Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The NBA, China, HB2 and Political Economic Warfare

Forgive many people in North Carolina if they view the current NBA drama in China with a certain sense of schadenfreude.
They deserve it, they say.
The NBA abruptly canceled the 2017 All-Star Game scheduled to be played in Charlotte because of their opposition to H.B. 2, otherwise known as the “bathroom bill.” The NBA played up their reputation as “social warriors” willing to use their prestige, and business, to help the oppressed wherever they saw it be it public accommodations, rebel flags or confederate monuments.
The political economic warfare loss to North Carolina business was estimated to be $100 million. No one in the NBA or advocacy groups supporting genderless bathroom accommodation disagreed with political economic warfare when they did it to North Carolina. It was viewed as “just punishment” for the state of North Carolina for passing terrible unfair discriminatory legislation, even though the boycott wound up hurting thousands of hard-working middle-class folks in Charlotte who would have benefited financially from the All-Star festivities.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey recently tweeted the following seemingly innocuous statement regarding Hong Kong and China: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
Good for him. Another case of the NBA using their prestige and business to help the oppressed, only this time in Hong Kong, right?
Not so fast. The initial reaction of the NBA was to retract all public comments supporting Hong Kong freedom, including Mr. Morey’s tweet, so they would not offend the ruling communist Chinese authorities.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said no one ever asks him about human rights oppression in China so apparently it doesn’t bother him either.
The NBA gets revenues exceeding $4 billion annually from China. Nike gets 20% of its $35 billion in revenue, or $7 billion, from China. Fear of losing money is what caused the abrupt about-face over Mr. Morey’s support of freedom in his Hong Kong tweet. Nothing else.
Should the NBA or any major corporation have qualms about doing business in a country with a long history of horrendous human rights abuses and oppression among many other transgressions such as being the major contributor in the world to carbon pollution? Should the NBA or any business stay silent when they see injustice or keep their mouth shut to protect their bottom line of profit and loss statements?
More than 65 million Chinese citizens have been executed or buried alive since the communists took control in 1949. If there ever was a country to boycott because of their suppression of freedom, China would top the list.
The people of Hong Kong enjoyed democratic freedom until the “Handover of 1997” when the UK relinquished control of Hong Kong to China. The Hong Kong freedom fighters are no different from American colonists who disagreed with the heavy-handed rule of King George III.
They want freedom, period. Hong Kong protestors are waving American flags for goodness sakes.
Is the NBA willing to be a “social warrior” for freedom around the globe? Or will they turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of Chinese communist rule for the past 70 years to keep selling their games and jerseys to Chinese customers?
Dealing with China while ignoring their past and present oppression is not unlike British textile merchants who had no problem with American slavery as long as they could get American cotton for their products.
Maybe the Chinese dictatorial authorities will ban the NBA from China if LeBron James and Zion Williamson stand up for freedom for Hong Kong. How odd would it be if future historians look back to 2019 and say that one of the triggers that led to the dissolution of Communist China was a full-scale revolt by 330 million Chinese basketball fans once the government banned the NBA because they could not see LeBron and Zion dunk anymore.
Call it the second “shot heard around the world.” If the NBA truly stands for freedom, maybe it will happen.
(first published in North State Journal 10/16/19)

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

America Should Have Many More Billionaires, Not Less

Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted this out last week before he entered the hospital with a heart ailment:
“There should be no billionaires!”
He is wrong. There are close to 585 billionaires in America today. America should strive to have more billionaires in America. Many more.
China is next with 476 billionaires, despite their so-called “communist” system. India has 131 and Germany has 114; there are about 1,000 billionaires sprinkled in the other 191 countries.
What does it mean when a person is able to amass a fortune over $1 billion? It means that they probably started a ground-breaking company such as Jeff Bezos did with Amazon, usually out of nothing other than a pipe dream in their head, and then executed a business plan worldwide to provide a product or service millions and billions of people across the globe want to buy.
It doesn’t mean they “stole billions” from the poor or the oppressed. Stealing would be too much hard work; selling things people want to buy voluntarily is so much easier, and safer, than stealing.
Having billionaires succeed in America means their operational headquarters will be in America where they hire thousands of American citizens to sell and distribute their product. These people get paid by billionaires in salaries and health and retirement benefits which they use to live good lives, raise families and pay taxes on their income here in America, not elsewhere.
Mr. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have the childish notion that rich people are taking the very food out of the mouths of poor people to stay rich as if we are living in some Dickens novel. Worse, they think that Robin Hood and Santa Claus are role models for federal budgeting and tax policy.
A billionaire cannot possibly consume $1 billion worth of food, clothing, cars or any other material good any human could possibly want in a year, a decade or a lifetime. One billion dollars would buy 333 million $3 burgers, to give one absurd example.
What do billionaires do with their money above meeting their basic human needs?
After paying their employees, they “pay” the rest of us to provide things for them and the rest of the country and world.
They buy expensive mansions at resort areas from Florida to California. Each time they buy a new 50,000-square-foot mansion, they hire contractors who then hire hundreds of construction workers who put in gold-plated porcelain sinks and air-conditioned dog houses for their favorite beloved poodle.
They buy expensive cars and jets and pay expert mechanics to keep those finely tuned machines running. Not to mention the hundreds of people who are employed by the manufacturers that make the cars and jets in the first place.
Wealthy people help make other people wealthy through their investments in new companies. They invest in companies they think will be profitable one day, although there is never a guarantee of success. Win or lose in their investments, the billionaires’ money goes to pay thousands of people in the new companies to do their jobs which provide salaries, pensions and health care coverage to an entirely new set of people outside of their main line of business.
The “worst” thing they can do is put it in a savings or checking account at the local bank. Which winds up going to help a regular person get a mortgage to buy their house or a loan to start their business.
When they die, they set up charitable foundations that build hospitals, universities, medical centers or make grants to help people in need the world over.
Rich people take money from customers all over the world and then basically “give” it to the rest of us through the free market system.
Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren want Americans to believe they are modern-day Robin Hoods who will steal from the rich to give to the poor.
Or Santa Claus who somehow brings free toys to everyone each Christmas.

(first published in North State Journal 10/9/19)

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Can Republicans win back the African American vote?

You might be scratching your head and asking: “When did the GOP ever have the African American vote to begin with?”
The Republican Party has been joined at the hip of African American freedom since before the Civil War. The same strands of philosophical belief that underpinned Republican belief then — freedom, equality, individual responsibility and opportunity for everyone in a vibrant free-market economy — underpin the Republican Party today in clear contradistinction to the freedom-crushing socialist policies of the modern Democrat Party.
Young African Americans are unaware of the close historical tie between the Republican Party and the first civil rights movement in America for many of their ancestors. They have been taught and told that Republicans support only old rich white men and big business and could care less about justice and equal rights under the law.
A young African American student said I was the first white Republican she had ever met and talked to in-depth. She was 21 years old at the time. “I grew up in a little rural town in eastern North Carolina. I went to an almost all-black high school in Wilmington, and I am about to graduate from North Carolina A&T University. Where would I have met a white Republican to talk to about political philosophy anywhere along the way, Mr. Hill?”
Had there been no Republican Party running the country after the Civil War, Southern Democrats never would have allowed even the brief decade or so of freedom and enfranchisement for former slaves during the 19th century.
Republicans in Congress passed the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865; the 14th Amendment, which granted full citizenship rights and protections to 4 million former slaves; and the 15th Amendment, which prevented states from denying voting rights for black citizens.
A Republican Congress overrode President Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which eradicated laws in the South that prevented blacks from owning property, making contracts and filing lawsuits.
Former Union general and two-term Republican President Ulysses S. Grant was so committed to protecting the freedom of the former slaves he sent federal troops into states such as Louisiana and Mississippi to annihilate white supremacy groups like the KKK, White Line and White League that were not only suppressing the black vote but killing thousands of innocent citizens in the process.
Once black voters were protected at the voting booth, more than 2,000 black men were elected to serve in public elective office across the South during Reconstruction, every one of them Republican. More than 600 were elected to state legislatures. Two black U.S. senators were sent from Mississippi; 16 black congressmen were elected from other states.
Back then, Republicans could count on nearly every Southern black vote in every election and received most of the black vote until 1936. Republicans running for president today are lucky to get 5% of the black vote.
If a Republican presidential candidate could ever garner the support of 18-20% of African American voters nationwide — 6% more than Bob Dole received in 1996 — it would be impossible for a Democrat candidate to win the White House in 2020 or any year thereafter.
Younger African Americans are not as monolithically Democrat as their parents and grandparents; 15% of black voters are registered unaffiliated, most of whom are under the age of 40. They can see the failure of massive government programs, albeit well-intentioned, to help many in the African American community as well as anyone.
As a senior black Republican adviser has said, “African American voters have to like Republicans first before they will listen to any of their policies or targeted political messages. Who will be those Republicans?”

Perhaps a look back into the intertwined history of the Republican Party and African Americans will give common ground to begin those friendships and discussions. Times change and so do political preferences; nothing stays the same forever when it comes to politics in America.

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