Critics Corner with Stephanie Slade

Apr 01, 2021

On the first episode of Critics Corner, Oren Cass is joined by Stephanie Slade, managing editor of Reason magazine. They discuss the importance of liberty to the common good, whether government should fund research or infrastructure, the meaning of free trade in the context of China, and quite a bit more.

About Critics Corner

Today’s public policy debates consist primarily of people conversing within their own echo chambers while tuning out disagreement. To make progress on contentious issues, we need to better understand opposing perspectives, clarify points of agreement and disagreement, and collaborate on finding a constructive path forward. American Compass has no shortage of critics, so we figured, let’s have them on a show.

Critics Corner brings together those who disagree—whether on fundamental questions or specific policies—in the spirit of American Compass’s commitment to combining intellectual combat with personal civility. Neither debate nor interview, it’s a conversation between people eager to identify the source of their disagreements and the potential for common ground.


Oren Cass: Well, we are delighted to have Stephanie here for our first episode of Critics Corner. Stephanie, thank you for joining us.

Stephanie Slade: Thank you for the invitation to be here.

Oren Cass: You have been a forthright, I guess, either defendant of the existing or pre-existing right-of-center, more fusionist arrangement, and a concerned commentator on what folks like us at American Compass are up to. We’ll have it in the show notes and would encourage people in particular to check out your op-ed in the New York Timeslast summer, “Republicans Are Ripping Out ‘the Very Heart and Soul’ of Their Party: Why are libertarian friends and free-market thinkers being purged from the coalition?” And then a longer essay that you have in March’s issue of Reason called, “Is There a Future for Fusionism?: In the years since the Cold War, conservatives have lost sight of the relationship between liberty and personal responsibility.” And so, I guess, to mix metaphors, if the right-of-center is going off the rails, you are standing athwart history, yelling, “Stop.” Why don’t you elaborate a little bit about what you are concerned with in particular?

Stephanie Slade: I think the main thing that I’m concerned with is a rejection of the classical American conservative commitment to limited government and individual liberty as two of the driving forces behind what it means to be a conservative in the United States of America. There seems to be an increasing comfort among some folks on the right-of-center with seizing the power of the state and using the coercive power of the state to try to get what we want out of society, as opposed to limiting the role of the state to protecting individual rights and liberties, maximizing individual freedom, so that people can then pursue their vision of the good life and the good society. It’s a desire to seize power and use it to impose top-down a vision of society, which necessarily means somebody has to come up with what that vision is and impose it on others, whether they like it or not.

Oren Cass: I think that certainly makes sense, that is one element of the right-of-center ethos, the preference for limited government, the concern for individual liberty. In your view, is a concomitant thinking about and desire to advance more of a common good or some substantive vision entirely lacking? It should just be off the field, or it needs to play a smaller role than you see people pushing it toward?

Stephanie Slade: Well, I had a piece actually maybe two years ago in Reason, where I addressed the common good question head on, and what I say is not that the common good doesn’t matter or that we shouldn’t care about it, but rather that individual freedom is a component of the common good, and so some of the most extreme folks on what I would describe as the post-liberal right—who are explicitly rejecting individual liberty when saying, the focus on individual liberty has failed us and we should give it up and try something else—are therefore rejecting an important component of the common good. And that individual freedom in the free markets, free speech, individual liberty, institutions that focus on protecting these things in that sense are also a prerequisite for achieving other aspects of the common good, like peace and justice and material abundance in society, that free markets, for example, really have produced material abundance in a way that nothing else we’ve ever tried has been able to do.

And so, if you care about the common good that you must grapple with the fact that individual freedom is both a component of and a prerequisite for other components of the common good. Another thing I would say, and this is more relevant to my more recent piece on fusionism that you mentioned, is that there are other aspects of the common good that have nothing to do with individual freedom, but that I would say that the correct sphere with which to pursue those things is the nongovernmental sphere, and keeping the idea of these two different spheres in mind is really clarifying because it’s not the case that I’m saying, “Well, family and community and virtue don’t matter.” I’m not by any means saying that, but what I am saying is that the power of government, that government and public policy are not the proper ways to pursue those things, that individuals and communities and families in their private, non-coercive capacity is the right way to go about pursuing those things.

Oren Cass: Yeah. I think you speak in a lot of your writing on this and here you really emphasize the importance of balance and noting that, for instance, individual freedom is a component of the common good, which I would certainly agree with. I suppose, the question or concern that I would have is sometimes it seems it’s the only thing that counts, and that there’s nothing else balancing it. And so I wonder, are there times when you see, particularly with respect to public action, are there times when other things do count? Are there times when you would be prepared to say, “Well, actually, yes, there are these other things that we really can only advance through public action and therefore do need to trade off on dimensions like individual liberty”?

Stephanie Slade: It’s pretty rare. I don’t like the idea of thinking of, for example, liberty and virtue as being in tension with each other in such a way that you have to have a balancing test or do a balancing act. I really think that the government’s proper role is to protect individual rights and liberties. And by that, I mean, in the classical liberal sense, freedom from aggression, coercion, and fraud would be a shorthand way of thinking about what I think the state exists appropriately to do. And that’s basically it, but in so doing—by doing that well, it carves out this vast space outside of government, in which we can in our private capacities do all of these other things that are also important. So I don’t like the idea of thinking about when you’re zooming in on the governmental sphere, if you’re thinking in terms of trading these two things off, I think you’re missing the message that I want to get across.

Oren Cass: No, that’s fair. I guess, in my thinking, there are a lot of things that aren’t going to get done unless they’re done through public action. That is, when we look at what people acting as free individuals will accomplish in pursuit of their own interests, we won’t accomplish everything we want or even need to accomplish. So I suppose if we jump into, maybe this is a bit of a lightning round, but for instance, infrastructure: That strikes me as something we probably need in many cases to have a public authority raising money and allocating resources for it. Does that seem fair or is that already too far?

Stephanie Slade: Well, I think there’s quite a lot of… I’m a libertarian, so cards on the table, I identify as a small-l libertarian. I work at Reason magazine, which is a libertarian magazine. In the libertarian part of the big tent of the right-of-center in America, there’s been a lot of work done on how can things that were traditionally assumed to require the state to get them done, could actually potentially be accomplished privately through voluntary associations or at the very least through more local rather than less localized efforts. And I think there’s a lot of really interesting work that people tend to dismiss as implausible, even though, actually the record of government trying to do these things, and especially the federal government trying to do these things is often not great.

In fact, I think this last year of watching the federal government try to respond to a global pandemic has been a case study in this, that things that would seem to be… It would seem to require a national effort to respond to a pandemic, and yet at every step of the way, the government seemed to fall down on the job and make things worse. And so, thinking a little harder and being a little more open-minded about, “Could this be done at a more local level or even in a purely private or voluntary way?” I think is really worth, at least thinking a little harder about.

Oren Cass: Sure. So if it was in the 1950s, would you have been a no on the interstate highway system?

Stephanie Slade: Probably. The precise case for a particular project… I mean, I would be curious to hear, “Can somebody make the case on the grounds of, this advances individual rights and liberties?” And maybe there was a national security concern here that I would find persuasive or something, but I would want to see the argument made on those grounds. Again, how is this protecting individual rights and liberties, as opposed to how is this making the society more virtuous or something?

Oren Cass: Well, I mean, it’s an interesting litmus test. “Does this advance individual rights and liberties” litmus test because you think that by definition, whatever doing that… however we best do that is going to lead to the best outcomes and prosperity and so forth for the nation and people, or is it that regardless of whether some other form of action would deliver better outcomes, the value of individual liberty per se comes first?

Stephanie Slade: Well, I’m a both/and person on this question. That’s why when I talk about the common good, I always say that I think that freedom is a component of the common good, but it’s not the entirety of the common good. It’s not like that’s all that—if people are free, that’s all that matters. So I would be curious to hear an argument, a consequentialist argument that said, “Actually, we think that industrial policy will lead to better outcomes on the ground in terms of achieving the things that we all care about,” but I would say, “Well, what are you sacrificing in terms of those individual rights and liberties that we seem to be in agreement are a part of an important part and component of what we are trying to achieve?” You’re trading away an important part of what you’re then using to justify the policy in question, and that doesn’t seem to be a calculus that works for me.

Oren Cass: Well, so the industrial policy is a good point, and I guess it gets back a little bit to the lightning round… National Institutes for Health funding. Is that a yes or a no for Congresswoman Slade?

Stephanie Slade: Again, as a libertarian, I’m pretty much going to be voting no on most everything. Especially because we’re talking… the first word there is national. Why does this need to be done at the national level? Could it not be done at a lower level? Is there evidence there? Is there some evidence that private industry is incapable of meeting this need, for example?

Oren Cass: Well, I think what the economists is doing just formal economic analysis of matter would say is that, the returns to research into health science are far larger to society, to all the people with their individual freedom, then can be captured by an individual firm or even a state for that matter, doing the research, and so if you want as much investment as is likely to actually repay itself and for the community, even if that’s the whole nation that’s paying for it, then you need some sort of collective action mechanism. And so I guess, it seems to me either you have to reject that hypothesis and say, “The economics is just wrong and we will get as much investment in pursuit of private profit,” or you’d have to say, “Well, I’m not interested in the collective action, even if it brings us breakthrough medical technology.” Maybe there’s a third option, but those strike me as the two.

Stephanie Slade: Well, part of it, I think, is recognizing the costs as well. So the economic theory, and in fact, libertarians are often criticized for relying on neoclassical economics, where we simplify things with these models and they say, “Well, but you’re not taking into account the reality on the ground.” The reality on the ground is when government does things, often it does it badly. So in theory, we can develop a model perhaps that says that federal funding of research and development in the medical industry will have spillover benefits that will redound to us all. But does that model account for the fact that government is going to also, in the process of attempting to do the good thing, do a lot of bad things as well, and probably do the good thing that it’s attempting to do poorly. I mean, does it account for that? I don’t think it often does, and in terms of just modeling it out if you’re looking in terms of pure economic theory.

Oren Cass: It strikes me as beyond question that we have made greater progress in medical knowledge and science and treatment and technology by virtue of having aggressively funded it, not that we’ve funded it in the ideal possible way, but that we have done much better than a world in which there was no federal funding for this activity. And it sounds like either you are agnostic skeptical of that or actively believe we would be further advanced in our medical technology had the federal government never played a lead role in trying to fund the research.

Stephanie Slade: Yeah, I guess it’s hard to make predictions about a counterfactual that we don’t know, but the one thing I am very confident of is that the market mechanisms are the driving force behind the progress in the area that you’re describing, that we need a functioning market with a functioning profit motive. And without those things, you don’t get—no amount of top-down funding from the federal government can compensate for that. That’s the most important part of this. And so to the extent that government involvement in that market has the potential to mess things up and potentially to—depending on how aggressive you are… I know that you’re not a socialist, but there are plenty of people arguing that we should be nationalizing all this stuff. So depending on how far you go in that direction, you could actually break the thing that is the driving engine of all that progress if you’re not careful.

Oren Cass: I think we agree absolutely on that and I think your point about the need for the market to drive, certainly, the commercialization in a lot of cases, I would agree with entirely. It sounds like we disagree more on whether the government, by playing a role, has places it can advance things. I guess, I want to ask one more question in this vein, and then I’ll hand the floor over to you for at least a minute. But thinking again just in terms of how technological progress even happens. One of the things I’m always very curious about is how people feel about patents, which on the one hand is protection of intellectual property, but on the other hand, that statement is an entirely manufactured construct and it essentially represents the government stepping in and blocking transactions between free individuals. So I’m curious how you think about patents in an innovation system.

Stephanie Slade: I’m going to dodge this question. It’s actually one of the small number of issues on which libertarians fight with each other constantly, because there is no clear—for the reason that you just described—there is no clear right answer to the question of intellectual property. Is intellectual property an incoherent idea that was just invented by the state, or is it really necessary, in a knowledge economy, for the market to function? I don’t have a dog in that fight. We published, maybe three or four years ago, a whole debate issue of Reason magazine, and one of the debates was on this question, so I would direct readers to that so they can see both sides.

Oren Cass: Well, it’s interesting though, because it goes, I guess, to my question about whether… the extent to which your position on these things is guided by the principle versus what you actually think works better in practice. And so, I think to your point there’s a huge principled question about whether patents would be consistent with libertarian ideology. It sounds then that question for you trumps the practical assessment of just, “Well, do they work?” I mean, I don’t know if you have a position on that, but it seems to me, regardless of where the esoteric libertarian debate on the nature of intellectual property comes down, policymakers still have a choice to make on whether it’s a good idea to protect intellectual property, and that again is a place where it seems obvious to me that it does. I mean, again, there are ways to do it and we don’t do it perfectly, but that certainly we will have a healthier system of innovation if we respect the existence of intellectual property.

Stephanie Slade: Yeah. I don’t know that I would say that the only thing that matters is the principle in this case. Again, I want to live in a world with material abundance and flourishing, right? And so, if it could be shown that we absolutely had to have this policy in order to have a functioning market in the modern era, that would count for me. But again, then I would come back to the fact that like, actually, oftentimes when people—smart people even—are completely convinced that we need the government to step in, to be involved in the market in a particular way, in order for the market to function. Actually, it’s not that hard, many libertarian thinkers have posited, at least, have hypothesized that you could actually get to a better outcome absent that intervention in the marketplace.

So is it the case that a seven-year patent is the optimum amount of time for a patent to last or should it be longer or should it be shorter or could actually the market solve this problem if we got out of the way and allowed it to try, that is a sort of practical question, and I don’t feel that confident that I am 100%, right about what the answer would be.

Oren Cass: Interesting. All right. Well, over to you, what do you see as wrong or critical to this debate?

Stephanie Slade: I was curious about your take, because as I’ve been following this debate unfold over the last few years, it seems to me that there are two related and overlapping, but also in some ways distinct movements on what I would consider to be the far side of the liberalism schism. There’s the national conservative movement that is more focused on economic policy, and I think what you guys at American Compass are up to would fall into this camp. And there’s also the self-identified common good conservatives that are a little more focused on virtue and social conservatism and religious traditionalism, but there is also a lot of overlap, and I was fascinated at the national conservatism conference two years ago that you debated at, how often the speakers pivoted. I was sort of getting whiplash. They pivoted from talking about industrial policy or something to talking about why we need to ban pornography. And how do you approach these two related, but also I think the line between them is a little bit fuzzy, how do you think about that?

Oren Cass: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think the starting acknowledgement is that the terminology on all of this stuff is terrible. I don’t think there are good categories yet, and so for instance, even as you were putting national conservatives against common good conservatives or Senator Rubio talks about common good capitalism, I would have said that those two are actually almost synonymous or at least overlapping to an extraordinary degree, whereas, what I would have put on the other side of the line is a genuine post-liberalism, that says that the whole basic liberal project based on individual rights and democratic capitalism, that has somehow run its course, and we need to move beyond. And so it seems to me that what you have in terms of a continuum is how far people feel like we need to depart from what is perceived as the existing consensus.

And I think folks on the right-of-center who are focused on this kind of reform—and we should probably talk about this a little bit—feel that the existing orthodoxy on the right-of-center in the Republican Party is excessively libertarian, and that some of that needs to be let go of. And so that then manifests itself on a number of issues. To your point, one way of moving away from that would therefore to be to say, “Gosh, there’s a lot more room for constructive public action in the economic sphere, that is in fact necessary and would lead toward better economic outcomes.”

And then there are sometimes the same folks, sometimes other folks who would say, “Gosh, there are a lot of places where social priorities would benefit from greater public policy than the more libertarian right-of-center has been comfortable with.” And so I think it’s a general resistance to the libertarian starting point that then opens up a whole bunch of these different categories for discussion. And I think the debates within each are different and require different considerations, but I think you will find people whose underlying intuitions lead them in a similar direction on a bunch of the topics.

Stephanie Slade: Would you place yourself among the camp that thinks we need to be exploring greater, more robust government policy to achieve socially conservative ends, not just in the economic sphere, but in the social sphere?

Oren Cass: I would. The work that we do at American Compass is focused quite strongly on the economic questions, and what is the economic consensus and intuition that underlies how we make economic policy. But I think and am sympathetic to the view that there is a broader host of issues on which we have basically disarmed, to use a militaristic term, in fights over all sorts of issues, where you have a left-of-center that is very comfortable using public power to try to advance a social agenda, and you have a right-of-center whose view has essentially just been to say, “Well, we may or may not have an opinion on this, but we don’t feel that we can have a policy agenda on it.”

For one thing, as a tactical matter, I don’t think that’s wise, but I also don’t think that then leads to the best equilibrium of policies. Recognizing that sometimes one party will be in power and sometimes another party will be in power, but it doesn’t seem to me that either party respects the norms of the other. That is, I sometimes hear the argument, well, conservatives shouldn’t be comfortable using any form of power that they wouldn’t be comfortable seeing liberals use as if what conservatives choose to do on that matter has any implications for what liberals are going to do, and it doesn’t seem to me that that’s the case.

And so, I think, a little bit to your point about fusionism, look, I think there are a lot of places where conservatives do focus on, and are rightly focused on questions of individual liberty and limited government and a skepticism of what public power can accomplish. And I think that’s an important part of the conversation. What I worry about is the extent to which it gets played as a trump card that “thou shalt not explore in that direction” because principle X says there is to be nothing done there.

Stephanie Slade: It’s certainly the case that the left does not feel constrained in the same way that the right has historically felt constrained when it comes to using the public power to pursue its social goals. But we have these liberal norms and institutions and legal constraints—the courts, for example—that have done a reasonably okay job at, I think, checking the worst excesses of the left in the governmental sphere. Not in the cultural sphere, of course, but when the government wants to force Catholic nuns to pay for birth control, the court steps in and says, “Oh, sorry, you can’t do that. We have a First Amendment in this country.”

I guess, the fear… I think one of the practical fears is that, if the right starts using the government in that way, then the credibility of the institutions that have been a check on the left goes away. Both sides just essentially… rather than you saying, one side is unilaterally disarmed and the other one is this firing weapons, we both say, “Well, we’re not going to abide by any rules of engagement at all.” People have agreed that anything goes and it’s just a battle for power and there’s nothing besides who can have the power.

Oren Cass: Yeah. I think that’s a fair point and that’s why I would certainly say that we need to have more attention to things like constitutional norms. On the one hand you would say judicial minimalism, and leaving things to the democratic process is a very conservative understanding of the role of the judiciary. On the other hand, as you’ve just described, saying that the judiciary actually has to somewhat aggressively police both sides has some power. And one of the interesting debates that’s going on on the right-of-center, is about what should thinking about jurisprudence be and has the constraints that originalism supposedly places on the judiciary gone too far. And so that’s a place where I am much more sympathetic to the status quo and actually think that having firm neutral rules in the judiciary is a very important starting point and something that there is value in holding the line on, because to your point, there are ways in which that then does check both sides.

And so, it seems to me there’s almost a discussion at two levels, both at the constitutional level, a discussion about what sorts of checks do we want to have in place. And there, I think conservatives should and still do find a lot of common cause with libertarians saying a very strong constitutional system with a clear separation of powers, with limited executive power, and so forth is absolutely something worth fighting for. But then the second level is, within whatever structure we’ve agreed upon and say we want to enforce against both sides, what are the kinds of policy we then want to advance?

And that’s where I think the concerns about individual liberty and limited government are absolutely important, but I think have to be just part of the equation. And that’s when I listen to you talk about evaluating everything through a litmus test of, “well, does it advance individual freedom?” I say, I think that’s a great question to ask and it’s a question we should ask, but it has never been and should not be the stance of the right-of-center that that is the question. And so to the extent there are members of the coalition who are trying to stand just on that question, I worry that is a not constructive element to the analysis.

Stephanie Slade: But just to be clear, as a fusionist, my position is not that we should evaluate everything on that question, but it is that we should evaluate public policy on that question. And I think we make a mistake if we reduce the entire life to the question of public policy. There’s a lot going on outside of government, and we should be more interested, I think, in how we can solve problems in ways that don’t involve coercion and essentially violence in the Weberian definition, of what is the state? It’s the entity with a monopoly on the use of violence.

Oren Cass: No, I think that’s right. And when I was saying everything, I meant everything in the public policy debates. I guess, if I could ask you one more question, just because it’s something that comes up a lot in these sorts of discussions and I’ve found it to be an interesting inflection point in a lot of cases. It seems to me that’s something that has changed a lot of people’s thinking on these questions is the rising role of China. And I’m sometimes accused of playing the China card, to which I say, “Well, China is not some debating tactic, right?” China is the single biggest economic and geopolitical development of the last 40 years, and so one of the things that really concerns me is that, I think the idea of free trade and the idea that we want to have a broad open market is a valuable one.

It seems to me that it runs headlong into a sort of paradox when the market you’re trying to have free trade with is one governed by an authoritarian, quasi-communist regime. And so I’m very curious how you think about that tradeoff, where on the one hand you would say, “Well, the libertarian, limited-government, free-market model says, no trade barriers between the U.S. and China,” and yet if we do that, we’re effectively including them and their policies and their extraordinary limits on individual freedom and incursion into markets, into our market, and so I just wanted to ask you, how do you think about that paradox?

Stephanie Slade: I’m not as bothered by it as many people are. I understand why some folks who previously thought, if we trade with China, economic liberalization will lead to political liberalization and fewer human rights abuses, and they feel like, well, that hasn’t really played out the way they were expecting, and so maybe we should reconsider some of our priors. I understand where they’re coming from. At the end of the day though, China is literally a billion human beings, and I care about their wellbeing. And I think not trading with them or trying to cut them out of the global economy because we don’t like what their government is up to, when a big part of what’s wrong with what their government is up to, is their government’s infringement on their rights in violation of their human liberties, it just doesn’t add up for me.

I saw this more up close when I visited Cuba a couple of years ago and I spoke to people on the ground, and I saw how America’s choice not to trade with Cuba not only meant that our incredible wealth was not able to overflow over and benefit very, very poor and suffering people on the ground on that island, but it empowered their government to blame us rather than the socialist governing system for that misery. Just as a general matter, I don’t like the idea of just accepting poverty, abject poverty and suffering, on the part of several billion people in another part of the world, in order to make a political statement that we don’t like what their government is up to. Because increased economic liberalization, trade, and the opening up, slowly and imperfectly, but the opening up of China to the global economy has quite literally worked a miracle in terms of reducing human suffering and lifting people out of poverty there, and that’s not a thing that I take lightly.

Oren Cass: Well, so that’s, I think, a very powerful point as a matter of political or economic embargo against a country, whether it would be Cuba or China. In the case of China, as an example, it seems to me, what I think a lot of folks, including myself, are concerned about is not trading with some individual people in China, but let’s say, for instance, trading with Huawei and putting aside the national security concerns, let’s just take the extent of the subsidies that Huawei receives and saying, wait a minute, if we’re committed to free markets and the individual liberty and entrepreneurship of people here in America, how does it advance those things to say, Huawei, which is effectively a state-owned enterprise of this authoritarian, communist government, the profits of which does not flow to the typical Chinese worker, it flows to politically connected members of the Communist party. How does saying, yes, they may sell their highly subsidized products into our market at a discount, how is that consistent with our principles or values of free markets or individual liberty?

Stephanie Slade: Well, I think here’s where we just fundamentally disagree, Oren, because I think letting the communist government subsidized American consumers is one of the greatest things that we could do—I mean, is the best option available to us at this moment. If their government wants to spend their money making cheap goods available to Americans and therefore freeing up the American productive capacity to tackle other challenges, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a win-win. I mean, I would like to see a lot of changes on the ground in China, but that’s not the thing that’s keeping me up at night about our relationship with that country.

Oren Cass: So, if that puts Cisco Systems out of business, that’s a win-win?

Stephanie Slade: Well, it’s not a win-win, but it’s not like there’s a… I would push back against any view of the economy as static. I mean, if the Chinese government—and again, you bracketed the national security concerns, which I think is good—the Chinese government wants to provide the same service that Cisco was providing and subsidize it for our people, so that we can take that talent and that brainpower that was previously doing something at Cisco, and put it towards solving another problem, that’s fine with me. I mean, the market can adjust and adapt, I think, to… that’s pretty basic creative destruction under the framework that we have been operating under for the last couple hundred years, so that’s not really… like I said, that’s not the thing that’s going to keep me up at night.

Oren Cass: Okay. I mean, they’re of course trying to do the same thing in semiconductors and airplanes. If the same thing happens to Intel and Boeing, is it still the same point that that’s just creative destruction and we will redeploy those resources?

Stephanie Slade: Yes. Although, the other piece of this is… this reminds me of the argument against monopolies that you often hear. Well, that company is a monopoly and therefore… or it’s undercutting its competition in prices, and once all the competition goes out of business then it will be able to jack up prices. Well, the moment that that company jacks up prices, then it creates a market opportunity for more competition to come in. And that’s how the market adapts, it’s why most of the time monopolies are not stable and can’t sustain themselves unless they have a government grant of monopoly in some way. I think there’s only so much that Chinese companies… it sort of strikes me as scaremongering, I guess, to suggest that China could put out a business like the entire industrial sector of America. At some point there’s only so much they can do, and there’s always going to be more—in a world of scarcity, there’s always going to be more problems that we could be solving with that productive capacity. I think it will probably be okay.

Oren Cass: All right. Well, Stephanie Slade, thank you so much for joining us. You are a welcome critic of all our work at American Compass, and thank you for joining the Critics Corner.

Stephanie Slade: Thanks for having me.


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