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Brownstone Institute

Musk Declines to Save Twitter from Itself

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From the Brownstone Institute

The question is finally settled: Elon Musk has declined to buy Twitter. His initial offer of $44 billion was contingent on truth and transparency of the company’s corporate filings.

It’s no different from the contract you put on a house: the inspections still remain. If the foundation is cracked – or, worse, if the owners block the inspectors from even looking into the question – the deal is off.

The letter from Musk’s attorney makes it absolutely and painfully clear that Twitter did not cooperate.

“Twitter has not provided information that Mr. Musk has requested for nearly two months notwithstanding his repeated, detailed clarifications intended to simplify Twitter’s identification, collection, and disclosure of the most relevant information sought in Mr. Musk’s original requests.”

There are many issues here but the central one concerns the mDAU or monetizable daily active users. They claim 217 million, nearly half of whom log on daily, and only 5% of whom are bots. To manage them, Twitter has 7,500 employees who earn an average salary of $121,000 per year.

Honestly, if you claim to have a magic machine that displays random thoughts from anyone that somehow converts people’s passing attention into profit – and employ that many people at such high salaries who make it all happen – you had better be sure that you can generate credible numbers to prove it.

Twitter never did.

Maybe the foundation is cracked or maybe it is not. But when the owners don’t let you verify, there is a reason to walk away.

It would be nice to know Musk’s real thoughts. I suspect that Elon looked more closely at this vaunted ruling-class time waster and found vast puffery, low profitability, wildly inflated numbers concerning usage, and a vicious and expensive staff that hates his guts, while opposing free speech and the values of most regular American people.

Why would he bother?

It’s all strange timing for the company suddenly to announce massive cuts in its payroll, starting with the team dedicated to job recruitment. That would appear to mean the HR staff, which is undoubtedly huge, but a net drain on any company seeking profitability. Maybe this move was made in response to Musk — let’s clean house before the new owner takes over — or maybe it was made necessary by poor financials.

In either case, Musk might have come to believe that the entire company is a dog he doesn’t want to adopt.

Meanwhile, Twitter seems to have settled a lawsuit with Alex Berenson, an early Covid-policy critic who was later banned for posting…facts. The terms of the settlement are secret but they did result in his reinstatement. The same day, however, Twitter went on an aggressive purge of other accounts that dared to post basic facts particularly about covid and vaccine effectiveness.

Again, why would Musk even bother? There are plenty of other projects out there that merit his attention that could actually make money. Plus, he will be spared the ultimate annoyance of dealing with thousands of entitled and overpaid staffers who have drunk deeply from the woke ideological wells of poststructuralist Ivy-League theorizing.

He might dream of firing 90 percent of them — I dream the same — but what does that achieve?

What is the future of this company and others like them that have lived off enthusiasm, cheap credit, and their influencer status, while obscuring the underlying data that matters most? We know that Facebook, YouTube, and many others have already been caught making wild exaggerations about their mDAUs. It makes sense that Twitter is guilty of the same.

What does this mean for the company? We are seeing the unfolding of a very strange inflationary recession that combines low unemployment, declining purchasing power, falling demand for goods and services, low investor confidence, plus a growing financial squeeze that is raising serious questions about whether the basic economic model of high-profile companies like Twitter is sustainable.

George Gilder has foreseen the end of Google, one company the name of which he deploys as a stand-in for a slew of high fliers that dominate Big Tech today. Precisely how they would bite the dust has always been a question. It would be the height of irony to see them all die the death from the very forces that gave them such high profitability in 2020 and 2021: the pandemic response that conscripted their user base from the real world into the laptop life.

And with that comes a more fundamental question: just how vulnerable is this overclass to being euthanized by economic fundamentals?

For example, with the managerial class trying to get everyone back at the office, the overclass of lazy and overpaid staffers is resisting with all the ferocity one would expect from such an entitled proletariat. They simply won’t come back. They prefer the pajama life. It’s more comfortable. It’s also safer because by not showing up to the office, one can more easily hide from managerial oversight.

Right now office occupancy in major cities is at a mere 45% of what it was before the pandemic response. To be sure, many of these people have tried coming back. They fight the traffic. They ride the dangerous subways. They pay a high price for gas. Then they pay to park. Then eat bad food for lunch. And what do they do at the office? The same exact thing they would otherwise be doing at home. They Slack back and forth to other employees.

Doesn’t matter if the interlocutor is 5 feet away or 500 miles away. It’s all the same anyway.

The main reason for coming back to the office is to socialize with fellow employees. But that’s not actually doing work, is it? So that’s a problem. The great myth that having everyone hang out together in fishbowl rooms is going to lead to some kind of synergistic brainstorming has been exposed as another lie promoted by bogus management books one picks up in the airport.

Therefore, employees are coming up with any excuse to stay away. The best one — “I’ve been exposed to Covid so I’m in quarantine” — is getting stale. The high price of gasoline might be next on the list. Regardless, getting people back to the office seems ill-fated, which raises serious questions about what happens to these skyscrapers designed for a pre-2020 world?

We talk these days a lot about the labor shortage and the low unemployment rate. Can we get a bit of honesty here? The shortages are for jobs that many people don’t want. They are in the service industries, hospitality, the physical world, the work that actually requires work and real skills. When you are waving a fancy degree and believe that six figures is your birthright, you won’t take these jobs. That’s why there’s a shortage of workers.

In other words, we need people to fix cars, deliver goods from ports to stores, flip the rooms in hotels, make the omelets, and put up drywall in new houses. Those require skills and actually moving one’s body, which is anathema to the under-40 demographic that studied anthropology and the history of social oppression of everyone during the four-year, debt-financed vacation we call college.

Where there is a surplus is in the puffed-up sector of bullcorn jobs that require about 20 total minutes of engaged time per day. Those are the jobs that everyone wants, but how sustainable are they really during an inflationary recession?

Elon seems to get this. His companies do real things, not fake things. He probably intuits that most of these companies need massive restructuring, both in personnel and in world outlook.

A prediction: there are hard times ahead for the corporate laptoppers as these companies are forced either to become profitable or go bankrupt. And this will lead to a massive crisis and demoralization of an entire generation that has been taught that anyone with the right credentials and connections can get rich forever without doing a lick of real work.

Decades of debt financing have created a spoiled overclass in America that has been taught to hate capitalism and also believe they and their friends can forever earn a high-income stream off the fruits of that system. There could be a rude awakening and it could come sooner rather than later. They wanted a great reset and they are going to get it good and hard.

Now Twitter faces a serious problem. Who is the next buyer and why would this party be any less scrupulous? Also maybe investors should also be a bit more critically minded too.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Brownstone Institute

The Pandemic Excuse for a Corporatist Coup

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

By Jeffrey A. Tucker

We’ve just come across a document hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, posted March 2023, but written in 2007, that amounts to a full-blown corporatist imposition on the US, abolishing anything remotely resembling the Bill of Rights and Constitutional law. It is right there in plain sight for anyone curious enough to dig.

There is nothing in it that you haven’t already experienced with lockdowns. What makes it interesting are the participants in the forging of the plan, which is pretty much the whole of corporate America as it stood in 2007. It was a George W. Bush initiative. The conclusions are startling.

“Quarantine is a legally enforceable declaration that a government body may institute over individuals potentially exposed to a disease, but who are not symptomatic. If enacted, Federal quarantine laws will be coordinated between CDC and State and local public health officials, and, if necessary, law enforcement personnel…The government may also enact travel restrictions to limit the movement of people and products between geographic areas in an effort to limit disease transmission and spread. Authorities are currently reviewing possible plans to curtail international travel upon a pandemic’s emergence overseas.

“Limiting public assembly opportunities also helps limit the spread of disease. Concert halls, movie theaters, sports arenas, shopping malls, and other large public gathering places might close indefinitely during a pandemic—whether because of voluntary closures or government-imposed closures. Similarly, officials may close schools and non-essential businesses during pandemic waves in an effort to significantly slow disease transmission rates. These strategies aim to prevent the close interaction of individuals, the primary conduit of spreading the influenza virus. Even taking steps such as limiting person-to-person interactions within a distance of three feet or avoiding instances of casual close contact, such as shaking hands, will help limit disease spread.”

There we have it: the pandemic plans. They once seemed abstract. In 2020, they became very real. Your rights were deleted. No more freedom even to have house guests. In those days, the rule was to enforce only three feet of distance rather than six feet of distance, neither of which had any basis in science. Indeed, the actual scientific literature even at that time recommended against any physical interventions designed to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. They were known not to work. The entire profession of public health accepted that.

Therefore, for many years before lockdowns wrecked economic functioning, there had been two parallel tracks in operation, one intellectual/academic and one imposed by state/corporate managers. They had nothing to do with each other. This situation persisted for the better part of 15 years. Suddenly in 2020, there was a reckoning, and the state/corporate managers won it. Seemingly out of nowhere, liberty as we have long known it was gone.

Back in 2005, I first came across a Bush administration scheme, an early draft of the above, that would have ended freedom as we know it. It was a scheme for combating the bird flu, which officials back then imagined would involve universal quarantines, business and event closures, travel restrictions, and more.

wrote: “Even if the flu does come, and taxpayers have coughed up, the government will surely have a ball imposing travel restrictions, shutting down schools and businesses, quarantining cities, and banning public gatherings…It is a serious matter when the government purports to plan to abolish all liberty and nationalize all economic life and put every business under the control of the military, especially in the name of a bug that seems largely restricted to the bird population. Perhaps we should pay more attention. Perhaps such plans for the total state ought to even ruffle our feathers a bit.”

For years I wrote about this topic, trying to get others interested. It was all there in black and white. At the drop of a hat, under the guise of a pandemic that only state managers can declare, real or drummed up, freedom itself could be abolished. These plans were never legislated, debated, or publicly discussed. They were simply posted as the result of various consultations with experts, who worked out their totalitarian fantasies as if scripting a Hollywood film.

The 2007 blueprint is more explicit than anything I’ve seen. It comes from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which “includes executive leaders from the private sector and state/local government who advise the White House on how to reduce physical and cyber risks and improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure sectors. The NIAC is administered on behalf of the President in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act under the authority of the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security.”

And who sat on this committee in 2007 that decided that governments “may close schools and non-essential businesses”? Let us see.

  • Mr. Edmund G. Archuleta, General Manager, El Paso Water Utilities
  • Mr. Alfred R. Berkeley III, Chairman and CEO, Pipeline Trading Group, LLC, and former President and Vice Chairman of NASDAQ
  • Chief Rebecca F. Denlinger, Fire Chief, Cobb County (Ga.) Fire and Emergency Services
  • Chief Gilbert G. Gallegos, Police Chief (ret.), City of Albuquerque, N.M. Police Department
  • Ms. Martha H. Marsh, President and CEO, Stanford Hospital and Clinics
  • Mr. James B. Nicholson, President and CEO, PVS Chemical, Inc.
  • Mr. Erle A. Nye, Chairman Emeritus, TXU Corp., NIAC Chairman
  • Mr. Bruce A. Rohde, Chairman and CEO Emeritus, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Mr. John W. Thompson, Chairman and CEO, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Brent Baglien, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Mr. David Barron, Bell South
  • Mr. Dan Bart, TIA
  • Mr. Scott Blanchette, Healthways
  • Ms. Donna Burns, Georgia Emergency Management Agency
  • Mr. Rob Clyde, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Scott Culp, Microsoft
  • Mr. Clay Detlefsen, International Dairy Foods Association
  • Mr. Dave Engaldo, The Options Clearing Corporation
  • Ms. Courtenay Enright, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Gary Gardner, American Gas Association
  • Mr. Bob Garfield, American Frozen Foods Institute
  • Ms. Joan Gehrke, PVS Chemical, Inc.
  • Ms. Sarah Gordon, Symantec
  • Mr. Mike Hickey, Verizon
  • Mr. Ron Hicks, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Mr. George Hender, The Options Clearing Corporation
  • Mr. James Hunter, City of Albuquerque, NM Emergency Management
  • Mr. Stan Johnson, North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC)
  • Mr. David Jones, El Paso Corporation
  • Inspector Jay Kopstein, Operations Division, New York City Police Department (NYPD)
  • Ms. Tiffany Jones, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Bruce Larson, American Water
  • Mr. Charlie Lathram, Business Executives for National Security (BENS)/BellSouth
  • Mr. Turner Madden, Madden & Patton
  • Chief Mary Beth Michos, Prince William County (Va.) Fire and Rescue
  • Mr. Bill Muston, TXU Corp.
  • Mr. Vijay Nilekani, Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Mr. Phil Reitinger, Microsoft
  • Mr. Rob Rolfsen, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Mr. Tim Roxey, Constellation
  • Ms. Charyl Sarber, Symantec
  • Mr. Lyman Shaffer, Pacific Gas and Electric,
  • Ms. Diane VanDeHei, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Ms. Susan Vismor, Mellon Financial Corporation
  • Mr. Ken Watson, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Mr. Greg Wells, Southwest Airlines
  • Mr. Gino Zucca, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Resources
  • Dr. Bruce Gellin, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Dr. Mary Mazanec
  • Dr. Stuart Nightingale, CDC
  • Ms. Julie Schafer
  • Dr. Ben Schwartz, CDC
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Resources
  • Mr. James Caverly, Director, Infrastructure Partnerships Division
  • Ms. Nancy Wong, NIAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
  • Ms. Jenny Menna, NIAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
  • Dr. Til Jolly
  • Mr. Jon MacLaren
  • Ms. Laverne Madison
  • Ms. Kathie McCracken
  • Mr. Bucky Owens
  • Mr. Dale Brown, Contractor
  • Mr. John Dragseth, IP attorney, Contractor
  • Mr. Jeff Green, Contractor
  • Mr. Tim McCabe, Contractor
  • Mr. William B. Anderson, ITS America
  • Mr. Michael Arceneaux, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Mr. Chad Callaghan, Marriott Corporation
  • Mr. Ted Cromwell, American Chemistry Council (ACC)
  • Ms. Jeanne Dumas, American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Ms. Joan Harris, US Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary
  • Mr. Greg Hull, American Public Transportation Association
  • Mr. Joe LaRocca, National Retail Federation
  • Mr. Jack McKlveen, United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Ms. Beth Montgomery, Wal-Mart
  • Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, Georgia Office of EMS/Trauma/EP
  • Mr. Roger Platt, The Real Estate Roundtable
  • Mr. Martin Rojas, American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Mr. Timothy Sargent, Senior Chief, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Finance Canada

In other words, big everything: food, energy, retail, computers, water, and you name it. It’s a corporatist dream team.

Consider ConAgra itself. What is that? It is Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher’s, Reddi-Wip, Slim Jim, Hunt’s Peter Pan Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, Marie Callender’s, P.F. Chang’s, Ranch Style Beans, Ro*Tel, Wolf Brand Chili, Angie’s, Duke’s, Gardein, Frontera, Bertolli, among many other seemingly independent brands that are all actually one company.

Now, ask yourself: why might all these companies favor a plan for lockdowns? Why might WalMart, for example? It stands to reason. Lockdowns are a massive interference with competitive capitalism. They provide the best possible subsidy to big business while shutting down independent small businesses and putting them at a huge disadvantage once the opening up happens.

In other words, it is an industrial racket, very much akin to interwar-style fascism, a corporatist combination of big business and big government. Throw pharma into the mix and you see exactly what came to pass in 2020, which amounted to the largest transfer of wealth from small and medium-sized business plus the middle class to wealthy industrialists in the history of humanity.

The document is open even about managing information flows: “The public and private sectors should align their communications, exercises, investments, and support activities absolutely with both the plan and priorities during a pandemic influenza event. Continue data gathering, analysis, reporting, and open review.”

There is nothing in any of this that fits with any Western tradition of law and liberty. Nothing. It was never approved by any democratic means. It was never part of any political campaign. It has never been the subject of any serious media examination. No think tank has ever pushed back on such plans in any systematic way.

The last serious attempt to debunk this whole apparatus was from D.H. Henderson in 2006. His two co-authors on that paper eventually came around to going along with lockdowns of 2020. Henderson died in 2016. One of the co-authors of the original article told me that if Dr. Henderson had been around, instead of Dr. Fauci, the lockdowns would never have taken place.

Here we are four years following the deployment of this lockdown machinery, and we are witness to what it destroys. It would be nice to say that the entire apparatus and theory behind it have been fully discredited.

But that is not correct. All the plans are still in place. There have been no changes in federal law. Not one effort has been made to dismantle the corporatist/biosecurity planning state that made all this possible. Every bit of it is in place for the next go-around.

Much of the authority for this whole coup traces to the Public Health Services Act of 1944, which was passed in wartime. For the first time in US history, it gave the federal government the power to quarantine. Even when the Biden administration was looking for some basis to justify its transportation mask mandate, it fell back to this one piece of legislation.

If anyone really wants to get to the root of this problem, there are decisive steps that need to be taken. The indemnification of pharma from liability for harm needs to be repealed. The court precedent of forced shots in Jacobson needs to be overthrown. But even more fundamentally, the quarantine power itself has to go, and that means the full repeal of the Public Health Services Act of 1944. That is the root of the problem. Freedom will not be safe until it is uprooted.

As it stands right now, everything that unfolded in 2020 and 2021 can happen again. Indeed, the plans are in place for exactly that.

Author

Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

The Media’s Latest Pathetic Blame Game

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

By IAN MILLER

By late 2020, the media and public health establishment had two obsessions. One of their obsessions involved forcing the public to wear masks, even though the mountains of data and several studies had already confirmed that they don’t stop the transmission of respiratory viruses. The second obsession was forcing everyone to take Covid vaccines, regardless of their actual efficacy, risk of side effects, age or underlying health, or the vaccines’ rapidly waning efficacy.

Neither of those obsessions has abated, though even the most extreme, hardened Covid extremists have acknowledged that the vaccines were flawed, mandates were a mistake, and side effects should be acknowledged.

The media, unwilling to give up on the increased power, influence, and moral judgment it gained during the pandemic, has refused to accept that it effectively ended years ago.

So it’s no surprise that media outlets have noticed that, as we’ve seen every single summer since 2020, cases have increased, predominantly across the Western and Southern United States. Thankfully though, Los Angeles media, of course it had to be Los Angeles, has determined the culprit.

The Media Refuses to Accept Covid Reality

Turns out it’s not seasonality causing the increase, it’s outdated Covid vaccines and a lack of public masking, of course!

NBC Los Angeles “reported” that Covid cases in California and Los Angeles have “doubled” in the last month. This sounds horrifying and scary, doesn’t it? Yet it again, as is so often the case with Covid coverage, is misleading.

Let’s take a look at the current daily average of new cases in Los Angeles County:

Cases are so low they’re functionally indistinguishable from zero.

You can see why the media is scared, given how dramatic this surge appears to be compared to those in the previous four years. And thanks to NBC’s crack reporting and expert analysis, we know why this terrifying increase is happening. Spoiler alert: it’s all your fault that you haven’t controlled an uncontrollable respiratory virus with individual behavior that has no impact whatsoever on the spread of the coronavirus.

“People aren’t necessarily wearing masks; they’re not required to in certain places,” nurse practitioner Alice Benjamin, referenced as an expert by NBA LA said. “We’re traveling, we’re getting out for the summer. We also do have some reduced immunity. The vaccines will wane over time.”

Nowhere in the story is it mentioned that the massive jump in Covid cases in late 2021 and early 2022 happened immediately after LA County Public Health issued a press release celebrating the county for achieving 95+ percent masking rates at indoor businesses. No one seems willing or able to ask this nurse practitioner why she believes wearing masks would reduce this “surge,” if it failed so spectacularly in previous surges.

Endless Misinformation from ‘Experts’

She wasn’t done with the misinformation though. Benjamin warned that not enough Angelenos are getting the “updated” vaccine, which explains the summer increase.

“If you got it in October and later, that’s generally the updated vaccine,” Benjamin said. “If you got it prior to October, double check because if you did get the bivalent which has not been phased out, we recommend you do get an updated vaccine.”

And according to her, everyone should get it. Because the CDC said so.

“Per CDC recommendations, anyone 6 months or older should have at least one of the updated Covid vaccines,” Benjamin said.

Though, of course, no one on the crack NBC Los Angeles team thought to ask Benjamin why the “updated” October vaccine would help against the now common FLiRT variant when it emerged six months after the “updated” vaccine was released. Especially when the “study” process for booster doses is effectively nonexistent anyway. Pfizer and Moderna churn out a “targeted” dose that is supposed to protect against a variant that’s no longer circulating, never has to show any real-world benefit, and the regulatory agencies sign off on it, while the CDC recommends everyone get it.

Rinse, repeat.

Nor did anyone ask her what possible rationale there could be for forcing six-month-old babies to get vaccinated with a booster that has no studied efficacy against the currently circulating variant.

Her comments and the media reaction exemplify the problems with Covid discourse that started in 2020 and will apparently continue forever. A complete and purposeful ignorance of the facts, the data, and the evidence base. A willingness to advocate for the same sort of restrictions and interventions that have already failed. Ignorance of the booster process and endless appeals to public health authorities. Even though those authorities have made countless mistakes and refused to update their findings after being proven wrong.

The obvious question is: How does this type of absurdist discourse ever end? The answer, as we continue to see, is it doesn’t.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Author

Ian Miller is the author of “Unmasked: The Global Failure of COVID Mask Mandates.” His work has been featured on national television broadcasts, national and international news publications and referenced in multiple best selling books covering the pandemic. He writes a Substack newsletter, also titled “Unmasked.”

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