big thing. They were saying that the big way in which the Republican Party was changing its view on things which they believe things were rigged, and we were getting this new crony capitalism where there was a merger between big government and be corporate
genes and is like the big renewable energy firms, and I see this as a cam Carney making this argument. It was a big thing on the right in roughly two thousand and eleven two thousand and twelve Donald Trump picked up a version of it. He came and he said this whole game is rigged against You and you know what I know, because I've been one of the rigorous imo the guy's run in one of these big companies is paying no taxes on one of the guys paying off all these politicians and getting them in my pocket and now the come in and, having seen all this and having turned on order to become a traitor to my own class and work on your half of all is that one of the great lines for Donald Trump during the campaign was when he said I ve been so greedy I've been greedy, all my life and I'm gonna be greedy for you, and the thing that Donald Trump did was hit him this argument- and it was by far- I thought his most compelling argument during the campaign and the news came in and did it do any of that he did other things right. He kept up the cultural arguments he kept up, the you know, I'm at a protect America from demographic
change changeover to build a wall. I mean there's a lot. The Donald Trump promised to do that. He is continue trying to do, but this idea that he was going to act as a traitor to his class and drain the swamp and on rigorous system. He just dropped that, like a heartbeat as did by the way, the Republicans underneath him. There's been no great effort, and this public in Congress to fight crony capitalism, and so what they ve done is having helped build this consensus that the american economy is rigged and american politics is rigged having, you done a very good job, knocking back Hillary Clinton by painting or part of the problem there. They now left a lot of open space, and so the theory of Warren in twenty twenties always been that she's, basically gonna come in and say Donald Trump was right, it s like. I agree. I bid seem economies rate for ever, but, unlike him, I actually intend to unring it and not, I think, brings up two questions, which is one is the plan. That would actually do any that, but to do Republicans even have an answer to a given where Donald Trump,
gone taken them, and we should take a look at it. I get on behalf of the shareholders are celebrating. It feels like you, don't ever of hours in the day to get everything done. Might because you're missing out on three words: I woke up. I we fell into a deep, dark abyss that opens up when we switch between work, Add those three hours to all the productive time we miss out on thanks to at home, distractions, disorganization fatigue. It's no wonder the days future work should work with clear up. It does look up as a flexible productivity. that's one that makes all you work at one place. That's all you chats apps docks and ass. One centralized place like mission control companies like Google, Google Use click up to make. There is more productive, managed projects, people goals more effectively but for tee of all sizes industries cook up to police fast features of one thousand plus integration must have, or anyone wanting to try manage and tackle their work in one place. Your hours back with clear up trade free today Click
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dot com, slash weeds so I don't see the inconsistency and Donald Trump view that you do, I think, largely because, like mad and if you didn't think we're gonna bring MAX Aber under this convention. and then you have not been with me out enough weeds episodes. I see Donald Trump as fundamentally pre modern in this rightly Donald Trump. You're stands power. Donald Trump understand. That rules that are created to constrain power, if, like the info, Some of the rules is something that can be controlled it. actually matter. The rules were traded to constrain the right, like he will often say to advisers, or at least we've heard of nothing recording like who says. I can't do that. Who says: that's not what's done, and that is It turns out a correct way to look at a lot of the problems facing the president. It turns out that corporations
are also this weird pre modern thing that are actually required to adhere to the rules that are set to constrain power right, there's, a political philosophy David simply whose work I was turned anti researching. This episode by Will Wilkinson he's had a lot of good thoughts on this than a scan and centre and on the box and advance, and the argument that he's making is that both historically and of like the corporation being in something that came to global prominence during the pre liberal exploration era, the Dutch EAST, India Company, that kind of thing and in terms the actual way the corporations function in american life, where an employer has a lot of power or over the way, an employee lives their lives that isn't necessarily constrained by the bill of rights. or the other things that we assume a liberal and Visual is supposed to have their say, disconnect between the legal power that we give corporations and the way that we think that,
If we are to get made that there's this in a liberal understanding of employment as a contract between people that, like a Google engineer, if they really wanted to, could go work for somebody else because they were upset by, but the company was doing in. That ultimately, that would mean that Google would be incentivize not to do it. For example, but like in practice, contract is kind of overridden by power. be interpersonal power dynamics of employer versus employ a boss versus subordinate that kind of thing king structure, individual life, a lot more than the kind of fear radical free contract between two individuals, and so the weird space that court patients exist in and why corporate culture is such an important thing to change. Is that the understanding we have of how capitalism works relies on this really strong divide between public and private and the idea that
are permissible in the private sphere that we worked really hard to constrain in the public sphere, but when you have these entities that are both created by government to a large extent and the high have pseudo governmental power over their employees. That challenges The idea that they should be operated by totally different rules. I think that's true. I also think it's worth trying to get a little more like in the weeds as to what is being oh, is he read because, as some of the reaction initial reaction from from the right, I thought was kind of telling, where there is this like hysterical Kevin Williams in peace in national view where he says Why has a naughty planned, nationalize every business in America weighed and this in article six, she was going to destroy capitalism, and then there was a second national review article from David friend. You also doesn't know like at all what he's talking about
and I dont want to say that by any means like this proposal is beyond criticism. But the basic idea is both a little unfamiliar to America and also like that crazy way and so in Europe and so very different. Labour relations model from the United States and a number of fronts actually she's only operating on on one of them. but in countries that you know if we were not Tagamet Elizabeth wine. If you were to decide, welcome over national view offices and be like does Germany have some successful private businesses like. I think they would say that it does right and in fact, cancer is sometimes love like drinking, Bernie Sanders when he praises Denmark and other nordic countries for like don't you know how high these countries score on the Heritage Foundation, index of economic freedom and adjusting doesn't
Orton Baseline might like separate from others with wire and suffer from this bell. Conservatives appear to me to agree that both Denmark and Germany are, in some sense, like good places to wear them our businesses am, Germany has actually is drawings form of board representation law where for big companies would defined, is over two thousand employees. Half of the directors have to be elected by workers and also in Germany. They have these works councils, so like at any given work site there will be an did group of of employees who you don't like way in and decisions that impact. It's called like this one organizational aspects of work like snacks, in the break room and what uniforms you have to wear stuff like that in Denmark, they have a weaker aboard representation worlds. Thirty five percent, rather than forty in warns Bell, but it kicks in thirty five employee. So it's much more panel far
Jane in so whatever it is that you might think you know this would do or not do it to be consistent with that. I actually what, when I first learned about co determination is about six or seven years ago, A blue my mind blew my mind about. It was like what a relatively small difference it makes where, like, I think, if you wandered over to an american business man, it was like What of workers elected half the members of the board of directors and also all changes that impact employee lifestyles had to be run by a committee workers, Tibet, that's crazy man, that's crazy! What George he has like different economic and social comes in the United States are not that different right. You know what research on this seems to show basically, is that there is less wage inequality in countries that have courts around. the co determination. Yet sir, so Dylan has good piece and co determination and and quoted some large literature reviews
and three says that look, the results are often mixed, but more often than not state is found. A co determination and works councils, and this is mainly looking at germany- lead to higher wages, less short, termism, greater productivity higher levels of income equality. They may, however, reduce profitability and lower returns for shareholders. Yeah So, if you look at the german stock market right german companies are just they're worth less than american companies there's like a fool away to analyze there, but it's just like about what you would expect right General motors had to become tomorrow, like Daimler and half of its directors would be elected by workers like it. Shipwrecks would go down for obvious reasons, not like two zero right, like that
and companies that they find their bottom. I want to know something about, because I think that can sound and in a couple of four ways, but there is a difference between a company being worth less and a company being worthless to shareholders short that I want to note right so accompany where the workers have more power and some more of the company's gains and spoils are gonna, be distributed to workers verses, distributed shareholders or to executives or whatever, is different. You can also have a world, and- and this is a different arguments- were the companies which are worthless overall or the pie in the sky sure, but I just want to note the distinguishing between those two worlds- is actually a quite important thing here. You can have a company worth less on the stock market that it is not clear which of those things are looking way with. The other place where this gets complicated is that companies and America over the last few decades has moved toward
giving stock at eight using stock as a way for the middle class, whether its stock options at individual companies or people putting their retirement accounts in his IRA. Is that kind of thing, so the biggest negative impact of Elizabeth Warren's bill is that people who have retiring accounts, socked away in the stock market, our goal, it is in a sea, less value from those The reason that that is the case is that the are the end point of it? corporate governance structure, that incentivize is people using stock market as their nest. Wait. I want to make the conservative argument ok, because that is not what they think the biggest negative impact of fabulous. Ok, fair, so the biggest negative impact of her bill to to read the conservative backlash to it. Isn't it lead to less innovative, less aggressive, less capable companies that will lead in the long run to less economic growth. So thought map
this peace around about one of the better critiques of the bell was by SAM Hammond at national or view also love than askance and are also initiated. We'll just gets back to our conversation about what This is going to be a conversation among people who identify as liberal or among you know. Everybody really depends on whether you are willing to grant the premise that, like it's worth, taking seriously the skin and we should say sort of Lou, Liberal, Terry and it's a little late logically unusual ass. Anyone here rights- and I want to use this- is the example when Steve Jobs too over Apple ninety six, for instance, he famously forced resignation of most of the board of directors. Installing close friends would below to his vision. He proceeded class. Three thousand work, and shuddered a number of the company's biggest boondoggle. This earned him a reputation for ruthlessness. It also set up on a path. America's first trillion dollar company, it is simply impossible to me- In short, this unilateral vision, succeeding in an environment of constant stakeholder management and worker negotiation, so one
question is whether or not warrants a bill is powerful enough to have stopped jobs from doing what he's doing bullets grant for a minute? The idea that it is all the cultural she would create is or something, and so you would not be able to have a Steve jobs come back into the country, I'm sorry back into the company and He would just not have as much power, and certainly you would not have as much power between the sort of heroes, ceo and the Ruthless Board to cut costs. and to just be a pretty this form of of of of corporate management. We there is an argument, leads to more innovative, capable companies which down the road leads. but our economy, and if you don't like the way, the distribution works, just focus on redistribution to the tax code, not backing up the way these cup work that, as I understand it, is a conservative argument. Do you think that it makes sense? I think this actually two distinct views here that the thing is is a little bit of a weird one. One
that I think we should take seriously. Is that because returns to shareholders well be less, there will not be as much investment and start ups dead, like your company. Going from. I forget what the phrases, but taking off and getting really big. Is it's not gonna be as lucrative in Warren worldwide? So it can be harder to raise venture but all- and if you were to look at how do the? U S and german economies differ systematically. That really is one way in which they differ right. Germany has much more bank loan financing, much less venture capital. It has a software sector, but it doesn't have like big explosive start ups, even though there always trying in Berlin. The job is thing I think, as a bit of a of an odd one right, because Steve Jobs, though he's a famous tech founder, he did not have the kind of relationship to apple that, like Mark Zuckerberg, does at Facebook or Larry page does.
Or Jeff Pieces does like. He had sold all of his apple shares after he got fired the first time, and if you look at Widow was one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but if you traced her well, that's all Disney stock that was acquired because he found it Pixar. You don't be like poor, Steve jobs but like he made remarkably little money off of a corporate man. The question that you have used my ideas, but I mean, I think, there's an important new ones because I think the fact that Apple under Steve Jobs was a more successful company. Then Microsoft, has been, but did Steve jobs made orders of magnitude less money than did the number three guy at Microsoft? Is it tell that, like financial capitalism does not really work on that level? Right that, like it's, not
Truly true that, like these guys like, if they had a little bit, more financial incentive would have made their companies bigger and more successful like they're doing the best they can and the brakes can are what they are now could Steve jobs have pivoted the specific company of apple as well. Lastly, as he did their under a more cooperative governance game, I think probably not, but then the question is like. So what right do we think that if Steve Jobs had not been available to be hired to take over the sort of wounded, corpse of Apple, Clean house, fire bunch of people cut product lines launch those candy colored? I max then, after that, make the deal that guy
that little spinning discard drives to launch the Ipad right like. Is it the case that and then alternate universe touch screen? Smartphones would never been invented, like I'm really skeptical right like that vision of the hero inventor CEO, in which absolutely specific, like micro business practices. led to the innovation that we would not have. The innovations like I dont see red and he was certain. Other companies white like I would say that, like the boring process, innovations that have allowed Walmart to make things in stores somewhat cheaper from how things were in retail stores before Walmart, then maybe wouldn't have happened if you didn't have really big company sway, but we Oh the Continental Europe, actually, where they do have really big companies, is specifically the boring retail sector. Ride like h M Ikea. All d like it is actually the corporate sector in which Europe excels rang,
tsar outbreak, so it's to me that if software start ups are your case for american Capitalism working well, that, like you, have a real problem. I think like these are not capital. Intensive industries. Ride like Mark Zuckerberg to build Facebook cried to create his vision, it's like he had to go hand in hand to investors and be like guys any billions of dollars to create these. Like vast physical plants, which I'm gonna manufacture my social Network, we need to raise some money right because, like he had to keep going, but the reason those come businesses are so lucrative is precisely that they don't need a lot of capital, and I just don't think that if the expected return on that business had been like forty percent lower than they would have been. My gaff fuck that I'm not gonna bother right, like rather famously the founders of Google at one point early, tried to sell it for a million dollars to Yahoo, then later they got offered three billion dollars, but they want it for
billion dollars and they didn't get it and like that's how the company became so big. So I just like I don't know like I don't buy it. I think there's a more fundamental disagreement, which couple people emailed me and they were like mad like. Why would we this crazy change when obviously the current system is great, that is where the Silicon Valley staff, I guess, makes sense to me ride like if you look at the existence of Silicon Valley. and you think that that is so amazing that that proves that, like american Capitalism is actually really good, then you just shouldn't make any big changes, not because the big changes would necessarily specifically mess that up, but because the whole idea of big changes
I clearly misguided, and there are a lot of people who I know for whom, like that's true like they think it is clearly the case that the fact that Facebook exists in America and does not exist in Germany. That just like shows that the american social model is way better. I think the fact that Americans, like don't live as law, have much more child poverty like suggest the opposite, that, like the existence of soul, crushing social media start ups like is not like that great and advertisements for America, but I mean it seems to me that that's like the fundamental question here, not like the specifics of the business management and the other problem with treating Silicon Valley is monolith. Is that one
talk about things that are currently tech giants, we're talking about a generation of firms, the restarted by people who had technical knowledge like not just Steve Jobs, coming back to apple, but like Johnny, I've. Having carried this honest, like the star designer, whom makes sure that there is a strong visual language that affected a lot of how we see it, smooth tat the fact that the Google eyes were tat, guys before they were business, guys mark Zuckerberg was able to code Facebook out of his dorm room, the current in a of even very valuable. Silicon Valley companies, a kind of uber's of the world, are business. Innovation much more than they are technological innovations which to say the value of that company isn't necessarily in its employees. It is in its idea, that's a different matter. Article of things and one where maybe a different approach is needed, not least because some of that value can disappear like Travis Kalanick's
innovation appeared to be that he didn't care about. Local in state regulation really does appear to be the case that his business may not be able to survive. Much less be the kind of market busting thing that everyone thought if use force, play by the same existing rules as everybody else, if you, think of a model where the real lasting value in a company is going to be in the of technological innovations is making. That brings us back to the idea of human capital is a thing that is worth investing. Let's take a break and come back it up, but within the Swedes and work at all This episode is brought to you by fender. Football is back and best bet you can make is downloading the fan dual sports book. It doesn't matter if your new to gambling or an old pro fan, dual has something for everyone and, as an official
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Active lessons are built by real language experts and voiced by real native speakers, and they get you speaking about real left topics right away and because babble is available on the web and as an app. You can complete these lessons. Wherever you are, so you can learn at your own pace, all Unita. fifteen minutes a day and you'll be on your way to confidently speaking a new language in just a few weeks now, for a limited time, Spotify listeners can get up to sixty five percent off their subscription by visiting babbled outcomes lashed Spotify, there's a lot of commentary on both sides of this. That was all about raising mistakes of this proposal. Like again, the sort of destroy capitalism, save capitalism debate. There is a peace from era, Klein bookings, which just took a different. A charter on it, which I thought was at least a useful tool to consider- and his question was well with this Do really anything at all. The whole thing may not work boards, often don't hold ceo.
count, even all even but you know, naming forty percent composition is not getting a majority on it. It's very unclear how decisions are made in corporations is a huge amount of economic and management research. It goes into this in any answers. Often it's quite complicated and then there's also this other question of Why is short, Termism right, which is this thing? That warrant is trying to fix this idea. That corporations are to focus on the short term needs of shareholders. Why do we even think that is a thing? There's Amazon out there, which does not appear to feel any need to make profits at all, Google for a long time operate under. But this don't be evil thing and even now is pumping huge amounts of money into Weird moon shots over on the side and things it may not make a tunnel sense if you were thinking about this is like. short term shareholder, driven, hyper rigorous, get the profit and and and run now kind of thing, and maybe like one hand. We actually don't have this problem that we think
have em on the other, even if we did. What is our real reason to believe that adding you know, a minority of board members to be dominated by workers would actually fix it right now. The view on boards of directors is that they are extremely weak and a lot of people's problems with executive compensation is because boards are extremely friendly to the executives, and so you know four all that warrant is putting forward a fairly aggressive theory of the economy and even putting forward what what is an aggressive bill relative to the status quo. To mats point about this leading to relatively similar outcome. In other countries had to be even more ambitious versions of it the worst spending a lot of energy here talking about something that, if implemented, would just end up adding some compliance costs and crew some interesting board disagreements. It would lead to some good articles about fights on the board and in fact this is like a like a red hair
compared to things that we really know will work like, say, a single pair healthcare system or a big tax credit for the middle class or whatever it might be. I think this is both a good critique, but also in some ways, and so critique like. Are they all I've I've? I mean I wrestled with this all the time, I'm like a really literal person in my wheel, life right and it's easy to kind of look at these things, one by one and be like that. With this even do right like, on the one hand, like it's a big change, a corporate governance, on the other hand like if you read this great bug, varieties of capitalism, which is about twenty years old. Now. But it is not a goes through. The like conceptual idea here that nordic Capitalism and continental european Capitalism, an anglo american Capitalism, are different, and if
read the book. You really understand that it's not like it's not like one law that like makes Denmark, Denmark right. You can't. We just decide to be a different kind of place, said: there's a complicated web of norms and relationships. On the other hand, like, I, don't think it's impossible to do so. and like the larger meaning here right, like Elizabeth Warren, is trying to say that there are issues in american economic policy that should be addressed with tools other than taxation and the creation of social welfare provision right. That's it contestable idea, but, like I think, should be contested on that level right rather than on the kind of Erin Climb NIT picking level, and I do think that the these short termism issue is a real phenomenon when he wants its bad or not right. It's true that, like Amazon and Google and companies that are closely controlled by charismatic founder.
Are given a leash by Wall Street to do slightly crazy things like we're going to go, have self driving cars right, but companies that are old and broadly held are not given that kind of lie. She know, and if you talk to people who work at a place like Verizon and write a lot of times will be in defensive mode and, though be defending their company in everything it does Bob. If he can come get them in more relaxed mode, they will actually be kind sad and maybe embittered that it's like, why don't we get to be a tech company right like this is technology like fiber optic cables. But if I tried to say oh, I have this like moon, shot plan to wire all of Kansas City with fiber optic cables like the way Google did like our stock would tank and the board would yell at more sent a potter. And to give the world entered and wait, wait exactly that they are these old cortical boring, broadly held companies that are owned by a mix
of mutual funds, some rich, people and then looking on the sidelines. There are these activist hedge funds that if you start you know mismanaging yourself and like wasting money on these moon ideas, they will come in they'll get two or three board. Seeds, though, demand that you cancel your wasteful projects and increase your dividends ray and there's like a big question of like is that, Actually optimum right, like there's a theory that it is up to write that that a company like Verizon should not be wasting money, Onthem swayed and that we need both the the reality and the threat of the activists, hedge funds, to keep them disgorging their excess profits in the form of dividends by bags, decorated, larger pool of money in the pockets of which people that they can then invest into new thing swayed. And that that will be better and then I think another view is that, like that, is wrong
narrow efficiency minded capitalism is going to produce an endless recirculated of boring company is and which people ploughing their money into yachts and ski cabin. And things like that, and then actually companies that are driven by an animated spirit of empire building and then can be an eagle maniacal founder or it can be. A cooperative dialogue between executives and workers were trying to think like what do we have in common as like stakeholders in this enterprise and what we have in common? Is it like? We would all be happier if our company was kicking ass. Unlike doing awesome, shit right then increasing its dividend by three cents. A share and obviously reasonable people can like disagree about this, but I think it's up fairly profound question and I do think like the fact that the economic performance of America got worse after we decided. We needed to shift in favour of more financial rationality.
A pre, telling sort of thing to me and people. On the other side, we have noticed that there's been an evolution of of discourse on the american right and it used to that a lot of people would say they know. This is a myth telling really economic performance hasn't declined but thanks to our colleague and Peter Tee, all and the increasing sour nests of grumpy old Republican Party voters- and it has been more willingness to accept that, like the slowdown really has happened, but now they want to say that the slowdown has like nothing to do with the large scale changes in the economic structure of America that american conservative succeeded in implementing and that's that's too much of a bank shot for me like
I think that if Ronald Reagan said we can have more inequality, but it will give give us faster growth, and then we end up getting slower growth, but the higher inequality like. That's that's pretty damn, I'm so glad he brought up the idea of activists capital because if you look at the dynamics here, it makes it clear that will looks from ten thousand feet like capitalism working as expected. Creative destruction is often the result, choices by particular. People who are ideologically committed to shareholder capitalism, like I feel like the best argument here is entered the counterpart to Amazon. Toys are us with the Saturday stores earlier this year for reasons that lake. you can tell yourself adjusted story about. Oh Amazon is getting better at delivering goods, including in especially in the parenting sphere, with subscribe save and all of that it's a lot easier toys or us just couldn't compete, so they had to shut down. That's not the whole
story, the whole story is that that kind of shifting the market created a corporate deaths spiral here. The insistence on continuing to generate shareholder value for a kind of the capitalist class resulted in less investment, less innovation, the kind of things that in mats telling should have led in ownership management and workers to say what can we do to compete with them? What can we do? You know in a capitalist world, continue to make sure there are multiple players in this market and that their competing with each other for the benefit of consumers. That didn't happen. It was just kind of well, superior player, his role Dan, we gotta look draw ourselves first and we gotta cut out, and so that I think, is the real question here is: if we act I fully understand that what looks from afar, like capital, I'm working as intended is in fact often
to default toward monopoly toward the splashes player. That captors a lot of market share, getting an increased amount of market share because everyone else's just pulling out in the name stop by backs. Is that actually the end game that we think is working well or can we see that maybe a less than ideal situation, there's one more way of looking at the spill that is low, but related to that that that I want to bring up- because I was thinking about this and- and I think that one way to cut all play out if this was implemented, is the bill functionally acts as a tax on big There are a lot of people who believe one of the key problems in the american economy. Right now is it. We are seeing mega corporations and up overly concentrating their sectors. I think that's a very good argument about the Amazon problem be certainly see. B to have over and over and over again engaged in anti competitive behaviour like making it impossible so diapers online, so they could absorber diaper competitor.
instance, but there's a lot of very big companies. Bigness is a reward unto itself on a couple of different levels, obviously get economies of scale, but if you look at the way a Google or an apple work, for instance, they are using their phones to advantage a bunch of their different products. They also end up being powerful in the political system. Google's a very powerful lobbyist g is very powerful lobbyists, and so I think that is something you can see in this bill. Is it one thing it would do? Is you become a company of more than a billion dollars and all of a sudden, you have a slightly clumsier. I'm stakeholder management system happening at the top, where you have to be listen, the worker, demands more often than you were before, they're just a little bit more than that that you need to deal with Also your ability to operate inside the political system before your own interests is some slow down now. It may be that you know the certainly the possibility of the whole company doing a lot of coal lobbying. It doesn't necessarily mean you will be able to, but in terms of big companies within the corporate class band,
together in the way they do through the Chamber of commerce and other things or the National Association of Manufacturers to get what they want done, die This will be some amount of of impediment on that. Another way of thinking about this whole thing a list, Warren has consistently been critic of bigness species. You know been very big on breaking up the big banks for reasons that she's very well able to articulate and- and that has to do with just anti competitive and too big to fail concerns, and I think something you can see here is that a lot of the criticisms of this bill are people saying if you To do this, you are going to make it somewhat harder for big companies to compete. You're gonna make it somewhat harder for big companies which are already complex and unwieldy. run a jolly and ruthlessly and and aggressively by their ceos, and the answer to that might be yes,
right. And what do you think that's a bad thing is what they're, not you think? Actually what America needs is below all these big companies and, frankly, even bigger company or what you think is going on is it new startup formation is actually fallen in recent decades. For all the talk about Silicon Valley and the lotteries, to believe that between what companies doing politically and what they're doing economically their able to keep new entrants out of their markets and actually moving, Plainfield a little bit so big companies have more social responsibility and also is a little bit more competitive space for smaller companies to come in and he'll compete them in and out active them. It's like not the craziest thing in the world, that's how you feel about business, but I do think us away. This could end up paying out in practice. I think this gets at something that I've been fascinated by for a while, which is that America for valuing entrepreneurship, often does it beaten, switch on what that means. Rightly, the ideal is the business
could turn into Google. It's not Dougal as its currently constitute its Google, as it was ten years ago this, like small, but growing, quickly. Over ambitious you know world be Then you can still see the seeds of this idea that a couple of guys had in their there isn't the same kind. Enthusiasm politically, are really kind of morally how America thinks about itself in the big well established corporation. That gives a lot of people jobs and creates a lot of value for consumers and shareholders. Even though you know the same Hammond Critique is that in practice those are they one is that are really driving the economy. And I think that there is a question where this turns from a what is the best economic outcome to a white? Does America value in capitalism in entrepreneurship, because there are not entirely economic arguments for an economy where there's a lot of small business ownership, where there's a lot of small scale entrepreneurship where it kind of gets back?
to the feeling of rudeness, but it also gets back to a feeling of upward mobility that anyone in the middle class could start their own business and make at least two good living for themselves in their family, and maybe it's true that that's the kind of animal a ship that America actually prefers and that in that case, sacrificing? A little bit of economic growth is worth it to shift things in that direction. It's just that! That's a normative conversation that we would need to have without except in that were not actually debating. What's goin to be best for GDP, we're talking about GDP versus, Yet I have a lot of concerns about the way this is structured because its, which has created a pretty big, Cliff arab, fairly low. threshold, rightly billion dollar cut off threshold is not like. The super giants of the economy is a much broader set of like bees
company swayed, and what happens when you crossed the threshold is, is locked right? It's it's not the kind of sliding scale that you haven't the german system or the kind of Denmark where the threshold is really LE right, like if companies fewer than thirty five employees. That's like that, like nothing go to your business at all. You can get over that. A dynamic that we ve seen in player in the retail sector in the United States, is that we used to have a very fragmented landscape, where big cities would have department stores that were typically local to that city, and then small townsmen have like general stores. Are. You know sort of generic stories that, where local to their right would evolved over the latter part of the twentieth century, is that the most successful stores began to become chains and franchise and spread across the landscape And what we see in the literature is that, even though this
was a lot in the Eightys and Ninetys bemoaning of big bucks stores for rank and file workers. You earn higher pay working for large retail chains in large establishments because they, better at it right like mom and pop are like, maybe actually that good it running a store, but because they happened to run the store in town. They just continue running right and then, when they are put out of business by like guys with MBA, is who were trained. Unlike the Arkansas help camp, you can get significantly better outcomes Why has I think, a sophisticated critique of how that dynamic played out specifically in the retail banking,
sector? But I don't know why you would apply it broadly right, like we see in the fate of borders that, like it's, not true, that large retail establishments are too big to fail or that they lobby the governmental and get themselves bailed out in some went away? And if you think about a lot of like really unsatisfying commercial encounters that you may have in life the often late to industries that are very fragmented and hyper localised like you wish that they were someplace like MIC plumber right that, like did big national advertising campaigns and I tried to get good ratings and had like two big plumbing competitors and they exist in all cities and they had like uniforms and standards and he would decide which one wanted to hire, rightly goby really nice as a consumer, and nobody has figured that out as a business proposition but
I would. I would like them to write like putting a hefty tax. I'm going from small to medium sized seems a little ill, considered to me and I have spoken to unblock like where does forty percent come from? Where does a billion come from and its guesswork it is like its round numbers. They wanted a lot of board seats but less than half, so they came up with forty if you go from a billion to like a hundred million. That's. Big change, so they like you, I was, but if we were to actually do this right like I would want to see like some some real studies Lex charge, some experts like what happens. If you tweak the thresholds right like a lot of this, is like it's great for like launching a discussion, but like is, is specifically this. You want the law to work, I'm what kind of skeptical the answer to this could be. Why don't you have states? Try instead, one of that
critiques a desperate proposal that, in that we haven't mentioned, is that just as a matter of the current federal system states, ten, the ones who are directing how corporations are supposed restructured. This is why everybody- registers their corporations in Delaware, because that's a particularly permissive regime did even though the kind of this is government take over of corporations, argument makes no sense. Given the actual text of organs bill, it does represent a federal, say so in how corporations are structured, vig If you believe Congress is currently restricted by precedent, could own the door to a lot of things that are less precedent. It that requires that you Leave that Congress currently restricted by precedent, which I don't necessarily It is true, but it where's noting, but it also means that, like a lot of these kind of threshold, questions of how big does a corporation have to be how many seats on the board what counts, as a subsidy
he'll business decision that the board hast way and on we could have fuel experiments here in the way we are currently having minimum wage experiments in a where small governments in various situations are frying this in seeing whether works or not that doesn't. severally require us to start this conversation with a federal bell, a more sceptical that, because I think for the rich You brought up it's a Delaware problem. The corporations will just incorporate and do the charter in whatever places, asking the least of them minimum wage its little tricky for workers to go dodge the minimum wage. By going to be enough, California mean they can they can move to govern if it's a lot easier for corporations due to their legal paperwork somewhere else then why there are really based, and so I think this is. I am often a big fan of like let's do some state laboratory trying out, but in this case I think we ve been trying something like that and what with end
up having as Delaware is running corporate charter regulation for the entire country, You couldn't create a system where, if you employ exponent of Europe plays in the state you have to be charged in the state, you could try, you could do different things, but you could you also a lot more movement from member states, and I wouldn't want to create big incentive is to leave estate and go to why? Because wise more permissive look, I will say that somebody listen. This was a wooden. This builders do that for America eyeing the evidence is that it is actually significantly trickier and less common for corporations is up and leave their country for a lot of different reasons. like to live where bother people have lived. I hope the time, but I think the question of whether you're in Nevada, or California is actually date. There is
amount of flexibility. That has been I mean. I do think that there is going to mean this would make a terrible framework for a speech and launching a president. I do think or selling Congress could consider to be a much more mild change, and this would be trying to establish some curbs on venue. Shopping for incorporating Right that like it would be one thing: if the lesson we ve learned from incorporation law is the delawares comparative advantages. Corporation is so great. That Wilmington is
largest city in America, the hub of global economic activity right but later, violence, and we saw a man- will ignore nobody is moving their of real economic activity to Delaware. I don't. I don't have off the shelf exactly the details of a proposal that would make a company incorporate where in some sense it like really is. But I'm sure that if we like got some smart lawyers working together, we could do something that would give states some more like real, flexible in terms of defining how cooperation works, I mean, for example, for tax purposes right. We do not allow a big companies that we all know are located in California. Just say: oh no, I'm in a state that has no corporate income tax rate. I got a million and really New Hampshire, vague and you are on the global level. Right like there is mischief making roundness unlike oftentimes, the republican viewpoint would be like well
the only way we have to like stop companies from pretending all their revenues in Ireland is to give them a huge corporate taxes. But that's not true right, like America's is a big deal on the world scene, like, we can make companies follow laws if we want to, and we could make companies incorporate where their actual headquarters is for some reasonably common sense notion like where do the ceo kids go to school? might be relevant right and like maybe maybe some businesses would move right to more business friendly environment. I don't think that's like the worst thing in the world but what we see for MIKE, where big companies headquartered is that they are often really truly not, in the most business friendly environment. Like California makes companies pay a lot of taxes that relatively high minimum wage, but Reply good workers There- and I don't like this whether like rich guys like living in California right if they all want to go, move to Alaska, to take advantage of friendly incorporation.
like you know, well see, but I'm kind of sceptical that they work, seems a good place to come to a close here. Yes, no offense to Alaska, but you know also We just spent an entire upset about housing policy like talking smack of California, so it's fine shore exactly exactly, I want to mention. I am wearing my t shirt to remind me that if you, if you just love hearing my voice, used to check out the latest episode of worldly, I am which I make a guest appearance explaining the economic crisis in Turkey. Not like hearing my voice should go to the weeds Facebook Group, where you can interact with. Commentary on world affair. So, ok, ok, there's a lot of things you could listen to today explained. I pick your interesting always again, one and no, but really is no less than a worldly with yeah, listen, Tabooed, Matt and come always a good one, but really is no less than a worldly with ya, listen to our boot Matt and come back on Friday when the weeds shall return,
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Transcript generated on 2021-09-12.