Internet

Corporate Socialism? Bill Barr's Suggestion That the U.S. Should Buy Nokia or Ericsson To Counter China Is a Terrible Idea.

If the only way to beat China is to become like China, then we've already lost.

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During his State of the Union address last week, President Donald Trump repeatedly invoked the specter of socialism—it "destroys nations," he warned.

But by the end of the week, one of the highest-ranking officials in the Trump administration was openly suggesting that America should engage in one of the hallmarks of socialism: a state takeover of a private company.

In a speech last Thursday, Attorney General Bill Barr floated the idea that the United States could purchase a majority stake in tech companies like Sweden-based Ericsson or Finland-based Nokia as a way to counter the growing prominence of China's Huawei as the world's leading provider of fifth generation (5G) mobile internet hardware.

"Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power," Barr said. "We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach."

He even wrapped his idea in socialist language, saying that the United States must "act collectively" to stand up to China's rising economic power and technological developments. He might not have been calling for a Marxist-style seize-the-means-of-production uprising, but Barr's pitch for some kind of techno-corporate socialism is still shocking—even by the standards of an administration that has embraced central industrial planning as an anti-China strategy. It was all the more so because it came during in a prepared, formal speech, not as an off-the-cuff remark that later needed to be walked back.

But walked back it was. Vice President Mike Pence and Larry Kudlow, the White House's chief economic advisor, later denied that the Trump administration was considering the plan Barr had outlined. "U.S. government is not in the business of buying companies, whether they're domestic or foreign," Kudlow told Reuters on Friday.

That's a relief.

Still, Barr floating an idea that basically amounts to "in order to beat China, we must become like China" is an example of how the White House is straying into dangerous territory as it struggles to respond to the perceived threat posed by Huawei. The risk of overreaction seems high.

The Trump administration argues that Huawei represents a national security risk. In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the Chinese government could co-opt Huawei to "steal private or proprietary information, or use 'kill switches' to disrupt critical future applications like electrical grids and telesurgery centers." Just this week, America's intelligence community sounded the alarm about potential "back doors" built into Huawei gear—though the warning comes with a heavy dose of irony, as Reason associate editor Scott Shackford noted earlier today.

But the Pentagon has pushed back against the White House's and Commerce Department's anti-Huawei actions, suggesting that those policies might have more to do with politics than legitimate national security worries.

When the British government announced late last month that it would not prohibit Huawei gear from being used in the country's mobile internet infrastructure, Trump "vented 'apoplectic" fury at [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson in a tense phone call," according to a Financial Times report citing two administration officials familiar with the call.

Like last week's kerfuffle over potentially having the U.S. government buy Nokia or Ericsson—Huawei's biggest competitors on the global market for 5G equipment—that phone call and other anti-Huawei actions taken by the Trump administration demonstrate that the White House is struggling to develop a coherent 5G policy, writes Daniel Drezner, a Tufts University professor, Washington Post columnist, and Reason contributor. Current policies have not stopped Britain and other countries from buying Huawei gear, so the Trump administration may be signalling its intention to escalate tactics.

It may be tempting to dismiss Barr's trial balloon as nothing more than a policy misfire, but there is clearly a contingent of the current administration that favors state control and central planning as the only way to develop 5G networks faster than China.

How else to explain why different versions of this same bad idea keep resurfacing? In January 2018, a leaked memo from the National Security Council compared the development of 5G infrastructure to the building of the national interstate highway system, and suggested that the Trump administration should nationalize broadband service as a way to stay ahead of the Chinese government's development of similar tech. The idea was widely condemned by the tech industry, by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, by the FCC, and by top White House policy advisers such as Larry Kudlow.

A variation on the same idea surfaced last year, and was promoted by Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who wrote an op-ed calling for the nationalization of 5G rollout. "Our own laissez-faire tendencies and preferences are being used to defeat us," he wrote.

Thankfully, those proposals have failed to take off, in part because Kudlow and Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai have pushed for a hands-off approach that puts the private sector at the forefront of 5G deployment. Trump has endorsed that plan, but his tempestuous nature means a reversal is always possible.

And the idea of a government takeover of Ericcson or Nokia could resurface again in a different form. "It wouldn't be a surprise if an American telecom or a group of private equity firms bid for Nokia or Ericsson—with some kind of special subsidy or tax break provided by the White House," The New York Times reported last week, shortly after Barr's trial balloon came crashing down.

Because if straight-up socialism doesn't fly, try it with a side of cronyism, I guess.

There is little reason to think an American government takeover of one of the Nordic tech giants would reduce any of the security risks posed by Huawei. More likely, it would only serve as a way for America to put diplomatic pressure on other countries to use certain products in building their 5G networks.

There is certainly a role for the United States to play in ensuring that the next generation of mobile internet is free and open around the world. But having the American government buy its own tech company in an attempt to copy China's relationship with Huawei? That's not it.

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  1. Sure let China be the only nation on earth who can produce this technology. That should work out well.

    1. They aren’t, and they won’t be. Ban defense contractors and government offices from using Huawei’s stuff and move on. The market will handle the rest.

      1. Precisely.

        1. I think the point is that beyond not having Emperor Xi spy on us, we have an interest in not having him spy on the rest of the world too.

          We spend lots of money on national defense. Preventing Emperor Xi from ruling the world is worth some of that to us.

          We also spend money on roads. Communications is a bedrock infrastructure like roads, electricity, and water.

          It probably won’t take actual investment in companies. Fund development, like other competitive defense contracts.

          1. It is my sincere hope that emperor Trump has the best spies on the planet. My tax dollars, the state and local pay for roads, schools, fire trucks, stuff that actually matters.

            Spies though. Isn’t that what the fed spends money on? Really good ones. They should know what emperor Xi had for breakfast. Are you claiming that they have better spies? If so I am outraged.

      2. Interfere in the Holy Market?!?

        Blasphemer!

        1. We are back to pretending China doesnt manipulate the market or is a bad actor again.

          1. The problem is that libertarianism only works if it’s general principles are being followed across the board by everyone.
            I believe libertarianism is the best system, but if you’re in a corporatist country or dealing with an authoritarian socialist one, you’re just letting the other side cheat while you play fair if you stick religiously to those principles.

            1. Strange. America was pretty libertarian up until the 20th century in a world that wasn’t very libertarian and yet we became the most powerful nation on Earth.

              1. Hahaha. The USA had a bunch of very Libertarian moments but we were far from libertarian up until the 20th century.

                Slavery existed until 1865.

                As mothers lament stated, Libertarianism only works if we are playing by the same rules. Rule of law for example. Rule of men makes libertarianism nearly impossible.

                1. Name a country that was more libertarian than America from 1870-1900, the period that also matches up with our greatest economic growth up to that time and our ascendancy as a world power. By your logic, North Korea should be a world power or Cuba or Venezuela since they are furthest from libertarian policy. Strange then that the countries with policies farthest away from socialism and therefore closest to libertarianism also have the best economies.

                  1. I’m impressed you consider tarriffs libertarian… which is how we dealt with an un-libertarian world in that era…

                2. This is why contracts become voidable or just void when at least one party materially breaches the agreement.

                3. And my tax dollars pay for you farm subsidy insurance LC.

        2. If I didn’t believe that, why would I bother to stop Xi?

      3. “Ban”, then “let the market handle it.”

        No contradiction there!

    2. Wow, if there was ever any doubt that you are an ardent believer a socialist* economy, it has now been dispelled.

      *Well, possibly more properly fascist given the context

    3. Ooh, Reason criticized Trump. Gotta abandon any libertarian principles to defend His Holiness.

      1. You dont have any principles to abandon, dont worry.

        1. JesseSPAZ’s ONLY principles are, the Trumptatorship knows NO bounds! The Trumptatorship’s powers are unbounded! Infinite! Above and beyond ANY limitations by, for example, the USA Constitution! And… Words (lies) can NOT be crimes!!!

          Readers, beware! Do not be deceived by JesseSPAZ! JesseSPAZ does NOT believe that LIES are bad in ANY way! Only ACTIONS matter, ethically or morally! See https://reason.com/2020/01/01/trumps-inartful-dodges/#comment-8068480
          “Words are words dumbfuck. Actions are where morals and ethics lie.”, says JesseSPAZ. When confronted with offers of hush money, illegal commands (from a commanding military officer), offers of murder for hire, libel, slander, lies in court, yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, inciting riots, fighting words, forged signatures, threatening to kill elected officials, false representations concerning products or services for sale… these are all “merely” cases of “using words”. Just like the Evil One (AKA “Father of Lies”), Jesse says lies are all A-OK and utterly harmless! So do NOT believe ANYTHING that you hear from JesseSPAZ!

          Also according to the same source, JesseSPAZ is TOTALLY on board with dictatorship (presumably so long as it is an “R” dictator that we are talking of).
          With reference to Trump, JesseSPAZ says…
          “He is not constitutionally bound on any actions he performed.”

          I say again, this is important…
          “He is not constitutionally bound on any actions he performed.”
          We need a BRILLIANTLY persuasive new movie from JesseSPAZ to “Wake Up, America!”, to flesh out the concept that “The Triumph of The Will of The Trump, Trumps All”! Including the USA Constitution. In fact, USA military personnel should start swearing allegiance to Trump, NOT to some stupid, moldering old piece of paper!
          Previous Powerful People have blazed a path for us to follow here, slackers!!!

          1. Go away, Hihn, or whomever you are. Just. Go. Away.

            1. He won’t. He will shot post until the end of time.

            2. Get JesseSPAZ to stop lying, and I’ll stop pointing out that he lies. Otherwise, lies like his become the “truth”. Hitler said, “Lie long enough and hard enough, and the lies become the truth”. Also, “all that is required for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing”, by https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke

              1. “Get JesseSPAZ to stop lying, and I’ll stop pointing out that he lies…
                Stop lying and I’ll quit pointing out that you’re a TDS infected lying piece of shit.

    4. Barr is a deep state communist, and many Trumpers are fellow travelers.

      1. Blasphemy! Blasphemy against Trump the Father, JesseSPAZ the Son, and the Holy Republican Church!

      2. “”Barr is a deep state communist,””

        So you’re saying he’s going to stay on the job if Sander’s get elected?

  2. And the idea of a government takeover of Ericcson or Nokia could resurface again in a different form. “It wouldn’t be a surprise if an American telecom or a group of private equity firms bid for Nokia or Ericsson—with some kind of special subsidy or tax break provided by the White House,” The New York Times reported last week, shortly after Barr’s trial balloon came crashing down.

    Because if straight-up socialism doesn’t fly, try it with a side of cronyism, I guess.

    Who let Boehm have a journalism degree let alone write for a libertarian magazine? Between intellectual laziness and terrible writing ability “tax breaks for the rich is socialism” is a valid interpretation of what’s being said here.

    And if we were talking about tax breaks between two relatively free Western interests, I might agree with the underlying sentiment if only the assessment were a little ill-worded but Boehm is flat out equivocating the White House giving tax breaks to a socialist-state-back phone company spying on people.

    1. Because if straight-up socialism doesn’t fly, try it with a side of cronyism, I guess.

      Seriously, I’m not sure if Boehm can’t distinguish socialism from cronyism, entrees from sides, or both. Replacing one thing with another is not getting something on the side. Cronyism with a side of socialism vs. socialism with a side of cronyism might’ve made some sense, but still, not every use of the word tax break specifically means cronyism.

    2. Boehm is flat out equivocating the White House giving tax breaks to with a socialist-state-back phone company spying on people.

      1. Nobody was interested in your observation in the first place. You didn’t need to correct your correction.

      2. You rang?

        Ha-ha! That’s our little joke. We don’t have to ask whether or not you rang, we already know. And so does the NSA.

  3. Hey, Trumpist trade wars have already been used as the excuse for socializing / welfarizing the American farmers, in DROVES, so WHY NOT?

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/farmers-ride-the-gravy-train-as-trump-boosts-welfare-to-the-heartland-2019-05-25

    Farmers ride the gravy train as Trump boosts welfare to the Heartland
    By Brett Arends

    Between this year and last, U.S. farmers will receive about $27 billion in so-called aid because of the president’s damaging policies

    But conservatives NEVER bitch up a storm about THIS… They’d MUCH rather bitch about illegal sub-humans pulling down a few welfare dollars here and there!

    1. Farmers love Trump, therefore they are Real Republicans, Real Christians, and GOOD PEOPLE.

    2. Sure, because American farmers haven’t been welfare queens for generations.

      1. My family farms gets no subsidies from the govt. we have crop insurance, so if a crop fails, we get insurance payouts.

        1. Yup, crop insurance is not dependent on federal backing- no way no how.

          1. LOL. LC1789, the welfare queen.

          2. Yup, crop insurance is not dependent on federal backing- no way no how.

            The ratio of crop insurance to SNAP payouts is on the order of 1:5. If we’re paying farmers to do the work or to not quit on years they can’t do the work producing the food and they’re welfare queens, what are the people we’re paying ~5X as much to eat the crops? Welfare god-kings?

  4. Alright, literally nationalizing a company is actually socialism.

    1. Meh
      If it’s a foreign company, probably better described as imperialism

  5. There is little reason to think an American government takeover of one of the Nordic tech giants would reduce any of the security risks posed by Huawei. More likely, it would only serve as a way for America to put diplomatic pressure on other countries to use certain products in building their 5G networks.

    An American government take-over of Nokia or Ericsson would pose the exact same security risk as Huawei. The specific complaint isn’t that there might be security leaks built into the Chinese stuff, it’s that it’s Chinese-controlled security leaks rather than American-controlled security leaks. You can be sure our stuff will feature American back doors and spyware and malware.

    1. ^So much this. In fact, as a private citizen, the Chinese government spying on me is less dangerous than the U.S. government spying on me, because China won’t come here and arrest me for some bullshit.

      1. At least not before it subjugates your government.

  6. They aren’t, and they won’t be.

  7. An American government take-over of Nokia or Ericsson would pose the exact same security risk as Huawei.

    Um no. You’re just wrong. You assume the malign actor is the American. Get your head out of your ass.

    1. Get your head out. Edward Snowden showed part of the US surveillance of their own citizens. Hell, the CIA has been caught spying on members of Congress. And China can’t make your life miserable like the US government can.

      1. It wasn’t just what Snowden exposed but the fact that he could expose it. How secure are your records when you let a low-level sub-contract employee waltz right out the door with them? It’s not just that both the US and China spy on you, it’s that they spy on each other and I’d have to guess that whatever the US government knows about you, the Chinese know it about 5 minutes later. If for no other reason than that they guessed correctly that Hillary’s password is “canklebitch1”.

        And they’re demanding these tech companies build in back doors that only they can access despite the fact that the tech companies are insisting any back doors the good guys can access can be accessed by the bad guys as well. They just insist the tech companies don’t know what they’re talking about – as if they have any credibility whatsoever on the subject of cybersecurity.

        1. It’s insane. But most people, myself included, just don’t have the time or knowledge to do everything necessary to protect our data, because, hey, I’ve got nothing to hide (besides contact lists, stored passwords, bank info, ssn, etc.).
          Is there a phone using linux?

          1. End to end encryption. Dont use your cell phone for internet surfing. Use VPNs….use Tor….

          2. Is there a phone using linux?

            Answer: Yes. It is just now being deployed. Pricey.

            1. And yet a Raspberry Pi costs $40 for their latest little computer.

              I think you can also install one of many Linux distributions on plenty of existing smartphones, but I have never really looked into it. I’d imagine Apple would make it impossible, but Chrome or Android phones would be a good bet.

              1. I’ve been downloading and installing various Linux images on my laptops (and Raspberry Pi) for years and it’s neither difficult nor dangerous. Recently a second hand Android smart phone came my way giving me the chance to play around with it, installing a new Linux OS etc. I haven’t made any progress as the process seems fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. I haven’t even got past the first step of unlocking the smart phone. Perhaps in a few years with more user and developer participation and better documentation it will be easier. Installing Linux was a lot less user-friendly when I first started.

      2. And China can’t make your life miserable like the US government can.

        Really? What do you call decades of serial lying, serial cheating, serial IP theft, and flooding our country with fentanyl? Benign behavior or Malign behavior? You really need to step back and rethink this one. China is a malign actor, and a goal of theirs is the destruction of the US as a global power.

        This is a case of ‘what is least worst’. Best alternative is ensuring that Huawei is completely shut out of the US 5G network. How we do that? If we need a majority stake in an alternative 5G provider, then that is what has to happen.

        I am not thrilled about it, but what realistic alternative is there, considering the malignity of China’s behavior?

        1. “How we do that?”

          What is stopping an American entrepreneur from providing Americans with a similar or even better service than the Chinese entrepreneurs are offering?

          1. Lack of investment in American education and an over reliance on a foreign, mercenary workforce.

            1. P.s. lack of investment is business investment, not government investment. Government investment is excessive and worthless. Business investment would have better results because they know what they want and know what needs to be focused on.

            2. I’m not sure about lack of investment in education. Stanford is probably among the top ten universities in the US, and I was surprised to learn that a good half of the students there are specializing in computer studies. And they are investing a small fortune in the process. I’m not sure why a foreign workforce is any more mercenary than a domestic one.

              Are you saying businesses aren’t willing to compete with China on 5G because they lack confidence in American education? If you had spent any time at all in Chinese institutes of higher education, (as I have) you would know that they are not up to American standards.

  8. “…Still, Barr floating an idea that basically amounts to “in order to beat China, we must become like China” is an example of how the White House is straying into dangerous territory …”

    No it isn’t. Read your own words once paragraph up:
    “…”U.S. government is not in the business of buying companies, whether they’re domestic or foreign,” Kudlow told Reuters…”

    It was one admin member blowing smoke.

  9. I mean, the up side to the government buying up communications companies is that we’d at least have constitutional protection against their spying as opposed to them passing laws to force the companies themselves to spy on us. #loophole

    This is bad and corrupt, but don’t you think it’s a little breathless to shriek about the top lawyer suggesting this when the VP and top economist vehemently reject it?

  10. Bill Barr is suggesting we treat telcom like a defense industry.

    Not a horrible idea if the goal is national security as opposed to economic growth.

    1. No dear.

      It is a horrible idea.

  11. Why is the Attorney General even commenting on security matters? It is completely outside his jurisdiction. Go arrest John Brennan, Bill, and leave security to the experts.

    1. Agreed.

    2. National Security is in the AG’s purview.

  12. Huawei hardware isn’t any risk at all if your platform uses properly-secure end-to-end encryption, but that would stop Barr’s people from snooping.

  13. What is the big deal about 5G anyway? As far as I know, it’s faster and the new spectrum opens up a ton of new bandwidth space, but it’s not like there won’t be a 6G in a few years, is it? I mean, it’s not like the invention of the lightbulb or the automobile or the airplane that somehow is going to transform the world, is it? Oh, I can get virtual reality porn in half a second while I’m out grocery shopping instead of having to wait 3 seconds at home for old-fashioned 2-D porn videos? Wow! That’s nearly a 12% efficiency savings on my wanking time! Now I’ll be able to take those piano lessons I’ve never had time for before! After a month, I should be able to play the Minute Waltz.

    1. TMI dude, TMI

    2. Just about everything people do on phones is pointless. The US is attempting to beat another country on technology that we don’t need.

      Next time you use your phone ask yourself if you could have done that without a phone. After that look at how much time you spend using it for reasons that are, well, pointless. Think about holding your phone in one hand and playing with your junk in the other. Imagine how foolish you look as opposed to when you would masturbate without a handheld electronic device. (One looks less foolish for sure) Then think about what people are fighting to be the best at.

      Seems like a waste of time and effort.

    3. The nice thing about dating younger women is that they like to watch porn too. They also like comic books and video games.

      1. What about the selectively functional memory features? Tell me they can remember where their car keys are but forget about that time 3 yrs. ago when you were 45 min. late and I’m sold on trading up for a newer model.

    4. I’m waiting for 11G.

      1. Some shit never changes!

        https://quotefancy.com/quote/825690/Henry-David-Thoreau-We-are-eager-to-tunnel-under-the-Atlantic-and-bring-the-Old-World

        “We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.”
        — Henry David Thoreau

      2. 11G

        One louder.

        China only goes to 5. We are going to 11.

        ^

    5. This, IMO, is the one upside.

      The easy superficial take on the story is the ‘Oh-no! The US is becoming more socialist!’ take. The harder take is ‘Socialist China is beating the capitalist CIA/government at “capitalism”‘. The CIA’s getting bent out of shape in such a fashion is an indicator that there is some areas of technology and communication that they can’t breach. Areas that China can/has.

      The only question is, how critical is that control to long term stability/freedom? I like the optimistic answer of ‘not very’. The idea that tinder swipes and tweets are the cornerstones of freedom makes me want to root for the Chinese.

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  16. It is very scary that the first comment of this article if from John advocating an action that is a literal definition of socialism. Scary and hilarious. Remember when obama was pissing on the american people because he skipped a SCOTUS funeral?

  17. I’d rather the government didn’t interfere in the free market.

    1. I’m sure you are not alone. So my question, for the second time, what is stopping an American entrepreneur from providing Americans with a similar or even better service than the Chinese entrepreneurs are offering?

      1. The Chinese government’s control of Chinese labor. You might argue labor and employment standards in the US and I don’t exactly disagree. But, ultimately, the fact that the Chinese government can effectively force its citizens to work to the point that they want to jump off a building while the US government can only tax them for the hours they do work, or maybe deport them, is the nuts and bolts of the situation.

        1. “The Chinese government’s control of Chinese labor. ”

          There are lots of American technology companies that avail themselves of the superior Chinese workforce. And if they are patriotic American companies and want to avoid connections with China, they can use American prison labor. Microsoft, Boeing, AT&T, Verizon, Intel and many others have used or are using prison labor. Suicide, beatings, rape and torture are commonplace.

          I don’t think the lack of cheap and compliant labor is stopping American entrepreneurs from competing with Huawei.

          1. I don’t think the lack of cheap and compliant labor is stopping American entrepreneurs from competing with Huawei.

            First, you’ve stolen a base (or even a couple). ‘Stopping from providing a similar service’ and ‘stopping from competing’ are not synonyms. American and other companies absolutely can and do compete and even do successfully.

            Second, the underlying assumption of Huawei vs. US isn’t just flawed as a false dichotomy, it’s flawed as an understanding of the market/markets.

            Third, WTF are you talking about WRT “Microsoft uses prison labor.”? I’m not sure what point you’re driving at but you do realize that the vast majority of the free *and non-free* world recognizes the distinction I was making, right?

            Fourth, OK Mr. Smartypants, let’s hear your magic dirt story that explains how Chinese labor is superior because it’s more free.

            1. One, I meant them to be synonymous. Mea culpa. Economics is not my forte.
              Two, I’ll take your word for it.
              Three My original question was what’s stopping an American entrepreneur from providing a similar service to Huawei, and you wrote that the Chinese government uses prison labor, I pointed out that the American government does the same, besides the American entrepreneur can always set up shop in China and use their labor.
              Four superior workforce is a more productive workforce, more bang for your buck, moral qualms? Leave them at the door.

        2. My husband and I were very confused on the argument that capitalism provides more technological progress.

          The Great Space Race was invested in that idea, but it was government controlled NASA that beat the SU, not American free enterprise.

          There has to be something more valuable than GDP, technological, progress, etc that makes freedom worth it. We all have an idea, but it isn’t measurable. But it does mean we may fall behind in some ways so we should guard ourselves from the desire to be the best in lesser things.

          Some of these large scale national projects require too much investment for one private business to do. You’d need a collective of businesses doing it, but then how do you determine who it belongs to? National investment (like NASA) was a solution to that problem, where ownership of it belongs to all Americans, not just one company. That’s also why you get more participation in NASA achievements than SpaceX.

          1. “Some of these large scale national projects require too much investment for one private business to do.”

            It’s not just the lack of funds but the risk, as well. Nothing is guaranteed when truly innovating and huge amounts of money can be spent on projects that don’t come into fruition.

          2. My husband and I were very confused on the argument that capitalism provides more technological progress.

            I suspect you and your husband are confused about a lot of things.

  18. We have way too much ‘defense’ and national security, IMAO, but it IS STILL a legitimate function of government. Some goods and services have dual commercial & military uses such as oil and communications. It would not be inappropriate for the military to have its own communications system or even an oil company to ensure it had what it needed during a time of war.

    The real question is, should a government-owned oil company or cell phone company sell oil or cell phone service commercially as well as well as military? Should GPS have been made commercially available? The building of the Interstate Highway System was justified partly (and dubiously) on the grounds of national defense. All of these things compete with, and damage, legitimate commercial businesses – even if the government does not maintain a monopoly on those services as it does with the USPS letter carrier service.

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  20. “December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the Chinese government could co-opt Huawei to “steal private or proprietary information, or use ‘kill switches’ to disrupt critical future applications like electrical grids and telesurgery centers.””

    China doesn’t have to co-opt anyone. They already handsomely reward anyone who leaks trade secrets to them, as do Huawei competitors. That’s why IP theft is an issue. It’s not some grand government conspiracy. They just reward people who put China first.

  21. Buying a majority stake in a profitable company isn’t the same as “owning the company” or “controlling the means of production”. Plus these are NOT US COMPANIES they are talking about – so they can’t regulate them, or give them tax advantages and it wouldn’t create a conflict of interest between governance and the investment. They’d be buying company stock – so while they have the majority vote on anything that the stockholders get to vote on, it’s FAR from controlling the company or setting policy. It’s not as bad as the author wants us to believe. And it’s not “socialism”, at least nothing like US government ownership/running of a US company/business/service – which would be very bad indeed. Oh. Wait, we do THAT already….and some of the democrats want to do it to a much greater degree.

    I question the efficacy of such an investment in a foreign company, however. So we invest in them. They get the influx of cash for any shares we buy from them, but other investors get our cash from shares we buy that are already outstanding and in trade. Neither of those guarantees the future success of the company, or ensures that the company will equal or surpass any Chinese company.

    So it’s not a bad idea because it’s “socialism” it’s just not a good enough idea to make it worth doing.

  22. Uhhh, those aren’t even US companies…

    1. Well neither is Greenland.

      1. And that’s not being bought, either.

        1. Only because the answer was not for sale.

  23. The federal government cannot purchase stock equities. It can manipulate the market through treasury funds.

    The government cannot purchase Nokia. That is outright communism. The mere fact that Bill Barr is the Attorney General is just outrageous.

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  25. Bill Barr = RINO

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  27. “Still, Barr floating an idea that basically amounts to “in order to beat China, we must become like China” is an example of how the White House is straying into dangerous territory”

    Says the guy using the internet, a “Big Gubment Socialist” creation.

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